Due to injuries, Aaron Rodgers suddenly had to get used to 2-wide receiver sets and actually giving the ball more and more to his running back, getting quite a performance from Eddie Lacy. The Green Bay Packers have been dealt a bad card this season when it comes to injuries, but it seems they’re handling it quite well on both offense and defense.
James Jones left the game with leg injury in the first quarter. Randall Cobb took a rough hit to the knee from Matt Elam, which had Rodgers get up in his face, telling him what he thought of the hit. Without those two and a defense that’s missing Clay Matthews, the Packers beat the Baltimore Ravens 19-17, their first away win of the season.
But despite those missing players, the Packers are finding ways to adjust, which they failed to do in their losses to the Bengals and the 49ers. Just as important was their ability to win a close game, which hasn’t been their strong suit over the last couple of seasons.
Rodgers did throw an interception, and did struggle to throw the ball when he had only Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley as his main targets. He was only 4-of-9 when targeting Nelson, including the interception he threw after the injuries; the first interception Rodgers has thrown when targeting Nelson this season. He threw the ball only 11 times in the second half, and nine of those throws were to either Nelson or Finley.
That’s right – the Packers went to their running game in the second half, getting a total of 120 yards from Eddie Lacy, running the ball 59% of the time, the second highest designed rush percentage for the Packers in a half in the last three seasons. It probably has to do with Eddie Lacy, who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, compared to the awful 3.4 yards per rush by their leading rusher last season, Alex Green.
And there was the defense, doing a lot more than people usually expect from the Packers, who are still vulnerable to the pass, but do a very good job in stopping the run, holding the Ravens to only 47 yards on 22 carries. They also got to Joe Flacco five times, with A.J. Hawk getting three sacks and a total of five tackles for a loss. The Packers got the Ravens’ rushers 9 times in the backfield, before they crossed the line of scrimmage, leading to an average distance of 11.2 yards on third downs for the Ravens, converting only 2-of-14.
The odds, in the long run, are still against the 3-2 Packers, especially if Cobb’s injury is more serious than it looks and it takes Matthews a lot of time to get back. However, with Eddie Lacy looking like the running back Green Bay have dreamed of for quite some time, maybe the pressure on Aaron Rodgers to make magic happen with his throwing is slowly coming off of him, and the Green Bay Packers have a lot more confidence in the two units that have been their Achilles heel over the last couple of years.