Don’t get me wrong, I think Ahman Green is a talented running back, I really do. Obviously he has the ability to be a solid running back. And I was always more than happy to have him on our team more than others, because at times he was a difference maker for us. However, I was never quite happy with him as our running back despite his obvious talent for a number of reasons. After watching the Packers offense so far this year, I actually feel somewhat justified by this now.
I know the Packers currently rank last in the league in rushing in every category. However, if you look at the Packers over the past two games, they are getting better and better. This week will probably prove to be our best defense we are facing since Philly came to town so it will be a good mark as to how good they really are progressing, but they seem to be really getting into a stride. They have become much more controlling offensively over the last 6 quarters than they ever were with Green. So why is this when they are doing it with virtually no running game whatsoever? (In fact, last week they didn’t even bother to run most of the time).
Well first of all there is the fumbilitis of Green. Everyone knew it, we knew it, our opponents new it, he likely dropped the ball and lost it in at least 50% of the games, more than that usually. Now normally I think a decent team can cope with it, but when you are a team who has a QB like Favre who throws from 1 to 2 interceptions per game, you are looking at nearly 3 turnovers per game through these two players alone… this is harsh and most defenses can’t overcome this kind of deficit that the team is facing almost from the start. I think having one of either would have made a better team, but overall Favre is the better player.
Second is that I think the Packers just relied on Green far more than they should. The team was predicated on the run. Sherman was in love with the guy and he became extremely predictable with many of his plays that were used with Green because it seemed like their running game was essentially a one-trick pony (the U51). Even Favre I think became reliant on him which was bad, I will note that his best season with Green came when he had Walker… he no longer could carry the team anymore, he almost seemed to force the ball more when Green was around than was without… Green became Favre’s crutch and when Green inevitably became injured in the season, Favre was lost without him. In fact, I could point to the first game and the preseason as further proofs that Favre just forgot what it was like to be Favre without Green… I can almost point exactly to those scramble plays in the middle of the Giants game as the point that Brett Favre returned from his slumber because since that point, he has been stellar… he looks BETTER now than he did in 96-98 when he won 3 straight MVPs.
Another reason I never really cared for Green was that he never really was a west-coast guy. I mean he was a great back, but not in a west-coast system. In the west coast system, you need a more complete back… someone who can not only run but also catch passes and block if need be as well. Green could make some pretty good chip blocks, but he wasn’t great against it… likely cause he was scared of being injured. But he didn’t catch worth a lick, if it was thrown at him he’d miss half the time and fumble the other half. As such, the screen game died completely. I found it interesting that against the Chargers the screen made a come back and in a pretty large way. It was often a difference maker just like it was under Holmgren. Really for the type of system west coast is, you need a more complete back like Dorsey Levens (who I think would have been a lot better had it not been for the injuries), Marshall Faulk, and Reggie Bush (does NO even run a west coast offense for him?).
Again, it is no slight against Green. He is a great back, he just never fit in with what our offense was about. It is no surprise to me that our offense is doing better all around despite the fact we are with a worse offensive line than when he was around with nil of a running game… go figure.