Instinctive truths about Packers
Stephen O'Brien, Packers contributor
Eddie Lacy, Tim Masthay, Micah Hyde.Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Usually after a Packers game, I go foraging for facts and stats to back up what I think I know.
I see what unfolds on the field but not satisfied with a baseless opinion, I need to have a black and white stat there to give me a pat on the back and tell me I’m right.
After a while, this becomes tiring. We all get to know the Packers instinctively and don’t need to be told in percentages how they play.
For instance, how impressed are you by the defense this year?
I am extremely impressed.
They suffocate the opponents run game and, even without the benefit of a lot of turnovers this year, have only allowed two touchdowns before Wayne Larrivee's dagger calls (meaning the game is put away) in their four-game winning streak.
Where in the top 5 defenses do the Packers rank?
They don’t. They are 11th in the league.
The Packers are behind teams like the Jets and the Raiders. That doesn’t seem right, does it?
This is my point. There are some things about the Packers that we just know, regardless of rankings.
The Packers defense have been run-stopping maestros.
They have stopped teams like the Ravens and Vikings from doing what they do best, run the ball down the oppositions throats.
As fans, this puts us all at ease with the silent confident knowledge that the games against teams who are built around the run will fail.
With Jay Cutler sidelined, the Chicago Bears will surely chose to run the ball Monday night against the Packers to take the pressure off his replacement.
Forte will find it a task to grind out any useful yardage.
Games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings seem to be destined to go the same way.
The Packers will stop the run. This is just something we know now.
There is another undeniable truth: the Packers have a run game.
Eddie Lacy is the truth. If ever there was a perfect example of a power back, Lacy fits the bill.
There were doubts at the start of the season whether the offensive line could protect Rodgers.
There were even more doubts whether they could do this as well as adapt to opening up running lanes for the two recently acquired running backs in the draft.
The Packers are holding up well, pushing defenses around enough to allow the barreling back to burst into the gaps and clear out the remaining defenders on his own.
One thing a Packers fan will always think, scream and know on 3rd and short is "give the ball to Lacy."
The trust is there, the knowledge is there. The Packers have a run game. Give Lacy the ball and he will get the first down or TD.
Another more concerning truth is that the Packers struggle in the red zone.
By struggle, I mean that, for the Packers, it isn’t as effortless this season.
After all, they are the 3rd-highest scoring offense in the league this season, but it seems that something is not quite clicking in the red zone.
I believe that this could possibly be a by product of the excellent run game.
It seems that the Packers are overthinking the point scoring opportunities in the red zone.
For teams like the Texans, Ravens and Vikings, the decision is one dimensional; hand the ball off to the stud running back and let them punch it in.
For a team so used to relying on the accurate, quick plays of the best QB in the NFL, having a run game puts them in two minds.
Do they continue to stick to the passing attempt or hand off?
Sometimes, more options don’t necessarily mean better opportunities.
Isn’t it easier to pick what candy bar you want if you only have a few options? Seeing a whole wall of sugary variety in a store seems like a great prospect, but makes the decision harder and time consuming.
The Packers need time to adjust to the double threat offense and it is usually at this point in the season where teams start to build momentum and chemistry.
For the opponents of the Packers, I feel very sorry for them having the task of trying to stop this juggernaut of running and passing wizardry.
There are a few things we just know.
The Packers have a mean, opportunistic defense, they will choke your running game, they will release Lacy on your defense and make you look soft and when they get going, you better hope your team doesn’t face them in the playoffs.
They devastated the Vikings, scoring on every possession they had before taking a knee to end the game.
It is also starting to look like we could know who will be playing in New York in February.