Green Bay Packers: 5 Reasons an Improved Running Game Can Help Reclaim NFC North
While it may look like the Packers got over their early season struggles, there is still one area of the team that can't get it going: the running backs.
The Green Bay running game is ranked 26th in the league, putting up just 90 yards per contest.
A poor running game, combined with a few rough losses has, the Packers tied for second in the NFC North with Minnesota.
If the Packers want to reclaim the NFC North they need to improve their running game. Here are five reasons why.
1. The NFC North Can Defend the Run
Being the best in a division means just that; being the best. The NFC North is full of good defenses, and for the Packers' rough running game, that's bad news.
Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago all have a top-20 defenses against the run. The Packers need to improve their running game for a simple reason: If they don't, they won't win the NFC North. The strong defensive units in the division will make it hard for the Packers to perform well when it really matters.
To be the best team in the conference, the Packers have to perform well against great teams. Being able to run against a strong defense will not only boost the confidence of the team, but it will help Green Bay reclaim its spot at the top of the NFC North.
2. Passing Game Is No Secret
The Packers may struggle running the ball, but their passing game is a different story. Aaron Rodgers has the passing game back on track, throwing for over 250 yards per game.
However, having a great passing game without a rushing attack is dangerous.
The NFC North knows Green Bay can pass the ball. That's no secret. If the Packers continue to struggle on the ground, their opponents will simply structure their game plan against the pass.
The Packers need to effectively incorporate running into their offense to keep their opponents honest. If a defense knows they only have to defend the pass, the game becomes much easier.
3. Running Game Can Open the Passing Game
As any defensive coordinator in the NFL can tell you, the Packers' passing game is solid. Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL in passing touchdowns, and the receiving core is one of the best in the league. Imagine what they could do with a viable running game.
Defensive coordinators don't have to worry much about the ground game when they plan against the Packers. Thankfully for Green Bay and its loyal fans, the arm of A-Rodg is good enough to win some games. But it is not good enough to win a division.
While Rodgers can get them close, the Packers need a running game to win the division and get into the postseason. If the Pack gets their ground attack back on track, defenses will have to stay honest and respect the run. With defensive backs reacting to run plays and play action, the Packers will finally be able to hit the deep passes they've been missing all season.
4. Competition Increasing
The Packers may be on a three game winning streak, but not every one has been impressive.
Their first win of the streak came against the then-undefeated Houston Texans in a huge upset. The Packer backs combined for 99 yards on the ground and got a convincing victory over one of the best teams in the NFL.
The next two wins came against the Rams and the Jaguars, who have four wins combined. The Packers didn't look impressive against either team, but were able to get victories thanks to big plays from their defense and strong performances by Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers won't be so lucky in weeks to come. The Packers will finish the season with Arizona, New York, Tennessee and the rest of their NFC North games. The opposition remaining is much more daunting than the teams they've beat in the past few weeks.
Green Bay needs to get its running game back together so the games don't fall solely on Aaron Rodgers and the receivers.
5. Help out a Hurt Defense
This season is starting to remind Packer fans of 2010. The defense has been shredded by injuries to linebackers, defensive backs and linemen and is taking some of the biggest playmakers off the field for the green and gold.
Due to all of the injuries on defense, the Packer running backs really need to step it up. The Pack have a lot of young guys playing a lot of snaps on a big play defense and need as many breaks as they can possibly get.
If Aaron Rodgers comes out and hands the ball off once for a loss of two and then misses on two passes, the Packers have taken less than a minute off the clock. As they punt it away the defense has to turn right around and come back onto the field.
If the Packers can mix in a viable running game, they can give the injury-maligned defense a much-needed break.