Green Bay Packers Will Feel a Ripple Effect with Benson out
There's only one phrase that makes a football team cringe harder than "Dr. James Andrews," and the Packers heard it yesterday.
Did you shudder just a little bit?
It's not as grim a diagnosis as it used to be, but it will cost the Packers Cedric Benson's services for six weeks at minimum, and perhaps eight weeks in total.
If you want some general details on the nature of leg injuries—including the Lisfranc—you can check out the excellent "injury" blog run by my comrade over at Footballguys, Dr. Jene Bramel.
Either way you slice it, the Packers are without Benson for around two months (perhaps more). Just when the run game was starting to look like it might become a big part of the offense, they need to adjust in multiple ways.
First of all, they are going to have to ease the throttle back on the run game. While Packer fans may not worry about that much in general, the ripple effect may be greater than you expect.
Benson made the play-action legitimate.
Yes, Rodgers has an exquisite play-action fake on his own, but to sell that play and get a defense to bite hard, you need to have a run threat.
The Packers haven't had that since Ryan Grant was effective in 2009. Since then it's been a hodge-podge of running backs and no commitment to the run.
Yeah, I know: why run when you can win?
Well, the problem is that teams have caught on and and made it harder and harder to make things like play-action effective.
Not having a coherent run threat also made it much easier to focus most of your attention on the pass.
Now, that didn't matter a year ago when the offense was unstoppable through the air, but defenses have caught up this season.
Alex Green, James Starks and Brandon Saine are serviceable backs, but there was a reason the Packers brought in Benson. He may not be Adrian Peterson, but he's a more consistent back than any of those three.
One other thing he was better at—pass protection.
The offensive line has a long list of issues this year and Benson was a big help in keeping Rodgers upright. Not perfect, but more than serviceable.
Starks has struggled in pass protection and Green hasn't gotten noticeably better in that department either. With Benson's injury, the Packers have lost an offensive lineman in addition to a running back.
Another problem is depth. Starks has been healthy recently (though he's almost always fighting some ailment) and so has Green and Saine.
However, if another one of these backs go down, there is very little behind them or available in free agency at this point.
You hope it doesn't come up, but we all know injuries happen in this league. Heck, the Packers know that better than anyone given the list of injuries the past two years.
Is this the end of the world? No, and there are much bigger problems on offense as well as the defense.
However, losing Benson could cause some sizable problems down the road. Perhaps some we don't even see at this moment.
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