No matter how good a team is passing, it’s pretty common knowledge that a team needs to be able to pose some threat of a running game to be a good football team. Even a relative inexperienced writer like me knows that. Heading into tonight’s matchup with the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers have established themselves as a high powered offense behind the strong arm of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He’s quickly established himself as one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. But with the season-ending week one injury to Ryan Grant, the Packers must find a way to develop some semblance of a rushing attack if they want to make some noise in January.
Some have been quick to dismiss this injury because of the potency of the Packers passing attack. After all, didn’t Rodgers throw for 58 combined touchdowns the past two seasons? As a matter of fact he did (as a Rodgers-owner in fantasy football the past two seasons… and this season… thanks). Lest we forget, Ryan Grant is somewhat quietly coming off back to back seasons of rushing for at least 1,200 yards. He was the workhorse of the backfield, carrying the ball 584 times over that same time frame. That’s durability, and that’s not something you can just pick up off the waiver wire or off the practice squad.
Unfortunately for the Packers there isn’t a lot of depth at the running back position. There is no Chester Taylor, Ricky Williams, Felix Jones, or any of those “name” running backs. In fact, raise your hand (or leave a comment below) if you’re more than vaguely familiar with Brandon Jackson or Dmitri Nance. Are these guys going to be able to carry the load for the Packers? Can they replace the 1,200 yards that have been lost with Grant on injured reserve? I don’t think so, and that’s going to put that much more pressure on Rodgers and his receivers. It showed last week as the Packers ran for only 71 yards on 22 carries against the Bills.
Another area where Grant will be missed is pass protection. It’s well known that the Rodgers spent a lot of time on his backside last season. In fact, he was sacked 50 times! Both Jackson and Nance, along with fullback John Kuhn, are going to have to work much harder to protect the franchise quarterback. Teams are going to be geared up to stop the pass with virtually no running threat established at this point. Grant established himself as a strong pass blocker, and that’s one of the things that really doesn’t show up on the stat sheet in the morning newspaper.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss Ryan Grant’s injury. I know most people think that Green Bay is a pass happy team, and by most accounts it surely is. But Grant established himself as the perfect running back in the Packers’ offense. He’ll be sorely missed. It’ll be up to a cast of virtual unknowns to step up and keep the Packers’ goals alive.