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Grant Can't "Cut" It.

Grant Can't "Cut" It.




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:




Run One


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.




Run Two


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.




Run Three


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

You can also follow Jersey Al on facebook and twitter.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (36) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Caleb's picture

It was the Summer of 2008..just fyi...

Jersey Al's picture

Yup. Typo. I have corrected it. Thanks...

Peter Quinn's picture

Hi. I am a long time reader. I wanted to say that I like your blog and the layout.

Peter Quinn

Jersey Al's picture

Thanks. Alex does a great job with it.

Caleb's picture

And Ryan Grant blows. Great analysis, it has always appeared to me that Grant can read the blocks and make adjustments to the holes, he just can't make the physical adjustment to cut and run as needed. I'd love to see us draft someone like CJ Spiller...just a little healthier though, he has too much tendency to get hurt.

Go Pack Go!


Jersey Al's picture

Funny, there is a CJ Spliller wave building in Packer nation. I do some draft analysis for and two weeks ago I was discussing CJ Spiller off-line with the site owner as a potential Packer pick. Since then, that's all I'm hearing. If the Packers keep winning, I doubt if he would be available for them. I'd rather see the Pack use the #1 on an OT, if there is a guy worth it whenever they pick. But RB is a close second choice.

PackersRS's picture

If there isn't any quality OL when we pick, CJ Spiller should absolutely be the pick.

I don't think Charles Brown as some people project would be a good choice. I like Bulaga. If some reason Okung fals, that would be heaven on earth. But as I think we'll pick in the low 20's, perhaps even further, Spiller should be there. IF not, Jahvid Best or Jonathan Dwyer are good options. I think maybe we can get a Trent Williams, or if not, that Carimi kid from Wisconsin looks good.

Franklin Hillside's picture

"Minnesota’s run game has been stopped for zero or negative yardage more than any other NFL offense." - ESPN NFC North blog today

Bad timing.

Jersey Al's picture

LOL - Well, maybe we're second... Just conjecture, of course.

Andyman's picture

I share your sentiment of "more Ahman Green". I kept saying that on Monday, and the fact that he actually produces when he touches the ball only a fraction of the time should be sign enough.

Jersey Al's picture

Green is "Mr. Positive Yardage."

Asshalo's picture

except Ahman Green probably can't take on the work-load of an all game running back and remain healthy. He should however, get more carries. We shouldn't wait til the fourth to give him the ball.

But yes, Grant should no longer be the default starter. Time to look into the possibility of replacing him...

Jersey Al's picture

Just looking for a more even distribution of the carries, which are too low, as well. A two-headed running back gives other defenses more to worry about.

Asshalo's picture

Ah the good ol days when we had a three headed monster RB...

You're a MORON's picture

duuuude, Grant may not be producing the same as he was during that 10 game stretch in 2007, but c'mon... specifically the 3 stills you included as "examples of his lack of ability to cut back effectively" are actually examples of the offensive line getting beat (even though they have 3 blockers on the left side to two rushers) The play call was obviously supposed to go off the guard to the left, but as that hole never opened Grant had to try and readjust but because of the immense pressure generated by the defensive front he had nowhere to cut back too... ease off the guy, an overall consistent and effective offensive line (which is STARTING to come together) would greatly increase Grants productivity, more so than trying to improve his cutting ability...

Jersey Al's picture

Did you read the article? If you did, then you kind of missed the whole point. The article is about Ryan Grant's individual abilities, and what he is able to do when things aren't set up perfectly for him. It's not about the OL, it's not about the running game, it's about Grant. He had two yards to execute a cut, that was plenty of room for an NFL running back. Hence, my point.

Asshalo's picture

You should have started the reply

"You're a MORON,

You are a moron..."

Jersey Al's picture

Not necessary. It's implied for anyone that opens up with "duuude."

PackersRS's picture

Al. Just one problem with Green. I don't think he can run the ball more than 10 times a game and be effective. He couldn't the last two years in Houston.

