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McCarthy: Packers' run game 'needs attempts'

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McCarthy: Packers' run game 'needs attempts'

-- While things could change -- for the better -- on the status of Aaron Rodgers' knee, they could be in tune with the state of the Green Bay Packers' offense.

At his presser on Monday, coach Mike McCarthy hinted at a possible increase in emphasis on the rushing attack heading into this week's meeting with the Los Angeles Rams.

"The run game needs attempts, that's really the biggest thing coming out of the self-scout," McCarthy told reporters. He said as recently as the afternoon following last week's win over the San Francisco 49ers that he'd begin self-scouting the Rams.

The Packers have strayed far and away from establishing any semblance of a ground game against any of the six opponents they've faced prior to their bye week. Rodgers had over 40 passing attempts in five of those six games, the season opener against the Chicago Bears being the only exception.

While there's been an extensive amount of desire for McCarthy to feature second-year running back Aaron Jones -- at least more so than the Packers' other two tailbacks in the stable, Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery -- their habitual shortcomings of falling behind early in games this season has caused them to stray away from their preferred game plan.

"When you throw the football, especially normal down and distance, you want to be higher in action pass than in dropback," McCarthy continued. "The action pass is where you want to do a better job."

To McCarthy's credit -- and much to the dismay of anyone befuddled by the concept of him taking this long to realize the running game needs to be implemented further -- he could be subtly implying a shift in offensive focus from pass to rush.

Depending on the day, the Rams could be the right team to solidify Jones and co. against, as they currently rank slightly above average in rushing yards allowed per game at 12th-best in the league.

Right around the same ballpark, the Rams rank ninth in the league in passing yards allowed per game. The threats of Lamarcus Joyner, Marcus Peters and any other of the Rams' impressive defensive backs perfectly justify trying to establish the run and open up the potential of play action, with which Rodgers thrived last week against the 49ers.

"We’re a couple plays away from being 4-2 or 5-1 and definitely a couple plays away from being the other way," Rodgers said after last week's win. "We’re thankful to be 3-2-1 right now and realize what’s in front of us right now and realize that this type of play may not get it done against the next opponent."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (46) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Point Packer's picture

Thanks, Mike. Deep stuff there. Nothing obvious at all. In depth analysis from a highly successful football coach. That's what you get when your favorite team is coached by the best..

juenzo's picture

Definitely time to establish the run game. Let’s just hope it’s not smoke in the air and they stick to it.

Tarynfor12's picture

The biggest hindrance to the Packer offense is their own defense. Unless they create turnovers to stop scores or allow FG's mostly, the run game again becomes moot for GB while the Rams just continue the assault in any manner desired.

This is a game where Pettine needs to show how he's different than Capers...no ' if's, but's, could've,would've, should've ' accepted....and if done, it cannot be a one step forward-two/three step back the following week/weeks.

This isn't just for Pettine but every defensive player on the team especially the you know ' who's who of paid failures to date.'

Christopher Gennaro's picture

Yep Pettine needs to bring his best, if the team has any chance in the next 2 weeks. I do have 1 thing to say in general, the Packers give up on the run as soon as they are down, which has been most games this year. The game in Washington was for me was the best example of just how quick the packers give up on the run. They were down early in the second, by mulitple scores, Jones was averaging around 7 yards per attempt, and Williams was around 5 to 6. So what do they do? Pass and pass and pass. I understand the wisdom of trying to get quick strikes to get back in, but when you are running as well as they were, come on, give it a chance, especially when its the second quarter. What's worse for me, is how do you help an average defense, clock management without your qb throwing it 40 to 50 times a game, just ask Drew Brees.

Jordan's picture

Why are the Packers always down? Let me help you.

In the first half of the Lions game, the Packers offense scored a grand total of zero points.

In the first half of the Bears game, the Packers offense scored a grand total of zero points at home (Lambeau field). Which is pathetic.

In the second half of the Vikings game, the Packers offense couldn't even score a touchdown at home (Lambeau field). Which is pathetic.

In the Redskins game, the Packers offense could only score 17 points for the entire game. Which is pathetic.

In the 49ers game, the Packers offense decided to stop playing in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

Spud Rapids's picture

Taryn we don’t agree often but your spot on here. This is where Pettine needs to shine, especially since he has the extra week. My only hope is that the offense finished some drives and they don’t put the D in compromising situations. Breeland should contribute to the game plan too so that will be interesting to see how they use him.

Lphill's picture

Mike McCarthy is an idiot .

