While all of Packerdom celebrates the return of the running game to the Green Bay Packer offense, close observers will notice a faint warning sign, one that has manifested itself over the course of the four games this season where the Packers have moved the ball on the ground. First, there was the stunning first half against the Bears, then the thrashing of the Broncos in the first half of a Monday night contest. Next came a respectable first-half output against the Chiefs, and of course, there was the Vikings game, where Ryan Grant gained 92 of his 112 yards on 12 first-half carries.
Now, you're not dumb. (You read this blog! ;) ) You see the setup here. The trend for the Packers running game is thus: Design a gameplan that schemes to exploit their opponents weakness. Basic, football 101. The problem comes in the second half, when the opposing defensive coaches have halftime to breakdown what the Packers are doing, make their adjustments, and then execute them. More often than not, they succeed.Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin hinted as much after the Vikings game, saying:
"I thought our first half (against the Vikings), we executed at a pretty high level for where we're at," said offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who tried to recruit Grant out of high school in New Jersey for the University of Iowa. "But certainly, we're a little disappointed in the second half in some things. I think it's better. We're getting a little better movement, a little better holes. It's still a work in progress, that's for sure."
Yes, the Packers are winning. But if they plan to win in December and (hopefully) January, they'll need to be able to gain the tough yards in the second half of ball games when they (again, hopefully) have the lead. But as Philbin says, it's a work in progress. Let's see if the Packers can start by running all over a Panthers team that is reeling after losing to the lowly Falcons, and by doing it all game long.
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