Running game gets shot in the arm

Packers coach Mike McCarthy officially named Jeff Jagodzinski as offensive coordinator on Sunday. Jagodzinski reunites with McCarthy in Green Bay, and Jagodzinski is exactly what the doctor ordered to improve the Packers' rushing attack.

Jeff Jagodzinski, naturally, is thrilled to be back with the Green Bay Packers. The assistant coach is excited, not only to be coaching the Packers again, the team he passionately followed while growing up in Wisconsin, but to be reunited with Mike McCarthy and to implement what he has learned in the past two seasons while with the Atlanta Falcons.

"I'm ecstatic," Jagodzinski told the media on Sunday when McCarthy officially named him offensive coordinator. "I'm proud to be here."

Packers fans, likewise, should be happy that Jagodzinski is back in the fold. A down-to-earth guy who was raised in the Milwaukee area and played fullback at UW-Whitewater, he definitely will add some "fire" to the offense not only with his successful schemes but also with his attitude.

"I just admired the guy," McCarthy said. "I liked the way he went about his business. I like his disposition. I think he has an excellent work ethic. I think he's an outstanding family man. I want him connected at the hip."

Jagodzinski's top priority this season will be to transform a rushing offense that ranked 30th in the NFL last year back to respectability. Having been tutored under Falcons consultant and longtime offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, Jagodzinski feels as prepared as ever to rejuvenate Green Bay's rushing attack. The fact that he coached the Falcons' offensive line to create room for the Falcons to average a league-best 4.8 yards per carry should give him instant credibility among Green Bay's current linemen. The Falcons have led the league in rushing the last two seasons.

Jagodzinski, who coached Green Bay's tight ends from 1999-2003, attributes the Falcons' success to the blocking scheme that he learned under Gibbs, whom he worked with at Atlanta.

"Alex Gibbs has been the biggest influence in my professional career," Jagodzinski said. "You have to be (successful) running the football in this league to win. And we will be, I promise you that."

The Packers, who averaged just 3.4 yards per carry, last year, have nowhere to go but up with their rushing attack. The Packers were ranked 10th in the league in 2004, but lost veteran guards Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera in free agency. Jagodzinski's familiarity with many of the team's current linemen also will help as the Packers try to improve their rushing attack. Plus, the Falcons succeeded last year despite starting three former seventh-round draft picks, a fifth-round draft pick and an undrafted free agent.

"I look at the guys we got here. 'Cliffy' (Chad Clifton), 'Flanny' (Mike Flanagan) and 'Tausch' (Mark Tauscher). I was here five years. I know these guys, and they know me. I feel real positive about that, the relationship I'll have.

"That's one of my strongsuits," he said, "my knowledge of the running game."

With McCarthy's knowledge of the passing game, the two should combine to give the Packers' offense a needed jolt in 2006.

"It will be a great compliment of us two working together," McCarthy said. "I was looking for more an interior background."

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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