The Green Bay Packers have been one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL over the last few seasons. The team was hoping the addition of Cedric Benson would improve that statistic, and to be honest, it still very well could. After losing to the San Francisco 49ers last week, do not judge the Packers running game quite yet.
The 49ers had one of the best run defenses in recent memory last season. They allowed only 77.2 yards per game during the regular season and only three rushing touchdowns all year. To give an example of how good those statistics are, the Baltimore Ravens had the second best run defense and they allowed 15.4 yards more per game. The Pittsburgh Steelers also had a good defense against the run and they gave up four more touchdowns on the season.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh have historically been known for their great defense, which is why both teams make the postseason every year. San Francisco topped both of them last season and should not lose anything defensively this year.
Although rushing for 45 yards is embarrassing, the Packers should not be ashamed considering whom they were playing. Green Bay was not prepared to face a defense such as the 49ers because they did not play anyone remotely close to their talent in the preseason.
One thing is for certain, the Packers offensive line must do a better opening up holes for Benson to run through. 18 yards on nine carries for an average of two yards per gain is unacceptable. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been the top rusher for a majority of the games the last two seasons, but if Green Bay wants to win another Super Bowl, they have to change that. It is great that Rodgers is athletic and quick enough to pick up first downs with his feet, but I personally would rather have him stay in the pocket and let the running backs do the ground work.
The good news is I still believe the Packers rushing attack will be better this season. It is unfair to use the first game as an example for how the rest of the year will turn out. Nobody expected Green Bay to run the ball against San Francisco, as several teams will struggle with the same problem.
However, that means the Packers must come out running the ball with confidence against the Chicago Bears Thursday night. Green Bay must establish some kind of run attack. Otherwise, Chicago’s dynamic pass rushers will swarm Rodgers throughout the game.
The Packers can think of it as a clean slate if they want, but regardless, they must run the ball. The offensive line must hold their ground, push back defenders, and open gaps for the backs to bolt through to gain positive yardage. No longer can the tackles and guards get stood up on the line as they did against the 49ers.
If Green Bay is able to establish a solid running game, then the Packers offense will simply be unstoppable. There is no defense in the league that will be able to stop Rodgers and the receivers while also having to worry about Benson.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.