GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers coach Mike McCarthy has shown a dedication to the running game this season, much to the delight of the team’s offensive linemen. But not every player agrees with that approach.
With Green Bay passing the ball on 60.3 percent of plays, tight end Jermichael Finley thinks that number should be higher.
“If the running game isn’t going, why not go 100 percent passing?” Finley said Thursday in the locker room. “I would say pass the ball every play, if it was up to me.”
Since the injury to veteran running back Cedric Benson in Week 5, the rushing attack has not been very effective. Second-year running back Alex Green is averaging 2.9 yards per carry in place of Benson, but McCarthy has continued giving Green the ball at least 20 times each game.
“We’ve got to get respect in the running game,” Finley said. “Right now, we’re doing an OK job, under average, so we have to pick it up, get people playing the run a little bit more, get those linebackers playing the run and force the safety to get on top of it and make a play.”
Green Bay’s no-huddle offense has also not been quite as good as expected this season on a consistent basis. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers can excel when it’s run well, but with the offensive line giving up the second-most sacks in the NFL, the efficiency hasn’t been there.
“If there’s anything that has held the no-huddle back, I would say it’s been me,” McCarthy said. “There are certain things that go on during the course of the game, if I don’t like it, I probably pull the chain too many times. If I want to be critical of myself after the season, it would be that.
“We have a lot of time, we have a lot of reps committed to the no-huddle. I think it’s been very good to us, but there have been particular plays, there’s something that has happened during a no-huddle where, out of circumstance, I probably shouldn’t react as hard to. That was kind of the case this past week.”
But Finley wants to see more of the no-huddle offense.
“If it was my choice, I would go with no-huddle, up-tempo,” Finley said. “I think A-Rod works better in the no-huddle, up-tempo speed. I think we need to bring it back out and go a whole half of that.”
The Packers have an opportunity to win their fourth consecutive game if they can beat the Arizona Cardinals (4-4) at home this weekend. The Cardinals have lost four games in a row, but that’s hardly been their defense’s fault. Arizona is ranked fourth in the league in stopping the pass and fourth in points allowed.
However, even without wide receiver Greg Jennings and possibly another game without Jordy Nelson due to injurires, Finley thinks Green Bay’s offense can capitalize against the Cardinals.
“They are wounded ducks right now,” Finley said. “It’s dangerous. They’re going to be playing every play, and they’re coming into Lambeau. They’re going to be jacked up and ready to play. I’m excited to get out there Sunday.
“This (Cardinals) team has athletes, but they’re not putting it together well right now. We should go out there and play fast and start fast from the beginning.”