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Running Back Forecast

Running Back Forecast

I thought I'd actually write a Packer's related article to hash up over the weekend. So, let's talk a little running back, what the possibilities are, and what I think should happen if we ever get around to playing football again.

This entire conversation, from my point of view anyway, has to start with Brandon Jackson. You would think the Packers would want to keep him around, especially in pass protection for their one bad hit away franchise in Aaron Rodgers. That said, if the Packers do end up snagging a running back, especially one who can pass block, you really end up with a log jam at the position.

What do I think should happen?

I think the Packers should keep Brandon Jackson AND draft a third down back. There is no reason you can't carry four running backs. I'll get a step further and say that the Packers will roll with only one FB in Kuhn on the roster. With Crabtree showing prowess in the backfield, there is no reason to keep another fullback. This spells the end for Quinn Johnson, but I don't think that would surprise anyone.

With these four running backs and Kuhn, you have both depth and the ability to do most anything in any situation. This of course begs the question who will be lining up on first down?

What do I think will happen?

I think when and if there is a camp, McCarthy stays true to his word and gives Starks the starting role over Grant. I don't see why Starks shouldn't get the job, he finished strong in that position. You aren't supposed to lose your job to injury, but perhaps McCarthy figures it's time to have a little competition at what has been a one trick pony for too many years now.

This isn't a cut on Ryan Grant either. It's going to be a battle between those two all camp long if both guys stay healthy. If they do stay healthy, I think you get a solid dose of both Starks and Grant on first down. With those guys splitting the reps much like Marion Barber and Felix Jones were doing. Jackson will play the role of third back, in passing situations, and in short distance, you could see even see a combo of Grant and Starks in the backfield, leading to longer (and less gut wrenching) plays than the usual third and Kuhn, much like the Giants do with Jacobs and Bradshaw.

Either way, it's a nice problem to have while you're also grooming your newest draft pick.

Who gets the long term job?

Of course injuries always play a part, but if everyone stays healthy, the long term starter at running back is going to be determined by one thing, and one thing only. Hanging on to the ball. I don't know exactly how many games or carries it has been, but a Packer running back hasn't given up a fumble in quite some time. The first guy that drops a few, is going to find himself off the depth chart in a hurry. We all know McCarthy doesn't like it, and with a stash of nice backs he won't hesitate to pull the trigger.

Best case scenario?

Everyone stays healthy all year long, and is able to keep their ego's in check and work together as a three to four headed monster. A little competition is okay, but the first guy that starts whining isn't going to get any sympathy from me. The Packer's haven't had this kind of diversity in the backfield in quite some time, and complimenting a deadly passing attack, it's going to be a formidable if not dominant machine.

Like I said, it's a great problem to have.

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PackersRS's picture

None of our RBs has any history of fumbling. Though Starks was consistantly reminded to hold onto the football in the playoffs, it was more due to the fact that he is a rookie. He had very few fumbles in college.

Very good take. I agree, I think Grant and Starks should split carries, Jackson should be the 3rd down back, and Kuhn the short yardage back.

One thing though. Grant is a back that gets better with more carries. He always gets bettr YPC with 20+ carries a game, and late in the season. Maybe if he's given split carries, he won't be able to keep up with Starks...

JohnRehor's picture

I agree with everything except the part about Starks getting the starting job at the beginning of the season. Yes he played well at the end of the year, but can he handle the load for an entire year as the back who gets the majority of carries? We still are not sure. Grant has never been flashy, but always solid. Starks has the flash, but can he be consistent?

My guess is Grant is the starter at the beginning of the season, but at some point near the mid point of the season, it's given to Starks, who does not give it up going forward

aussiepacker's picture

Great analysis Alex, I think Bjax comeing back is all dependent on what he is asking for in a new contract? With Grant getting good money and the likes of Finely and Sitton going to need a new contract this year, I couldn't see too much money going to Jackson when they could maybe pick someone up in the draft. I think PackersRS makes a good point about Grant and his productivity being to the amount of carries he has and John makes a good point about it would be hard to see starks getting the starting job at the start of the season? I think keep him hungry to keep working hard to earn the starting spot.

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