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Zero2Cool  
#1 Posted : Thursday, September 4, 2008 11:52:21 AM(UTC)
Quote:
Green Bay - The Green Bay Packers have high hopes for their revitalized running game - and it's not because they have a new quarterback.

Emboldened by their production in the second half of the 2007 season, the running backs believe they have the talent to rank in the top 10 among rushing units in the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback, Im not down on him whatsoever I just feel like the running back corps is strong this year, said second-year running back Brandon Jackson. We can carry the load. Its kind of a two-back system, if one guy needs a blow, you have a backup thats ready to go in and start up where he left off. Theres no gap between Ryan and when I go in.

Such confidence represents a complete 180-degree turn from a year ago.

In the 2007 opener, the Packers gained just 46 yards rushing and had just four first downs on the ground in a 16-13 squeaker over Philadelphia. It was the worst rushing debut in the league.

A trend was forming. The Packers running game was ranked last 32nd in the NFL for seven of the next nine weeks. The Packers were ranked 30th in weeks 11-13.

But then Grant emerged as the leading back and the rushing game improved, reaching its peak ranking after the final game of the regular season at 21.

The Packers are hoping that improvement signals the end of two and a half years of mediocrity.

In 2005, with injuries decimating the unit, the Packers rushing rankings finished the regular season at 30th. In 06 it finished 23rd.

The Packers should be more productive this season, they say, regardless of injuries or questions with the line and starter Ryan Grants absence from the entire off-season of work.

Grant proved a year ago that he could arrive late (he was acquired in a trade on Sept. 1) and still adapt quickly enough to push for the starting job, which he earned on Nov. 4.

Grant says he is not that concerned that he missed all of the off-season work and part of training camp as he waited for a new contract. When he returned to the field, he suffered a hamstring injury. He played one snap the entire pre-season, picking up a block while Rodgers threw to Greg Jennings for a 68-yard touchdown on the first play of the game.

Ive got to take a positive out of it, I feel fresh, my legs feel great. . . . Ive got to have the freshest legs on the team, Grant said.

Meanwhile Jackson gained all of Grants practice snaps and has felt more comfortable in his second year in the offensive system.

Adding Kregg Lumpkin, an unknown as a rookie but who is coming off of a stellar exhibition showing, the Packers expect this unit to be a lot better than it was before.

We have all the tools we need coaches, offensive line, athletes at running back, Jackson said.

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin has specific measurements by which he evaluates the running game and the one he looks at first is not total rushing yardage but average yards per carry.

He wants the average among his backs to be 4.5 yards. Last year it was 4.1.

When youre doing that, thats pretty productive, youre probably getting some consistent gains, Philbin said. The other thing that hurt us last year was we were kind of up on our negative yardage runs, so we want to cut those down a little bit.

That average needs to hold up every week, Philbin said; it doesnt matter if the Packers are facing Minnesotas massive defensive-tackle tandem of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams or not.

In 188 rushing attempts in the regular season, Grant averaged 5.1 yards per carry a year ago. Only Minnesotas Adrian Peterson (5.6 yards per carry) and Chester Taylor (5.4) and Jacksonvilles Fred Taylor (5.4) had higher averages among the NFLs leading rushers last year.

I want to average over 5 yards like I did last year, Grant said. Thats my plan. I know people say thats a heavy expectation but I know were moving the ball from a team stance.

The Packers also have high hopes for this unit because the two tops backs have different styles, which should make them tough to defend.

Hes the elusive, outside edge guy, Jackson said of Grant. Im the elusive, break-a-tackle, go-up-through-the-middle guy. When you have that combination, it is hard to defend.

But were both tough, hard-nosed, wont let one guy bring us down.

Whether or not Packers coach Mike McCarthy can really commit to the run remains to be seen. Green Bay, which led the league in pass attempts in 2006 and had the second most in 2005, looked to be headed down that road early in 07 as well until Grant emerged and the offense became more balanced.

Philbin said a truly balanced offense would feature 30 to 35 total rushing attempts per game. The running backs are interested to see if that will happen this year.

When you have a strong running group, you cant shy away from the stuff you know best and thats the run game, Jackson said. Hes going to do the best he can to get both backs in.
NodakPaul  
#2 Posted : Thursday, September 4, 2008 12:23:33 PM(UTC)
Quote:
The Packers should be more productive this season, they say, regardless of injuries or questions with the line and starter Ryan Grants absence from the entire off-season of work.

Grant proved a year ago that he could arrive late (he was acquired in a trade on Sept. 1) and still adapt quickly enough to push for the starting job, which he earned on Nov. 4.


That is great if you don't mind having a running game until November... I think injuries to the line and the fact that Grant has done nothing in the offseason will have an impact.
twebdonny  
#3 Posted : Thursday, September 4, 2008 12:49:34 PM(UTC)
One word:

[size=18]LUMPSTER![/size]

DJ
Greg C.  
#4 Posted : Thursday, September 4, 2008 12:57:24 PM(UTC)
Lots of big words from Brandon Jackson in this article. I hope he can back them up. I do think the running game will be improved this year, but the offense will continue to be pass-oriented. I'm not seeing any huge shift toward more rushing plays. I think it will be a very modest shift in that direction. I really don't care as long as the offense scores points.
bozz_2006  
#5 Posted : Thursday, September 4, 2008 1:39:21 PM(UTC)
" said: Go to Quoted Post
Lots of big words from Brandon Jackson in this article. I hope he can back them up. I do think the running game will be improved this year, but the offense will continue to be pass-oriented. I'm not seeing any huge shift toward more rushing plays. I think it will be a very modest shift in that direction. I really don't care as long as the offense scores points.
zombieslayer  
#6 Posted : Thursday, September 4, 2008 2:09:59 PM(UTC)
Quote:
In 188 rushing attempts in the regular season, Grant averaged 5.1 yards per carry a year ago. Only Minnesotas Adrian Peterson (5.6 yards per carry) and Chester Taylor (5.4) and Jacksonvilles Fred Taylor (5.4) had higher averages among the NFLs leading rushers last year.

I want to average over 5 yards like I did last year, Grant said. Thats my plan. I know people say thats a heavy expectation but I know were moving the ball from a team stance.


That would be great if we can do this.

Nodak is right though, that injuries to the line will be a problem. I think in the article, we kind of glossed over it and sugar coated it.

From what I've seen last year, when Grant had a bad game, it wasn't his fault, but rather the fault of the lines. He was getting hit at or even behind the line of scrimmage in his bad days.

Grant is elusive. He's a top 10 RB, and I really believe he can be in the top tier. I'm glad we signed him to a longer-term contract. But we can't let him get hit behind the line. Hopefully our OL will be in better shape as the year goes on.
Cheesey  
#7 Posted : Thursday, September 4, 2008 2:20:05 PM(UTC)
" said: Go to Quoted Post
Quote:
The Packers should be more productive this season, they say, regardless of injuries or questions with the line and starter Ryan Grants absence from the entire off-season of work.

Grant proved a year ago that he could arrive late (he was acquired in a trade on Sept. 1) and still adapt quickly enough to push for the starting job, which he earned on Nov. 4.


That is great if you don't mind having a running game until November... I think injuries to the line and the fact that Grant has done nothing in the offseason will have an impact.

I'll take what we have. I think the running game here will be fine, and WAY before November.
At least we will have a running game.......how's the prospects of your guys having a passing game.......ever??? :thumbleft: (j/k Nodak!)
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