The Lass Word: Pack is Being Built to Run

Could they actually run more than throw this season?

It has been 18 years since the Green Bay Packers ran the ball more often than they passed it in a regular season.  That was the 2003 campaign when Ahman Green had the greatest rushing season in Packer history.  Green carried the mail for 1,883 yards and 15 touchdowns.  He averaged 5.3 yards per carry.  That average is even more impressive when you realize Green also set the franchise record for rushing attempts with 355. 

 

Productive as that was, it wasn’t the best yards per carry average on the team that year.  Back-up Najeh Davenport rolled up 420 yards on 5.5 yards per attempt.  Third stringer Tony Fisher chipped in an even 200 yards, averaging 5.0 per carry. 

 

Now that was a running team.  Three backs averaging five yards per attempt or better.  All told, Green Bay ran the ball 507 times and passed it 473.  That team finished 10-6 and won the division, losing in the divisional round of the playoffs.  In the seventeen seasons since, the Packers have not come close to running the ball more than they threw it.  The nearest they have come happened...... you guessed it....... last year. 

 

In 2020, the Pack ran the pigskin 443 times, and threw it 526, a difference of 83 plays.  That was the smallest difference since that 2003 season.  In fact, it’s the only time the difference has been under 100 during that span.   It continues a trend of running more and throwing less under the Matt LaFleur offense.  The LaFleur system bases most everything off the run and it is showing in the stats.  In 2018, the year Mike McCarthy was let go, Green Bay ran the ball 333 times.  In 2019, LaFleur’s first year, the Packers ran it 411 times, and as mentioned, the total went up to 443 last season. 

 

Which brings us to 2021.  Could this be the year the Green and Gold gets back to running more than passing?  If Jordan Love is the quarterback, the coaches are going to want to take as much pressure off of him as possible, and the best way to do that is to run the ball...... over and over.  It appears Brian Gutekunst has been working on setting this team up to do just that.  There’s been an emphasis on adding O-linemen and tight ends who can run block effectively..  Wide receivers are expected to share in the dirty work as well and players like Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes Scantling have shown they are more than willing to oblige.  Both Aaron Jones (5.5) and AJ Dillon (5.3) averaged over five yards per carry last year.    

 

Even if Aaron Rodgers returns at quarterback, the Packers are going to want to make his play action game as successful as possible by calling running plays.  They may also see it as a good way to extend Rodgers’ career if they commit to him long term. 

 

If Green Bay does run the ball more than they pass it, they will join a very exclusive club.  Of the 32 teams in the NFL, only three accomplished that feat in 2020.  It shouldn’t surprise you that two of them are the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens.  The Titans are able to ride leading rusher Derrick Henry, while the Ravens have a running quarterback in Lamar Jackson, and hard nosed, shifty running backs in JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards.  Both were playoff teams and both are considered to be Super Bowl contenders again this year.  The third team to run more than pass was the New England Patriots,  though in this case it may have come as more of a necessity considering the lack of receivers on that team.   

 

If the ultimate goal is to achieve the perfect balance between run and pass, the 2020 Cleveland Browns came the closest.  The Browns ran the rock 495 times and threw it 501.  No coincidence the Browns had their best season in recent memory, beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, and played the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs tough before losing in the divisional round 22 to 17. 

 

The interesting thing is that Green Bay’s climbing rush play total in 2020 came in a year when Rodgers, on his way to his third MVP season, set the franchise record with 48 touchdown passes, and Davante Adams set the all time team record with 115 receptions.  No doubt, a big reason the Packers could run the ball more was because they were usually playing with a lead.  It is fair to wonder if the team will have the luxury of front running if Rodgers is not under center.  

 

Yet that may be exactly why this team is being built to run.  A Jordan Love team will need to play keepaway and will need to minimize the number of times they put their young quarterback in a third and long situation.  Take Ryan Tannehill as an example.  The Miami Dolphins didn’t see enough in him to keep him around.  Now in Tennessee, the running of Derrick Henry makes Tannehill look like an All Pro.  Could a big running game do the same for Love?   

 

Surely one could point out that Green Bay already had the number one offense in the NFL in 2020.  Why change anything?  The answer is because the Packers seem to be missing something they need to get them over the conference championship hump.  It’s quite possible the missing piece is the ability to line up in big games and run the ball down their opponent’s throat, instead of relying on the quarterback to make big plays in the 4th quarter to pull the game out. 

 

The Vince Lombardi dynasty teams of the 1960’s were a dominating running force.  Pro football has changed light years since then.  The rules favor the passing game in so many respects.  Yet, in almost every case, a good running team is a winning team.  Who knows?  If the Packers are able to run more than pass in 2021, they may just run their way over that hump to the Super Bowl.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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13 points

Comments (87)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
marpag1's picture

June 24, 2021 at 03:44 pm

Last year, only two teams threw more often than the Super Bowl winner. Only five teams threw more often than the Super Bowl loser.