I think we should take away some carries from Grant, and give them to BJax and Batman. But I think MM has been doing that, when he runs the ball more...

Jersey Al's picture

Since MM only runs about 20 or so times a game anyway, what's wrong with giving Green 10 carries? I'm not calling for Green to be the #1 back, but I am looking for a two-headed running back approach. Also, don't judge Green by the last two years, he seems fully healthy now and is getting back into football shape.

Stan's picture

Chris Johnson's or Adrian Peterson's simply aren't out there for every team. Personally I think Ryan Grant does an adequate enough job, but make no mistake, the star of the show is Aaron Rodgers. Grants style is to power through the hole and keep the legs churning. It's not a great style and relies heavily on a good O-Line to be very effective.... we don't have a good O-Line, in fact Clifton and Colledge should be replaced a.s.a.p. I don't think Grant's the problem, he can get the job done, but when all he has is the tiniest hole and a O-Line getting dominated.... it's not going to look good for any RB.

Ahman Green should get more opportunities though, he's earned that much.

Jersey Al's picture

Yes to Ahman Green. I'm looking for a 50-50 split.

jeremiah's picture

ryan grant is not suited for our scheme. ryan grant is a power running back , who usually runs without power. he would have more success in a straight ahead smash mouith style running game, not the ZBS we run. you r right, he just does not have the ability to see AND hit the cutbacks. nor does he have the speed to make the last guy miss when he does get to the second level.

Jersey Al's picture

Which is why if you are committed to Ryan grant, I would put Quinn Johnson in the backfield and go for more of a power running game. That I could live with.

Cuphound's picture

An excellent piece! Thanks! Reading it makes me wonder if the reason Grant looked so good in 2006 was because Jeff Jagodzinski was still the offensive coordinator and is likely the only Packers coach who actually understands the O-line's zone blocking scheme. No Jagodzinski = No holes = Grant goes nowhere.

Jersey Al's picture

Very possible. That's why I think Green would have some success if given a chance. He's better at making something out of nothing.

FITZCORE1252's picture


Let's grab the white kid from Stanford, or Spiller (Ingram prolly won't come out will he, think he's a soph). Sure we'd have to wheel and deal, but a game changing back sure would help round out the offense ( that and a LT, RT and LG). On the other hand maybe we should get the O-line in order, hard to be a game changer when you don't have any daylight!


Greg C.'s picture

I like Ryan Grant because I saw him on TV one time and he was wearing a Beatles "Let It Be" tee shirt. You gotta admire a black guy who likes the Beatles. I do, anyway.

I've thought a lot about Ryan Grant, and no matter how I slice it, he is an average RB. He is what you might call a good "systems" player, but unfortunately the Packers' running game is a system that doesn't work very well. Lousy blocking.

I don't dump on Grant because I think he gives good effort, and he has good ball security, which is not to be taken for granted. Those plays where an RB gets stuffed in the hole are the ones where fumbles are most likely to occur, and for all the times that happens to Grant, he seldom fumbles. Also, I think he has improved his performance in the passing game this season. He's only had a couple of drops, and he seems to be getting into gear more quickly after making the catch. That's a very subjective thing for me to say, and I haven't heard it from anyone else, so maybe I'm wrong on that. It just seems that way to me.

Anyway, McCarthy's stubborn insistence on relying almost solely on Grant in the running game has been a sore point for me ever since last season. McCarthy seems to be operating on wishful thinking. It's like he imagines our O-line to be really good, and he thinks the X's and O's are all going to do what they're supposed to do on every play, but it hardly ever happens. And as you explain, Grant is not an RB who is going to overcome poor blocking. An upgrade at RB would be nice for next year, although in terms of need, that position is a distant third behind OT and CB.

I enjoyed your piece as always, Al.

Jersey Al's picture

I like Ryan Grant because he went to High School just a few towns over from where I live. But I would still like to see Green get some chances or maybe some more creative plays, like the outsdie shovel pass to Jackson in today's game.

