Rushing woes: why the running game must improve in Green Bay

When a team experiences a great deal of success, it becomes easier to overlook some of it shortcomings.

Somewhere during the pass-happy Super Bowl and NFC North Division championships seasons the fact that the Packers haven’t had a solid running threat since 2009, has been lost.

That season, Ryan Grant rushed for over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season. Grant, of course, suffered an ankle injury in week one of the 2010 campaign that caused him to miss the remained of the season. He returned in 2011, but simply wasn’t the same and it is doubtful that he will be donning the green and gold this season.

In a league that is quickly becoming more and more pass oriented, it is possible to get away with a sub-par running game and the Packers have proven that. The problem is that they have also shown that offensive balance is still necessary for teams who wish to win championships.

The Pack have not had a running back record a 100-yard rushing performance since week five of the 2010 season. In fact, Grant had more 100-yard games in the 2009 season (3) than the Packers have had in the 2010 and 2011 regular and postseasons combined.

The injuries that have caused a great deal of shuffling along the offensive line certainly have not helped the situation. But it is unlikely that the line is the only reason the rushing game has struggled.

At the moment, James Starks and Brandon Saine have been getting the majority of the reps during OTA’s and it appears that the pair will duke it in training camp for the top spot.

Starks was the savior during the Super Bowl run in 2010 and his numbers last year were tangible signs of the improvements he has made.

Saine may have the best hands on the team according to Aaron Rodgers, a bold proclamation who deals with some of the top-receivers in the league on a daily basis.

Saine played in eight games for Green Bay last season. He rushed 18 times for 69 yards and caught 10 passes for 69 yards .

It’s likely that last year’s third-round pick Alex Green will also see a few more careers than he did a season ago but it is doubtful that he will see a large percentage of the carries.

No matter who emerges as the top back out of camp, the Packers cannot afford to finish as the sixth worst rushing offense in the league for a second consecutive year.


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  • Lou

    With Grant gone they basically have nothing but question narks, can Starks stay healthy (has not for 3 years), can Green come back from an ACL (normally 2 years before fully healed), and can Saine handle a larger load if Starks is hurt and Green is not ready for the start of the season (Saine was never a featured back at OSU). It makes no sense to me why Grant was not offered a reduced contract with incentives, he has done it before (featured back for 3 years), he rarely fumbles, he still can take it to the house (Starks to date has always been caught from behind), and he can play in the big games (200 plus yards against Seattle in a playoff game). Bring him back and hope one of the others stays healthy and shows signs he can be a future featured back.