Spud Rapids's picture

Stellar analysis... you thought this one up all by yourself?

nostradanus's picture

The Packers are not built to "establish the run" they are a pass first team and always will be under Mike McCarthy, history has proved that. This is not meant to be negative it is just reality. Pass to set up the run and not the other way around, just keep the passes west coast short and a pass is just as good as a run.
Go Pack

dobber's picture

The question is: when you have arguably the GOAT under center, how much do you want to take the ball out of his hands? Right now, the Packers are second-last in the league and average 22 run plays per game (that includes all ARod runs)...about 19 runs by those not wearing #12. Take away the ARod runs, and the Packers average about 4.4 ypc. They need the run game to be enough of a threat to make defenses account for it (in situations that are not obvious pass). Is that more a matter of number of run plays or execution/quality of run plays?

In Edit:
If you go back over the last 4 years, here's the Packers regular season averages for run plays (carries)...
2017 24/game, 20 by non QBs
2016 23, 19
2015 27, 23
2014 27, 24
2017 and 2016 look a lot like 2018. The common denominator is Eddie Lacy: since he played more than about 6 games (remember his injury vs. Dallas in 2016), the Packers just haven't tried to run the football nearly as much. FWIW....

Packer Fan's picture

The Packers don't have a good identity and not a lot of rhythm as an offense yet. Trying a down field pass on first down and being incomplete and then running on second down and getting stuffed which ends in a third and long. Too many of those are happening. I think Jones should be used more, especially in the first half and not platoon everyone. And mix in the short RB passes and check downs. I think the short check downs and swing passes can help move the chains just as much as a run. And the plays are taking too long to call and get up to the line. I like the no huddle offense for setting tempo and rhythm. Nothing new, just ways to attack the doldrums that happened in the second and third quarters against SF.

Since '61's picture

Since the 2010 SB I would wager that MM has stated that the Packers will focus more on the run game about 15 times, maybe even more. It has yet to happen. Now that he has said it for the upcoming Rams game we'll probably see less rushing attempts than we have all season.

I'm hoping I am wrong but we need the run game for these next 2 games on the road against high quality opponents. It will be imperative for the Packers to keep the Rams and Pats offenses off the field for as much as possible to have a chance in these next 2 games.

Our defense is improving. Therefore we need to play keep away and leave our defense fresh to make stops.
As for the defense they can't take any plays, or quarters off for that matter.

Another point is that if we win the coin toss we need to take the ball and hopefully drive for a score. No deferring. Let's take the ball, get a score and take the home crowd out early. Then put our defense out there with a lead and get a stop.

The Rams are good but they are also due for an off game. As for the Pats they are also good but their defense has given up 71 points in the last 2 games, 40 of them at home, they can be taken. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

ShanghaiKid's picture

If I was betting on it since 2010 I’d take over on 15 haha. In all seriousness you’re 100% correct. The Packers need more attempts to help keep the defense off the field. That said, I’m fully expecting the dropback percentage to increase and the running attempts to decrease. And that’s simply based on the fact that MM “wants” more attempts in the run game. It’s just his logic *shrugs*

Lare's picture

Talk is cheap, I don't know who McCarthy is trying to fool but he's never called many running plays and he never will.

Hopefully the next HC & OC are willing to use the weapons they have at their disposal and develop a balanced offensive attack.

flackcatcher's picture

Convince Rodgers first. I wonder how many times McCarthy has had that talk with Rodgers about committing to the run game early. McCarthy's presser he was pushed a bit by a reporter on the number of runs call. Most were ROP in the game plan. Unless Rodgers commits, no play fakes to the RB or deep shots will work in the passing game. At times, Rodgers ego becomes engaged, and he becomes his own worst enemy. Lets hope the bye week heals his knee, but also clears his head.

ShanghaiKid's picture

I’ve heard this too many times to take MM seriously. I’m selling.

stockholder's picture

This game is such a big test for the offensive Line. Suh hates a-rod. I would feel better if this game was in Green Bay. If MM wins it surly will stop the Bye Byes.

TXCHEESE's picture

The thing is, they can still spread them out and run the ball effectively. NO does this very well with Kamara. Rodgers just needs to stick with the run when it's called, unless he sees something he can exploit in the way of one on one match ups on the outside.

Lare's picture

Sounds good in theory, but McCarthy and Rodgers hate to give a running back the football.

Rak47's picture

Wow! Unreal! Did he really just say the run game needs more attempts? Ya think, mister highly successful football coach? With AR at your side I might add. Now that he's finally figured out the team needs to run the ball more [7weeks inseason]. The BIG question is, does he have any clue that most of those attempts should be going to Aaron Jones?

Rak47's picture

Seems I've heard this song before.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I think MM said more running attempts, and not more running attempts for Jones. Even had he done so, I don't think MM says what he means or means what he says. The only possibility (alluded to by Flak) is that MM is really trying to speak to AR.

Maybe MM/Philbin are still trying to get AR to buy into that quick rhythm passing and playing within the offensive structure thing. Oh, and running the ball more.

