Since the season ended, many Packer fans have been clamoring for the front office to make a move for a running back that could shore up the woes we've had since Ryan Grant in 2009. Free agency came, and we didn't see the Packers sign a guy like Stephen Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw or even Michael Turner. Then draft time came and we grabbed not one, but two RBs who were considered by many pundits to be two of the three best RBs in the draft. We went from drought to abundance. The question is, how will we divide up the rushing duties?
Last season the Packers ran the ball a total of 433 times, 16th most in the league. That averages out to 27 runs per game. To put that in perspective, the Seahawks ran the ball the most at 34 times per game, while the Cardinals ran it least with 22 carries per game.
Ideally, I'd like to see Green Bay rush an average of 30-32 times per game. Obviously if the run is getting stuffed and Aaron is on fire, we pass more. Or if the receivers are being blanketed, we run a bit more. But an average of 30-32 times per game.
So 30 carries. Who should get the ball? We have 7 guys that have a claim to carries:
Eddie Lacy: Lacy has the build and pedigree of a workhorse running back. His worst season in college saw him getting 6.5 ypc. When that is your worse, you're pretty good. (And let's not take anything away from Eddie with the whole "Bama line was amazing" meme that detractors like to throw out there- Eddie is legit.) Lacy's biggest concern is durability, but even that may be overstated.
Johnathan Franklin: UCLA's all time leading rusher. This kid is too talented to be limited to a 3rd down role. McCarthy has mentioned that Franklin handles returns well too.
DuJuan Harris: Gotta say, I admire this kid a lot. Tons of character. Came in off the street and gave us 4.6 ypc (though only 3.6 in the playoffs) Certainly Harris deserves a shot at the front of our depth chart. Will he win it? He isn't as talented as Lacy or Franklin- if he wins the starting spot it will be because he worked hard and earned it. I have nothing but respect for DuJuan Harris.
Alex Green: Alex Green and his 3.4 yards per carry last season frustrated me. But that was a year removed from an ACL tear. I am open to Alex Green coming in and tearing it up and being our bell cow- but I'm not holding my breath. Green deserves another shot.
James Starks: I like what he gave us in our Super Bowl run...but I think it's time to move on. He can't stay healthy. Maybe a RB needy team will give him another shot, but the Packers have too many mouths to feed to justify keeping him around, imo. But, suppose the injuries were just a fluke and he can return to 2010 form? I would understand if MM and TT decide to keep him, but I'd understand if they don't.
Angelo Pease: He's a dark horse, yes. But I've been hearing rave things about him. On one particularly impressive run, MM confused Pease for Lacy. If Pease is a hidden gem, then by all means he needs to be kept around. That would be interesting if Pease ends up the best of the bunch. Here is what JS Online is saying about Angelo Pease. Keep tabs on this kid. At the least I hope we retain him on the practice squad.
So 30-32 carries is what I would like to see (not including passing plays where Rodgers ends up scrambling). How should the be divvied up?
First off, any estimation is only averages. Some games Lacy will take 90% of the carries while Franklin never sees the field. Other games, Alex Green might get on a role. But on an average basis I'd like to see a running breakdown that looks roughly like these ranges
12-15 carries for Lacy
10-12 for Franklin. I also expect him to carve out the biggest receiving role of all the RBs, and he has some chance of return duties, though I suspect Ross will win that role.
3-5 for the others, mainly Harris.
I don't anticipate any running back will get a bell cow load in this offense (though I think Lacy has the talent for that role). I fully expect a RB by committee approach similar to what the Panthers or Saints do.
What are your thoughts on a) what RBs should make the team and b) how the carries should be divvied up.