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Best & Worst Case Scenarios For The Running Backs

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Best & Worst Case Scenarios For The Running Backs

Welcome to the fourth annual best and worst case scenarios for every player on the Green Bay Packers roster.

I attempt to take a look at what is the very best possible season a player is capable of producing, and on the other hand, what would happen if a player fell flat on his face (without assuming they suffer a season-ending injury). These are intended to be extreme scenarios on both sides of the spectrum. More than likely, each player is going to fall somewhere in the middle, but every now and then, they just so happen to come to fruition. Think Charles Woodson last year.

I also try to take a look at what these scenarios would be from an individual standpoint and not what’s best for the team. For example, parting ways with Justin Harrell may eventually be what’s in the best interest of the Packers. I’m more interested in looking at what’s in Justin Harrell’s best interests (or worst interests for that matter).

Yesterday we looked at the quarterbacks. Today we look at the running backs ...

Ryan Grant

  • Best-case scenario: The accolades finally come with the gaudy statistics Grant always seems to put up. Grant has put up an increasing number of yards every year he's been in the league from 956 in 2007 to 1,203 in 2008 to 1,253 in 2009. With a good passing game to take pressure off the running game, Grant ups the ante once again with over 1,300 yards and double digit touchdowns. And he finally gets that elusive Pro Bowl nod that's been missing ever since he entered the league. Looks like the offseason training doing MMA has paid off as Grant's flexibility has improved and he's better getting both to and beyond the second level.
  • Worst-case scenario: Heading into his fourth season being the primary ball carrier by a large margin finally takes it's toll. For one, there's no one to split carries with as a change of pace or to give him a breather. On top of that, injuries start to pile up as the wear and tear catches up to Grant. The old adage that running backs only have a certain number of carries creeps  into observers' consciousness. Grant's production drops dramatically, and it becomes clear that Grant can no longer be the Packers' only ball carrier.

Brandon Jackson

  • Best-case scenario: This is the year Jackson puts everything together. Who knows why it took so long, but it all seems to click. Jackson rules the third-down back role. He becomes the team's biggest receiving threat out of the backfield, but he also starts stealing away carries from Ryan Grant as well. Jackson has somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 yards and leads the team in average yards per carry. As expected, he maintains his status as a great pass blocker.
  • Worst-case scenario: Jackson is passed up in the pecking order by rookie James Starks. By the end of the year, Jackson barely plays, and it's pretty much a forgone conclusion that he won't be a Packer in 2011. He plays occasionally on third downs, but by the end of the year he only has somewhere between 30 to 40 carries the entire season. He's basically a non-factor and is only kept around because he was a high-round draft choice in the not so distant past.

James Starks

  • Best-case scenario: In the second half of the season, Starks becomes the perfect complement to Ryan Grant. He seems to improve each and every week. He may exhibit the typical rookie learning curve, but he shows flashes of potential in the preseason. He makes the most of his limited opportunities in the early portion of the regular season, and by November, it's clear that he needs to be on the field. He finished with over 300 yards for the season, contributes a couple of touchdowns and his future looks bright.
  • Worst-case scenario: Starks can't seem to find the field. Not unlike Quinn Johnson a year ago, he's kept around on potential alone, but he's not ready for primetime. He gets a carry here or there, but he just can't be trusted yet. He has mental errors, he has problems running with an upright running style he just can't seem to change and he gets no more than a carry or two a game at most. He's frequently on the inactive as the result of the mandatory 45-man gameday roster.

Kregg Lumpkin

  • Best-case scenario: Thanks to a Superman-like effort in training camp, Lumpkin finds his way onto the team. He leads the time in rushing in the exhibition season, but most impressive is his ability to find the endzone. Even if the Packers have to keep four halfbacks on the roster, they decide they can't afford to let Lumpkin go. He doesn't have a major impact in the regular season, but he sees maybe five carries a game and becomes part of the conversation.
  • Worst-case scenario: When he does nothing to distinguish himself from the other running backs on the roster during training camp, he's cut before the regular season begins. He gets ample opportunities in preseason games but fares worse than Brandon Jackson and James Starks. There's no reason to keep him around, and his best best chance to get a job in the NFL is somewhere other than Green Bay.

Quinn Porter

  • Best-case scenario: Porter is stashed on the 53-man roster pretty much for the sole reason that he provides a spark as a kick returner. Once training camp rolls around, he shows why he averaged over 30 yards a kick return in college. He rarely if ever sees the field on offense, but just by making the team, he already exceeded all expectations.
  • Worst-case scenario: Being the second- or third-string kick returner isn't enough to warrant a roster spot let alone a job on the practice squad. Porter isn't any better than guys like Will Blackmon, Sam Shield, Jordy Nelson, James Starks, or pretty much anyone on kick returns. His impact at running back is nil, and he doesn't make it beyond the first round of roster cuts.

