1) Introduction: James Starks was signed to a short term contract for 2014 – 2015 on a prove-it contract for a player who has not had the impact the team had hoped since his breakout 2010 Super Bowl contribution. A punishing runner with good vision, Starks is a fierce competitor and good team mate, but far from a complete back.
James Darell Starks
- Age: 29
- Born: 2/25/1986 in Niagara Falls, NY
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 218
- College: Buffalo
- Rookie Year: 2010
- NFL Experience: 5 years
3) Expectations coming into the season: A hard runner, punishing blocker and below-average receiver, it was hoped that Starks could provide a breather to starter Eddie Lacy during the season. In training camp he was in competition with for the number two back with former high draft pick James Franklin and fellow returnee DuJuan Harris who was injured the year before. Franklin ended up having to retire due to neck issues and Harris never re-gained the sparkle that enamored him to Coach McCarthy prior to his season ending injury in 2013. Starks grabbed the number two spot early and never let go.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight of Starks’ season came on Monday Night Football game against the Falcons where he rushed for 75 yards on 10 attempts and also caught 2 passes. In addition he scored a critical touchdown on an exciting 41 yard jaunt in the 43-37 victory.
Starks low point was not called on to run even once in games vs. the New York Jets (week 2) and Chicago Bears (week 4).
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: His carries for 2014 were almost identical to 2013 (94 attempts vs. 95 attempts) but his yards per carry fell from 5.5 per attempt to just 4.14 – still a respectable average. Starks was credited with 5 bad runs, up from 3 the previous season, but his blocking was solid and that will earn a running back playing time in Coach Mike McCarthy’s offense. Starks tallied 2 total TD’s and was creditied with one fumble. He owns a respectable 4.3 yards per carry for his career but is due $1.175 million for 2015 which might put him on the bubble if a younger back emerges.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: He totaled 30 snaps and 10 rushing attempts in the two playoff games totaling 60 yards. As a result of starter Eddie Lacy sitting out for an unknown reason vs. Seattle, Starks was targeted three times in the passing game almost making what would have been a critical long reception late. He carried 5 times for 44 total yards, but none were game changers. His blocking was stellar as usual but his impact minimal.
7.) Intangibles: Starks has been a dependable second string back, but is really nothing special. There are several mid to late round running backs and free agents who might would be available for additional competition entering the 2014 training camp. While his contract isn’t a back-breaker the Packers may need every available dollar to be able to afford younger ascending players such as Cobb, Bulaga and House. Look for him to enter training camp fighting for a job, but younger and more versatile competition may force him out this time around.
Season Report Card (Player Grades):
(C+) Level of expectations met during the season
(C) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: C
Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .