Did The Absence of Ryan Grant Hold The 2010 Offense Back?

Matt Bowen knows a whole lot more about football than I'll ever know. His latest is on the value of RB Cedric Benson to the Bengals. I'd have to say Cedric Benson has little value, but Bowen mentions the Packers during the article. From the National Football Post:

I understand this is a passing league with the amount of multiple looks we see in Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, etc. But I will always believe that running the ball is the one mark of physical football team.

So are the Packers hurt by being a pass heavy team without a signature running back?

After RB Ryan Grant was lost for the season, and RB Brandon Jackson turned out to be inept at running the football, I was initially worried that it could hurt the offense. Forcing the defense to worry about the run is supposed to open up opportunities down the field for the passing game. 

Just looking at the offense's rankings at NFL.com for the regular season, during which RB James Starks rarely played, the Packers dropped in the official rankings from No. 6 in 2009 (379.1 yards/game) to No. 9 in 2010 (358.1 yards/game). For comparison, they were in a similar situation back in 1998, after RB Dorsey Levens was injured, and the offense dropped from No. 4 in 1997 (350.9 yards/game) to No. 5 in 1998 (352.2 yards/game). Not really a drop at all by yardage, but the Packers turnover margin decreased as they relied more on the pass. Favre's INTs increased from 16 in 1997 to 23 in 1998.

That's a really simple analysis, but I didn't notice a specific problem with the absence of a signature running back to draw the defense's attention.

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