Packers Video: Alex Green Is Fine, Line Needs to Block Better

Packers running back Alex Green
Packers running back Alex Green
Packers running back Alex Green

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…

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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.

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  • Rick Racic

    You are a more optimistic and patient man than I. I agree that our O-line is not winning the battles at the line nor does it seem to know how to run block. Given that the line is a marginal run line, we need a bigger talent in the backfield to at least make a tackler miss. Benson, on the downside of his career, still has the instincts and strength to make this happen. I fear that Green is another Ryan Grant level runner. As Vic Ketchman always says “players not plays”.

  • Turophile

    I think Green may be the future at RB……but as a third down option.

    I believe we badly need to draft a quality power back this year. We also need to hand off to him from a QB under center, not from the shotgun, which just plain doesn’t work.

    I know we are a passing team but the threat of the run only works when it is a credible threat. If you want to see defences facing the Packers forced out of the 2 deep safety look, marching downfield running the ball will do that.

    • Grant

      I agree with Alex Green as a 3rd down back. I remember when I saw his highlight tape – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BK0VmrZIGSI – it just screamed 3rd down back. Spread offense with a lot of draws, screens and swing passes. He needs the open field.

      I’m really surprised they are using him as a 3 down guy.

      • Rick Racic

        I remember thinking that we might have a back in Green as well. Of course, Stevie Wonder could run through the holes that he was exploiting in those highlights. Green is running behind our average line and there are no holes.

  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    I know this is off the topic but has anyone heard what’s going on with Mike Neal? He went out with knee on Sunday and I haven’t heard or been able to find a thing. I will say this about the run game. Why does M.M. run to the left so much more than to the right. I would think he would want to run to Josh Sittons side instead of Newhouse’s side. Just asking. GO PACK GO!

    • Mike

      He banged his knee on the turf after chasing down Jackson from behind on a 2nd Qtr run. But Neal returned to the game in the 2nd half.

      I don’t really understand that choice either of MM running left, especially with Borckers lighting up Lang and Quinn blowing by Newhouse every play. I guess he was hoping to take advantage of Quinn’s tendency to simply rush wide and upfield, but it won’t work when the guard next to him is getting manhandled. Run right! Just look at the sweep (Vince was smiling) that gained 15 yards.

  • chazman

    I think the run game problems rest mostly with the offensive line, our running backs tend to get hit in the backfield and even on pass plays Rodgers is getting pressured/sacked more than is healthy. It seemed that when Benson was most successful he cut back away from the blocking or lack thereof.

  • Ron LC

    Thanks for the great clips Al. I think it demonstrates that the Oline is the epidome of the old saying, “Speed Kills.” Mobility is not a strong point. I’m not sure the exact ranking of the Oline as sacks and hits go, but I’m sure it’s way up, or should I say down, there. Going into the season, I felt Sitton, Bulaga, and TJ would be good. What happened? Saturday was experienced and could be the stop gap until a better Center could be obtained/developed. WRONG! I’m beginning to feel GB needs to follow the Badger example and get rid of the Oline coach.

    It’s apparent the RB’s need to hit the crease (notice I didn’t say hole) fast. That was Benson’s strength! Poor blocking allows the opponenets D to close in pursuit before a devastating run takes place. There have been very few long runs this year. I can think of only one, by Green. Benson had none.

    That said I still think they need to do something soon to protect AR better. Did you see how Suh crushed Cutler on Monday night? That must not happen to AR. MM please apply some urgency to getting that Oline to better protect the future. That would be AR.

  • http://allgbp.com Charlie B

    Don’t remember when it was, but on one play there was a BIG hole, and Green fell down getting to it.

    • Turophile

      Charlie B, I have seen Green stumble a couple of times. Either it is the cleats (go see the equipment manager) or its Green himself.

      Note to self when looking at future potential RBs, can they keep their feet under them, in traffic.

  • Lucas

    Is it a case of the RBs trying too hard? (I know, I almost laughed typing that.) There seems to be terrible timing between the RB and OL. The cut-back exists many times, but the RBs seem to “push the point” too fast. Other times, rarely though, the hole is there while the RB is late. Yards are being left on the field, and it’s due to the RB/OL relationship.
    Joe Gibbs once said the killer to zone blocking is penetration, and far too much of that has been happening.

  • Russell

    Penetration, penetration!!!!!! will kill anyone’s running game.

    • Lucas

      Power running systems try to occasionally take advantage of penetration with traps and kick-outs. Zone doesn’t want any penetration ever. That is one of the tenets of the ZBS.

  • FireMMNow

    the blocking in the rams game was atrocious. maybe benson could have squeaked out a few more yards, but i am guessing he would have ended the day with 50 yards tops.

    green is still an unknown quantity. the packers run scheme takes time to get used to. there are a lot of reads required. i am not a fan of the zone scheme, but lets wait until week 15 before we write off green.

    instead of drafting a running back, i would be in favor of drafting a powerful center and/or a left guard.

    • Turophile

      It looks like a bad year for quality centers. Maybe we can get a guard and convert, but that takes time. I wouldn’t get a center before round three, no value there. That is not to say a quality young center wouldn’t make a difference to the Packers line, I think people would be surprised how much better everything would look, with a stud there.

      Ideally (it always depends on who is available), I’d go RB, WR (either way round) in draft picks 1 and 2.

  • jojowell

    I think Green will be a great back. We should be treating him like a rookie considering that he was injured for most of last year and didn’t have a training camp last year. Be patient and see what happens. Go Pack!!

  • Pete Kliman

    Definitely, patience is the key to both Green and oline.These things tend to need time, especially the line. We’ll be fine.

  • FFFanatic

    GB fans: Do you think Alex Green will still get workhorse numbers (20+ carries) this week? Or will James Starks start to creep in?

    I want to start Green against a week JAC run defense, but worried about it.

    • Gary

      I hope Green gets the carries as I no longer have confidence in Starks. Also Starks didn’t practice today.

  • Lee

    Packers have no problems…as long as they play INDOORS…time for a dome. Packers will lose 2 more and at Home.