Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers' aerial attack has kicked into high gear, but the running game must improve going forward—especially now that Charles Woodson is out for the foreseeable future with a broken collarbone.
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reports:
Big loss for packers. Charles Woodson broken collarbone out 6 weeks— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) October 22, 2012
So, what does losing Woodson have to do with the Packers' running game?
The Packers were already fielding a suspect secondary that ranks No. 17 against the pass through seven games, allowing 232.4 yards per game and 11 touchdown passes (No. 20 in the NFL in that category).
While these numbers have been complemented by impressive sack (No. 1 in the NFL with 24) and interception (No. 6 in the NFL with nine) totals, it's important to note that the Packers have faced a few teams so far this season that aren't exactly known for their passing attacks.
The San Francisco 49ers (No. 29 in passing yards), Seattle Seahawks (No. 31 in passing yards) and St. Louis Rams (No. 25 in passing yards) have helped to make the Packers' passing defense look better than it actually is.
And, though Rodgers and the offense has made scoring touchdowns look easy the past couple of weeks, this team needs to find a way to crank up the running game in order to keep opposing offenses off the field.
Alex Green was held to just 35 yards on 20 carries in the Packers' Week 7 game against the St. Louis Rams. Rodgers was unstoppable in the game, completing 30-of-37 passes with three touchdowns and zero interceptions, yet the Rams—one of the worst passing teams in the league—were able to stay close the entire way.
Last season, Rodgers and his receivers couldn't be stopped and the team only lost a single game all year long, yet this team failed to get past the divisional round. This was due, in part, to this team's inability to stop Eli Manning and the New York Giants from moving the ball at will—especially through the air.
There's a good chance Rodgers and his offense will continue to rack up the touchdowns the rest of the way in 2012. He's getting into the same kind of rhythm that won him the MVP trophy last season, but if his defense can't stop their opponent from doing the same, this team won't live up to its expectations.
Who will step up for the Packers?
What this team desperately needs in order to ensure its best chance for another championship is a rushing attack that can close out games when the Packers have the lead. Whether it's Green or James Starks, someone must step up at the end of games to run out the clock.
If not, the defense is liable to fall prey to the same shortcomings that caused the Packers to lose out in their one and only playoff game in 2011.