The Green Bay Packers have without question one of the best passing offenses in the league, but their passing attack has failed to generate the big plays that the fans and opposing defenses were used to seeing last season. The Packers have been held scoreless in the first quarter in each of their first three games this season and have only averaged 19 points a game compared to their 35 points per game from last season.
With the passing attack having some struggles early on in the season, there needs to be a bigger emphasis on the run game, specifically with Cedric Benson. Last week against the Seattle Seahawks, Benson only carried the ball two times in the first half. The Packers were shut out that half and that was when, in the third quarter, Benson started to see more runs. In the third quarter alone, Benson ran for 48 yards on 10 carries for an average of 4.8 yards a carry. Those are great numbers for one quarter of play and is something Green Bay should have been doing in the first half.
This same first half also had Aaron Rodgers being sacked eight times. There were clearly problems with the offensive line on Monday night because they weren’t able to contain any of the Seahawks outside pass rushers. If the Packers had a more balanced approach to the game, the defenders would have had to respect the run and play-action plays. With there being no running game, the Seattle defenders were able to just focus on the passing game and get quick releases off the line.
Benson has proven that he can be a quality running back in this league and for the Packers this season. He is a great power runner and is the perfect type of back to have in goal line or third and short situations. There were a couple of third and short plays against Seattle where the Packers decided to pass the ball instead of running. Both plays weren’t very successful and the defense wasn’t fooled at all. At this point, defenses never expect the run from the Packers so Green Bay has the element of surprise right now. They need to start pounding the ball inside to create more opportunities for the passing game to get back into form.
This weekend the Packers will be going against the New Orleans Saints, who have struggled on defense this entire season. The perception is that this will be a shootout between two of the best quarterbacks in the league. However, this game is a great opportunity for the Packers to showcase their running game and to create confidence. The Saints defense has allowed more than 100 rushing yards in all three games so far this season and last week allowed 271 yards rushing against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Saints defense is soft and Benson is a power runner, so he should be able to have big gains on a consistent basis if the coaching staff is willing to run the ball this week.
The bottom line for the Packers is that they need to call more running plays to Benson to create a more balanced offense because right now, it’s the offense and not the defense that is holding the Packers back.
Follow me on Twitter @KVP_10