GREEN BAY, Wis. – This sounds like a bad combination: The Green Bay Packers, coming off their season opener in which they missed 18 tackles, will have to deal with perhaps the most elusive running back from Week 1.
On Sunday, they face running back Chris Ivory, who in the New York Jets ' victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday broke eight tackles. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Ivory was the NFL's most elusive running back in Week 1. The eight tackles he broke came on only 10 rushing attempts, and he averaged 9.0 yards per carry after contact, giving him PFF's highest "elusive rating" of the week.
The Jets rushed for a Week 1-best 212 yards, and Ivory, the fifth-year back who totaled for 833 yards last season, accounted for 102 of that total against the Raiders. His 10.2-yard average was the best by far among the running backs who posted 100-yard games last week.
"Football is about fundamentals, tackling is one of them," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Wednesday's practice. "You have drills that you do repeatedly and like all the fundamentals, it comes down to footwork. Our tackling progression of approach, contact and finish, the things we did not do very well were clearly in the area of approach. We had drills today that emphasized that and those are the things we'll continue to do."
Even if the Packers weren't playing an elusive back such as Ivory, who shares the job with former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson (who rushed for 68 yards on 13 carries in the opener) – McCarthy surely would have made tackling an emphasis this week, given that only one team, the New Orleans Saints (with 23 missed tackles), had more problems tackling than the Packers did last week.
"One thing about our coach: Once he decides to work on something, he beats it home," Packers defensive end Josh Boyd said. "That's a good thing for us, because it's a little bit easier when we get to games."
No player had more missed tackles on the Packers last week than rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Despite playing just 40 of the 70 snaps, he missed three tackles, including one that would have prevented a touchdown.
"I definitely have to work on my tackling," Clinton-Dix said. "That's definitely a good back we played against. I just have to keep working at it."