Is it just me, or are people irrationally assuming that the Packers will be a better running team this season?
I just got done listening to Bill Simmons’ latest podcast. Simmons and Cousin Sal (Simmons’ sidekick) talked about NFL over/under win totals and highlighted the Packers improved running game as a possible reason for the team’s success this upcoming season. Sal even cited Jonathan Franklin as a reason for his optimism, even though Franklin has looked like a total bust so far.
It’s normal for national media figures to stick to talking points and get a little confused about specific players when doing massive preview shows that cover all 32 NFL teams. But even locally and among Packers fans, the consensus seems to be that the Packers will go from being a horrible running team to at least a decent running team.
Why? What have we seen this preseason that has made us think that? I can’t think of much. Here’s what I have seen, and it’s not pretty:
- The Packers averaged a measly 3.0 yards per carry in the preseason.
- The Packers long rush was a 21-yard scramble by the now departed Vince Young, a quarterback.
- Eddie Lacy, the presumed starter, averaged 2.0 yards per carry.
- Bryan Bulaga, a key to the Packers run blocking up front, is out for the season.
- DuJuan Harris is gone for the year, and Mike McCarthy sounded uncharacteristically depressed when talking about the injury.
- This is still the Packers and McCarthy is still the coach. They’re going to want to pass, pass and pass some more.
Help me out here: What am I missing that others are seeing in predicting great things for the Packers on the ground this season?
Is all of the hope about a better running game centered on Lacy? That’s fair, I suppose. I’m excited about Lacy as well. But Lacy is also already banged up and could be one hit or awkward fall away from joining Harris on injured reserve.
Is all of the hope centered on just how awful the Packers were at running the ball in 2012? It’s not good when you’re leading rusher finishes with 464 yards, like Alex Green did last season.
But if the leading rusher in 2013 totals 625 yards, that’s improvement, but really not that much better.
I’m skeptical that the Packers will suddenly morph into this reliable running team that many in the national media seem to think. I’d love to see it happen, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Right now, the evidence just isn’t there.——————