Notebook: Run Game Under Microscope

It’s becoming a familiar refrain, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy once again reiterated what the Packers’ stagnant running game needs to get going, and it’s not just one thing. It’s better fundamentals by the blockers, consistency in who the feature back is, and a commitment to the run game by the play-caller himself, McCarthy. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Redskins Game Center Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 15


RB DeShawn Wynn scores on a 3-yard TD run in the first quarter Sunday againt the Redskins.

It's becoming a familiar refrain, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy once again reiterated what the Packers' stagnant running game needs to get going, and it's not just one thing.

It's better fundamentals by the blockers, consistency in who the feature back is, and a commitment to the run game by the play-caller himself, McCarthy.

"When you don't run the football, it compounds itself and your problems are ahead," McCarthy said on Monday. "That's what we're focused on, because you want to have all your horses."

The ground game produced just 56 yards on 20 carries in Sunday's win over the Redskins. That marked the fourth time in six games the Packers rushed for fewer than 60 yards.

McCarthy said the running game will get its due evaluation during the bye week. From a schematic standpoint, the most frustrating thing for McCarthy has been seeing the same blocking mistakes made over and over. Whether it's properly cutting off the backside pursuit or effectively handling combination blocks up front, the run-blocking unit hasn't improved as the season has gone along, and that's bothersome.

"I wouldn't say we've regressed, but we have not improved in my opinion," McCarthy said. "The things that bother you more are the common mistakes.

"There are some guys who are doing things really good in certain areas, but the common mistakes we're making, that's what we need to improve on, and frankly that's coaching. And I think every football team in America goes through that during the course of the year."

McCarthy said he would look into whether featuring one runner might help develop some rhythm and consistency within that part of the offense as well. Rookies Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn have gone back and forth as far as who's received the larger workload, depending on the health and productivity of each.

McCarthy also realizes the number of rushing attempts is way down, and that hasn't helped the team build a ground game. The Packers had just six rushing attempts in the first half against Washington, and even with a larger commitment to run against Chicago's cover-2 defense the week before, the offense still had just 22 runs compared to 40 pass attempts by Brett Favre.

"We need to do a better job of taking advantage of the seven-man box," McCarthy said, referring to the number of defenders near the line of scrimmage when teams play two deep safeties. "If you've got two backs in the backfield, and you cannot run the ball well against a seven-man box, you're playing uphill. And we have done that the last two weeks, really I'd say the last five quarters."

There have been a number of running plays called that have been changed to quick passes at the line of scrimmage by Favre because of the defensive alignment, but the commitment to run still needs to be there over the long haul.

"You want to be able to get in and out of the number of concepts you have in your offense so you don't become one-dimensional," McCarthy said.

Sticking with it

When asked what aspect of his team he's most pleased with, McCarthy pointed to the team's maturity and ability to overcome adversity.

That was missing during the early stages of last season, when close games at home against New Orleans and St. Louis were lost at the wire, and a bad third quarter snowballed into a blowout loss at Philadelphia, leaving the team 1-4 at the bye week.

This season a poor offensive showing against the Eagles, a failed goal-to-go from the 1-yard line against the Chargers, a late fumble at Minnesota, and a handful of missed scoring chances at the Redskins all have been overcome to register victories.

The Packers couldn't overcome their minus-4 turnover ratio against Chicago the previous week, but simply finding a way to win more often than not when everything doesn't necessarily go smoothly is a sign of growth for the NFL's youngest roster.

"That's good team football, and that's the way you have to win," McCarthy said. "It's not always going to be pretty."

That said, the message also is clear the Packers haven't played their best football yet, and that's a stride they'd like to hit as the season progresses.

"I think we're in that routine that I felt we finally hit down the stretch last year, and I actually talked about in our team meeting Saturday night," McCarthy said. "Just using the prior week's positives and negatives from the game to keep reinforcing how we need to continue to improve. Hey, we're a good football team. We're 5-1. And they don't hand out victories in this league. So we're proud of the fact of where we are."

{sportsad300}Down to one tight end?

McCarthy said the knee injury to Bubba Franks is a sprain and it may keep the veteran tight end out for a couple of weeks.

If Franks is unable to return for the Oct. 29 game at Denver following the bye, McCarthy said the team might look to sign Ryan Krause from the practice squad. The only other tight end on the active roster is Donald Lee.

"I'm very, very pleased with the way the tight end position has performed," McCarthy said. "Now Krause has to step in if it's his opportunity, and we'll just make sure we put him in positions to be successful."

Quarterback Brett Favre had his ankle rolled up on during the game, but McCarthy said he talked to Favre Monday and he'll be fine. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins has a leg injury from Sunday's game, and cornerback Frank Walker has a knee injury. Both players will be tested further, but McCarthy didn't indicate that either injury was serious.

See it again

Sunday's Packers-Redskins game will be re-broadcast on NFL Network's NFL Replay feature at 9:30 p.m. (CT) Tuesday.

NFL Replay condenses the game to a 90-minute format with exclusive NFL Films material and post-game press conference sound bites.

Those interested in the Packers' NFC North rivals can see a re-broadcast of Sunday's Bears-Vikings game at 7 p.m. (CT) Tuesday.

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