Just saying...

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Crankbait's picture

June 24, 2021 at 05:46 pm

They better have a damn good defense if they plan on doing this!

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 24, 2021 at 09:22 pm

Crazy talk from the retro crowd stuck in 1919. This team better hope upon hope to get Rodgers on board without hesitation. This O line is built for movement in zone concepts not the last hurrah of the fraud, sherman. I liked Love in college and he was a value pick, but your main man just won the MVP and he wasn't running the single T offense.

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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 07:51 pm

Hey, jannesbjornson,

When you’re done wiggling your ears inside Aaron Rodgers’ rectum, pull your head out. We’re talkin’ FOOTBALL!

All in the spirit of good fun, man. Hope you’re well, jannes.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 25, 2021 at 07:54 pm

Still waiting for your fantasy trade, cornball.

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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 09:49 pm

Ha! You know I am....

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 25, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Which Tampa Bay had. Their front 7 is sublime.

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greengold's picture

June 26, 2021 at 06:45 pm

Defense wins Championships. It’s a maxim for a reason.

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greengold's picture

June 24, 2021 at 07:22 pm

Hey marpag1, your numbers are flipped.

5 teams had more passing attempts than TB. Only 2 had more passing attempts than KC.

23 teams had more passing attempts than Green Bay. 11 teams rushed more than GB.

28 teams rushed more than TB. 23 teams rushed more that KC.

TB was #1 defense in YPC allowed and the #1 defense in rushing yds allowed. TB is #21 in pass D, but #4 in sacks. KC was nowhere close to TB in rush D and sacks.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

June 24, 2021 at 11:22 pm

Thanks greengold. Trust you to come up with the right facts :)

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wildbill's picture

June 24, 2021 at 04:04 pm

I get the run first mentality. As the NFL has gotten to be a pass first league most teams play a lot of nickel and dime. Those DBs usually cover much better than a LB but normally don’t fill a gap or tackle as well as a LB. Successful running opens up the play action and creates nice passing lanes. In addition it’s very demoralizing to have the ball shoved down your throat and it wears down the defense.

I know none of this is new info to you guys but the NFL goes in cycles and I think you’ll see more teams put more emphasis on the run game. The Shanahan offense puts a lot of pressure on a defense and gets even average WRs open and you add a stud QB and it’s scary good.

I’m all for pounding the ball even if Rodgers is back. Smash mouth football is fun to watch, if it’s your team doing it.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

June 24, 2021 at 09:02 pm

Personally, I'm extremely tired of seeing defenses playing smash mouth kick ass football with our OL and TE's the past several NFCCG. Plus, go back to the Giants doing the same thing to us in the NFCCG.

It is time to turn the table and knock the Snot out of defenses.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 24, 2021 at 09:24 pm

Repetitive run option offenses then face four man fronts with their heavy backers in for the kill shot. The retro days ain't happening.

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flackcatcher's picture

June 25, 2021 at 02:31 pm

Tell that to the Ravens. I get what you are saying. But the weakness of modern NFL defenses is the soft 7 yard gaps between DL and teams back 5 nickel packages. Both Tampa and the Titans with Henry pounded their way into the playoffs. I wish Rodgers and MLF had shown more discipline and commitment to the run game last year. Oh well...

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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 02:59 pm

flackcatcher, you're so right on.

Running the ball successfully takes discipline and determination. Real commitment. I think we're finally going to have that with JL following MLF's wishes a bit more readily. Honestly, I cannot wait to see 50 carries split between our RBs. THAT is a day I will celebrate.

OL love run blocking too. They get more opportunities to exact their will, and wear out opposing front 7s. Add to that, every RB we have has big breakaway speed and abilities. This will be a lot of fun to watch.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 25, 2021 at 07:56 pm

Tell that to the team that shut down their run and waited for Jackson to gift them the sidearm, low-trajectory misfires in the playoffs.

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flackcatcher's picture

June 26, 2021 at 06:25 pm

And that still doesn't change my basic point. Which you damn well know.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 26, 2021 at 07:58 pm

Do you remember when SF won the Championship game and only threw ten passes?

I do. I want the Packers to be the team that runs defenses over.

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greengold's picture

June 26, 2021 at 10:03 pm

They can be. That’s the beauty of this offense. They can literally morph into attacking any opponent’s weaknesses. They are going to be difficult to stop.

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greengold's picture

June 26, 2021 at 08:09 pm

Jannes, I think you’re missing the main point of read-option offenses: disguise & illusion

It’s not all about how many runs you have, but rather, the quality of those run plays, and what they do to affect the opposing defense.

