In my last post, I theorized as to what would need to happen for the Packers to remain a top ten passing team in 2019.
Widening the focus, there are a couple other scenarios to think about in looking at the 2019 season. Here’s one: what if the Packers can find success without having the customary strong passing attack?
Coach Matt LaFleur’s offense is expected to rely on a strong run attack as its foundation. If Green Bay turns into a rushing powerhouse in 2019, just being in the top half of the league’s best passing attacks could be sufficient to propel the team back into the playoffs.
We expect LaFleur’s offense to be a carbon copy of what his buddy Sean McVay is doing with the Rams. In McVay’s first year as a head coach in 2017, the Rams finished tenth in offensive yards produced. That compares with being last in the league in 2016 – over 700 yards behind next-to-last San Francisco, and over 2,600 yards behind top-rated New Orleans. Is it any wonder why McVay got Coach of the Year honors?
In 2017 the Rams’ breakdown was a rank of tenth in passing and eighth in the run game. In 2018, the Rams shot up to second in overall offense, just behind Kansas City. Their passing game ranked fifth and their run game was third-best.
Overall, the Rams went from 4,203 in total offense before McVay to 5,784, and then to 6,738 last year. If LaFleur can do a third as well, the Packers are in for an exciting year.
Another way to look at things: McVay has propelled the Rams to within a few yards from being the league’s top offense despite having a good, but not great, quarterback, Jared Goff. Though Goff has not electrified the league since being the top overall pick in 2016, under McVay’s scheme he turned in the fifth best passer rating in 2017 (100.5) and the eighth best last year (101.1) Those ratings would have disgraced Aaron Rodgers until a few years ago.
McVay of course has the good fortune to have a running back named Todd Gurley. Gurley had the second most rushing yards in the league in 2017 (1,305), and came in third (1,251) last year despite sitting out the final two games.
I’m asking a lot, but I feel that Aaron Jones will rival what Gurley did last year – if he’s finally let loose. Gurley made a lot of those yards by going around the perimeter, and Aaron also excels at that. I won’t be at all surprised if he finishes among the top five rushers this season, and I’m certainly looking forward to him topping 1,000 yards.
Back in 2010, where do you think Rodgers was ranked, and how strong a run attack did the Packers possess?
Aaron was seventh in yardage (3,922) and his passer rating was Goff-like (101.2).
The run game in the Packers’ last Super Bowl year was hardly that of the Rams, however. Brandon Jackson only averaged 3.7 yards in cranking out 703 yards. Rodgers had the next most, 356 yards, and John Kuhn managed 281 yards – though he averaged only 3.3 yards per carry.
How did the Packers win it all that year? A guy who only gained 101 yards during the regular season came out of nowhere to average just over 20 carries in the four post-season games. James Starks gobbled up 315 yards en route to the Pack taking home the Lombardi trophy.
Maybe good running can make up for any deficiencies the Packers might have in their 2019 pass game.