John Kuhn

  • Best-case scenario: Kuhn shows to be the most well-rounded of all the fullbacks. He can block, he can catch, he can play on special teams and even though he isn't going to wow anyone with his ball carrying capabilities, he at least has experience in that area. He has a stranglehold on the starting fullback job he just doesn't let go. He hangs onto that job, and is praised for his lead blocking for Ryan Grant when the tailback is actually able to break off some long runs this season.
  • Worst-case scenario: Kuhn isn't as good a blocker as Quinn Johnson and he's not as good a receiver or special teams player as Korey Hall. As such, Kuhn becomes expendable. The Packers can't afford to keep three fullbacks on the roster this year, and Kuhn is cut when the Packers are forced to make a decision in early September. At least he'll be known as a high-character guy, and hopefully he'll find a job elsewhere in the NFL. The Bengals had shown interest in him in the past.

Korey Hall

  • Best-case scenario: Korey Hall isn't the most glamorous player on the team, but he's an overlooked contributor thanks to the work he does both on offense and on special teams. He splits time on offense with whoever the other fullback is, but he does adequately whenever he plays. He's a decent receiver out of the backfield and adds a touchdown or two in 2010. He's underrated on special teams and is actually one of the best players on the team in that category.
  • Worst-case scenario: If you're going to be a fullback in the NFL, you better be able to block. And because he's a little bit behind both Kuhn and Johnson, the Packers can't afford to keep Hall going forward. He was good on special teams, but he nothing that couldn't be replaced by either of the other two fullbacks on the team. Flat out, he didn't do enough to warrant a roster spot at a position that's becoming extinct in today's NFL.

Quinn Johnson

  • Best-case scenario: Look out. The Packers make a decision to make Johnson the starting fullback Week 1 and never look back. He becomes a punishing blocker and starts becoming known as one of the best in the NFL among the inner circles. Unfortunately, any accolades that come with being the best at your position are years away, but it doesn't matter to the Packers. Johnson helps them have one of their best rushing attacks in years. He becomes assignment sure and is capable enough when he touches the football.
  • Worst-case scenario: He makes the team once again but doesn't really impress. His sophomore season in the NFL basically mirrors his rookie year. He plays from time to time, he starts to have an expanded role on special teams, but he just never seems to take it to the next level. Either Kuhn or Hall are more reliable or just seem like better options whenever the Packers need a fullback. Time's running out if he's going to continue to make a career out of playing football.
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

Prediction:

RB1 - Grant. Has best season.
RB2 (by mid-season) - Starks. Adequate blocker, but has the elusion and speed the Packers need receiving and being the change-of-pace back.
RB3 - Starts as the RB2, and improves in his running and receiving. However, is nothing more than adequate in those areas, doesn't add pratically nothing to the team, outside of pass block.

FB1 - Johnson. Punishing blocker, but still lacks lots in the passing game. Used consistantly at goal line, maybe together with Kuhn.
FB2 - Kuhn. ST player, and reliable pass catcher and runner.

Damico's picture

Recipe for writing this "article":

Best case scenario: (insert player name here) could improve on these statistics/move up the depth chart/finally come into his own. A few potential statistics are listed, and rainbows and sunshine come out of every sentence.

Worst case scenario: The player regresses/sees a diminished role/has playing time cut/or doesn't make the team. All of his previously know faults are big problems that can't be overcome. The world ends and the smell of vomit is difficult to ignore.

This series is nothing more than drivel. It must be late July if there is nothing else to talk about.

PackerBacker's picture

So then read something else. I like to read about the players and where they might stand this year. I don't have a ton of time to go around and hunt for this type of information. It's nice to come here and read stuff like this.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Scrote.

GBP 4 LIFE

Brian Carriveau's picture

Fitzcore, you're everywhere, man! I saw your comment on the Fortenbaugh article.

nerdmann's picture

DeShawn Wynn: Best case scenario: He gets moved to FB, which fits his abilities better. Thus he;s not required to catch the ball, just hit people. Open up holes and protect the QB. His speed and blocking ability make him an upper echelon player who can also tote the rock.

Worst case scenario: He stays at HB and gets buried on the depth chart. He's eventually packaged with Lumpy and traded out of the division.

packeraaron's picture

You're kidding right? Wynn was released months ago...

nerdmann's picture

LOL. I think he's a free agent.

alfredomartinez's picture

"Youre kidding right?" You mean hes no longer a packer? What about Manuel, Hunter, or Miree? lol...

some_dude's picture

Grant is bound to start slowing soon. He's been our sole back for too long and we really need Starks to step up and share some of the load. Brandon Jackson is definately worth keeping around though for his receiving and blocking, but he's no feature back.

packersplanet's picture

I'm looking for Jackson to have a big year. The one thing that really impresses me with him are his feet which remind me of a sewing machine needle on crack. Real quick, good blocker, good hands and you can tell he loves playing football

PackerBacker's picture

He hasn't been around that long. He's only been starting for the Packers for 2.5 years and is 28. A lot of RB's have more carries than him. It's not like we are a run first team and he is getting 50 carries a game.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I get what you're saying. You're right, Grant would still seem to have a lot in the tank. What particularly concerns me the percentage of carries Grant gets. He's pretty much been option A and B ever since he became the starter.

packeraaron's picture

I tend to agree w/this. Plus, he missed a year after school due to his accident w/his hand. Lots of tread still on the tires there - the bigger issue will be his contract. He's slated to make BIG money next year.

