Are the Packers Better off Just Trying to Air It Out?

Lou RomContributor INovember 4, 2012

Nov 4, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA;   Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles away from Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) at Lambeau Field.  Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

Coming off a throw-first, throw-every-down 2011 that ultimately led to their downfall in the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers sought to revamp and re-energize a running game that ranked 27th in the league this past offseason.

Those efforts have yielded little.

Going into today's game against the Arizona Cardinals the Packers (6-3) were averaging a mere 3.7 yards per carry, worse than all but three NFL teams, and were tied for last in rushing touchdowns with two.

In fact, when Cedric Benson went down in Week 6 many lost hope that the Packers would even attempt to run the ball anymore. But the team continues to fight to establish the run.

Green Bay ran the ball 39 times for 176 yards against the faltering Cards, giving renewed hope that the team might yet establish a balanced attack in an energizing 31-14 victory.

Of course, last year's Super Bowl winning New York Giants ranked dead last in rushing yards last season. And the team they faced, the New England Patriots, well, they were not much better in the AFC. 

So, is the Packers' effort to establish the run when they have a MVP quarterback behind center a waste of time? Or, is it an investment in a playoff future that lasts more than one game?

Rodgers ranks second in the NFL in both completion percentage and passer rating, at 69 percent and 107.9 respectively. He is fourth in passing yards with (2,165 yards) and has thrown 21 touchdowns compared to only four interceptions.

With success like that in the air, some might ask why run the ball at all?

Here's why:

The 2011 Giants were an anomaly. To be specific, while they ranked dead last in the regular season rushing rankings, their running game got healthy late in the season and into the playoffs, gaining over 150 yards against the Falcons and averaging over 100 yards against the Packers, Niners and Patriots.

And, while teams may survive the NFL season with a non-existant running game, come playoff time those teams rarely make a dent. 

Playoff football is all about going back to basics—run the football, stop the run—it's a rare NFL team that can overcome that truth come January. 

The Packers could not last season, why try again in 2013?