Lambeau Leap of Faith

February 15, 2010 3:34 PM

Position Analysis, Volume II: Running Backs

Overall, Green Bay ranked 14th in rushing yards, averaging 117.8 yards per game. However, since we had the top-ranked rushing quarterback, this indicates the running backs were mediocre-at-best in total yards.

That being said, the contribution of the unit is not limited to total rushing yards. Rather, a truly in-depth analysis must include other variables such as yards per carry, receiving yards, yards per catch, total touchdowns, fumbles, and even picking up the blitz--the hardest to quantify.

Ryan Grant: A- (282 carries, 1253 yards, 4.4 average; 25 catches, 197 yards, 7.9 average; 11 total touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost)

Grant was the only back in the top-30 in rushing yards who did not lose a fumble, and his touchdown:fumble differential was fourth in the league. He averaged more yards per carry than Adrian Peterson and finished seventh overall in total yards.

He was among the best in the league in avoiding negative carries, and got stronger as he got more carries, proving he does what the running game is meant to--wear down the defense. This even extended to fourth quarter running out the clock, as he could help the Packers move the chains despite the opposing defense's focus on the run.


Grant's primary deficiency coming into the season was in the passing game, and he worked on that. He had been a sub-par receiver and a poor blocker, but worked on both to the extent that he was an asset in the passing game this season.

He still needs to work on his blitz pick-up (it is average right now) and the ability to make more than one cut on a running play. He is a strong enough back to fall forward when he gets contact, but rarely powers through tackles.

His specialty is making the most of holes he gets, but he finished only 11th in the league in 20-plus yard runs because the line in front of him was not good. However, this fact makes the production he did have all the more impressive.

Ahman Green: C- (41 carries, 160 yards, 3.9 average; three catches, 18 yards, 6.0 average; 1 total touchdown, 0 fumbles)

Green was a great addition midseason, considering the injuries to back-up tailbacks. He is still great at blitz pick-up, still a capable receiver out of the backfield, and while he no longer has that trademark speed that made him a Pro Bowl running back, he has enough power to get tough yards. He even avoided the fumble problems that plagued him in his first stint with the team.

However, averaging under four yards per carry and generating just six yards per reception would be poor even for a backup on most teams in the league. Last season in that role, which includes a lot of third-down draws, Brandon Jackson averaged 5.5 per carry and had 30 catches for 185 yards; even considering Green was only here for half a season, he was adequate, but nothing more.

Brandon Jackson: D (37 carries, 111 yards, 3.0 average; 21 catches, 187 yards, 8.9 average; three total touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost)

Jackson clearly took a step back this season, and at this point cannot even be considered the answer as a third-down back. He is still a good receiver and an above-average blocker, but lacks consistency or explosiveness (his longest carry was nine yards) running the ball. Getting three touchdowns and no fumbles on 58 touches saves him from a failing grade.

John Kuhn: C (eight carries, 18 yards, 2.3 average; seven catches, 47 yards, 6.7 average; three total touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost)

Kuhn exerted himself as the team's true No. 1 fullback this season as its best all-around player. Korey Hall is still a slightly better receiver and Quinn Johnson looks like he is already a better blocker, but Kuhn was the only fullback to run the ball and the only one to get in the endzone at all--his one touchdown per five touches was second on the team.

Korey Hall: D (no rushes; five catches, 41 yards, 8.2 average; 0 touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost)

Hall did little in a largely reserve/rotation role. He was an adequate receiver and blocker, but barring injury, I believe Hall has played his last game as a Packer for the following reasons:

  1. He has never run the ball in 36 games as an active player while Kuhn has gotten multiple carries in every seasonwith the team suggests that Hall has (at least comparably) no ability to run the ball.
  2. He has now been surpassed in receptions by Kuhn, who also gets the ball near the goalline, suggests the margin between them in the passing attack is too small to keep him on.
  3. If it is just about a lead blocker, the team drafted Johnson for that.

DeShawn Wynn: F (six carries, 19 yards, 3.2 average; two receptions, 19 yards, 9.5 average; 0 touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost)

Why not give Wynn an incomplete based on only four games played? Because he has played a total of 16 games in three seasons, meaning he is twice as likely to be inactive as active. True, he spent time on the practice squad in his first season, but he's been hurt for much of the last two.

Given that a primary reason for this might be the speedy back's constant struggles with weight, the problem seems to be self-induced. This and his lack of impact when he does play means there is no reason he should still be on the roster in 2010.

Quinn Johnson: incomplete (no carries; two catches, four yards, 2.0 average; 0 touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost)

Johnson got very little playing time, and was unimpressive when he was in there. He would easily have had more receiving yards had he not bobbled one pass and dropped another.

He did not look like the lead blocker the team drafted, either. But then we knew he was raw coming out of college and there is no reason to suspect he will not make improvements.

Unit grade: B- (374 carries, 1561 yards, 4.2 average; 65 catches, 512 yards, 7.9 average; 18 total touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost)

The yardage is average at best and the yards per carry only a bit above average. Packers backs were also productive enough in the passing game, but the only fact that was remarkable in either direction was that this unit managed to produce over a touchdown per game without a turnover.

You can also see MJ's work on Shark-Infested Blogger,, Bleacher Report,, and

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