Packers Need to Get the Running Game Going

Eddie Lacy

(27) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers linebacker

Aldon Smith

(99) and 49ers linebacker

Patrick Willis

(52) in the third quarter at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Packers 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers just fell short in their 28-34 loss against the San Francisco 49ers.

The season opener showed a Packers team that can compete with the top tier teams of the NFL. Despite the loss, it bodes well that Green Bay matched the Niners’ level of physical play and were in the game to the very end. This game played out very differently than the previous matches against San Francisco where the Packers seemed in over their heads and outmuscled.

Now, a lot is being said about how the Packers’ defense came up short because they allowed Colin Kaepernick to throw for over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns, and they couldn’t contain veteran receiver Anquan Boldin.

The Packers defense should get their share of blame for the loss on Sunday, but honestly, they played better than I thought they would. Despite giving up all the passing yards, which is something they definitely need to address, their front seven played really well and held their own against one of the top rushing attacks in the league.

This is certainly a good sign moving forward this season. Now they just need to make some adjustments with their secondary.

Watching the game, I was actually more disappointed with the Packers’ offense.

Sure, Aaron Rodgers had a great game. He threw for 333 yards and 3 TDs, and Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb made some big catches downfield. The offense scored four touchdowns on one of the elite defenses in the league.

But overall, the Green Bay offense played very inconsistent and failed to score on consecutive drives. They had a few nice drives utilizing the hurry-up offense and were able to wear down the Niners’ defense late in the game with a key fourth quarter drive that ended in a Eddie Lacy goal line touchdown run. But they had way too many three-and-outs, especially late in the game.

The Packers defense finally held the Niners offense late in the fourth quarter and the Packers offense responded by going three-and-out from their own 9 yard line. That’s just not acceptable, especially for a team and offense of the Packers caliber.

The Packers were also dominated once again in Time of Possession. This has been a killer when facing top tier teams like the 49ers. Green Bay only had the ball for 21 min. and 25 sec., opposed to San Francisco who held the upper hand in this category with 38 min. and 35 sec.

So how can the Packers turn this around?


Eddie Lacy. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Okay, that may be easier said than done. Sunday proved that. After all, the Packers run an effective no-huddle offense with Rodgers at the helm, so you’d hate to take away from what’s working.

But if the Packers are going to contend with top NFC teams, like San Francisco and Seattle, in January then they’ll need–and I mean NEED–to get their running game going.

At half time, the Packers only had 10 yards rushing. Lacy opened the game with a few carries that got him nowhere. There just wasn’t any room to run. This led to too many 3rd-and-longs for the Packers’ offense.

Lacy ended up finishing the game with 41 yds rushing on 15 carries (2.9 avg) and a touchdown thanks to a few nice runs late in the game.

In the fourth quarter, the Packers put together an impressive 8-play, 76-yard drive that included Lacy runs of 6, 7, 5, and 6 yards. The Packers moved the ball well and Lacy ran effectively out of the shotgun and spread formations.

So maybe the Packers are outmatched up front against teams like the Niners when they try to run the ball in base sets. It sure seemed so on Sunday. The Niners’ defensive line wasn’t budging one bit.

In order for the Packers to get their running game going they may have to run out of spread formations, like they did in their last scoring drive on Sunday. Lacy is a quick back who can be effective in this type of role, so it will be interesting to see how the Packers get their running game going moving forward.

They’ll face two good rushing defenses in the next two weeks in Washington and Cincinnati. This will provide a good test before the bye week that shows where the Packers are at with their running game.

Regardless, they need to commit to improving their running game, and hopefully with a little patience and better execution, they’ll finally get the ground game going this season.