Two read-option teams, the Rams and the Chiefs, beat TB last year, in November, after Tom Brady had plenty of time getting to know his own offense, etc. TB had the #1 rushing D last year. Neither the Rams nor the Chiefs ran much, but it helped their passing games to be effective, and they ultimately won.

NO beat TB twice last season. Did they run a lot? No. But, their runs were effective in setting up high percentage short passes. For the win. Twice.

All 3 teams had great defenses. All 3 teams had solid running games. All 3 teams had few rushing attempts.

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PeteK's picture

June 24, 2021 at 04:16 pm

Much will depend on our O line. When will Bak return, will Turner settle in at Rt, and most importantly will Myers hold down the center position. One thing is certain , we will have depth.

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dobber's picture

June 25, 2021 at 09:32 am

Bodies...depth...

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BAMABADGER's picture

June 24, 2021 at 05:10 pm

Deion Sanders has one word to explain Aaron Rodgers - "Tripping". Not a Sanders fan but he is correct... Tom Brady's success has gotten into then heads of the great QBs like AR and Russell Wilson. They can't keep pace with the GOAT.

https://popculture.com/sports/news/deion-sanders-aaron-rodgers-packers-d...

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

June 24, 2021 at 05:19 pm

It's important to pose a threat by being able to throw the ball effectively. Otherwise a team is looking at trying to run through a brick wall of 8 or 9 defenders in the box. I hope we will be able to take what a team gives to us and do it well.

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Bure9620's picture

June 24, 2021 at 07:28 pm

The run fixes everything. Run the ball. It makes throwing the ball easier especially 3rd and short.

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dobber's picture

June 25, 2021 at 09:35 am

This is an important point, because very few DCs are going to build game plans that play the run over defending ARod...and with ARod under center, this team will always throw more than it runs. If Jordan Love is under center, he's going to have to be able to throw defenses out of those 8 and 9 man boxes. If he can't, it's going to be a miserable season and ARod--wherever he is--will be smirking.

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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 11:06 am

There's no question Jordan Love will have to be able to throw, and he can. Matt LaFleur is the perfect HC to guide him successfully through. I have zero doubts there. There will be coverage breakdowns. MLF schemes them. Love will be able to hit them.

It's not that I don't want AR to return, I'm just bracing myself for the idea that he won't. He's like that. With all that's happened, I do think it is still possible he gets traded before TC starts, or shortly thereafter. This wasn't part of the original plan, but the Packers can adjust.

In looking at our options, I'm kind of excited by the new possibilities of moving forward with Jordan Love under C as QB1 for the Packers. We may have no choice.

There is a chance AR opts out for the entire 2021 season by July 2nd as part of the COVID protocols, retaining over $18M of monies owed to him by the Packers. $11.5 M in signing bonus money and payments on his $6.8M roster bonus. This is a new fly in the ointment that I just found... Do the Packers trade him before July 2nd?

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/06/25/aaron-rodgers-does-inde...

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 25, 2021 at 12:56 pm

If he opts out he cannot rescind the decision. It will be an entire year not playing football and he would be a few months shy of 39 years old when he could take the field again. He isn't immortal and trying to keep his skill set sharp will be a huge risk to his career and brand.

If he does this, he will lose the PR battle big time...worse than Jeff George ever did. Fleeceing the Packers for $18 M in an immature, vindictive hissy fit when no one even has an inkling what his beef is...is not a good look.

And, I do not think he desires being out of the limelight, which an opt out would do.

Question: if he does opt out, what is the impact on the salary cap? Could the Pack have the space to get Adams, and players new deals done?

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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:07 pm

Hey LambeauPlain, I believe what AR does now has no bearing on a Davante Adams extension, in that his extension will likely save the Packers a lot on the cap for both 2021 and 2022.

I don't think he opts out, but you never know.

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:19 pm

Yeah G&G, your are probably right...however, my larger question is what impact an opt out would have on the cap this year. I don't know.

It would be good to get guys like Big Bob, MVS, etc resigned...if Rodgers opted out and created cap space this year to lock key player up.

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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:54 pm

Just got your answer. Apparently, if AR opts out this year, his cap charge would drop from $36.702M to $6.8M, a savings of $29.902M.

His 2021 year would transfer to 2022 at $30.402M, a cap savings of over $9M.

Jason Fitzgerald just posted an article on this at Over The Cap.

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 25, 2021 at 02:28 pm

Good work! Thanks!

$30 M added cap could be very helpful.

I still want Rodgers to come back....but this is getting very bizarre.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

June 25, 2021 at 11:53 am

If Love isn't able to find easy throwing lanes against a 9 man box we have much bigger issues.

