RB James Starks Success Will Be Key For Packers To Win
It was just last year that the Jets rode little known rookie running back, Shonn Greene, all the way to the AFC Championship game. Even though Greene posted two big games, he had a great offensive line, and it wasn’t like the Jets couldn’t run the football in the regular season as Thomas Jones enjoyed a Pro Bowl caliber season.
What separated Greene from Jones was that he could make the big play for a touchdown, and that electricity put the final exclamation point on victories over the Chargers and Bengals.
For the Packers, their ground game has been almost nonexistent after they lost star running back Ryan Grant to an ankle injury in week one. Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn have done their best to give Green Bay some production, but this team needed more to be a threat for the Super Bowl Title.
In comes fifth round pick rookie James Starks. He emerged for one game in the regular season against the 49ers, only to find his way on to the inactive list for two of the Packers final regular season games.
Maybe Coach Mike McCarthy was just toying with all of us (and his team’s playoff chances) by not using Starks before the playoffs, but it’s hard to say if we could predict this youngster as a key reason for the Packers’ victory over the Eagles.
No matter the expectations, Coach McCarthy trusted his young running back after the RB busted a few nice runs in the first half, and then leaned on him as his ‘go to’ man throughout the game. Starks rewarded his coach by carrying the football 23 times for a sparkling 123 yards on the ground.
Running To Win In Atlanta
The Packers passing game has had to evolve this season. McCarthy has noted that close to 50% of his offensive play calls are predicated on the defense respecting the running game. Without Grant the Packers have struggled at times with any play action fake, down the field passes. If Starks can run the way he did against the Eagles, it will force the Falcons to respect the ground game and should make Aaron Rodgers even more dangerous.
With a productive ground game, the Packers can keep the football away from stud running back Michael Turner, who enjoyed running the rock for over 100 yards when these two teams met in the regular season.
Starks production will be a big reason why the Packers will either continue their march to the Lombardi Trophy or go home in defeat. Look for the rookie to see a steady dose of carries this weekend as his fresh legs and raw power will be a challenge for the Falcons to stop.