Aaron Rodgers may have said he is not coming back to save the Packers’ season, but that does not mean we don’t hope he can do exactly that. Rodgers said he would only come back if he was healthy and the Packers are still in the playoff hunt. Both of those factors check out. It is difficult to think of any other reason for his return. Regardless, the road won’t be easy as he will take on the two of the top five defenses in the NFL. Carolina at No. 5 and Minnesota at No. 2. What will help is something that was missing prior to Rodgers’ injury. A well-established running game.

Closer look at what needs to happen for the Packers to make the playoffs:

With Hundley under center the Packers had no choice but to become a run-first offense. In return, McCarthy got a clearer picture of the capabilities of all his running backs. With Rodgers, the Packers rushed for over 100 yards once. Without him they were able to eclipse 100 yards in three out of seven games.

Handley’s ability to scramble may fluff these numbers up a little bit, but it speaks more to what Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones have been able to accomplish. When Ty Montgomery was placed on IR with a wrist injury, it was up to a cast of rookies to carry the load. Upon further review, it is safe to say Jones and Williams answered the call.

Among rookies, Jones and Williams rank in the top 10 for rush yards and touchdowns. It appears that, for at least the next few years, the Packers will have a healthy duel threat backfield behind Rodgers. Jones is the slasher and Williams is your old-school ground and pound back.

“We’re running it better than back then (before his injury),” Rodgers said. “We’ve got a couple guys who have had standout performances over those seven games in both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. They’ve done a great job for us, given us some great versatility back there. It’s really encouraging.”

Run defense for the remaining schedule:

Car: 3rd (89.5 ypg)

Min: 2nd (88.3 ypg)

Det: 2oth (116.3 ypg)


Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.