Imagine the Packers in a 22. They've been hitting Dillon on the inside stretch run, Jones on the strong side over the edge. When the defenders get smart and start dropping a safety and the nickel into the box, they run a bootleg. The defense bites HARD. Tonyan leaks into the flat on the weak side. Jones is out at the LOS at the sideline, which leaves the nickel unsure if he should take Jones or Tae heading out the boundary 20 yards deep and ready to cut inside. MVS is SCREAMING up the right sideline and the FS is unsure who to take. To complicate matters, Love is turning up the field now and looks like he could run right around the weak side LB and just run behind Tonyan as he hustles upfield.

Rodgers rarely got more than 8 in the box and defenders were comfortable trying to push him back into the pocket when he went outside since there was little threat of him going upfield. Love will draw that extra defender, at least early, and he should be able to make hay with favorable looks when you have ball catchers flooding every level of the field and flat footed defenders who are suddenly backpedaling.

(A boy can dream)

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Minniman's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:18 pm

Defenses are going to flood Jordan Love (like any new QB) and make him consistently beat them with his arm and correct decision making under pressure - until then it will be stacked boxes.

Lamar Jackson’s throwing ability is still questioned - he’s just such a sublime runner that he can presently get away with it (he’ll eventually slow up and be made pay).

So O-line play and TE/WR blocking will be important - but so will good route running (Adams) and working back to the ball by receivers during fire drills and QB scramble plays.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

June 25, 2021 at 03:26 pm

This is also true. If he gets happy feet we're going to see a very different kind of 9 man box where opposing DCs are just going to send the house on every play and dare him to do *anything* other than go down.

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Minniman's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:19 pm

Duplicate post

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

June 26, 2021 at 11:49 am

Loved it! Handsome young man you have there.

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stockholder's picture

June 24, 2021 at 05:31 pm

Better late then never. As long as it's a balanced attack. I'm all for it.

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porupack's picture

June 24, 2021 at 05:46 pm

Good Post Ken, You are right that there will probably be more run plays. But that may not diminish the production on pass plays. Actually, both can have increase production....thus the complementarity that an effective pass threat on any given down, regardless of personnel out there makes the run game so much more potent. Similarly, the confidence to line up on 3 and 5 and run it, likewise opens up the possibility for quick blitzkrieg strike to MVS for a 77 yard TD. What I find impressive is the emphasis on above average blockers at the skill positions. That is smart way to pick up a lot of bonus yards. The ability to customize the game depending on the opponent presents a huge advantage for an offense.

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Oppy's picture

June 24, 2021 at 07:00 pm

This team was being built to run the moment they named LeFleur HC.
It's a run first offense that is built on large bodies and big formations.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 24, 2021 at 09:27 pm

Tight end driven edge work and hook zones right out of the Bill Walsh playbook. It's foundational west coast, but you better have your HOF trigger man to play out your fantastic vision .

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dobber's picture

June 25, 2021 at 09:37 am

None of Tennessee, the Rams, or the Niners has an HOF trigger man. The Rams suffered in 2020 due to injuries and Goff's inconsistency...the Niners had even more significant issues. All of them can run the ball when healthy, though, and all they need is competent, above average play from their QBs.

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Minniman's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:52 pm

“ all they need is competent, above average play from their QBs”

Posted similarly above - early on Love is going to be pressured until he proves that he can make correct decisions and tight throws under pressure. Only then will the run game open up for the Packers.

This is the significance of the Aaron Jones re-signing. He can receive those check-down passes, make YAC and still move the chains, which will frustrate defenses looking to bully Love while he hones his defense reading and mechanics to open up the mid and long range ball placement accuracy and throw timing.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 25, 2021 at 08:01 pm

None of them have won a super bowl recently either. By the end of the season theirRBs are battered. The formula for success is develop your run game in the last quarter of the season and let it jell by playoffs, especially
on the packertown tundra.

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dobber's picture

June 26, 2021 at 07:04 am

"None of them have won a super bowl recently either....The formula for success is develop your run game in the last quarter of the season and let it jell by playoffs,"

They've gotten to the SB on that philosophy and given themselves a chance in the last three years. That's a step better than the Packers have been able to wrangle with that formula for success in the last 10 years.

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greengold's picture

June 26, 2021 at 08:21 am

Only 4 QBs have led their teams to win the last 7 Super Bowls.

2 of them are really good. Brady & Mahomes.

1 is Peyton Manning from the 2015 season. The Broncos had the #5 Rushing team in the NFL, and the #5 Defense in the NFL.

The last is Nick Foles from the 2017 season. The Eagles had the #3 Rushing team in the NFL, and the #4 Defense in the NFL.

Exsqueeze me??? jannes???

Is Nick Foles a “HOF trigger man???” ...............Since............, when?

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Oppy's picture

June 25, 2021 at 11:38 am

The offense in question was designed and is implemented to take pressure off the QB. It has proven to be effective with less-than-HOF talent at the QB position repeatedly. In fact, Rodgers is considered to be the first example of such execution in this offense.

