Last night I went back and watched every snap taken by Green Bay Packers running back James Starks in last Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.
While an excruciating exercise, it was extremely illuminating. Starks repeatedly cuts back INTO blockers on the back side of runs rather than simply bursting through holes that are right in front of him.
This third quarter run is a perfect example of what I'm talking about:
Notice how Newhouse kicks his guy outside and Wells turns his guy inside, creating a perfect running lane for Starks to run through. Instead, Starks cuts back straight into the defensive tackle. On any outside zone play, backs are told to hit a point, make the read, plant their foot an GO. Instead, on this and too many of his runs last Sunday, Starks is thinking about how he should be cutting - rather than hitting the hole right in front of him.
To be fair, it sure looks like that backside option is there by design, with the way Clifton opens up his left leg and sets up almost in pass pro coupled with Quarless clearing out that area from the fullback position.
But Starks needs to see the hole in front of him and hit it. That's what Grant did so well against the Bears. He didn't try to do anything more than use what was right in front of him.
I still think Starks is the better back - I'm not ready to say "I was completely wrong" after one game. But Starks certainly needs to shake off his performance against the Bears and get back to what he was doing the first two weeks of the season.
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