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Packers Question of the day - Has the time come for James Starks?

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Packers Question of the day - Has the time come for James Starks?

The question is as straight-forward as it sounds. 

In his last two games, James Starks has averaged less than a yard (0.87) per carry. He's only touched the football out of the backfield six times.

Is it time that the Packers move on from Starks and potentially draft a running back in April? Starks has faced heavy criticism from fans, and likely even his own coaches. The Packers have stuck with him thanks to his efficient run-blocking ability, but he isn't the same tailback seen in recent memory.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (38) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Since '61's picture

Yes, the time has come for Starks, time to move on.
Yes, the Packers should draft an RB in April to complement Monty. They do not need to resign Lacy, especially if he can't or won't control his weight. Monty is making Lacy expendable. Time for the Bears, this is post season stuff. Thanks, Since '61

Harlan Huckleby's picture

Right now, he's a warm body that knows the system and can help Monty and Michael on the sidelines. His time should be up at the end of the season though. I'd like to see a potential #1 RB drafted in April, I see Monty more as a flex threat than a feature back. Lacy is probably done with the Packers.

Razer's picture

The decline of Starks is very strange. The inability of Michael Christine to learn the backfield also a bit of a puzzle. Watching our fullbacks going the wrong way on Sunday was disappointing. I am wondering if our design for the backfield is flawed or if we have a RB coaching problem. Just too many misses for a part of the game that we don't feature.

Either way, if Christine doesn't get his act together, Starks will be Montgomery's primary relief. Let's hope that he still has some 2010 memory in those muscles.

zoellner25's picture

Yes. He's old

Ferrari Driver's picture

Not many 30 year old running backs are effective and starks is not one of them and down the road with Eddie Lacy's eating habits, he will not be one either.

Bearmeat's picture

Yes. Starks is gone after the year. Micheal and Monty are the RBBC for the rest of the year. I fully expect Lacy to be back on a 1 year "prove-it" deal next year, and TT to hedge his bet with a RB in the mid-rounds. This supposedly is a great RB class. And if Monty can get a little more powerful in his lower body without sacrificing speed, we might have a gem beyond this year.

Things are ok at present, but good grief, it never should have gotten this bad. TT has screwed the pooch at RB 6 times in the past 11 years. That's wayyyy too much. I am more than ready for TT to retire.

dobber's picture

After TT got caught with his pants down at the RB position, I don't see him releasing Starks through the rest of the season, but I don't anticipate Starks making it to camp in the fall. As they say, when a RB hits the wall, it's a pretty precipitous drop...I'm just waiting for the Wlle E. Coyote-esqe *POOF* when he hits the bottom of the canyon.

Razer's picture

I think that Starks has a two year deal. Not sure what cap implications his contract carries but he will probably be at camp. Someone will need to show more potential before they outright release Starks.

Still, from poor running decisions to weak ball control, Starks has done little to keep his spot on this roster - a roster depleted of RBs. Go figure.

Nick Perry's picture

If the Packers cut him (Starks) they'll only have $750,000 of Dead Cap Space from letting him go. Well worth the roster spot.

Right now for 2017 the Packers have almost $38 million in Cap Space. Matthews has a Cap Hit of over $15 Million, IMO he isn't worth that anymore. If the Packers cut him they'd have another $11 Million of space. Lots of tough decisions for the Packers to make this Offseason.

Nick Perry's picture

Lots of RB's will be available in this drafts once everyone declares. The Packers could probably pick up a pretty good RB in the 3rd or 4th round.

I like Lacy, he was running well this year though he was still a bit to heavy. You have to wonder after everything he went through in 2015 and the injuries this year if the Packers will even offer him a contract.

stockholder's picture

I'm all for letting both starks and lacy go. Take the comp pick with Lacy. But TT won't do that. He'd rather draft square pegs and put them in a different position. That way he still looks like the draft guru he no longer is. He's a GM now. If you have a MVP QB, you can get away with anything. So I won't look for the drafts best RB. Just the best bargain. It's time TT and his staff take offense. The best Offensive player you can get. Even if you have to trade up to get him! So TT needs to sign Perry, and Jones. And leave the defensive players alone.

MarkinMadison's picture

Starks' contract hits the Packers for $3.75 M if he stays with the team, $.75M if he is cut. He has been ineffective as a runner all season long. I'll be shocked if he is not gone by June. The extra $3M in cap space is better used somewhere else. I've never been a Starks guy, and have had to eat crow in some years when he exceeded expectations. Those days are gone.

