The Green Bay Packers win, yet the offense sputters as it adjusts to the evolving presence of the running game.
In what might have been the most boring game of the year, the Packers beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday for the twenty-third straight year. I guess at this point unless the Packers lose to the Lions at Lambeau it really is just business as usual. Lions come to town, the Packers beat them, Packer fans cheer, Lions fans groan and we all go home.
Well, not so fast.
It was a solid win for the Packers. The defense was swarming and tallied an impressive five sacks of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The offense, on the other hand, was effective but lacked, at least in the first half, the explosiveness that Packers fans expect from Aaron Rodgers and company.
I was really impressed by the tenacity of the Packers defense. They are and have been aggressive all season long. This game was their most complete performance. It wasn’t flashy, but they got the job done. Despite all the criticism AJ Hawk receives, he is quietly having a great season and it is evident that he is the quarterback of the defense. He was all over the field against the Lions making plays.
The offense started slow – again. However, in the second half they began to resemble the team that easily beat the Washington Redskins. There has been a lot discussion of what is wrong with the Packers offense. Against both the Bengals and the Lions Aaron Rodgers seemed to be out of sorts and much has been made of an alleged tiff between Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy.
For the first time in several seasons the Packers appear to have a reliable running game. I have been among the many who believe that a respectable running game will open up the Packers offense and allow the Packers multiple playmakers to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. Aside from the Packers’ victory verses the Redskins, that had yet to be the case.
It has been so long since the Packers running game was worth a pinch that the offense has evolved and moved on without it. Now that it has returned the running game is like a new piece of technology or equipment in just about any workplace. Everyone knows the benefit of a productive ground game, but like that equipment or technology at the office it takes a while before it can be efficiently and effectively be put to use. Both Rodgers and McCarthy are trying to get used to having the running game be a part of their game plan.
Rodgers knows that if the Packers can effectively run the ball it will open up the passing game and give him more time to operate in the pocket. The crux of the deal for Rodgers is that he doesn’t get paid to hand the ball off. He wants the ball in his hands so he can make plays. McCarthy, on the other hand, is trying to keep his franchise quarterback happy while fighting his own desire to move the ball through the air. But Coach McCarthy knows a balanced offensive attack is his best bet to bring home a Lombardi Trophy.
At the end of the day, Coach McCarthy is one of the best offensive minds in the game and has arguably the best quarterback in the league at his service. At the service of McCarthy’s quarterback is and arsenal of receivers a Lions fan might drool over. I have full confidence that McCarthy, Rodgers and the Packers offense will have it all together in short order – then Packers fan will be happier than Dominic Raiola curbside at a parade.
In addition to blogging about the Green Bay Packers for Lombardiave.com, Patrick Hughes blogs about gardening at wheelandbarrowlandscape.com, running and the Portland Trailblazers at Oregon Sports News, and artisans and the connection economy at phughespdx.com.