Other Packers not green with envy over Ahman's rushing dominance
Monday, November 24, 2003
Omaha World Herald
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - The Green Bay Packers have become a run-oriented offense thanks to Ahman Green's emergence and Brett Favre's broken thumb.
And nobody's complaining.
Not the offensive linemen, who love clearing the way for Green, the NFC's leading rusher.
Not the receivers, none of whom even has a 100-yard day so far.
Not Pro Bowl tight ends Bubba Franks or Wesley Walls, who have become glorified blockers.
Not even Favre, the NFL's only three-time MVP, who made his mark throwing the football.
Favre said he has no problems handing the ball to Green and watching him carry the offense, and Favre doesn't sense any sourness from his receivers, who have caught just six of his 18 touchdown passes.
"But I'm sure individually they sort of feel left out," Favre said. "That's a good thing. They've done everything we've asked them to do.
"You guys could ask the same question to them, 'Does Favre feel like he's the highest-paid handoff guy in the league?' The answer is yes."
Favre was only half-joking. But the point is nobody's griping about not getting the ball such as Keyshawn Johnson did in Tampa Bay before his deactivation this week or Terrell Owens has done in San Francisco.
"There are no TOs, there are no Keyshawn Johnsons in Green Bay," flanker Donald Driver said. "That's one thing those guys got to look at: the team is not their team. Right now, those guys must not be doing their jobs because they're fussing. We're doing our jobs and we're enjoying the game."
The Packers are 5-5 but just one game back of plummeting Minnesota in the NFC North, and they've been running almost at will of late.
Green Bay piled up 261 yards on Minnesota, 241 on Philadelphia and 190 on Tampa Bay. If not for a questionable illegal shift penalty in the Tampa Bay game that nullified a 17-yard run by Green, the Packers would have topped 200 yards rushing in three straight games for the first time in 42 years.
As it is, they own the NFL's top rushing offense at 166.5 yards a game. The last time they led the league in rushing was 1964, and they haven't finished in the top five since 1967 or the top 10 since 1972.
It's not just Green, a former University of Nebraska I-back who has rushed for 1,172 yards, 5.3 yards a carry and 10 touchdowns.
Backup Najeh Davenport is averaging 6.4 yards overall and 9.4 in the fourth quarter, and Tony Fisher is averaging 5.7 yards.
Still, Coach Mike Sherman wants to involve his receivers more so the Packers don't become one-dimensional.
Referring to his run-dominated game plans, Sherman said: "But right now, that's been working pretty well and we feel pretty good about our offensive line, so it's leaning that way. I think it's a credit to that group of men that you don't have (complaining) and griping about it.
"Most places with big-time receivers you're going to have guys being selfish. This is an unselfish group."
Driver, a Pro Bowl receiver last year who has just 31 catches for 329 yards and one TD this season, exemplifies that selfless approach.
"It comes from your heart," he said. "If you love this game, it doesn't matter who's getting the ball."
And Favre doesn't care if he's handing it off rather than airing it out, either.
"You can get to the Super Bowl with good defense and a great rushing game and that's what we have," Favre said. "And we know we can pass because we've done it before."
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