The turnaround coincided with the Eddie (The Big Bang Theory) Lacy getting healthy and returning to the starting lineup in week four, after missing game 2 against Washington and game 3 against Cincinnati.
Yes in Week 2 in relief of Lacy, James Starks came in and had a big day. Yes the very next week fellow rookie running back Johnathan Franklin came into the game in relief of the injured Starks (knee) and again had another big day for a Packers running back.
Then the following week Lacy returns and gains 99 yards against the Detroit Lions.
STOP RIGHT THERE!
At this point – after four games, and having had success the last three games running the football -opposing teams at that time did nothing special to try to stop the run.
There are two main reasons why: One is obvious – because it’s Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy and the entire league knows they are a pass-first team.
The second reason is not quite as obvious, but was also a factor. The Packers as a team did have three consecutive big rushing days, but all three of them came from three different running backs as opposed to just one, leaving opposing defenses unsure of their actual commitment.
There was really no one player you could pinpoint who would be the guy next to perform at a high level, or who would start fizzling out.
Then in Lacy’s next game he rushes for 120 yards and teams are saying ‘OK, they are starting to stick with it a bit.‘
The Big Bang ran hard again for three and then four straight games against Cleveland (82 yards) and Minnesota (93 yards), forcing teams to account more for the Packers running game.
Green Bay has been literally pounding people into submission running the ball. The success the Packers are having now, is nothing short of shocking, and I predicted this exact thing happening in the off-season (and I’m still shocked!).
And it’s not just the numbers or the rankings … it’s the bruising style Lacy (and Starks) bring to the table behind an offensive line where every player is probably playing the best of their individual careers. A shoutout goes to Andrew Quarless as well.
On top of that, you have the best player in the game under center, directing everything (pass, run, shotgun), whatever he sees he switches to his advantage, and we all saw Sunday how that works together with several drives that took more than seven minutes off the clock.
Then there is Mike McCarthy, a “passing coach” who apparently will run the ball down your throat if he has the horse to do it, and goodness gracious is he ever doing it! Physical, pounding, Packers power football is back in town baby!
Once the Packers settled on one main three down back (Lacy), they have really taken off, in a way now for which defenses must account, leaving head coaches and coordinators across the league wondering how to stop them – especially after Sunday’s performance against the Vikings.
McCarthy and Rodgers will now play a true chess match from here on out regarding when to pass or run, as we across Packers Nation watch incredulously as it all unfolds.
NOTE: You can also catch our podcast for this week at…