The Packers’ inability to mount a consistent rushing attack left them fighting for a win on Sunday against a team that was expected to be easy prey.
“We came in to be a little more balanced. We hit that but the efficiency wasn’t there,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said of a running game that got 26 cracks at the line of scrimmage, but produced only 66 yards and a 2.5 yards-per-carry average.
“The run game is not good enough. We’ll be ready for Arizona,” McCarthy vowed.
Green Bay’s run game wasn’t ready for Jacksonville, which brought to Lambeau Field a defensive scheme that flooded the passing lanes and dared the Packers to transfer the ball from quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ hands to those of a weakened stable of running backs.
“You have to give them credit. They played their scheme. They brought pressure (blitzes) a couple of times. Stop the run with six in the box. Mission accomplished with them,” Rodgers said.
The Jaguars were able to execute their scheme as a result of the play they got from their defensive line, especially from tackles Tyson Alualu and C.J. Mosley. The Packers kept hammering at the Jaguars interior, but the wall wouldn’t fall.
Rodgers took a couple of sacks early in the game, and that caused McCarthy to abandon the Packers’ no-huddle offense, to slow down the tempo and allow Rodgers to gather himself.
“I got away from that after the hits on the quarterback,” McCarthy said.
The Packers’ ineffectiveness on offense led McCarthy to attempt another one of his special teams trick plays, this one a fake-punt pass attempt by Tim Masthay that fell far from its target and gave the Jaguars prime field position at a critical point in the game.
“Pretty obvious the decision that was made was not the best decision,” McCarthy said.
A stronger running game would allow McCarthy to be more conservative in such tense situations. On a particularly important third-and-one play, running back Alex Green tripped and fell before he could get to the line of scrimmage.
The running game’s failures have left the Packers to primarily attempt passes to convert third-and-one types of plays. It’s put increased pressure on the passing game, which is playing, of course, without star wide receivers Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson.
It also put pressure on the defense to lead the way in this win, and that’s exactly what happened.
“Our defense came out of the locker room in the second half and did a tremendous job. They flew around. Defense definitely picked it up in the third quarter. That’s what good teams do,” McCarthy said.
Some would say good teams also run the ball productively, especially against a Jaguars team that was 29th in the league against the run coming into the game, and was daring the Packers to run it.
“We’re 5-3 and right in the mix,” Rodgers said, and that’s no less the truth, but it would have a much better sound to it if the Packers could find a running game. Additional coverage - Packers vs. Jaguars