WMA's picture

"The run game needs attempts, that's really the biggest thing coming out of the self-scout,"

DUH

Guam's picture

This is a very tired refrain from MM, but it did occur to me that maybe he is talking more to his QB than he is to anyone else. I wonder if our dearth of running plays is McCarthy not calling them or Rodgers checking out them at the line of scrimmage. Have no idea if this is true, but MM is not a stupid man and even he has to know he sounds like a broken record. Anyone with more football smarts than me have an idea how often Rodgers changes the play at the line scrimmage?

Lare's picture

"Anyone with more football smarts than me have an idea how often Rodgers changes the play at the line scrimmage?"

Rodgers and McCarthy both talk about running the ball more frequently fairly often, but they never do it so I'm guessing the blame is equally shared. They both just seem to love trying for the 30-40 yard pass downfield.

That said, I think the final decision is Rodgers'. Once he audibles out of a play at the line of scrimmage there's nothing McCarthy can do at that point.

Guam's picture

There is no question QB's love to sling the football and MM has always been a pass first coach, so I share your belief that they both have a hand in our microscopic running game. I wish they would either own up to their pass happy ways or just stop talking about the running game. As Since '61 indicated, it just isn't believable anymore and hasn't been for some time. I just find it odd that MM keeps harping on it despite the track record.

Lare's picture

"...........it just isn't believable anymore and hasn't been for some time. I just find it odd that MM keeps harping on it despite the track record."

Frankly, I think it's just a lame attempt at some gamesmanship on McCarthy's part. I'm sure the Rams aren't fooled at all by it though, just like they're not fooled by all the Rodgers knee injury speculation.

Oppy's picture

Rodgers has only recently (as in, this year) started talking about the need to run the ball more, and it seems to have sprouted up after games where the offense was poor.. and watching those games, it seems the problem is a QB who doesn't get the ball out of his hands without 5 seconds passing by, despite check down options available.

To Guam's point, I've been sounding the alarm that MM has been directly speaking to his tone-deaf QB about run attempts for years on end without blatantly calling him out and airing dirty laundry to the press. I'm about as convinced as I can be this is about Rodgers at the LOS.

Come to think of it.. has Rodgers been calling for the offense to *run* the ball more with Aaron Jones, or has he been calling for Aaron Jones to get more *touches*, or getting the RB's *more involved* throughout the last 4 weeks? I don't know, but I wonder if it isn't a semantics game being played. After all, MM could be saying we need more rushing attempts, and Rodgers could be sneakily saying "we need to get the ball into Jones' hands more", but that's not the same thing as Aaron Jones getting run snaps. Could be a subtle nuance.

flackcatcher's picture

Don't worry about the football smarts, you got plenty here. This problem goes back as far as 2014, when McCarthy stripped Rodgers from running the pass option after the Bengals game. In reality ROP is half of the Packers game plan, so what is McCarthy supposed to do, short of benching QB1. Like everything else in this QB centric league, it's up to Rodgers to commit to the run game and make it work.

The TKstinator's picture

McCarthy stripped Rodgers of the ability to change plays at the line? I never heard that! Has he since reinstated that ability?
(Not being a dick here; seriously interested and surprised I hadn’t heard about any of that.)

Oppy's picture

If I'm not mistaken, it was the year MM gave up play calling duties, and then halfway through the season, took the reigns again.

Rodgers was at the time being a bit defiant it seems and MM did indeed take away some of his freedoms. Not on ALL play calls, but MM did tell the press there were some plays going in that Rodgers was not allowed to check out of to an entirely different play. After a few weeks, I believe things went mostly back to normal.

It was not a long term change. It was a short term change imposed to get the train back on the tracks.

flackcatcher's picture

The huge augment between the two was McCarthy had call three straight runs early in the second quarter, and Rodgers changed the call at the line. No audible, just flat out changed the call. That's what I was told. Rodgers referred to it in his locker room presser after Tampa Bay (I think) about how McCarthy had increased his call options at the line. Last year I talked to an assistant coach (now with another team) about the blow up during OTAs. He told me Rodgers had been restricted in what calls he could make for a couple of games. He got full control back, message sent and received. At the time there were those on the offensive side of the house that felt Rodgers was being too reckless. After the injury to Rodgers hamstring those problems went away. We forget how good the Packers OL and running game was that year, and McCarthy wanted to commit to the run, so he could set up the play action pass game. We would have never known if TV hadn't caught them on that sideline shot. The only reporter to press both Rodgers and McCarthy publicly on this was Jason Wild of espn, surprisingly they both confirmed it, but downplayed what happened.

Oppy's picture

Rodgers has been getting too big for his britches for quite a while. It really pisses me off that McCarthy takes the heat from fans in regards to run attempts, for instance, and while he could easily quiet all the questions about his supposed play-calling shortcomings when it comes to running the ball by telling the press "I sent (x) number of run plays into the QB today, but only (x-y) run plays were executed at the LOS", he never will. Because he is the head coach, and he takes the heat for his players. Because he has respect for his players. Because he doesn't frequently air team dirty laundry.

