Over the next two weeks, we will take a look at each position group on the Packers and provide grades and insight on how they performed in the 2014 season. Today, we'll be looking at the running back position. Follow along with all of our positional breakdowns here.
Two years ago, the Green Bay Packers were flustered at the running back position, uncertain if they'd be able to find themselves a consistent and reliable running back behind Aaron Rodgers. After a stellar rookie season and strong well-rounded sophomore campaign, they've found that back in 230-pound bowling-ball Eddie Lacy.
Outside of Lacy, well, that's where a bit of a concern can be made.
Stats: 16 games, 246 carries, 1,139 rushing yards (1,566 total yards from scrimmage), 13 total touchdowns.
The start of his second season didn't turn out the way Lacy and many had hoped. In just his first four games for the Packers, Lacy struggled, averaging just 3.0 yards per attempt and 40 yards each game. It should be noted that Lacy faced these tough front sevens during that stretch: Seattle, the New York Jets, Detroit and Chicago (which was noticeably less tough). Soon enough, he broke out his slump Week 5 against Minnesota on Thursday Night Football, rumbling for 105 yards and two touchdowns with an 8.0 yards per carry average. That 100-yard performance was one of Lacy's three during the regular season.
In August, Lacy worked with running backs coach Sam Gash to work more on his blocking and catching ability in the backfield. He even joked he had "hands like Moss", as in Randy Moss. Although he didn't look or perform anything like him, Lacy upped his receptions this season to 42 on 55 targets, while nearly doubling his yardage from 257 to 427. He also scored four times after not catching a single touchdown last year.
We saw a more balanced Lacy in 2014, and he once again heads into the offseason as the Packers' primary back. Another year under his belt should help run both of those totals up going forward.
Stats: 16 games, 85 carries, 333 rushing yards (473 scrimmage), two total touchdowns.
There were two games in 2014 in which Starks didn't receive a single carry (vs. New York, at Chicago in Week 4), and out of all the team's games, he got five or less carries in 10 games. His attempts were pretty similar to the ones he got lost season (89 to 85), but his yardage went down to 333 even after playing all 16 games for the first time in his career. As the complementary back to Lacy in the backfield, Starks didn't have much of the impact most probably expected when he resigned last offseason.
Stats: 15 games, 16 carries, 64 yards (75 scrimmage), no touchdowns.
Harris was a non-factor in the backfield on game days. The only work he saw in 2014 was on special teams for 15 of the Packers' 16 regular season games. He returned 22 kicks for 456 yards with a 20.7 average and never scored. He was inactive for the season finale against Detroit and the two playoff matchups against Dallas and Seattle.
Stats: 16 games, 24 carries, 84 yards (108 scrimmage), one touchdown.
A first-team All Pro and Pro Bowl player in 2014, Kuhn helped blocked the Packers to the 11th-best rushing attack in the league. He also finished with the fifth-best blocking grade among fullbacks, per ProFootballFocus.
I think there was some disappointment from this group this season. Besides Lacy and Kuhn, there wasn't really any help from Starks and Harris throughout the season, and they could have produced a lot more than what they actually did. All backs were healthy throughout the entire year, though, which is a nice plus considering all of them besides Kuhn have battled injuries in their careers.