When thinking of the current Green Bay Packers offense the biggest thing that comes to mind is Aaron Rodgers, and throwing the football all over the field primarily to Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson. The one thing that coach Mike McCarthy does commit to, besides Skeet Shooting with the team in the off season instead of mini-camp, is trying to run the ball consistently which helps set up the big time passing plays. The Packers ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing offense, but they ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing averaging only 97 yards per game.
The Packers this past off season decided to part ways with Ryan Grant who had a very productive career as their featured running back since 2007. He collected back to back 1,200 yard rushing totals before a devastating ankle injury on opening day 2010 derailed him. He returned to play in 15 games this past season as a backup to James Starks, but Grant still managed 559 yards rushing while splitting time.
The running back position now will now feature James Starks. After a great premiere in the 2010 playoff run to the Super Bowl, Starks was very average at best when given the spotlight in the 2011 regular season gaining only 578 yards on the ground even though he did have some big runs to seal games in the 4th quarter. The concerns for Starks going into 2012 are that Grant is now gone and Starks has very little running back help behind him, and Starks had some nagging injuries last season that led him to miss 3 games. This must be some concern to the Packers faithful even though this is not the Power Sweep days of Vince Lombardi under Coach McCarthy.
To say the position is incredibly thin at running back is an understatement. Starks is now the starter and he has a career total of 679 yards rushing. Second year running back Alex Green is the backup and he didn’t participate in Mini-Camp because he is still recovering from knee reconstruction surgery that Green had 6 months ago. It is still uncertain if Green will be ready to go when training camps open in July. Green career totals are 3 rushes for 11 yards. If Green isn’t healthy enough to backup Starks who will be the backup come training camp? Brandon Saine would be with his career total of 18 rushes for 69 yards. So you can see the backfield for the 2012 season has 759 career rushing yards combined. Aaron Rogers could be in line to throw 50 passes a game next season with this kind of production waiting for him in the backfield.
Even though Matt Forte is not happy with the money Michael Bush received in the off season, the Chicago Bears are way deeper at the running back position with Forte and Bush than any other team in the division, and especially the Packers running back position. It makes you wonder why the Packers didn’t want Grants services back for another season? They seem to have a lot of faith in guys that have not produced a lot at the NFL level.
It was BEARly worth mentioning, but they are our BIGGEST rival!