While the Ravens have been searching for a balanced offense all year, their opponent this weekend (perhaps a bit uncharacteristically) happens to possess one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the league.
With Aaron Rodgers under center, historically there haven’t been many negative things that could be said about the Packers offense. Nit-pickers would call them one-dimensional, and rightfully so, given their success in the passing game. The saying goes, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” but when the Packers drafted running back Eddie Lacy out of Alabama in the second round earlier this year, it showed that they were committed to upgrading their ground game.
Lacy was removed from a few team’s draft boards due to a toe injury, and his weight ballooned over the offseason. However, despite the initial warning signs surrounding Lacy, he and the rushing attack have been quite a productive complement to the Packers offense.
On a conference call Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to ask Rodgers about the addition of Lacy to the offense he’s been at the helm of for the past six seasons.
“I think this year we’re changing some of those preconceptions about us,” said Rodgers. “We’re in the Top Five in the league in rushing yards per game. Eddie was a yard away from being our third different 100-yard back this year, where we had 40-plus games before that without a guy who rushed for 100 yards.”
“Obviously, teams are playing us a little more to pass because we have here in the past, but I think we could do some good things in the running game, and Eddie gives us a different dimension than we’ve had back there in a while.”
Lacy has been able to excel at something that has been a cause for concern in the Ravens backfield. Last week against the Dolphins, the Ravens running backs didn’t break a single tackle, whereas Lacy broke tackles and had an additional 51 yards after contact against the Lions.
Since the debacle in Week One, there hasn’t been much to complain about when it comes to the Ravens’ defense. Still, sometimes fundamentals like sound tackling are overlooked. I asked head coach John Harbaugh if the team takes a little bit of additional time in practice to focus on fundamental tackling with a big back like Lacy looming Sunday. Harbaugh dismissed my thought, primarily due to the fact that they can’t focus on individual styles because of the diversity of running styles from backs around the league.
“Well, no, because you have quick, shifty, fast backs that you have to pay attention to as well,” Harbaugh said. “This might be a little more of a Trent Richardson-style game that way, but they have other backs. They’ve got plenty of talent everywhere that you have to deal with.”
It’s very easy to get caught up in the stats when looking at the Packers’ 3rd-overall offense and 5th-best rushing attack, but the most important stat is wins and losses, and Green Bay is just 2-2. The best way to gain an advantage on the field come Sunday is to exploit a weakness of the Packers – their road woes. They haven’t won away from Lambeau Field this season. Green Bay’s roster contains enough talent to keep defensive coordinators up at night, but the key to this game may be to force the Packers back to the identity they’ve had for years before Lacy – that of a one-dimensional offense.
The Ravens picked up their first road win of the season last week in Miami. Here’s hoping the Pack doesn’t do the same on our turf.
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