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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 12:22 pm

Oppy, can you imagine how motivated LaFleur is to see if he can get Jordan Love to play at an MVP level? Given all the BS that has been going on?

I can.

Matt LaFleur is one competitive dude. He will do everything in his power to help Jordan Love be as successful as possible. This absolutely insane QUAD of RBs in GB of Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Kylin Hill and Patrick Taylor Jr. will be difficult, if not impossible for opposing teams to stop.

The Packers offense will be a relentless assault on opposing defenses - even without AR. Load the box? OK. Here you go, Davante! Here you go, Amari! Here you go, MVS & Lazard...

The kid can make every throw!

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:10 pm

I expect the Packers' roster will have 4 RBs and 4 TEs and perhaps only 5 WRs...and 8 or 9 OLmen to power the run game and continue the "illusion of complexity" to open up the pass lanes. That will greatly help Love be successful.

You are correct Matt is beginning to show he is a QB whisperer...and Love also has the teaching of Hackett and Getsy too, who has been named pass game coordinator. And Bortles has a boatload of game experience to share. Jordan has a lot of help in his corner.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 25, 2021 at 05:43 pm

Math: 4 RB + 4TE +5WR+2QB= 15. And we suit up maybe 22 offensive players. That’s cutting it close on the Oline.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 25, 2021 at 08:05 pm

LA dumped Goff. 49rs have the greenhorn ready to start and can't find a team to move Jimmy G, and the list is growing. MVP gives you better odds to win the Big Game, regardless of the fans rationalizing and deflection from reality.

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Oppy's picture

June 27, 2021 at 11:04 am

It's too bad our MVP chokes in more big games than he doesn't.
Really a shame he bucks the trend you're outlining.

Here's the bottom line, Jannes. Every year I hear Packers fans whine and complain the Packers front office doesn't surround Rodgers with enough talent to win the superbowl- effectively saying one man isn't the difference maker- you need a team to win.

Well, that means, apparently, the Packers haven't been able to put enough team around Aaron Rodgers and his contract to make Aaron Rodgers a superbowl winning QB in over a decade now.

Maybe what Aaron Rodgers brings to the table, at his price point, isn't enough to get the Packers over the hump. Maybe the answer is moving on to a younger, perhaps even less talented QB, that costs far less than Rodgers, allowing the Packers to sign more high-talent supporting cast, and maybe the net sum will be greater than what the Packers can achieve with Rodgers and the limitations his contract present.

The rationalizing and deflection from reality seems to be firmly placed in some fans inability to cope with the fact Rodgers hasn't got it done in the post season numerous times over the last decade. The playoff losses tend to be marked by iffy QB play. That's reality.

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 25, 2021 at 02:39 pm

Not even in the same zip code as West Coast O. West Coast places far greater emphasis on pass vs run.

Have you watched the Packer O the last two years? Wide zone blocking scheme and one cut and go. West coast uses power run attack when they aren't passing.

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Stroh's picture

June 25, 2021 at 12:00 am

The offense isn't built on large OL, but on athletic/mobile OL. The zone blocking put a premium on movement ability at all OL positions. It's not a power running game.

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Oppy's picture

June 25, 2021 at 11:45 am

No, it's not a power run game, but it is Large WRs, large TEs/H Backs. Big formations. Everything is predicated off of the threat of running the ball effectively from all looks.

Btw, since you brought up the fact this isn't a power run offense stacked with massive linemen.. isn't it interesting how for over a decade McCarthy was ridiculed for introducing the zone blocking scheme, but when a new coach implements a zone scheme everyone suddenly touts the virtues of ZBS? Granted, MM built off the inside zone and MLF makes the outside zone his bread and butter.. but still hilarious the fan flip flop none the less.

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Minniman's picture

June 25, 2021 at 02:10 pm

In fairness Oppy, MM tried to do it minus the key TE pieces needed to make either scheme work. Not speaking for other posters but that was something that frustrated me.

Perhaps it was in reaction to poor\mediocre success of inside zone, but I also thought that MM’s thing was predominantly more pocket preservation for passing….. but again, that may have been out of necessity to create momentum (Lacy not being able to maintain his rookie focus etc).

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Stroh's picture

June 25, 2021 at 10:01 pm

They should, it's a team game. Heck Lazards best trait by far is his blocking ability!

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:28 pm

Yep. Versatile lineman who display equally good run blocking and pass pro, who have played in zone blocking schemes and have shown they have the feet and speed to get to the second level are the ingredients Matt and Gutey look for.

Watching some of AJs chunk plays last year you will see Jenks at the second level making a block for him.

Meyers is well schooled in the ZBS having played it at OSU. He, like Jenks, was very good at both run and pass blocking.

