GREEN BAY, Wis. — Don’t get too used to the idea of Aaron Rodgers, the runner.
A day after the Green Bay Packers quarterback set a single-game, career-high with 60 yards rushing — and ran in a two-point conversion — in the 33-32 loss at Atlanta, coach Mike McCarthy admitted that’s not necessarily the way he wants to get the ground game going without running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
“We’re not going to make a living with Aaron Rodgers running the football,” McCarthy said Monday. “Let’s make that clear right now. We’re going to throw the ball, but we need to get our run game going because we’re not going back to last year. We’re going to run the football, we’re going to play-action pass game. We’re going to play to our quarterback.”
And McCarthy thinks his quarterback is playing at a high level despite the wide-spread criticism and analysis about why he struggled at the start of the season.
Rodgers finished Sunday’s loss with his second-highest passer rating (125.5) of the season and tied his season high with four touchdown passes. Three of those were to players who had never caught one before in an NFL regular-season game. One, to Geronimo Allison, was to a receiver who had never before played in an NFL regular-season game.
“The scrutiny’s ridiculous,” McCarthy said Monday. “We could talk about opinions, statistics and so forth, but I thought he played extremely well yesterday. I can’t compliment him enough. Every year’s different. We’re a different offense today than we were in Week 1 at Jacksonville. We’re a different offense than we were last year. That’s the reality of it. You have a different guy calling the plays than called them last year. He controls those changes as well as anybody I’ve been around. I thought he played exceptionally well [Sunday].”
Even without a traditional running back since Lacy was placed on injured reserve nearly two weeks ago because of an ankle injury, it sounds like McCarthy still has hope for a more traditional ground game. Receiver Davante Adams filled the hybrid role that Ty Montgomery had before his kidney injury kept him out against the Falcons. Running backs Don Jackson and Knile Davis have combined for 11 carries and 21 yards the past two weeks. Meanwhile, Rodgers and fullback Aaron Ripkowski combined for 12 rushes and 94 yards against the Falcons.