James Starks Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

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Packers RB James Starks
Packers RB James Starks

1) Introduction:  James Starks was, if anything, an afterthought prior to the Packers’ 2013 season. After Ted Thompson spent a pair of draft picks on Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, the thought was that the rookies, along with a returning DuJuan Harris and/or Alex Green would make up the Packers’ backfield rotation. But that was not the case, as Harris didn’t play a single snap this season, and Green was cut before the season began. Starks was back. And he was pretty good, too.

2) Profile:

James Darell Starks

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 2/25/1986 in Niagara Falls, NY
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 218
  • College: Buffalo
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 4 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Slim to none. Two roster spots were claimed by rookies Lacy and Franklin, while DuJuan Harris was expected to play a major role after coming on strong late in the 2012-13 season as the feature back. Starks was very much on the roster bubble headed into training camp.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight of Starks’ season, individually, was undoubtedly week two against the Washington Redskins. After Lacy suffered a concussion on the game’s first possession, Starks was thrust into the starting role and responded with a 132-yard day on the ground. Starks’ performance against the Chicago Bears in week 17 (88 rushing yards) is worth an honorable mention. As far as low-lights, it’s hard to really pinpoint anything in particular. He exceeded expectations and tied a career high, appearing in 13 games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Lacy’s physical running style leaves him susceptible to hits like the one he suffered against the Redskins, so having a capable backup is essential for the Packers. Starks stepped up to the plate whenever he was called upon, and the offense really didn’t miss a beat. His 5.5-yards-per-carry average was easily the best on the team.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  Starks was good, not spectacular in the Packers’ playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. He totaled 42 yards on six touches in relief of Lacy.

Season Report Card:

(A) Level of expectations met during the season

(C+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B


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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


20 thoughts on “James Starks Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

  1. James Starks is a luxury option the Packers should pay for. It’s like getting the car that has the ‘limp-home’ mode. Sure, you have a 400 hp motor under the hood, but when the temp gauge goes into the red, or worse it blows up, you’ll sure wish you’d have bought it.

    DuJuann Harris showed some flash, but haven’t the Packers had a history of shooting stars at a bunch of positions that glow bright and then flame out? Franklin proved little last year and going into 2014 with him as your #2 means your running game only goes as far as Eddie Lacy without James Starks.

    1. Starks seems to define a shooting star that glowed brightly but flamed out.

      He’s only shown occasional flashes of the impact player we say at the end of the 2010 season and on through that playoff run.

      1. Naah, not really. 293 carries, 1326 yards, 4.5 average in his three full years following his emergence late in 2010 that helped the Pack win the Super Bowl.

        That might make him not worthy of being the #2 back in your mind, but hardly defines him as ‘a shooting star’.

        He’s a 100 carry per year back, good for 400-500 yards. Sounds like a good #2 to me.

        1. 442 yards per season is something other than “occasional flashes”? Maybe in a 6 game schedule but not a 16 game schedule. Remember, he was the projected starter in 2 of those 3 years.

          I like what he does when taking a handoff. But there is so much more to being a pro RB. Things like availability, pass protection and pass catching. Starks is way below average in all 3.

          And I just don’t see Starks as worth anything above the vet minimum.

  2. With Eddie Lacy carrying the load, Starks can survive. His “B” is directly the result of not being the premier back on this team. He is good depth and I hope that we can resign him for something reasonable.

  3. Player’s contribution to the overall team success:

    “Starks stepped up to the plate whenever he was called upon, and the offense really didn’t miss a beat. His 5.5-yards-per-carry average was easily the best on the team.”

    Player’s contributions in the playoffs:

    “.. in the Packers’ playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. He totaled 42 yards on six touches in relief of Lacy.”

    How does both of these equate to Grade C+ and not B or B+? This grade has the look as the same evaluation and grading as our DL and LBs,who when asked to “step up to the plate’ struck out.
    The only crime for Starks this season is the lack of use on offense,which at many a time,was the direction of disgust against McCarthy.
    I’m happy with the over all Grade B for Starks but the logic and statements made by the writer don’t add to C+….it won’t change the grade but a bias of each category is seen toward the player.

    Just saying!

