The Green Bay Packers have the most potent passing game in the NFL heading into the 2012 season. While their pass-happy offense with Aaron Rodgers and his ridiculous amount of weapons in certainly impressive, the same can’t be said for their running backs and their ground game.
If Green Bay wants to improve off an impressive 2011 regular season that ended in playoff disappointment, I believe they key lies in the ground game. Today we’ll take an in-depth look at which running back currently on the Packers’ roster gives the team the best chance to win week-in, week-out.
Starks will likely enter training camp and the preseason as the top running back on the depth chart for the Green Bay Packers. While his 2011 season wasn’t quite what everyone expected after completely blowing up during the 2010 playoffs, he is still the most experienced and game-proven running back on the roster.
There is a lot to like about Starks’ overall game. He has the physicality to pound the ball up the middle, but can also bounce outside and pick up a chunk of yards in the open field. Starks also has good enough hands and the ability to make plays in the open field to be a threat as a receiver.
If there is any aspect of Starks’ game that needs to improve it is his blocking. He’ll often miss assignments and appear unwilling to lay out his body in order to make the necessary block. There are also questions about his ability to consistently find the end zone, as Starks only had one overall touchdown during the 2011 season.
Thanks to some injuries during the 2011 season, Saine was given the chance to get on the field and show the Packers what he is capable of bringing to the table. Even though he only received 18 carries during the regular season, Saine showed enough to Green Bay that they didn’t feel they needed to retain Ryan Grant heading into the 2012 NFL season.
Saine has a good all-round game as a runner, receiver and blocker. He isn’t necessarily a speedy back, but is quick and shifty enough to make defenders miss in the open field.
Where Saine is most valuable is as a receiver out of the backfield. He had 10 receptions and one touchdown out of the backfield in his limited playing time. With Green Bay looking to pass as much as possible, that type of ability could help Saine get a major increase of playing time during the 2012 season.
Green is the wild-card of the bunch, as we haven’t really seen what he can bring to the table because of injuries that sidelined him for all but four games during the 2011 campaign.
Green was a highly regarded prospect coming out of college, and was good enough to warrant a third-round selection by Ted Thompson. Coming out of college, Green was considered a complete running back, but he especially excelled at catching the ball out of the backfield. He playing in a pass-heavy offense at the University of Hawaii, and he was seen as the perfect complement to the Packers’ offense.
It will be interesting to see how much playing time Green is able to muster with the first-team during training camps and the preseason. If he shows some flashes of brilliance, he could become quite the weapon for the Packers.
So, who gives the Packers the best chance to win?
This certainly isn’t an easy choice, but of all the running backs currently on the Packers’ roster, James Starks gives Green Bay the best chance to win week-in and week-out.
While it would have been nice for Green Bay to bring in another running back during the 2012 NFL draft, they obviously feel confident enough about their current players to have not seen that as necessary. The most likely scenario for the Packers is to give each of their three running backs playing time.
We could see Starks get the majority of the playing time with Saine and Green coming in as a third-down back or only on specific passing plays. With that said, if Saine and Green can develop and reach their full potential, they could force Green Bay to take away some playing time from Starks.
Either way, the running game will once again take a backseat to the passing game in Green Bay, and any production they can get from Starks, Saine and Green will be an added bonus for the team.Follow @MatthewJStein