I wanted to put down in pixels, once and for all, my thoughts regarding Brandon Jackson, since they seem to be open to much misinterpretation.
No, I do not think Brandon Jackson is an elite running back. Yes, I think he's more than talented enough for the Packers to win games with. No, I don't think he should replace Ryan Grant. Yes, I think he absolutely deserves to be splitting carries with Grant next year.
And that is the whole point - Jackson has been woefully underused since Grant's emergence. He is a great compliment to Grant and I really hope he's opening McCarthy's eyes this year.
For example, one of the constant frustrations over the last few years when it came to Grant and the Packers running game was the inevitable sight of seeing Grant burst into the defensive backfield only to watch him be taken down by a safety or corner just before breaking a big gain.
One of the things Brandon Jackson has brought to the table is this exact ability - the ability to get to the second level, make a move, and win the one-on-one. We saw it in Washington on his big run in the first quarter and various other plays this year as well.
The coaches film below from Sunday night is a picture-perfect example of a play where every single offensive player executes his block, leaving the running back one-on-one with a defender. The tight end kicks out the outside backer, the offensive tackle collapses the defensive end (he's helped by the fact that the defensive line is slanting right), Quinn Johnson and Josh Sitton neutralize the middle linebackers and Jordy Nelson takes out the safety.
That leaves Brandon Jackson and Terrence Newman - and Jackson absolutely freezes him then runs around him for a good gain and a first down. This is a play Grant simply does not make.
I said on Packer Transplants this past Tuesday that I think McCarthy is finally getting a handle on how to use Jackson - he won't be giving him 20 to 25 carries any time soon, but he's starting to feature Jackson in ways that complement his skill set.Yes, there are deficiencies in his game. He still tends to dance behind the line on too many plays and he sometimes gets caught being hell bent on going playside when there's a big cutback lane available. But for the most part, he is more than serviceable for what the Packers need to do on offense.
Is he Adrian Peterson? No. But he doesn't have to be in this offense. He just has to be Brandon Jackson for the Packers to keep winning.
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