Packers Have a First & Goal? Run Away! Run Away!

Why do the Packers make first and goal so hard?


There’s a shortage of therapists in America and, if you’re a Packers fan, you’re hurting today—you’re really hurting. You thought the Packers were storming the Vikings’ castle but, next thing you knew, livestock was landing on your head.

But if you can hang in there, I promise it will get better. Why?

The Packers clearly missed Wide Receiver Allen Lazard against the Vikings--not just for his height, route running, experience, and connection with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but for his run blocking.

Not only would Lazard’s blocking have helped open holes on the second level for running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, but it allows the coaches to run plays that look identical but could be a run or pass. That premise, “multiplicity of plays off identical sets,” is basic football but a strength in Coach Matt LaFleur’s offense.

Just as the San Francisco 49ers missed TE George Kittle in week 1 because he’s their best receiver and can quickly get to the edge and seal it for the runner in the outside zone, so the Packers missed Lazard.

Packers fans old enough to watch the team’s run to its last title in 2010 will remember that Jordy Nelson was in his second year and James Jones in his third. Jones dropped a sure long touchdown in the Super Bowl nearly identical to Christian Watson’s drop in his first NFL play. But, when veteran wide receiver Donald Driver got hurt in the Super Bowl, Nelson and Jones rose to the occasion. So there’s hope.


The good news against the Vikings was the Packers' special teams improved. They even had the right number of guys on the field!

Their new ace gunner, Rudy Ford, flashed his ability to get down the field quickly and hold up the returner, even if he didn’t immediately make the tackle.

Still, there’s room for improvement. For example, Amari Rodgers had a fair catch inside the Packers’ 10-yard line.

Ron Wolf once told me, if you see someone making a fair catch inside the 10, it’s a mistake: More times than not, it’ll roll into the end zone for a touchback. Or, as former Packers punter Sean Landeta told me, if the punter knows what he’s doing, the punt will always bounce back toward the punter. Either way, don’t fair catch inside the 10. Will the Packers bring in a player just to return kicks at some point? It worked with Desmond Howard.

They’ll have a serious challenge against the Bears’ special teams on Sunday night. While Da Bears no longer have punt returner Jakeem Grant (now in Cleveland) and his 4.3 speed, they do still have Khalil Herbert who returned five kicks for 128 yards against the Packers last December.

Bears fans are confident. One of them put a sticker on this buoy I saw on a lake in Wisconsin: 

If the Packers win, they’ll make the Bears just like that buoy: Hitting rock bottom and owned by a man from Wisconsin.


Chris Hollenback worked for the Packers in 1998-1999, he has written for and other media outlets, he's much shorter than Derrick Mayes and Brett Favre nicknamed him Chris "To-hell-en-back." Follow him on twitter at @CHollenback




6 points

Comments (11)

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Starrbrite's picture

September 13, 2022 at 07:49 pm

Now that was both funny and interesting—-“livestock dropping on your head”—-cracked me up.

5 points
egbertsouse's picture

September 13, 2022 at 08:22 pm

Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!

8 points
MooPack's picture

September 13, 2022 at 08:34 pm

Love Monty Python. This game the Packers felt like the black night yelling "tis but a scratch" as his arms and legs are chopped off. A comedy of errors.

And 1 is a match of strength and will. Until the Packers can overcome this obstacle, the result will remain the same.

Would love to see this alignment in those situations now that Caleb was called up. I posted this in another thread - "Packers Offensive Line Remains a Mystery".

How about this for a beefy 4th/goal and 1 line?:
Walker - 324
Jenkins - 311
Myers - 310
Rhyan - 321
Jones - 340
Throw in Mercedes Lewis - 267
Hand the ball to Dillon - 247
Run Right. Push young men, push. Who's going to stop that?

Of course now that the season has started Jenkins has to return to form and the rookies have to start proving their worth. I'm hopeful this line is correctable.

3 points
Coldworld's picture

September 14, 2022 at 10:57 am

Nijman, Tom/Runyon, Myers, Newman, Walker/Jones.

Lewis as an extra OL on the right and the other of Walker/Jones spelling him. Run behind them maybe, but keep Rodgers upright an at least remove route one through Hanson.

1 points
GregC's picture

September 13, 2022 at 09:06 pm

I think the rule about not making a fair catch inside the 10-yard-line may be outdated. It seems like it's more like the eight-yard-line nowadays. I don't necessarily agree with it, but maybe there are some analytics in play here.

7 points
Littlejim51's picture

September 14, 2022 at 04:45 am

Rodgers did look confident in his ability to catch punts. Baby steps.
I do like the idea of bringing in someone ala DH

0 points
Coldworld's picture

September 14, 2022 at 11:00 am

The problem with Rodgers is that he’s clearly not part of the O. He has to be good on STs. We’ve yet to see if he’s good enough outside in weather, but Sunday was a start.

0 points
Tundraboy's picture

September 13, 2022 at 09:44 pm

Thanks for the.comic relief. As a huge fan and someone who has seen the Grail over a dozen times a great many in theatersl I picked up the reference immediately.


3 points
T7Steve's picture

September 14, 2022 at 07:36 am

I used to love it when we got the ball inside the ten. It just meant a longer scoring drive and kept the D off the field.

How things have changed!!!

2 points
bbellin's picture

September 14, 2022 at 10:43 am

Great insight Chris!!

1 points
croatpackfan's picture

September 14, 2022 at 11:26 am

Nice use of Monty Python. They are legends.

On the other hand, I think it is prety pathetic if you depends on one player, no matter which one. Football is team sport and every team has their own flaws. It is coaches' job to recognize those flaws of the opponent and use it for their team advantage.

Just one example - it is known now in the league that middle throws at medium distance you do not need to cover if your opponent is Aaron Rodgers (especially if he has no WR he trusts him). Vikings explored that and you have the result. On the other hand, if you put pressure on Kirk Cousins, you'll stop their passing game.

What we saw? Exact opposite plan from Packers.

I know that Jordan Love played in garbage time, but Vikings kept D by their original plan. Result is 4 of 5 catches and 65 yards. 75% of Jordan Love was in the middle at middle range (10 to 15 yards).

I understand that we did not know what will looks like against them, as they had new HC, OC and DC, but that is why you need to make adjustments during the game. We did not see any.

I have no doubts that Packers will offer better outing vs Bears, but still not convinced if that will be enough.

God forbidden, Goff was playing like pro bowler against very, very stout Eagles D and still manage to score 35 points. That was freightening show for Packers. All 3 divisional opponents played well, while we were disastrous...

0 points