With news surfacing of Cedric Benson having a Lisfranc injury and needing at least 8 weeks off, the Packers running game once again finds itself without an identity. While Benson was not the key to the Packers offense, he was an integral part.
Why Run When You Can Win?
The Packers are not a running team. With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, why should they be? The Packers didn’t need a running back in 2010 and they won the Super Bowl. And they didn’t need a running back in 2011 when they won 15 games.
This team is not the team of years past. Aaron Rodgers is now playing at a human level. Donald Driver continues to age and play less of a role in the offense. And Greg Jennings remains hampered by a groin injury.
In the perhaps the Packers poorest showing this year, week one versus the 49ers, Benson played only 37% of the offensive snaps, rushing for a mere 18 total yards. The next week versus the Bears, Benson averaged 4.1 yards per carry and played on 71% of the snaps.
The change was palpable. The Packers didn’t have a grind them out running game, but they had a player who could add depth to their offense and keep opposing teams from blanket covering the Packer receivers.
With Benson out for the foreseeable future, the Packers have some options at running back, they key will be picking the right one.
Could it be possible that once again Starks comes back from an injury mid-season and becomes a hero to Packer fans?
In 2010, the Starks legend existed far before he ever played a snap. As Brandon Jackson continued to play like Brandon Jackson, Packer fans then clamored for the previously unknown running back, Starks. He came in, and despite the difficulty of joining a team late in the season, rushed for over 300 yards in the 2010 post season.
But his 2010 success did not carry over to 2011. Starks ran for only 578 yards in 2011 and the Packers offense was primarily one dimensional. His lackluster performance last year, combined with his turf toe injury this season, led to speculation if whether Starks would even make the 2012 Packers team.
James Starks has been back at Packers practice for only a short time and has yet to be active for a game. Is he healthy enough to try to carry the load again? And if he is healthy enough, why have the Packers been reluctant to utilize him thus far this season? Hopefully, as the Packers enter practice this week some of these questions will be answered.
The second year player impressed on Sunday, owning the Packers longest play from scrimmage with his 41 yard run. However, outside of that play, Green rushed for only 14 yards on 8 plays. Dissecting his other 8 rushing plays, he struggled running to the left. The Packers tried it 4 times for a total of minus one yards.
While Green has shown speed, he has also shown a lack of ability to be an every down back. In the Packers system getting 3 yards per carry can be considered a success; however, consistently getting one yard is not.
Fan favorite, great name for a chant and possesses the ability to move the line of scrimmage. What Green lacks, Kuhn has; the keep your legs moving, move the pile and get an extra yard running style. But what Alex Green has, is also what Kuhn lacks. That flash of speed, the body of a running back. Also, Kuhn, like most players cannot block for himself. Kuhn can’t be the Packers blocker and running back at the same time.
The wildcat and Cobra, fun sneaky plays that must exist in the Packers play book somewhere. On an offense that seems to lack chemistry and consistency, Randall Cobb has been the lone standout this season. He makes plays. Rodgers hits him in stride. Minus that whole, running out of bounds late in the game instead of trying to some much needed extra yardage on Sunday, Cobb seems to be overachieving most of the times he touches the ball.
So why not let him be the main running back with a touch of Starks and Green mixed in? He currently shows the most promise, but he is also needed elsewhere. With Jennings still sidelined, with Finley dropping passes and also injured and with Nelson and Rodgers not clicking, Cobb is a much needed presence in the Packers receiving corps.
A Free Agent
It’s a small market, populated by veterans past their prime or slower rookies with limited knowledge of NFL playbooks. Ahman Green tweeted out that he’d be willing to unretired for the Packers, and while a lovely nostalgic idea, there is a reason that Green retired in the first place. He’s too old, too slow, and not what the Packers need.
Greg Jennings was the Packers splashy trade bait a few weeks ago, but few teams trade for a groin injury. With the Packers current injuries, it is difficult to find a position where the Packers possess appropriate and talented depth to trade away for a valued running back.
Ted Thompson and the Packers seemed set with the current Packers running back situation, not signing Cedric Benson to the group until mid-August, well into training camp. Did Benson demonstrate the running back need to the Packers coaches and front office, or are they content once again with what they have?
The Packers will most likely stick with what they have and the why run when you can win approach. While not necessarily a bad idea, the players that the Packers do have, the running backs and Rodgers, will have to step it up, as will the play calling, in order to make up for the absence of Benson. If the Packers don’t make any adjustments and continue as they did the second half of the Colts game, it will be a long season.
Jayme Joers is a writer at CheeseheadTV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of CheeseheadRadio. She also contributes to Pocketdoppler.com. You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at Jaymelee1@gmail.com.