The boy named Christine is living up (and down) to his billing. I don't know that he will ever be a great fit in Green Bay. There are two many run/pass option plays called in this offense. Too many adjustments by the QB at the line. Mentally he just may never be able to keep up. Hopefully he can be o.k. as a complementary runner.

It doesn't look like the Packers will draft high enough to get Fournette. The other first-round grade guys are a bit undersized for the Packers. Putting Lacy on a prove-it deal may be the best option for both parties.

4zone's picture

I think it's a safe bet to say Lacy is back next year on at least a 1 year contract. I think his value is directly linked to his ability to stay healthy. Problem is his ankles can't seem to handle his weight demands. Even when he is slimmed down. It's just a problem that just won't go away. I think a lesser load would benefit him greatly and help him to make it through the season. But we need a powerful back that cuts quickly and decisively to go along with him (not Ty). I think Ty clearly makes for a great 3rd down back who can be used in a number of situations.

dobber's picture

So you're saying that when Lacy's weight is up, players fall on his legs more? I'm no expert on ankles, but I might buy that they take longer to heal if your weight is up, but his ankle issues come from guys he's dragging downfield falling on his legs.

fthisJack's picture

never have liked Lacey. tooo slow and always hurt or too effin fat. let him hit FA and draft a RB high. i think TE is a major hole that needs to be filled with a high draft pick next year also.

L's picture

Its actually beyond the time, but unless Lacy or Crockett returns from the IR he's needed as insurance depth this season because he knows the system.

MarkinMadison's picture

Packers burned their IR return already.

L's picture

Oh, they used it on Makinton Dorleant. Wasn't even aware of that somewhat recent move. Thanks for the heads-up.

TXCHEESE's picture

Me thinks some folks need to go back and look at Lacy's runs prior to his injury. He was doing a lot of damage to defensive bodies. This offense would be extremely dangerous if we had a healthy Eddie Lacy. He'll be back.

Razer's picture

I agree and I also agree with your qualifier "if healthy". Eddie Lacy needs to demonstrate that he is a pro and trains accordingly. Handing him a big contract next year would be a mistake. He won't last a season at his weight and in his typical shape.

EdsLaces's picture

Ok so can we be realistic about Monty. These David Johnson comparisons are ridiculous. He's probably the best RB in the NFL right now. I could see like a McKinnon or maybe a DUKE Johnson comparison bUT not David...

4zone's picture

Let's stop patchworking the RB position. Lacy will be back on a limited contract, it only makes sense and shouldn't cost much with little commitment long term. Ty is a great 3rd down back and more in a pinch. He is flexible and can be dangerous at either Back or WR. Michaels will come a long way in the off season learning the playbook and should be a solid contributor next year.

HOWEVER, I think we need to draft a Feature Back this draft. I think in one pick we can change this position from one of weakness to one of strength. No more UDFA's here, we have enough of them already. Lets get ourselves a stud who likes to run people over (cause our line doesn't open a whole lot of holes).

I also want a TE who can stretch the field AND a possession WR who can step in for Jordy down the line (or sooner). Go hunt for 1, just 1 impact player in FA.

And just a suggestion for AR in case (laugh) he's reading this sort of stuff. Re-negotiate your contract down, say 6-7 mil per year so that TT can afford to grab some impact guys in FA for you. After all, the amount of money you lose in your contract is probably less than the endorsement deals you would add if you won another SB or two eh???

dobber's picture

RB, TE...just keep adding to the draft shopping list. There are only so many positions you can pick high and so much shock you can take to your cap by signing guys off the open market. If we assume the Packers will be more active this off-season in FA, that's where you get a competent RB and potentially a TE. Certainly RB has been devalued enough in recent years that very good ones are being mined later in the draft. If you're looking for a shutdown corner or impact edge rusher (both of which the Packers will likely need), you can't hardly afford both of those on the open market.

4zone's picture

Dobber, I think 1 impact FA is a move in the right direction. I also think upgrades at TE and RB can be had in the first 2 or 3 rounds. Overall, I think this team is way better than our 7-6 record. We just got whacked uncharacteristically deep at 3 positions. I doubt we come close to that kind of focused injury disbursement in the next 10+ years. Don't know a lot about the new ILB we just signed from SEA but if he can start for them, he's got to be better that the backups we have now, even if he doesn't contribute a whole lot yet this year.

