When quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the game against the Chicago Bears with a collarbone injury, all eyes turned to backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. However, where people should have looked in Rodgers' absence is at the ground game.
However, the running backs only gained 80 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles last week (quarterback Scott Tolzien added 19 yards on a scramble) and followed that performance up with only 55 total rushing yards in the Packers' 27-13 loss to the Giants this week.
That's a total of 118 yards over the course of two games, about 25 yards less than they were averaging per game through the first nine games of the season. While it's difficult to point to a single reason why the ground game is struggling, it's necessary for the Packers to get consistency from their ground game while Rodgers is out.
We saw this week that third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien simply isn't capable of winning games by himself. He did throw for 339 yards, but his three interceptions were too much to overcome. In fact, his second interception that was returned for a touchdown by defensive end Jason Paul-Pierre gave the Giants a 14-point lead, which was too much for the Rodgers-less Packers to overcome.
Green Bay's game plan until Rodgers returns has to be to pound the ball on the ground. However, there has to be some consistency by the group of running backs for this team to have any success.
Last week, the Packers got a great first half out of rookie running back Eddie Lacy. However, he couldn't get anything going in the second half, where the Packers ultimately fell to the Eagles.
This week, the Packers weren't able to get anything going, with Lacy averaging less than two yards per carry and backup running back James Starks gaining negative-one yard on two carries.
This type of inconsistent play will kill the Packers every week.
There's no doubt that it's hard to lose your best player and one of the best players in the league. However, the Packers finally have the talent in the backfield to withstand a loss to Rodgers.
They're 0-3 without him, but there is still some time for this team to prove it is more than just Mr. Rodgers going out there and winning games. What it'll ultimately take to prove that is a more consistent effort from Green Bay's ground game.
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