Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Packers Deny the Obvious

It's hard to argue that anything good came out of Green Bay's loss to Chicago Monday night ... unless you're not a Green Bay fan.

The Packers melted down in front of the nation, committing so many penalties (18) that if you cut the number in half, it's still too many for a team to be guilty of in a game. It's beyond absurd, really, that an NFL team not named the Raiders could commit that many fouls in a 60-minute game.

The other (actually, there were so many of these that "Another" would be more appropriate) startling development was how quickly coach Mike McCarthy abandoned the run.

Tuesday, McCarthy defended himself and his run game. Of course, there appears to be no run game to defend in Green Bay right now, but McCarthy says that's not the case. He spoke about John Kuhn and Brandon Jackson, who received all the designed carries Monday night (Aaron Rodgers had a couple scrambles).

"You have to look at what's the definition of the run game. I looked at this particular game, and I felt that our running backs were productive," McCarthy said.

"I thought Brandon and John played well with the opportunities that they were given with the ball in their hands and what was put in front of them.

"I thought the running back production was a positive in the game."

The numbers don't support a strong showing for the running game, but McCarthy seemed to hint that he was considering Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher as part of the evaluation.

He declared, once again, that Jackson and Kuhn are good enough to take the Packers to a winning season.

"I like our running backs. We are going to use them accordingly to get the ball down the field. I'm not trying to sell something that is not true," McCarthy said.

"Just because you don't line up and run it 25 times from the 'I' doesn't mean you are not committed to being productive with your running backs. If you look at the dynamics of our offensive personnel, we have the ability to play in a box offense. We have the ability to play in a spread offense. That is to our credit, and we're going to utilize that the best we can."

I get that the Bears play good defense. But the run game -- defined as the ability to matriculate the ball down the field without it being in Rodgers' hands or being thrown -- sucks.

Kuhn tried to get a few yards by cheating, but the Bears successfully challenged the play and exposed the officials' incompetence. He's okay, but nothing special, and he sure isn't going to break any long runs the way Ryan Grant did.

Jackson couldn't find a hole if he ran on a golf course.

The answer is not Dimitri Nance, a green back who was plucked off a practice squad, and so far has shown nothing to indicate he shouldn't be shipped back to a practice squad.

I'm not here to trumpet a free agent like Willie Parker. I'm also not here to say that Ted Thompson should actually use his phone for the greater good and deal for Marshawn Lynch.

But Thompson and McCarthy can't merely accept the offense as it is.

The lack of a running game -- again, defined as the ability to hand or pitch the ball to a thing called a running back and move the ball down the field that way -- is going to kill this team.

Rodgers is a very good -- if not great -- quarterback, but if he throws 45-50 passes a game because the Packers can't and/or won't run the ball, the Packers will see their season end before the NFC Championship Game.

That's not acceptable for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

No one thought the Packers would be in a spot where they needed a running back. You can't predict injuries, and you can't have a contingency plan for every player who can suffer a serious injury.

But when you get caught with your pants on the ground, it's time for action, not thumb-twiddling.

Oh, and apparently, "denial" ain't just a river.

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