The Packers, a Top Ten Rushing Team?

Packers Running Back DuJuan HarrisThere has been so much talk about the Packers’ running game this off-season. Fans are excited about the potential DuJuan Harris showed at the end of last season and pumped about the new draft picks.

This week I contemplated what kind of improvement the Packers run game would need to make to impact their offensive production.

I don’t think the Packers need to have the #1 rushing team in the league. We have one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now and you always… always want the ball in the hands of your best player. So, the Packers will continue to be very pass heavy.

But, what if the Packers could have a top ten rushing offense?

Packers Rushing Trend Since 2006

Packers Run Game 2013
Click for larger image.

Since 2006, the Packers have been averaging 105.5 yards per game. Over that same time span, the #10 rushing team in the league has averaged 123.3 yards per game.

The Packers average about 26 rush attempts per game. So, if they want to generate 123 yards per game, they would have to average 4.7 yards per carry. They currently average 4.0 yards per carry.

While that seems like an insurmountable jump, there were six teams in the league last season that averaged greater than 4.7 yards a carry. Achieving that productivity would be challenging, but not wholly unreachable.

The Impact of the Packers Improving Their Running Game

In general terms, improvements to the run game also improve our passing game and our offense, as a whole, is more productive. A good running back will force more people into the box leaving more one-on-one coverage on the outsides. Even when he doesn’t get the ball, a solid running back makes play action fake more believable. Right now we have this “you’re not fooling anyone” play action.

More specifically, it means less reps during the game for your defense. Our defense struggled last season and I wonder how much of that struggle was due to the fact that they were on the field more than we’d like.

Also, an improved running game would mean less reps on Aaron’s arm. Let’s face it even Aaron’s arm will get tired over the course of a game. The fourth (critical) quarter can be difficult on an arm that has been forced to carry the load all game long.

I previously wrote about Aaron Rodgers’ TDs per attempt stat. As astounding as that stat is, I can easily see those numbers improving if we can generate a real threat in the run game.

Wait and See

In a little over a month, we’ll start to get a better picture of whether the Packers’ run game will actually improve. If it does… watch out.

The Packers, a Top Ten Rushing Team?
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