All eyes are on Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, but running games may decide the Packers-Buccaneers winner

In Week 3, the Green Bay Packers are against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but for many it will be an elite quarterback battle between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady – two future Hall of Famers.

Naturally, all eyes will be fixed on these two quarterbacks, but the outcome of the game may very well be determined by running games rather than Rodgers and Brady’s play.

Against Chicago last week, the Packers seemed to have found their offensive identities – or at least what their identities should look like – with a heavy dose of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, with a balance and ball between running and passing. Packers are distributed among pass catchers.

As Rodgers said after that game, this will not be the same offense as in previous years when one player dominated most of the goals. It will be different, but being different doesn’t have to mean bad.

Aaron Jones averages 9.1 yards per carry over two games in 20 tries and leaves a trail of teamfights missed along the way. AJ Dillon’s numbers aren’t all that gaudy with 3.8 yards per offense in 28 tries, but those are some hard-won yards.

At the end of the day, all teams want the ball in the hands of their best quarterback, and for Green Bay, that’s Jones. This offense is at its best when it goes through, and it needs ample opportunity no matter who the opponent is.

October 18, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; The Green Bay Packers run back Aaron Jones (33) with his stiff arms inside tampa Bay Buccaneers defender Devin White (45) in the first quarter of an NFL game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to the success the Packers have had on the field, they have quite a few unknowns at the moment in the receiver position, not just because they are without Davante Adams.

Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb and Christian Watson were absent from Green Bay at Wednesday’s practice. On top of that, this is a Bucs defense that ranks eighth in the allowed per-game pass area, DVOA in the first pass defense, and a group that is too aggressive to go after the quarterback.

That doesn’t mean running the ball will be easy. Actually, it won’t be against the Tampa Bay front-seven. However, we’ve seen in the past – especially against the Pirates – how quickly things can turn south when the Packers’ offense becomes one-dimensional.

Success on the field could lead to more playing flexibility for Matt LaFleur, more time in his pocket for Aaron Rodgers, and open up opportunities in the passing game.

Like the Packers, the Buccaneers face their own question marks in the receiving position. Mike Evans’ suspension was confirmed on Tuesday, while neither Julio Jones nor Chris Godwin showed up to practice on Wednesday.

However, Tampa Bay has Leonard Fournette and they face a Packers running defense who shared the problems early on. This season, Fournette averages 4.3 yards per offense and ranks fifth for total yards. Green Bay, meanwhile, has the PFF’s second-lowest ball-tackling rating, allowing a total of 5.6 yards per scrimmage against Minnesota and Chicago—not to mention the Packers invite teams to run the ball with Joe Barry’s frequent lightboxes.

While Brady and Rodgers will lead their respective teams and still garner most of the spotlight, this game looks like it will be far from a shootout. Instead, it can come down to which team can find the most success on the field.

The story first appeared on Packers Wire

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.