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There Is No Problem With The Packers Running Game

Brandon Jackson on one of his many fine runs.

See what I did with that headline right there? I toed the company line.

Do I believe it? Well, I’m not an idiot, so no.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, on the other hand…

Look, I don’t want to get into what a complete turd I think McCarthy is again, so let me get to the point. McCarthy says there is nothing wrong with the Packers running game, despite Brandon Jackson averaging 2.9 yards per carry (36 for 104 yards) and fullback John Kuhn, who’s as fast as molasses in winter, being the Packers biggest rushing threat. Kuhn has 17 carries for 82 yards (4.8 yard average).

The backs aren’t the only problem, though. The Packers offensive line, while adequate in pass protection, has been below average in the running game. Tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are in the Packers backfield more often than quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Overall, the Packers are ranked 22nd in the NFL in rushing offense, at 95.3 yards per game. They’re 19th in average yards per rush at 3.8.

The numbers aren’t terrible, but they’re not good either.

Let’s be clear, neither of the Packers backs are going to get 20 carries a game. Neither of them is going to be Ryan Grant. The Packers are a pass-first (and often) team.

Still, the team is lacking a dimension most contenders possess. Do I expect the Packers to make a trade to address the problem? No. History tells us Ted Thompson will make no such move, even though the Packers seemingly have a legitimate shot of going deep into the playoffs.

What I do expect is the Packers to pass the ball more than ever. I expect Jackson to get fewer carries and Kuhn to get more — Jackson already seems to be getting pushed back into his typical third down role. I expect Dmitri Nance to start getting carries.

I also expect McCarthy to keep coming up with gems like the one he did after the Bears game.

“You have to look at what’s the definition of the run game. I looked at this particular game, and I felt that our running backs were productive,” McCarthy said. “I thought Brandon and John played well with the opportunities that they were given with the ball in their hands and what was put in front of them.

“I thought the running back production was a positive in the game.”

That’s right, folks. There’s nothing to see here. Please move along.


Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. Backer September 30, 2010

    At least McCarthy has the stones to call pass plays all the time if that’s what it takes to score. Nothing sucks worse than pounding the ball into the back of our Oline for 1 yard. We all remember the Holgrem 3 and 8 draw plays. I believe turd is harsh for McCarthy. Sherman, Rhodes, Sherm Lewis, Tom Rossley, now there’s some turds for you.

  2. Jurgens September 30, 2010

    It’s troubling though. The Bears were able to cheat against the pass. Rodgers still had a big day (because he’s that good) but most of his completions were third or fourth reads. Thats why players like Jones got a lot of looks and Jennings was shut out. That wont be sustainable all season. We need the run game to keep opponents honest.

  3. Backer September 30, 2010

    Agreed….I think you’ll see them run the ball more against certain teams. Our current Oline, except for Sitton, doesn’t get much push against a decent defensive front. I would be surprised if Nance doesn’t get to touch the ball more in coming weeks. Also, Bulaga would get much more push than Clifton.

  4. Matt September 30, 2010

    We gotta start giving Bulaga a chance to prove himself out there. Hell, maybe thats all our running game needs is that push from a big fresh rookie instead of the injured veteran pass blocker…..of course getting marshawn lynch would be nice too.

  5. iltarion September 30, 2010

    Bulaga should be starting, and Lang too if Tauscher struggles in one more game.

    The Indianapolis Colts were 32nd in the league in rushing last year. They go 16-0 if they don’t sit their starters for the last 6 quarters of the season.

    Ganging up on, cheating towards, or concentrating on the pass is harder than it sounds. Pretty much every team that plays Dallas, New Orleans, the Colts, and the Packers knows that those teams are going to throw the football first and run later, if at all, and yet, those are still 4 of the best offenses in football.

    The Packers had nearly 400 yards of offense on the road and dominated the time of possession. Not a very convincing argument that they NEED a running game.

    1. Jeremy September 30, 2010


      No one has run the ball against the Bears so far this season. Including the Cowboys who are loaded at RB. The last time the Packers couldn’t run the football they got to the NFC Championship game. Let’s just wait a few games before sticking a fork in them.

  6. Abe Frohman September 30, 2010

    Monty – what do you expect MM to do about it? He can only use the players TT brings in. If he sits there and whines about how crappy his running game is, he throws TT under the bus. If I stabbed my boss in the back like that, I wouldn’t expect to have a very good working relationship with him, or last in that position for very long. So, yeah he’s toeing the line, but would you do any different?

    Jeremy, the thing that saved the Packers in 07 was the emergence of Grant. Jackson and Wynn and whomever else they tried simply didn’t get it done. In 4 years, Jackson is the same player he was then in running. (Yes he’s better at blitz pickups and is a decent 3rd down back.) If you’re hoping Starks, who hasn’t played in 2 years or Nance is the answer, all I can say is I hope you’re right but I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Do we “need” a running game? not terribly because as was pointed out, Rodgers is just that good. Would a good running game help Rodgers even more? Absolutely! Chicago was not at all honoring the run. They played coverage pretty much all night. BJ still couldn’t make them pay for it.

    I still think a good RB makes an average line look better than they are. A bad RB makes a decent OL look far worse than they are. I saw lots of daylight that Jackson simply didn’t. We left a lot of yards out on the field.

    1. jeremy October 1, 2010

      I didn’t mention Starks or Nance at all. I’m saying give them more than 2 games (one of which is against the Bear who are allowing only 39 ypg)to deal with loosing their 2x 1400 yard rusher, and both tackles looking very old. We are now seeing why all of the people who moan about Grant not being a legit RB are off base.

  7. Vijay September 30, 2010

    Folks, we all love A-Rod…he’s a FF stud. But remember, even he needs help and some balance to help close out games. If you really think about it, our guy has YET to get a signature win. He’s made one playoff appearance and lost and he his team has ended up on the losing end of the big QB matchups thus far (with the possible exception of the Dallas game last year). So, to help A-Rod salt away a signature WIN…the team and it’s leaders should give him a threat at RB. Also, it would help limit our penalties a but more and provide better in-game strategy or the ability to simply chew up the clock in the 4th quarter (you know, keep the ball out of Manning, Favre, Brees, etc. hands).

  8. Rocky70 October 1, 2010

    If the running game doesn’t somehow improve, eventually, the passing game will also suffer …… Defenses will be able to key on the pass & everything AR does …. AR will be targeted & hit even more than now ….. As good as it looked for AR to run for 3 yards & a TD against da Bears, a RB should have been rushing the ball up the gut to score, not AR ….. The more AR runs, the greater the chance he’s injured …… Season 2010 will be a lost cause if GB doesn’t figure out their running game ….. They have until the trade deadline.