McCarthy passes on run game

Through two preseason games, the Packers have dropped back to pass 97 times compared to 41 runs.

Ryan Grant isn't missing much.

With the star halfback watching from the sideline with a strained hamstring, the Packers have barely bothered to run the football during their first two preseason games.

On the surface, the Packers' 40 pass plays (including sacks and quarterback scrambles) to 20 runs during Saturday night's 34-6 thrashing by San Francisco was actually an improvement. In Monday's game against Cincinnati, the Packers dropped back to pass 57 times and ran it 21 times.

However, the pass-to-run ratio in the first half was a whopping 21 to four when Aaron Rodgers was the quarterback. It was 17 to six with Rodgers in the game on Monday.

Coach Mike McCarthy explained the method to his play-calling madness afterward.

"You don't always call plays the same in the preseason as you do in the regular season," he said. "So, run and pass, I don't have a problem with the way it shook out. It's a little different thought process."

A pass-happy approach makes some sense as McCarthy breaks in a first-year starting quarterback. But, with the 49ers sensing the Packers' game plan and paying scant attention to Grant's replacement, Brandon Jackson, they blitzed early and often.

That's certainly good training for Rodgers with the regular season three weeks away — opposing defenses aren't going to take it easy on the new guy — and it played a role in the Packers' putrid offensive performance.

In the first half, the Packers lost more yards in sacks (26) than they gained rushing (14). The Packers finished with 46 yards at halftime, and five of six possessions ended with punts. The other was a scoring "march" of minus-6 yards.

"It was a step backwards tonight," said Rodgers, who was sacked four times, hit a couple of other times and almost threw two interceptions. "We didn't get into any kind of rhythm. We made too many mistakes. For one thing, I held the ball too long at times and made some poor decisions. Their defense presents multiple fronts. They posed quite a challenge. Frankly, we didn't play or adjust well to what they did."

Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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