This is why, for years, MM has simply said about the run game, "We need more attempts." It is flatly factual without pointing a finger.

The TKstinator's picture

Tasty.

Rak47's picture

RPO= Run Pass Option.

The TKstinator's picture

I think it’s Tony Romo we can (thank/blame) for the popularity of that term.

JHitTheB's picture

Taryn - GB is 15th in scoring D (the only number that really matters)...4th in total D...3rd in passing D...they also avg something like allowing 7 points in the 2nd half. Pettine has already shown how he is not Capers and his 2nd half adjustments have been spot on. But I agree he needs to translate all that into the 1st half and not give up 20+ in the 1st 2 qtrs. I want to see a solid 4 qtrs on D. I want to see forced turnovers and BIG hits. Arm tackles aren't going to get it done against Gurley.

Since 61 - usually I prefer to get the ball in the 2nd half but you hit the nail on the head. These next 2 games they need to take the ball and score a TD on the 1st drive. No settling for fgs in the redzone. That's just not going to cut it. Gotta control the ball and the clock - keep Gurley on the sidelines. No stupid pointless penalties. No more of this 3rd and 10+ every damn drive.

Razer's picture

...The run game needs attempts...

Yes it does. It also needs a better design. Having Rodgers under center and a RB behind him then running between the tackles is great 70's football. We need to be more creative out of the backfield. I am not sure that McCArthy or Rodgers are capable of this. And yet, a REAL run game will be the salvation of both their careers.

Make it so.

4thand1's picture

The run game 'needs attempts'........................................................NO SHIT

PAPackerbacker's picture

The run game needs more attempts. Well DUh!! Do you really think so? And stick with the run game. Don't be so damn quick to abandon it if an attempt only gains a yard or 2. You don't abandon the pass when there are 3 straight incompletions. Sooner than later Jones, Williams, and/or Monty will break a big gain and open up the play - action. My guess is it would be Jones. The same old same old approach to this game will result in a blow out by the Rams. The Packers can't afford to fall behind by 20 or more points against the Rams potent offense. Playing catch up in the second half is not a good game plan. Start strong, remain strong, and end strong. Time for some old fashioned smash mouth, in your face, football. Run the ball right at them and run it with authority. Then when you have their attention go deep to Adams, Allison, or Cobb. And don't be afraid to throw to one of the talented rookies either. Go! Pack! Go!

Chuck Farley's picture

Typical mental Mike. Ya mike an effective run game keeps your crappy defense off the field and the powerful ram offense off the field too. Duh!

Play Action? Mike has no idea what play action is. He has zero of them on his charts.
First you need speedy receivers out of the back field and a mobile qb. You got neither Mike. Your qb is what 35 now. Mobile he ain't, never was.

Oppy's picture

You need speedy receivers out of the backfield and a mobile QB to run a play action pass?

Dude, you clearly don't know what the eff you are talking about.

Donster's picture

McCarthy, while walking up to the podium to give his press conference, the little hamster in his head keeps telling him "tell them you are going to call more run plays, get the running backs more involved. Remember, you can't beat them with brains, so you have to beat them with bullsh*t. Now, when the presser is over, let's go get a triple cheeseburger. And don't forget the fries and a large shake. You have to keep your figure you know."

LambeauPlain's picture

The O is getting into too many 3rd and longs this year resulting in 3rd and outs.

A weapon like Jones can get you to 3rd and short and makes the play action pass so much more potent and opens up the short pass options.

Maybe MMs deep dive into his self scout that told him to run more also gave him the light bulb realization they have one of the best run blocking TEs in the NFL on the team. M. Lewis has hardly played all season!

Slim11's picture

This is a blinding flash of the obvious!

In several games, GB has started with a very effective run game. Teams don’t seem to worry about the Packers’ run game in that they know MM will abandon the run game once they fall behind.

The next part falls on MM and Rodgers. They seem to look for the deep pass more often than not. Again, this enables opposing defenses to ignore the run. The way to correct this is to run when the opportunity is there. Remember forcing your will (game plan!) on your opponent?

Run opportunities have been there! Rodgers has to stick to a short passing game AND runs to stay out of third-and-long situations. This will also keep the Rams’ offense on the sidelines and keep the defense from getting gassed late.

ILPackerBacker's picture

Total Disclosure: Have not watched a ram game this year.

But hope springs eternal. It was not long ago that packer fans and press (none of whom actually watch or understand football) were watching a 6-0 packer fast start and MARVELLING at the OL dominance, scoring, WRs stepping up.....a high scoring team over 27 points per game

and after a bye week the experts were predicting the slaughter of a bad bronco team.

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