Fans, players, coaches, and referees will be freezing their butts off. The cold elements may make it really tough to sustain a passing attack. If that is the case, making Aaron Rodgers numbingly ineffective, do the Packers stand a chance?
Meet the 2013 Green Bay Packers.
Faced with the adversity of losing the 2011 NFL MVP for seven weeks, the Packers survived until he returned to beat Chicago and win the NFC North Division crown. How did they do so? They did something they hadn’t done so effectively in a decade. They ran the ball. And they ran it well.
The 2013 Packers offense evolved in the absence of their leader. The Packers as a team rushed for 2,136 yards this year. That gave them an average of 133.7 yards per game ranking them seventh in the NFL. That’s only 4.1 yards per carry behind their opponent they face Sunday, the 49ers.
Five times this year the Packers rushed for more than 180 yards. That is tied for first with Buffalo (Spiller/Jackson), Philadelphia (McCoy/Brown), and Washington (Morris/Helu Jr.). In two of those games, the Packers topped that mark against two premier run-stopping defenses in Cincinnati (182 yards) and Detroit (180 yards). And for Bears fans, in two games they ran for a grand total of 359 yards.
The knock on the Packers’ run game had been the lack of a 100-yard rusher in 44 straight regular season games coming into the season. Well that was no longer an issue I would say. Green Bay tied for second in the league with six, 100-yard individual rushing performances this year. That feat tied a single season franchise record for most 100-yard rushers in a season.
Leading the charge is Second Team All-Pro rookie Eddie Lacy. Over the last 12 games, Lacy rushed for 1,127 yards which is only second to the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy who had 1,139 yards during that span. Remember, Lacy has been dinged up with an ankle sprain for the past three weeks and sat out the entire fourth quarter against Pittsburgh in Week 16.
Let me also remind you that the Packers accomplished a majority of their success with Scott Tolzien, Seneca Wallace, and Matt Flynn quarterbacking. No disrespect to them, but they aren’t anywhere near as good #12 combined. They also did so facing 7-, 8-, and sometimes 9-man fronts.
For a team that was wholly dependent on the arm of Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have changed.
I’m sorry. Let me rephrase that.
They survived and adapted because they needed to. They had to.
In doing so, they created the balance necessary to win in January.