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.

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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.

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