Everywhere I look, I see Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson mentioned as the two “locks” at the running back spot for the Packers. I say, not so fast…
This started out innocently enough as a look at the battle for the last running back spot on the Packers (that will be coming soon), but soon diverted into a full-fledged disparagement of Brandon Jackson. See, I admit it.
Now certainly, I can be fickle. There are certain things I expect from players at certain positions. Pretty key for a running back is to be productive when he gets the ball. Even though Ryan Grant doesn’t fit my perfect running back mold, I’ll never deny that he’s been productive and has done a good job for the Packers.
As for Jackson, his failures as a productive ground gainer and as a receiver are disturbing. One would think he would be perfect for the screen game, yet, with a few exceptions, he has mostly struggled there.
This past season, he contributed to the team in just one significant way – pass blocking. I know this, of course, because I’ve seen many a sportswriter or blogger proclaim Jackson as having done a “great” job in pass protection last season. So it must be true, right?
Well, I’m not ready to anoint Jackson as a great pass blocker. He certainly made huge strides last season to become a dependable pass blocker. But listening to most writers and fans speak, you’d think this guy was lights out every time.
I’ve been spending some time e-watching last season’s games, and here’s what I’ve seen. In situations where he’s been able to square up to the defender, he has dug in and held his ground very well. On plays where he had to go find a rusher or extend his body to block someone, not so good.
In the meantime, he’s been a disappointment as a running back, as a receiver and on special teams. If I’m the Packers, I work extra hard with James Starks, Kregg Lumpkin and even Quinn Porter on pass-blocking . If they can be satisfied with one of those three in that role, then there’s really no reason to keep Jackson, since any of those three are all more versatile than Jackson (whether Porter can make the jump from Div II remains to be seen).
As a former second-rounder, there should be some trade value for Jackson if another team is hit by injury during training camp and needs an experienced running back.
And no folks, this isn’t just a veiled attempt by me to find a way to get Kregg Lumpkin on the roster. I’ve felt this way about Jackson for about a season and a half.
I understand the value of pass blocking skills at that position, and Lord knows, a primary goal this season needs to be to keep Aaron Rodgers off his backside as much as possible. But remember, Jackson was no pass-blocking phenom his first two years. It was a skill he learned. If he could learn it, so could someone else.
If that were to happen, then the other skills those players bring to the table would help the Packers more than Brandon Jackson can.——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.