It was July 2008, “The Summer of Favre,” yet with all the attention being given to that PR nightmare, Ryan Grant wanted a little attention too. Five months after the Packers had told Grant and his agent that they would “take care of their own” and sign him to a new contract, Grant was a holdout.
There were angry words from Grant’s agent. “It’s insulting,” agent Alan Herman said of the offer he received from negotiator Russ Ball, “Ryan Grant gave them a running game last year. They know what he can do.”
Somehow, what was shaping up to be a contentious negotiation and a long holdout was resolved only a week later, as the two sides agreed on a four year contract. Packer fans everywhere rejoiced. The dynamic running back that had gained over 900 yards for the Packers over the last 10 games of the 2007 season was in the fold.
He’s never been the same since.
What Ryan Grant is now, is an example of an incredibly inconsistent NFL running back. He’s inconsistent from season to season, game to game, quarter to quarter, even play to play.
I believe it comes down to this: Ryan Grant can only gain significant yards when he has a well-defined hole in sight. Give him a nice big seam that he can run through and he’ll slash through the hole with aggression. Give him an offensive lineman or two that have been stood up in his path and he just can’t adjust. He doesn’t have the ability to make sharp cuts and change direction with speed.
For some proof, lets go to the visual aids:
This was the play where Grant appeared to have fumbled until he was saved by a replay challenge. It’s evident above that the Packers left side of the line loses the line of scrimmage battle and allow themselves to get pushed back a yard or two. Grant sees this. In this picture you can see him trying to stop himself. Because of the unblocked corner, bouncing outside is not an option.
Conversely, as you can see in the picture above, the right side of the Packers line has done a good job. They’ve gotten a push, are holding their blocks, there is room for Grant to run. I’m not saying it would be a big gain, but certainly there is room to the right and none to the left.
I give Grant credit for seeing it and attempting to get over there, unfortunately, he doesn’t have the ability to do it. His attempted cut takes him right up behind his blockers and within easy reach of the defenders.
The end result, as you can see above, becomes a two yard loss and near fumble.
Folks, Ahman Green makes that cut. Brandon Jackson makes that cut. Even Kregg Lumpkin makes that cut. Possibly Deshawn Wynn makes that cut (ah, maybe not). But without a doubt, Ryan Grant can NOT make that cut.
Ryan Grant is a fine running back if your offensive line is dominating the line of scrimmage. That hasn’t happened very often this year. In my opinion, Ryan Grant is just not the right running back for the Green Bay Packers. I’ve written about this before and nothing has transpired to change my mind.
As I was watching the Ravens game, it occurred to me that Grant seems to get stopped for zero or negative yardage more than any other NFL running back I’ve seen. Was this just my imagination? Was my perception fantasy or reality. This inquiring mind had to know.
I went back to the Baltimore game stats and charted Grant’s runs. He gained 41 yards on 18 carries for a poor 2.3 yard per carry average. But more importantly, take a look at his 18 runs. Here are the yards per carry on each one:
-1, 3, 2, -1, 7, 0, 8, 2, 0, 4, 0, 8, 4, 2, 3, 3, 4, 3, -1
Besides being about as inconsistent as they could be, let’s look closer at these numbers. Six runs (33%) went for zero gain or a loss. Nine runs (50%) went for 2 yards or less. A running back like that is what you call a drive killer. If Aaron Rodgers wasn’t seemingly unconscious on third downs, Grant’s performance would have manifested itself in more Jeremy Kapinos punts, certainly not what the Packers want.
Conversely, Ahman Green did what Ahman Green does, gain positive yardage. Despite my pleading with Mike McCarthy through my television set, and much to my chagrin, Green was only given five handoffs during the Ravens game. His yards per carry were as follows:
4, 4, 8, 5, 2
Sure this is too small a sample to be definitive, but throughout Ahman Green’s career, one thing has been definitive – he consistently gains positive yardage. Consistency that Ryan Grant does not have. Green is rarely stopped for no gain or a loss. He finds a way to make something out of nothing. Consistently.
Of Ahman Green I say, “Give him the damn ball”.
You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report. Jersey Al is the Green Bay Packers Draft Correspondent for Drafttek.com.
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