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packer132's picture

June 26, 2021 at 01:18 pm

Packers have built a bigger and stronger OL, and this could be the best year in some time. Its time to pound the ball with Dillon. Similar to the Wisconsin Badgers, who always have a great line and good RB's. With or without Rodgers, I hope the Pack run the ball more this year. LaFleur and his multi featured offense should be in for a good season. Amari and Deguara will help along with the improvement of the younger players.

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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 06:59 am

This is a good piece, Ken, and I agree with a lot of it.

The focus on being a good running team with LaFleur was always about opening up the passing game, versatility and deception, in order to keep opposing defenses playing honest, in a truly balanced attack. I think running more became the emphasis to ease Aaron Rodgers out successfully.

The teams that generally win it all do just about everything well. Let’s face it, a threat has been made to our once vaunted passing attack, and a solid run game will help foster the growth of a solid passing game for Jordan Love.

Now, in a weird turn of events, it might actually ease Love in successfully as a passer, without putting too much pressure on that process.

Look to the balance of Bill Belichick Super Bowl winning teams. They weren’t the best in everything, but they were good at everything.

We’ll see more explosive runs than ever. That’s for sure with this group.

In keeping with what a weird year this is, we might have so many explosive runs for scores, that Jordan Love will be able to practice his passing to finish out games... LOL

Carry the G!!!

7 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

June 24, 2021 at 09:25 pm

Agreed!

2 points
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DamSkippy's picture

June 24, 2021 at 09:15 pm

I prefer the three pronged attack, run, pass, pass to backs out of backfield. More versitile, forces defenses to think and be agile.
This would ge the highly tuned KC Chiefs.
Just thinking you can run over people and is mindless unless your the Titans with Henry. now they have the best two receivers in the league, they become very scary if they can manage themselves.
One thing an effective run gane gives your d a rest.

1 points
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Stroh's picture

June 25, 2021 at 12:03 am

Passes to the RB out of the backfield still count as passes. So it's still a dual threat of run and pass. It's not balancing 3 prongs, but 2!

2 points
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dobber's picture

June 25, 2021 at 09:40 am

The Chiefs have speed in buckets. They make a tremendous amount of offense on catch and run plays, and that nobody wants to try to run with Hill or even Kelce. Add to that an athletic QB who can make all the throws and extend plays, and that offense can really hum.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

June 25, 2021 at 08:12 pm

Still not Goff, Jackson or Jimmy G.

0 points
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Stroh's picture

June 24, 2021 at 11:52 pm

This is precisely why they drafted Dillon last year. They are gradually going towards a more run centric offense. We all know Jones needs to have his carries/touches managed. Having Dillon gives them 2 RB to punish defenses. Jones carries probably won't increase much, if at all. Dillon will take all Williams carries plus another 80 besides. Jones and Dillon will probably have about the same carries but Jones will be much more active in the passing game.

How close it trends towards a 50/50 balance will largely depend on Rodgers reporting. You also have to take into account how many runs Rodgers will change to passing.

If Love is behind Center, a 50/50 split becomes a strong possibility. With Rodgers more like 55% pass to 45% run, or more, for a variety of reasons.

Having Rodgers at QB will influence the D to stay in nickel and help inflate the RBs average per carry. If Love is QB defenses will start playing at least 7 if not 8 in the box. Rodgers mere presence dictates a more passing centric attack, and lighter boxes for the RB. The opposite is true for Love at QB.

No matter what the Packers are a vastly better team with Rodgers, than with Love. No disrespect for Love, but he's light years behind Rodgers. Not that he can't approach Rodgers in a few years.

8 points
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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 07:39 am

Very well said, Stroh.

I did a kind of stat deep dive on TB to see how they pulled this off, beating us and going onto win the SB.

They didn’t run well. What they did was pass, score, and most importantly, stopped the run & piled in sacks. Their pass D sucked, but they were #4 in sacks - the most consistent indicator when pointing to which team will lose a game. Their run D was #1.

I think they got lucky too. We were right there, not at full strength at LT & CB.

What it made me think was it doesn’t matter how you score, but, you have to be good at it, AND, the maxim: “Defense wins Championships.”

We are going to run, we’ll be really good at it, and it will help our QB and our D.

1 points
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VinceL's picture

June 25, 2021 at 07:38 am

No. The Bucs won the first half and finished out the game by capitalizing on Packer mistakes and poor game management by the Packers’ coaching staff. The Bucs played a better game even though the Packers had arguably a more talented team. Critical mistakes were the difference. That loss to Brady after the earlier loss in Tampa really messed with Rodgers’ head. He had a perfect chance to win a championship at home in January with the whole country watching. Good luck getting back to the NFC championship game with a 2nd year rookie quarterback and a tougher schedule. Our nfc-n rivals have improved their rosters too and without the Rodgers dramatic distraction.

