Over the last few days, a lot is been made about the Packers running back situation. Head coach Mike McCarthy and various members of his staff, be it running backs coach Jerry Fotnenot or offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, have given their two cents on how the rotation between Ryan Grant and James Starks will work.
Obviously, there's a lot of interest in the running back situation from fantasy football enthusiasts due to the perception that the Packers will be fielding one of the top offenses in the league, making whoever is running the ball a valuable commodity.
I have a few thoughts here.
First, the Packers offense has the potential to be potent. But that's the key word - potential. McCarthy's guys got hot down the stretch in December and January of last year, but they have consistently sputtered out of the gate. McCarthy acknowledged his frustrations in that regard during the scouting combine, saying he expected big improvements on that side of the ball.
Of course, along came the lockout and wiped out an entire offseason and along with it all of McCarthy's plans. Acknowledging a need to jump-start his offense, McCarthy turned to the no-huddle.
Aside from getting a lot of plays run, there's conditioning, timing. That's where you want to start the season. That's what you're kind of chasing a little bit from an offense. Just getting up and getting going and getting in that rhythm. No-huddle helps you with that.
Which brings me to my second point - if McCarthy turns to the no-huddle early, it will obviously be on quarterback Aaron Rodgers' shoulders to get the offense in rhythm. Already given more responsibility at the line of scrimmage than almost any other quarterback in the league, Rodgers will be responsible for more than ever before if McCarthy uses a liberal amount of no-huddle.
While the playcaller will still be able to communicate with the quarterback, its Rodgers who does most of the playcalling during the no-huddle sequence. Obviously, whoever the back happens to be during the no-huddle won't be coming off the field. But their production will be determined by Rodgers and how he sees the defense - and history tells us QB1 likes to throw it around the yard.
After the Super Bowl, when asked about James Starks' production, McCarthy mentioned how he had wanted to ride Starks a little more but that Rodgers had gone toward the pass more often than the run in his "check with me's" at the line of scrimmage. Nothing will change in that regard going forward. In fact, I expect even more passing from Rodgers and McCarthy in 2011.
The age-old adage about the running game is that the best way to work at it - is to work at it. In other words, you have to run the ball, in games, over and over and over. The Packers are coming off a preseason where they had the fewest rushing attempts in the league. This, after not having an offseason and a breakneck speed install.
While fretting over who the Packers main running back will be is a good way to drive traffic to your website - its not a real issue when it comes to the Packers offense. McCarthy and Rodgers simply need enough from Grant and Starks to keep defenses honest - cliched, but true. Another cliche? The NFL is a passing league. Again, cliched, but true. And the Packers can be one of the best passing offenses in the league, regardless of who is lining up behind the quarterback.
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