    1. Starks averaged 5.5 a pop and had a great year, but he’s a backup running back. I had to give a letter grade for a dude’s contributions to the team in the regular season and the playoffs. If a “C” is average, then I think a “C+” is about right for a second-string back.

      But you nailed it. I have a personal bias against James Starks. Because I don’t like the No. 44 on a running back.

      1. I’m not sure how the grade of C+ on Starks’ overall contribution or playoff contributions is too low. If anything, I would say it is too high. He’s a backup RB that is no good in the pass game on a pass-first team. Those guys don’t make big contributions to the overall success.

        Just because Marques didn’t choose to highlight the poor pass blocking and subpar pass catching doesn’t mean they didn’t exist.

  4. It’s funny how Franklin was the steal of the draft for the Packers last year. Many of us including my myself loved the pick. Some even thought he’d beat out Lacy. I still have a lot of faith in Franklin and think he’ll be a great change of pace back to Lacy. Like usual, MM said after Franklins injury that he was just getting ready to use packages designed for his skill set. Starks will end up in New York I’d bet, McAdoo wants him. I’d love to see Starks stay a Packer, but with all the needs on defense, TE, hell even WR Starks may cost more than Ted can offer.

    1. I never viewed Franklin as anything more than a change of pace RB. Any talk of him beating out Lacy, and possibly for that matter Harris was ludicrous IMO. This year it’ll be Lacy w/ Harris as the primary backup and if Franklin can learn to hold onto the ball and block a lot better might find a role as a 3rd down RB.

      Starks is going to find more money and a better opportunity in FA. Someone will likely be able to get him 10-12 carries and be willing to pay for him. With Lacy that won’t happen in GB.

      1. What I meant by my comment is after the draft many thought this of Franklin. Lots of running backs are taken and don’t light it up in their first season. I don’t think Franklin is ever going to just take Lacy’s place, but I think he’ll make a decent NFL back someday. If you followed him during College, you’d be aware he’s fumbled his entire career except for his last at UCLA. Fumbling has always been a issue for him. I watched many of his games and he’s a exciting player. Lets see if Harris is even be able to come back before he backs up Lacy. My guess, Franklin will be the number 2 back after training camp.

        1. I’ll go out on a limb (kinda) and say that Harris will be the #2 RB behind Lacy. Packers were ready for him to be the starting RB and actually reworked the running game to suit him. Harris is a more powerful compliment to Lacy. Franklin will have to prove himself to earn a role on the team this year, whether its on 3rd down or as a return man, hopefully both.

          1. I’m sorry but I would hope after last season we’ve saw just about enough of Franklin returning kicks. Either way I’d like to see them both contribute. If you can’t tell, I’m just a huge Franklin fan. As for power we have Lacy. Franklin looked damn good against the Bengals. Funny how he gets the blame for the Bengals loss. The Packers blew that LONG before Franklins fumble.

  5. A guy with such a long track record of injury is not someone a team looking to cut down on their games missed should pursue.

    Starks is ok when healthy. He’s just not healthy enough. I hope the Packers thank him for his service and wish him well…somewhere else.

  6. Sure, he has always looked good in limited touches, but he’s replaceable. With a bell-cow runner ahead of him and good prospects in the fold, there are too many needs to invest too much money in an injury-prone guy at the position with the nfl’s shortest shelf-life.

  7. Starks when healthy does just fine. Problem is, he is always just one hangnail away from not playing. He will go for the payday and fade off into the sunset. Can you say IR…

  8. I can’t remember too many better #2 backs. He gave the packers a valuable change of pace, spelled lacy, gave some big plays and averaged better than 5 yards per carry. Without a quality guy to spell lacy, he won’t last. C+?? C’mon, where’s the love,? what more do you want from a #2? He contributed more than john Kuhn, who I also think did a nice job.

    1. I wonder if you’ll get a ‘copy and paste of what was given me above from Marques and Hank…..

    2. I disagree that Starks contributed more than Kuhn. Starks was not a key player on a NFC North winning play like Kuhn was. In the pass game, Starks was horrible, Kuhn was outstanding. And passing is way more than 50% of the offense.

      Harris and Franklin are plenty quality enough to spell Lacy. If not them, find a RB on the cheap, like Starks was found. It’s not hard to do. The league is littered with RBs found late on day 2 or undrafted.

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