NickGBP's picture

Grant doesn't get the credit he deserves. Sure there's the possibility he starts deteriorating but I just don't see how. Dude clearly can stand the beating because he's done his best at the end of the season, all 3 years. As he said in one post-game interview it's not that he gets stronger as the season goes on, it's just that everyone else slows down more than he does. Sure that deterioration coefficient may begin to increase with more carries, but I don't see a massive dropoff like other RBs experience. He is a straight ahead runner that doesn't avoid contact, sure, but he's not exactly Adrian Peterson who actively looks for it.

Maybe it's just me (it sure seems like it) but I'm a big fan of Grant. I hope he gets to the pro bowl and gets some recognition this year.

aussiepacker's picture

Well said nick. It must be hard to get recognition with so many passing weapons on this offense.

NyPacker's picture

At 6'2 James Starks is a RB in a WR's body. I think that's where you'll see him this season, catching passes out of the backfield and being a safety valve. Look for him to do more running in '11 than the upcoming season.

PackersRS's picture

He did catch 127 balls in college, so he should know how to do it.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Hope so NY, that's exactly what our backfield has been lacking.

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PackersRS's picture

Dammit, shaznibble?

FITZCORE1252's picture

LOL. Just having fun RS. Finished a 14 hr night, had a beer or 6... bedtime! God I love my Packers and their faithful. Cannot wait till Camp.

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Haha. Sorry, I'll go now!

DAWG's picture

Only way Grant go's to PB is IF the OL improves.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Starks will prove to be a stud... watch. Grant will remain Mr. consistent (which is a very underrated attribute). Jackson will be, well, Jackson. I don't hate the guy, but he's proven Ted reached a bit for him in the 2nd. Decent hands, great picking up the blitz, now if he could just run...

If only there were a veteran presence out there who could possibly be had for cheap. Maybe a guy that raises a few injury concerns but has tremendous upside and is not a stranger to the postseason. Somebody, oh I don't know, around 5'10" 203 lbs maybe outta somewhere like Villanova... that'd be nice. PIPEDREAM.

Our RB's will compliment the O nicely.

GBP 4 LIFE

DAWG's picture

Starks is gonna be a beast catching passes out of the back field.

dgtalmn's picture

Grant has had great runs but I believe that two things contribute to some lack of performance. 1) the OL has been an interesting subject as we all know. I am hoping it settles down and that will help the running game. 2) needs to break the first tackle, not claiming any great knowledge, but it seems he gets hit and just does not break free.

He is a good addition to the team, would love to see someone else come up to the next level so we can have multiple weapons back there.

DAWG's picture

Have to agree on point #2, not sure if it's balance or what-(pad level):) And then he has times he can play very physical.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Totally agree with both of you. Grant RARELY breaks a tackle. He seems to go down on first contact the vast majority of the time. If he could break the arm tackles or juke the 1st guy, he would be among the leagues elite. He's shown no ability to make the 1st guy miss. That makes his consistent #'s all the more impressive.

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davyjones's picture

Grant is WAY beyond "Mr. Consistent". Put his #'s up against the rest of the featured backs in the league over last 2 years. PLUS, what is his fumble per touch ratio compared to other more glamorous names? His rushing average last yr was more than respectable behind a fairly god-awful line (for at least the first 8 games).

FITZCORE1252's picture

GUY,

Sounds pretty consistent to me. Eh?

Flashy, no. Consistent, yes.

Thanks for making my point for me while attempting to refute it. I like Grant, but, he are what he are... CONSISTENT. He's had a few long TD runs in his career, but I certainly do not consider him a "game changer/breaker", nobody does. The guy is solid. FINI.

BUP

andrew's picture

grant is solid.. unable to run the whole game tho.. starks better step up this season, dont get me rong.. definitly see him being a starter in a year or two.. but grant needs someone to share carries with him NOW not in a year or two... hopefully jackson provides some support as a runner so the world doesnt know a pass is coming when he steps on to the field ive always liked jackson tho pass blocker with good hands adds a nice dynamic coming out of the backfield. at fullback.. im a sucker for quinn johnson.. dude is a blocker.. cant run the ball or catch.. but who cares. thats what RB is for.. FB is for laying blocks and quinn gets it done would love to see him in to pass block.. korey hall is the one with the hands and the ability to run. i say you get rid of kuhn and go with two fullbacks hall would get the majority of the snaps i believe. since quinn needs to be able to at least catch a few passes before he gets more snaps.. but i would definitly love to see him blockin on 3rd and long or in the red zone.. but i dont konw what will happen at fullback.. i feel like the roster is stuffed with talent it might be easier to keep kuhn since he is well rounded and experienced, release the others. (do you really NEED more than 1 fullback?) free up some roster spots for other players

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