Alex Green finished last Sunday’s game with 35 yards on 15 carries, not exactly setting the world on fire. Soon after, Packers fan panic set in.
“We have no running game with Benson hurt”
“Green hesitates too much and is indecisive…”
“We need a faster, shiftier back…”
Alex Green is fine, people. In fact, less than 12 months off of ACL surgery, he’s damn fine. While we all want instant gratification, Green deserves more time to get fully healthy and another offseason to get stronger. Green is better than Cedric Benson in all but one category, pushing the pile.
The problem with the Packers’ running game is the offensive line. There just aren’t a lot of clear holes there for the Packers running backs. There also isn’t much of a downfield push, either. In fact. the opposite is often true; opposing defensive linemen spend a lot of time on the Packers side of the line of scrimmage.
Take a look at this video of the first running play of the game:
Unknowingly, this play would set the tone for the Packers running game against the Rams. I’m not picking on TJ Lang here, although he admitted himself on twitter he did not have a good game. Lang was abused by rookie Michael Brockers most of the day (Brockers was the DL I was most hoping the Packers might get in last April’s draft). But Lang had plenty of company. The entire offensive line, even the usually reliable Josh Sitton looked a step slow and unable to contain the Ram’s young and talented front four.
There is no doubt this was a game where Cedric Benson could have helped more than Green. Benson has the ability to push the pile and fall forward to gain an extra one or two yards when there seemingly were none. I believe this is what Mike McCarthy was hinting at this week when he commented that the Packers left too many yards out on the field (too many 2 yd runs that could have been 4 yd runs).
For his part, McCarthy has been making some adjustments for Green’s style of running. During the Texans’ game, I spotted something rather unusual for Mike McCarthy’s offense – at least 3 running plays where the Packers pulled a guard (TJ Lang in all cases). Here’s the video of the first one I spotted:
As you can see, the play is never executed properly as Josh Sitton can’t keep his man from penetrating and Lang bumps into Sitton. And it surely doesn’t help that the Packers offensive line doesn’t have much experience executing such plays. Regardless, I was glad to see it attempted several times that game and again against the Rams. Let’s look at one such play from the Rams game:
Once again, Josh Sitton gets in the way, here, but this time Lang is able to continue on and execute the kick out block. The Packers also added Tom Crabtree to the mix as a lead blocker on this play, although he didn’t have much to do.
Without going back and studying the Packers games with Benson in the lineup, I can’t say for sure these are plays they put in specifically for Alex Green, but my guess would be that they are.
One more thing about Alex Green; even if the holes aren’t there and he’s not producing yards on the ground, he is very capable of helping in other ways. He’s a valuable weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and his pass protection skills have been rapidly improving. The following play illustrates both:
Green can do a lot of things for the Packers, but he’s not that push the pile guy at this point in his development that Cedric Benson was. This may result in James Starks getting some opportunities in the next few games, but don’t get down on Alex Green. He is the future for the Packers at running back. You’ll just need to have a little patience…——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.