GREEN BAY - For years the Packers opponents have been daring them to run the football. It appears they may finally have the ground game to compliment their powerful passing attack.
Aaron Rodgers is happy to see the way the team’s emphasis on the run has paid off. "I think it's the best we've seen in a while. We've done a good job of having some offensive balance,” Rodgers said.
Balance, because the Packers aren't just attempting to run. They’re successful at running the ball. Green Bay's 5.3 yards per attempt is the 2nd best in the NFL, a category they ranked 22nd in last year. They've risen in the rankings in yards per game as well going from 20th to 9th.
According to the most veteran member of their lineman, it's because they're working together better.
"The line is doing a lot of good things and we're communicating really well right now,” Josh Sitton said. “I think the communication hasn't always been there in the past and I think we're doing that great right now."
Tackle Don Barclay added, "I think it's just a combination of us blocking our assignments and the running backs just hitting the holes. I mean they're doing a great job finding them, letting them form, and hitting them when they're there."
According to the head coach, no matter how good the offensive line is playing the running backs still have a major role in how successful the run game is.
“They have to be decision makers. They have to run through the right hole set the blocks. Good runners make the run blocking even better. That's a fact and I think our running backs are off to a good start and we've been more productive because of it," Mike McCarthy said.
The Packers running backs readily admitted they think the big guys up front are playing well.
Johnathan Franklin had 103 rushing yards against the Bengals. Franklin thinks his line is playing well. "We have a great, great offensive line and those big boys have been opening up some holes for us. They've been working hard and it's exciting to run behind them."
Franklin’s fellow rookie running back Eddie Lacy said it takes teamwork to keep the running game going.
"It goes hand in hand. If the offensive line can get off with a good jump off, get their hand placement right, run their feet and as backs getting our steps where we're supposed to go helps them out so once you put them together it's pretty much set runs," Lacy said.
Lacy, drafted in the second round this year, was expected by many to be the player to end the Packers drought without a 100 yard rusher. Instead, Lacy was on the sideline with a concussion as both James Starks and Johnathan Franklin eclipsed the century mark in consecutive games. When asked if that meant there was pressure for him to be the next to reach the mark, Lacy just smiled and said “"Naw, just go out and play football."
The running backs are feeling no pressure and that may mean less pressure on Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.
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