TT has made a few moves this season. Nothing splashy but more along the lines of what NE typically does. TT's showing a bit of flexibility in strategy which is hopefully a sign of things to come. Who knows maybe he's on the way to a new him, Texas Hold-Em Ted...????

stockholder's picture

The shopping list will only get longer. As long as you don't trust the draft and development policy of the Packers. #2. The lower you go, the longer they take to develop. And may never be an All-Pro. Look at how long it took Adams and others. The point being is; if you want a FRANCHISE player, you have to go after him. Lacy was passed on early. But look at what a Sanders, Peterson,Payton, did. Not to mention Elliott helping with the turn around of Dallas.

4zone's picture

Martinez - Starter, Lowry - Coming on Strong both 4th rounders. Round doesn't necessarily dictate their level of or timing of impact

4 Guys from last draft are already making significant contributions. Fackrell and Davis show promise in the little time they've played but need development.

We should expect at least 2 immediate impact players each draft and at least half of all picks to be contributors at different levels, beyond ST's in their first year. Our starters, 'for the most part', are fairly good. Not any really glaring holes. I believe we now need to focus on upgrading our depth AND some starting positions, but not many.

Razer's picture

...just keep adding to the draft shopping list...

Yeah, there is quite a line building for talent from the draft. As you point out, the devalued RB position will likely not get high priority in our draft (3rd or 4th at best). I also agree that a shutdown corner and pass rusher will likely be the needed to fill in for the departure of Shields and Peppers (and maybe one of Datone Jones or Nick Perry). Depending on Jared Cook, we might be looking for OLB/DE, CB, TE then the best available after that.

stockholder's picture

Your OLBs are slow this year. The best DEs will be off the board by the time the packers pick. The best Cbs are small but fast. (Packers like 6 foot at least.) So the real problem is signing Jones and perry. That leaves TE or RB. Whose BPA?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"The Packers have stuck with him thanks to his efficient run-blocking ability"

Trying to run block with the football in hand is a good description of the James Starks of late.

4zone's picture

Starks needs to pick his hole before the play starts and just hit it. If it's open, yea, if it's not, run the SOB over. Just hit the thing with speed and power instead of jumping backwards at the first smell of body odor...

pacman's picture

I'd bet big money that Starks is not around next year. I'm happy to give Lacey shot at coming back and do trust Ted to negotiate an appropriate price. Lacey, Monty and Michael look good to me. But I'm not sure how you can keep both Lacey and Monty happy about split duty. Will that work? And then how do you keep Michael in the mix. He might jump to another team.

Draft focus has to be on D but it all depends on who is healthy. How much more can Packers spend on CM to play half the year at half strength? My guess is first 3 picks are still on D, unless somebody is available that they just can't pass up. We can't have any more 4 game blowout losing streaks while we still have AR. Hard to say who the next qb will be but it's not like the few throws we've seen from Hundley have been very impressive. I just saw Callahan is back on the practice squad. I guess he didn't impress anyone else either though he was exciting in pre-season.

guzzi2000's picture

I have to agree Starks is done, reminds me of Brockington when he lost it. As far as resigning Lacy for me it would be somewhat based on his weight as of right now. Is he taking steps to correct the issue or is he getting bigger and bigger. There needs to be an attitude adjustment in regards to his weight issues. IMHO that should be starting now as part of his recovery.

MarkinMadison's picture

He is hanging around in GB a lot, so that is a good sign.

Lphill's picture

I am ok with Lacy next year , draft a Back in round 3 or 4 but use the first two rounds for defense .

Duke Divine's picture

Heck of a "run" 44! Thanks for the contributions but yep, done.

Handsback's picture

Starks has done a good job, now his time is over. Monty and Lacy would make a good team. I think Monty could be another Faulk, but Lacy is the banger they need in the 4th qtr with 5 minutes left on the clock and he gets the ball 7 timess to run the clock down to zero. No room for Starks.

Tundraboy's picture

Duh. Of course we need to draft a RB. James is probably done and even if not how much does he have left. Even then there is no room left after Lacy and Monty. Time to find a quality RB in draft for a change.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

At present, GB would draft 18th. Couple of wins could push them down to the low 20s, and a couple of losses could push them up to the low teens.

Remember, even if TT signs an impact FA, that is done in March, well before the draft, so TT won't know who falls to GB in the draft when he is deciding on FAs.

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