Green Bay Packers

Even When They're Down, The Packers Need To Run the Ball More

Photo credit: Dan Powers (USA TODAY Sports)

After the worst Green Bay Packers loss in the Aaron Rodgers era, it would be logical to expect this article to serve as a bullhorn, echoing the abysmal offensive and defensive numbers that the Green and Gold scraped up en route to their 38-3 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Just about everything went wrong for Green Bay, and there are plenty of reasons for fans to be frustrated.

It won’t be coming from me, however.

Sure, I’m bummed about the loss with the rest of the Green Bay faithful. But my God, losing your you-know-what after one loss isn’t worth it, regardless of the score. The Packers arguably have the best quarterback/wide receiver/running back trio in Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones, and there’s no doubt that the offense will get cooking.

One question surfaced after Sunday’s blowout: Will the Packers utilize their run game more as the season progresses?

Green Bay rushed for a total of 43 yards against New Orleans. AJ Dillon led the team with 19 yards on four carries, and Kylin Hill followed with 14 yards on five carries. Jones gained just nine yards on five carries.

Great numbers? Absolutely not. But the lack of yardage and carries can be partly attributed to the fact that the Packers were down by a score of 17-3 at the end of the first half. There’s no doubt that an Aaron Rodgers-led team will pass the ball pretty much whenever faced with a sizable deficit. Still, the Packers only handed the ball off four times in the first half, twice in the first quarter and twice in the second.

The Saints’ defense deserves credit for their performance in this game. Already touted as rock-solid, New Orleans’ pass defense was outstanding, holding the Green Bay receiving corps to just 20 receptions on 33 attempts. And while credit should be given to the Saints’ defense for holding the Pack to 43 rushing yards, the sample size was pretty darn small.

My point? The Packers need to run the ball more. Yes, they were trailing by two touchdowns after the first half, but the score was only 3-0 after the first quarter.

Green Bay has an incredible gift in that Rodgers can drop a ball into a receiver’s hands just about anywhere on the field. That gift is a lot more difficult to execute when Adams is covered more thoroughly than any other wide receiver in the NFL. That’s not to say that Randall Cobb, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Allen Lazard can’t be weapons. They can; they don’t boast the firepower that an elite receiver like Adams possesses.

When a very good but not great recieving corps can’t get open and an elite quarterback can’t hit his spots, points aren’t scored. It doesn’t matter how good the players are.

That being said, the tandem of Jones and Dillon is as good as any one-two backfield punch in the league. Jones rushed for 1,104 yards last season, 311 of which were agasint the Detroit Lions. Dillon was just as effective as RB2 Jamaal Williams last season. Now that Williams is gone, Dillon will have a chance to shine.

The Lions head to Lambeau for Week 2 and there is no better time for the Packers to activate their running game. After facing a high-caliber Saints defense, the Packers will go to battle against a Detroit defense that gave up 41 points to San Francisco in their opener.

Green Bay can operate as a one-dimensional team, but their overall success will be limited. The tandem of Rodgers and Adams has become a staple, and defenses have adjusted accordingly. If the Packers want to make a Super Bowl run they’ll have to ignite the run game. The tools are there but haven’t been sharpened yet this season given the blowout lead that the Saints tacked on. Week 2 will provide a critical opportunity for us to see if the Packers can indeed implement the dual-threat monster of pass and run that looks oh so beautiful on paper.

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