Despite popular belief the Green Bay running game is not Ok. In fact, the running game is downright pathetic. No, I don’t put 100 percent of the blame on second-year running back Alex Green – that wouldn’t be fair. Green is essentially a rookie this season after only playing a handful of games before blowing out his knee last season.
The blame for the Packer’s lack of success in the run game should be spread around between Mike McCarthy, James Starks and the offensive line. Green is not a No. 1 back in the NFL, and it is not his fault that he has been thrown into the position with the injury of Cedric Benson.
Green has a lot of learning to do; he still has the tendency to run east and west rather than north and south. Green refuses to use the cutback lanes that are wide open at times, which are all signs of a young running back learning to play in the NFL.
It’s time the Packers get something out of James Starks also. I realize that he was a sixth round pick and we shouldn’t expect much, if anything from him, but on the other hand Starks has been given every opportunity to control the starting position and has failed. He cannot catch the ball out of the backfield, he cannot pick up the blitz to save his life and the most frustrating above all is, he cannot stay healthy.
Starks is finally healthy this season and saw a few reps Sunday against the Jaguars. He came in and dropped a pass, but then a few plays later ripped a run of eight or nine yards up the middle. How many carries did he get after that? Zero. Now does that make any sense to anybody else? No. Unlike Green, Starks has the ability to pound the ball between tackles, where Green is more of a speed and shifty back.
The play calling by McCarthy has been awful since the loss of Cedric Benson and even with him it was nothing to brag about. It’s no mystery that for a running game to be effective it has to be utilized and be set up for success. Running the ball from the shotgun, or on second and long are not effective ways to get the ground game going. Countless times McCarthy has dialed up a pass play on second and one or less to go, instead of pounding the rock, that is very frustrating. If you cannot get a yard on the ground when you want or need it, you don’t deserve to win.
So what can the Packers do to fix the running game?
Simple, for the first time as Packer’s General Manager Ted Thompson has to make a significant trade at the trade deadline. In particular the Packers must find away to get Rams running back Steven Jackson in a Packers uniform. Jackson at 29 years old still has a lot of football left in the tank. The Packers found this out when they played a few weeks back when he tore through the defense on the goal line for a touchdown and had a number of other solid runs.
The Packers won’t have to give up a lot for Jackson either, most like a middle round pick and you will land a proven running back in the NFL that can take over right away.
Sounds like a no brainer to me. Green is not starting material to this point in his career, the Packers are simply asking too much from him. Bringing in Jackson helps this team win now and that should be the focus of Thompson.
The Packers have all the talent in the world and can win the Super Bowl this season, but not without a running game. Teams know how to defend the Packers’ passing attack, it is time to change the game up and make a splash with Jackson.
Rarely do I question Thompson. He has been the best GM in football over the past several seasons. He is a great draft day personality, but even with his draft intelligence, players coming out of college are no guarantee to be good in the NFL. So doesn’t sacrificing a pick or two make sense when you are getting a sure thing in return?
The answer is yes.
The Packers need to make this trade or they will have little hopes of returning to glory this season.
Make the move, Mr. Thompson.