27 Days 'Til Camp: Inside the Running Game

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. You know the obvious production, but here are some hidden numbers that you don't know about.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy proclaimed in "big letters" last year that his running game would be improved.

You know the obvious "big letters" improvements.

-- Best rushing total since 2003, with 133.5 rushing yards per game.

-- A 4.65-yard average, good for fourth in the league.

-- Five of the six-best single-game rushing totals since 2009.

-- Rookie of the Year season for Eddie Lacy, with 1,178 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

-- League-best average for James Starks, with 5.5 yards per carry.

Here are three inside-the-numbers numbers that you don't know and only amplify the success the Packers enjoyed on the ground last season.

-- On first-and-10, the Packers ran the ball 218 times for 1,050 yards, good for 4.82 yards per carry, according to league data. The attempts total matched the top figure of McCarthy's tenure. In 2012, when the Packers also ran the ball 218 times on first-and-10, they gained 829 yards for a per-carry average of 3.80. Green Bay averaged 3.73 in 2011, 3.66 in 2010, 4.56 in 2009, 4.02 in 2008, 3.67 in 2007 and 3.82 in 2006.

Compared to 2012, that's an extra 1.02 yards per carry on first-and-10, which obviously helps keep drives alive. Green Bay finished ninth in third-down conversions. That's the same as in 2012, an impressive feat with Aaron Rodgers missing half the season.

-- On third-and-1, the Packers converted 14 times on 18 running plays, a success rate of 77.8 percent. That, again, was an improvement over 2012, when the Packers converted 11 times on 18 running plays, a success rate of 61.1 percent.

Moreover, Green Bay was 3-of-3 on third-and-2 running plays, giving the Packers a total success rate of 17-of-21 on third-and-short running plays. Lacy was a key reason, as he went 8-of-11 on third-and-short, the ninth-best success rate in the league.

-- Third, according to STATS, Green Bay scored touchdowns on 90 percent of its running plays from the 1- or 2-yard line. That's a dominant figure: Indianapolis was second at 85.7 percent, and Minnesota (71.4 percent), Detroit (70.6 percent) and the New York Giants (70.0 percent) were the only other teams with at least 70 percent success rates. Nineteen teams were at 50 percent or worse.

Again, Lacy led the way with a league-best 7-of-8 touchdown rate. He was one of only eight running backs to be better than 50 percent.

There's little reason to believe the Packers' running game won't be humming again in 2014. While there will be a first-year starter at center, the rest of the line should be better with left tackle David Bakhtiari's year of seasoning and the return of right tackle Bryan Bulaga. Plus, Lacy's a year smarter and DuJuan Harris is healthy after emerging as a dangerous back at the end of 2012.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com, and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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