Packers Well-Practiced On Spread Offense

There is little doubt that the Green Bay Packers will come into the Metrodome looking to throw the ball early and often, and they got their practice doing that last week against what was supposed to be one of the league's better defenses. See what the coach and players had to say about that philosophy.

With the running game all but on empty, the Packers resorted to a spread formation that included a handful of empty-backfield sets in Sunday's 31-24 win over the Chargers.

"It was not a big secret what we were doing," quarterback Brett Favre said.

The ploy, which featured Favre by his lonesome in shotgun formation, yielded mixed results.

Favre converted on a third-and-one play in the first half with a two-yard pickup on a delay draw.

Late in the game, with the Packers down 21-17, Favre connected with Donald Driver for a 24-yard completion on the first play of the series.

Later in the possession, though, the empty look nearly prevented Green Bay from mounting the comeback.

Head coach Mike McCarthy surprised many by leaving Favre to fend for himself out of the shotgun on fourth-and-goal with the ball inside the Chargers' 1. A hurried pass to Bubba Franks over the middle was deflected and fell incomplete.

"I was trusting my call sheet," McCarthy said. "I learned this a long time ago, and I think there's a lot of truth to it: When you're in times of crisis ... think of players, not of plays. And, I put the ball in Brett Favre's hand, and I'm very comfortable doing it."

The gutsy call seemingly was telling of where the coaches' confidence level is with the dormant run game. Of the team's 60 offensive plays, only 13 were on the ground.

The Packers generated just 42 rushing yards.

"Obviously, we feel like our strength right now is passing the ball," right tackle Mark Tauscher said. "We'd like to gain the confidence of the coaching staff that we can hammer it in from one yard, but right now, that's not the case."

The Packers gained a reprieve on offense after the Chargers had to punt the football back. Right before the two-minute warning, Greg Jennings turned a short slant pass from Favre into a game-winning, 57-yard touchdown.

In the afterglow of starting the season 3-0, McCarthy wasn't apologizing for his heavy dependency on Favre, who completed 28 of 45 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns.

"It's a 50-50 chance, run and pass," McCarthy said. "You've got to be able to run the football when you have to run it. You've got to be able to throw when you have to throw it. That's the importance of offensive football. We feel in our offensive system that if we need to throw it a bunch, we will, and if we need to run it a bunch, we will. That's just the way we're designed."

The Packers' rookie backs weren't griping, at least publicly, about the considerable lack of activity.

"Hey, whatever it takes to win the ballgame. I'm not mad," said Brandon Jackson, who had a team-high six carries for 22 yards. "I won't get upset if they did that the whole game. Whatever it takes to win."

NOTES

  • WR Donald Driver came out of Sunday's 31-24 comeback win over the Chargers with a sore knee. Driver limped back onto the field after being run out of bounds after a catch early in the fourth quarter. His status isn't known for the upcoming game at Minnesota.

  • RB DeShawn Wynn didn't finish the contest Sunday after suffering a sprained ankle in the fourth quarter.

  • RB Brandon Jackson required an ice pack on a bruised knee after the game.

  • FS Nick Collins suffered a bruised lower back in the third quarter but returned to finish the game.

  • CB Al Harris was laboring by the end of the game because of back spasms.

  • CB Charles Woodson also came out of the physical game worse for the wear with a hip flexor.

  • DE/DT Cullen Jenkins had the wind knocked out of him on two separate occasions in the second half. He finished the game but sustained a side injury.

  • RB Vernand Morency will try again Wednesday to see where he's at with his sore right knee, which has kept him out of the first three games.



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