Cold calls: Packers need playoff run : Packers Insider

Cold calls: Packers need playoff run

December 10, 2010 by  
Filed under News

By Wayne Larrivee, Packer Insider

~Many NFL clichés come to mind during this time of year.

December on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field is what the Packers are all about.

Vince Lombardi implored his Packers in December of 1967 to “run to win!”

Conventional NFL wisdom has it that outdoor teams in the North must run to win in December and January.

In December/January games over the past three years, the Packers are 8-5, which includes a 1-3 mark during the 6-10 season of 2008.

There is no question the Packers have missed Ryan Grant and his 1,200 rushing yards per season ever since he went down in the opener at Philadelphia.

In terms of headlines, Grant’s contribution to this offense over the years has taken a back seat to the passing attack.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers told Larrivee last week that Grant was the type of performer people outside the team don't appreciate - until he's gone.

Especially during this time of the season, when the weather gets cold, the turf is slick and the wind kicks up. In these conditions it helps to have a workhorse like Grant.

In the last three seasons, Grant gave the Packers an effective ground game in the cold weather months. In 13 December/January games, he rushed 224 times for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns.Grant averaged 17.23 carries per game. 4.7 yards per carry, 81.3 yards per game with nine touchdowns. Now that’s what I call an effective ground game.

In outdoor games, he was even better. In 11 games, he rushed for 952 yards on 195 carries with nine touchdowns. That averages out to 17.7 attempts, 4.9 yards a carry and 86.5 yards per game.

Those numbers will be hard to replace for a club that went into the 49ers game with starter Brandon Jackson averaging 12 carries a game for averages of 46.7 yards per game and 3.9 per carry, and totaling just three touchdowns. John Kuhn gets 5.6 carries a game for 20.4 yards a contest.

In the controlled environment of a dome you can compensate for a less than exemplary running game with the short passing attack, as the Packers did in Atlanta.

They rolled up 418 yards of offense while getting just 26 yards from running backs. It is harder to do that this time of year outside.

It is true, unless you play in a dome, that December and January are when you must run the football effectively to win in the NFL, especially outside and in the postseason.

Against the 49ers, the Packers got a lift from an unexpected source. Rookie sixth-round draft pick James Starks carried the ball 18 times for 73 yards and a 4.1 average.

The Packers as a team rushed for 136 yards on a cold, breezy day at Lambeau Field. They put together an impressive 17-play, 74-yard drive that took 8 minutes, 35 seconds off the fourth quarter clock and helped seal the 34-16 win.

Of the 13 rushing plays for 56 yards, Starks had 35 yards on nine carries.

Can the Packers, given their challenges in the running game, make it to the playoffs? Of course they can, and the precedent has been set.

Back in 2006, Indianapolis won a Super Bowl with the 18th-ranked rushing attack in the league.

Two years ago, Arizona ……

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