Ruppert's picture

You're right with all of this, of course.

But what does it mean? Are you saying he should be replaced by Lumpkin? (joke!) Do you think he's going to kill us in a playoff game? Should we draft a RB with a high pick, or try to help out that O line?

He shows up every week, doesn't fumble, and doesn't do anything stupid like try to bounce 20 yards outside for a loss of 9, He also averages 4.6 a carry in the 4th quarter, and 4.4 per carry in the second half.

I'm too lazy to dig up stats for every other running back, but I would be very surprised if your assertion that he has an inordinately high number of runs go for zero or negative yards is true. I say that because, to average 4.3 YPC, he would also have to have a higher than normal number of longer runs, to make up for that higher than normal number of zero/negatives. And we know he doesn't have a lot of 15-20 yarders. I'm just speaking mathematically.

To me, his most egregious offense is that he's totally useless catching passes out of the backfield. He's a middle-of-the-road RB on a team with a middle-of-the-road O Line/running game in general. But this team is going as far as the passing game and defense carries it. I think he should be replaced, ideally by a free agent running back next year. But he ain't all bad, either.

Greg C.'s picture

Ruppert: I agree with you on the zero or negative yards thing. The lack of long runs is what suppresses Grant's average. When he does lose yards, it's usually because he has two or three defenders in his lap almost as soon as he gets the ball.

I disagree with you about Grant's pass-catching, though. Although it has always been one of the weaker parts of his game, to say he's "totally useless" is an overstatement, and I think he has actually improved in that area during the course of this season. Jackson and Green are both better at it, though.

Erik's picture

62, 7, 3, -1, 3, 8, 3, 5, 4, 3, 0, 5, 1, 1, 17, 6, 1, 0, 1, 8

-1, 6, 3, 4, -1

Well let's look at these numbers. Seems to undermine a lot of what was written here. The point? One game doesn't make or break a player. Moreover, Green doesn't seem to be this magic pill of always gaining yards as you seem to imply. Even with about a quarter the carries he still has more plays for negative yardage than Grant today.

Neither are long term solutions for Green Bay, but I think this article glazed over way too much to demonize Grant while making Green, a back that didn't even have work until recently, look like he still has a lot left in the tank.

Jersey Al's picture

Based on today's game, your comments are fair. But still, you have seven out of 20 carries going for 1 yard or less. Tell me you think that's good. And today's game still doesn't change the fact that Grant needs a big hole to run through (like the TD) and can't change direction in small spaces. That's all I was saying...

Erik's picture

I think you're asking way too much of any running back if you think that's "inconsistent" to have seven out of twenty (thirty five percent) of runs, to go for a yard or less. Let's just look at Chris Johnson, the best running back in the game against an easy Rams defense:

-1, 1, 7, 39, 0, 5, 1, 10, 7, -1, -1, 3, 17

That's Johnson's first half. That's almost half of his carries going for one yard or less.

His second half doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence either if you think that 35% of runs for a yard or less is the sign of a bad runner:

-1, 2, -3, -3, 0, 2, 2, 3, 8, -1, 10, 7, -1, 4, 0, 1

Runs for a yard or less: 14 of 29 or 48%

Are you arguing that Chris Johnson is not good? Because that's what you seem to be implying with your rebuttal here.

This is how running in the NFL works, a couple yards here, a couple yards there, then boom, 7+ yard run. Then back to the grind.

Jersey Al's picture

Erik, finally someone comes to me with a rebuttal that has substance. While it requires more research and a larger sample, your point is well taken. And I would expect this more from a guy like Chris Johnson than Ryan Grant. But still, is this, in fact, status quo in the NFL? Am I indeed asking too much? You've raised good questions.

Erik's picture

I think it definitely warrants a further look, Al. And if there's a guy that does the stat thing well, it's you. I look forrward to reading a much more in depth analysis of the running game in the NFL where Grant stacks up. I agree that he's not a long term solution at the spot (and I'd love to see Toby Gerhart fall to the Pack in the first round).

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