Who would have thought a month ago that the Green Bay Packers would be lamenting the loss of it’s best running back.
When Cedric Benson went down in his fifth game with the Packers, the collective groan across Packers Nation was loud and clear.
Take away the 40-yard run that Alex Green ripped off late in last Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, and there was little to show in the ground game after Benson went down.
So, the question now is whether the Packers can rely on either Green or the oft-injured Starks to continue what Benson was establishing. Green, the Flyin’ Hawaiian, is an enigma whose potential is untapped.
Whether head coach Mike McCarthy will give him the ball remains to be seen. If Starks ever makes it back to the field, his rust will be evident – again, does McCarthy have the confidence in utilizing him?
If the Packers don’t consider any kind of run game, the rest of the season could be brutal. Without the run game, the Packers will have to put all the pressure on quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
We’ve seen how that has worked out so far this season. While Rodgers has played well, he admits his performance so far this season has not been acceptable – it hasn’t lived up to everyone’s expectations, as well as his own expectations. The good thing is that he accepts that fact and is doing everything in his power to turn it around.
But without the support of some semblance of a run game, a much better turnout by the defense and a receiving corps that also picks up its game, Rodgers can’t be asked to carry the load for the rest of the team.
In getting back to the run game, it will be difficult for the Packers to defeat teams like the Houston Texans, the Arizona Cardinals, as well as division rivals Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago without one.
Though the Packers are a pass-first team – and everyone knows that – Benson had brought about a renewed toughness to the team’s backfield. Opposing defenses were faced with stopping Benson first and then getting after Rodgers.
When they don’t have to worry about a bruising back pounding the line, defensive linemen can let loose not he quarterback. Packers coaches are surely attempting to develop a game plan that will put players in the best position to succeed and that includes getting Green and Starks into situations where they can help the team.
They have no choice. In order to win, pounding the ball inside and out will be crucial to giving Rodgers and the rest of the offensive unit a chance. Throw in some delays, screens and check downs, the Packers have a chance to keep their running game fresh and unpredictable.
If they can’t get it going, it will be a long run uphill for the Packers.