12

January

McCarthy Shouldn’t Alter Early-Season RB Strategy Against Giants

Green Bay Packers Running Back James Starks

If healthy, James Starks should get an opportunity in the playoffs.

With James Starks out, Ryan Grant has come to life late this season.

There’s no question that Grant has the hot hand heading into the playoffs. He’s got plenty of momentum, if you believe in that sort of thing. But as great as Grant has been down the stretch, Packers coach Mike McCarthy should give both Grant and Starks an opportunity in the playoffs.

Before Starks became hobbled by various injuries, McCarthy gave both Starks and Grant carries early in games. With the exception of the Bears game, Starks usually performed better and ended up getting the majority of the work.

Assuming Starks returns to 100 percent, there’s no reason to alter that strategy in the playoffs. Give each RB some opportunities early and go with the hot hand later in the game.

I know it’s easy to write-off guys that seem injury prone or don’t live up to high early-season expectations. But lets not forget that Starks ran for over 100 yards against the Eagles last season in the wild-card round and was the go-to RB on a Super Bowl winning team. He’s not the veteran that Grant is, but he’s been through the postseason before. I don’t want to hear about how he’s unreliable, unproven or inexperienced.

Any praise for Starks should not be taken as as a dismissal of Grant. Grant has made those that dismissed him this season look silly, and he might continue doing that in the playoffs.

However, neither of these RBs will ever be confused with Adrian Peterson. Both backs bring different skills to the table and fit nicely into the “pass to set up the run” McCarthy offense. Unless Starks is still hurt, there’s no reason for McCarthy to suddenly put all of his eggs into either the Grant basket or the Starks basket.

Give them both a shot, see who’s hitting the holes hardest, and go from there. Just like early in the season.

——————

Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

——————

19 Responses to “McCarthy Shouldn’t Alter Early-Season RB Strategy Against Giants”

  1. Steve Cheez says:

    It’s not like we need a dominating rushing attack. Just successful enough to keep the defense a little bit honest and not selling out 100% to the pass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

    I think Starks will help to keep the opposing pass rush at bay. His receiving abilities are a bit better than Grant’s, and using him as a checkdown or screen back will help.

    That said, I really think Grant is in a groove right now. He should be given the first opportunity to run against the Giants; of course, as you said, they should ride the “hot hand” as the game progresses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. BobBrews says:

    Start with Grant and stay with Grant until he tires. Grant plays better with accumulated runs. Bring Starks back but don’t push him. He will get his chance in the next two games!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. packbuck says:

    I hope we only run 1 out of every 4 offensive plays. The Giants have too good of a defensive front to run more than that. I hope we pass a lot on 1st down. I don’t want to see Grant get stuffed for 1 yard and have 2nd and 9 all day long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  5. Ron LC says:

    The Giants will rush to get at AR. That will leave the off tackle runs open. A good balance would be nice.

    MM is talking up the Defense today. He says, “the reason home field is so important is to give the defense a real advantage over the opposing offense.” Sounds good to me.

    For all in attendance Sunday, be loud, be VERY LOUD! Let’s show that we can be as obnoxious as the Queenie fans. Think we could steal their stupid horn?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      I can tell you that the Giants had that advantage in the Meadowlands. I had never heard that stadium that loud when the Packers had the ball. it did spur their defense on. Now it’s Lambeau’s turn…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      No need for a horn. Just fuel up with a couple extra beers and that should give people the extra drive to be louder.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. DAVID P says:

    Before Grant’s injury last year he was known to be a slow starter, but usually improved as the game went on. My only concern with him sharing the load with Starks is that he wont work up enough of a sweat to really get going.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    I disagree with this idea, unless James is REALLY ACTUALLY 100% this time. I don’t think that risking re-aggravating his ankle/knee is worth it.

    Plus, Grant is a workhorse back – his big time runs more often come at the end of games if I’m recalling correctly. Grant is also, like his former coach, Edgar Bennett, a “mudder”. He’s a late season back that does well on slower surfaces.

    IMO Grant is the better direction to go (until the Super Bowl.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      Yeah, health is always a concern, but if he’s healthy, I’d like to see Starks get some opportunities early. He’s too explosive to not get a chance.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Ron LC says:

      Bear, good analysis. It is pretty obvious Starks is injury prone. Use him sparingly unitl they are in the dome.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Barutan Seijin says:

    Then again, Grant once racked up 201yds in a playoff game…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Lucas says:

    Let’s learn from the Chiefs game. Keep Eli off the field and help the defense out. Run the clock, do some sugar-huddles, no huddle, wear out their D. We can pass if we want if we need to. Do the Giants really expect us to run? Bulaga back next to Sitton…I like the idea of screening like crazy, shovel passing, and off-tackle runs out of our typical pass formations under center.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Lucas says:

      sorry…I wrote Eli…but I meant Gomer Pyle.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Adam Czech says:

        Unless something crazy happens, we’re likely not going to see much running from the Packers on Sunday. Screen passes, probably yes, but running, unlikely.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Wagszilla says:

    Two headed monster by:

    - Utilizing Grant for checkdowns and screens and pass-protection.
    - Using Starks to get outside and rush the edge.

    Going up the middle (Grant’s strength) against the Giants will be as fruitless as it was in the Meadowlands. Need decisiveness (not Stark’s strong suit) in the running attack.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Pete Kliman says:

    What a pleasant dilemma! Grant the breakaway back or the Starks the grinder. The game will dictate who gets more carries. Surprisingly Grant was a much better rec. this year than in the past.19/268/14.1.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Savage57 says:

    For both of these guys, THE most important issue is taking care of the rock. No short fields for the Gmen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0