3 points
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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 07:55 am

Pretty easy for you to just say “No,” yet TB did to us what I just stated.

TB stopped the run.
TB won the sack battle.
TB scored more points, easily.
TB got lucky our starting LT & CB were injured.

Whatever. The Packers made mistakes, of course, and I wasn’t doing a breakdown of that specific game. Their true lack of balance offensively was unusual.

They did the same thing to KC, but got lucky when Reid’s son tragically provided immense distraction amongst his Chiefs team, the night before the SB.

0 points
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VinceL's picture

June 25, 2021 at 11:14 am

My apologies. You are right.I haven’t a clue.

2 points
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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 11:29 am

Sorry, VinceL. That's not what I meant. I actually agree with a lot that you said there. I think we were talking about 2 different things, or I didn't communicate my intent well enough. My bad.

Yeah, I do agree that first loss messed with AR's head. He did have his best chance there, and we just couldn't do it. Wasn't all on Rodgers there, but I agree that was his shot to be great in that moment.

This will be a lot for Love, his first action in a Packers uniform, going against an insanely tough schedule. I think we face something like 8 of the top 15 Run D teams in the NFL before we hit the bye.

You're also right about our division rivals. If AR is out of the picture, they will be licking their chops, with no distractions like they are playing with house money. No question. Alll good points man!

Again, my apologies. I was too locked in on what TB did in both the GB and KC games to win it all, not on what GB did. Didn't mean to be dismissive on your whole take there. Cheers!

0 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:38 pm

The Chief's OL was a complete mess too. They limped into the SB but had to face the sublime Tampa D front 7. Complete domination in the trenches.

1 points
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Minniman's picture

June 25, 2021 at 02:20 pm

“ Rodgers mere presence dictates a more passing centric attack, and lighter boxes for the RB. The opposite is true for Love at QB.”

Because Rodgers has proven 50-times over that he can wait and make the throw under pressure if you stack the box.

Make no mistakes about it, defenses are going to make Jordan Love prove it too before they will respect GB’s running game.

1 points
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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 02:48 pm

Real life in the NFL. No doubt, Minniman!!!

Yeah, there is going to be a very big learning curve. That said, Aaron Rodgers is not the only one around who can read a defense, and make throws under pressure.

While that was clearly not a strength of Love's game coming in last year, I do think Matt LaFleur will be able to see him through that in the first half of the Packers schedule. Here are our 2021 opponents and their rankings in run D from last season leading up to our BYE week:

Week 1 @NO 4
Week 2 DET 28
Week 3 @SF 7
Week 4 PIT 11
Week 5 @CIN 29
Week 6 @CHI 15
Week 7 WAS 13
Week 8 @AZ 22
Week 9 @KC 21
Week 11 SEA 5

It is going to be a crash course. He's going to have to see it on the field too. Experience it. Do you think MLF will get JL a lot of looks in TC to help him understand what he will see, so he can make the right decisions? I do. They will capture as much on film as possible for instruction.

This 2nd year QB is what we are going to have to run with. Let's see what they can do.

0 points
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Stroh's picture

June 25, 2021 at 10:10 pm

Making Love prove it goes without saying.

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

June 25, 2021 at 06:03 pm

You’re going to have to explain “vastly better team”.

If teams play 7 or 8 in the box against Adams, MVS, Tonyan, etc, then they’re playing with fire. If LaFleur and Love can’t capitalize on that then neither one of them has any future in the league.

But let’s say the Packers are only an average offense, like they were in 2019? Could they possibly still be good enough to reach the Conference Championship? Like they did in 2019?

You know, most people think Rodgers was a lot better in 2020 than 2019. Yet we had the same record and got just as far in the playoffs with pretty much the same group both seasons. It kind of puts some questions in my mind.

1 points
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Stroh's picture

June 25, 2021 at 10:29 pm

Adams Tonyan and the plethora of #4 WR will be dependent on Love delivering! And he's light years behind Rodgers! The QB controls the game. This isn't rocket science. Even in the 60s Lombardi lamented that the QB had too much influence on the game. That has increased exponentially in the 50 yrs since. This is football 101.

1 points
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BradHTX's picture

June 25, 2021 at 07:20 am

The phrasing “rolled up 420” probably shouldn’t be used in connection with a football player. That could really “hamper” Davenport’s play.

4 points
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Guam's picture

June 25, 2021 at 07:35 am

Given the current rules which favor passing, I will be surprised if the Packers truly become "run centric" like the Titans or Ravens. I would like to see more balance in the offense which means running the ball more than they have in recent memory, but likely still throwing the ball a bit more than running it. Balance prevents the defense from loading the box or loading the secondary and makes them play both options.

Of course if Love or Bortles are the QB, the Packers may have to run more than pass at least this year.

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

June 25, 2021 at 10:09 am

As a wise man once said…….run more pass less.

Also, these short passes to the backs, the jet sweeps, the WR screens……you might as well consider them runs with a long handoff.

In 2018, the last season before LaFleur, we targeted the WRs about 380 times. Adams, Cobb, Allison, MSV, ESB.

In 2020, the WRs were targeted less than 300 times, and we led the league in offense.

This offense isn’t about throwing the ball downfield to superduper WRs. It’s been two years now. Time to acknowledge and accept.

2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

June 25, 2021 at 01:43 pm

Good observation, LH. In 2018, the Packers led the league in pass plays to the perimeter as MM was stubbornly dedicated to chunk plays. No other team was even close.

I recall during the bye week and MM did his "self scout" and proclaimed "we have to run the ball more...have much more passing off of play action too." Then he did neither to finish the season and his tenure in GB.

I like Matt's approach with his "illusion of complexity" and establishing the run to open the pass.

-1 points
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Since'61's picture

June 25, 2021 at 11:01 am

Drafting Dillon, Deguara and numerous Ols pretty much told us that the Packers are building a stronger running team. The issue will be how effective will the run game be, especially if Rodgers is no longer on the team to maintain the credibility of the passing game.

If Love or Bortles is our starting QB our opponents will stack the box and force us to win with the pass until one of them can prove they win with a passing attack. I'll expect that Deguara will have a significant role in our run game functioning as another guard for either Jones or Dillon and leading them out of the backfield.

Another factor is that MLF will not be able to utilize his entire offense while Love is still learning the offense. Defenses will be aware of this as well. Rodgers on the other hand can make all the reads and adjust the play both pre and post snap. That is a huge factor is maintaining balance and running the MLF offense effectively.

The run game requires precision. Precision comes with repetition in practice. However, with the CBA limit on practices it takes longer to reach a high level of precision. Ultimately, I think the Packers run game will be very strong especially as the weather turns colder but I expect there will be some bumps in the road early in the season as the team and Love evolve during the season.

The flip side is that the defense needs to keep the team in the game. If our offense is based on the ground game the Packers cannot afford to get behind by 2 or more scores. That will force the pass on them and lead to sacks and picks. If can play with a lead or play within one score the run game can remain effective. Big plays and easy TDs will be difficult to overcome with a round based offense.
Hopefully Barry's defense will be able to carry their end. Better play from our STs would be a nice help as well. Thanks, Since '61

5 points
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greengold's picture

June 25, 2021 at 11:17 am

Wow, Since'61. Great points.

First, you make me wish the ghost of Vince Lombardi could come down from the heavens in his khaki pants and a white V-neck t-shirt and land on the blocking sled, screaming encouragement to our OL: "DRIVE! DRIVE! DRIVE! That's it! There you go!"

Ha. Anyhow, CBA limits on practicing, especially in the run game, will make this a challenge. Regardless, I think LaFleur and Love would welcome teams loading the box, opening up the passing game. They will figure out how best to massage that, I'm sure.

Hard to say how limited MLF is going to be in what he can run, but, yeah, this will take a good 6 games before we'll really know what we have.

I do have a lot of faith that our D will be far and away improved this season. STs improvement will be a plus.

Cheers, bud!

0 points
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Since'61's picture

June 25, 2021 at 03:50 pm

gg, I’m figuring about 6 games to get Love and the new defense sorted out as well. At that point assuming no major injuries the Packers should be ready to play pretty consistently. Hopefully consistently well.
Every game that we can find a way to win over the first 6-7 games as Love becomes more comfortable can put us in a stronger position for a playoff run over the last 10 games.

I could see going 4-3 or 3-4 over the first 7 games and then 7-3 or 6-4 over the last 10 games. Hopefully we finish with 9 or 10 wins and at least a wild card spot. Cheers to you as well.
Thanks, Since ‘61

1 points
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Minniman's picture

June 25, 2021 at 02:28 pm

This post should be pinned to the top - it would have saved a lot of keystrokes from people……. But where’s the fun in that!

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

June 25, 2021 at 02:01 pm

Seems to me like a statement of the different principles between the MM offense and that brought in by LaFleur.

I read this piece as dressing that known direction up as if this is some devious Gute plan for QB change. In fact, it is the logical result of implementing the LaFleur offense that Murphy chose as our vision when he hired LaFleur.

Is this a sign of what is coming in the news desert of the summer break? I would hope we could avoid needless Rodgers-related aspersions like this.

1 points
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Minniman's picture

June 25, 2021 at 07:05 pm

All comments aside, I truly hope that Aaron Rodgers returns to Green Bay for one particular reason - and that reason is that, in reality, he laid an egg in the second half of that NFCCG..... and I don't want that to be my last memory of Aaron Rodgers in a Green Bay uniform - he was better than that memory.

0 points
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