The Green Bay Packers have been searching for a running game in the regular season for years. Yet the answer to their problems, at least the last two years, has been on the roster the whole time: James Starks.
Starks has been unable to play much due to injuries, but when he is on the field, he has been very effective for the Packers.
In 13 games last season, he had 578 yards on 133 carries. That doesn't sound like much, but for a team that was as pass-happy as the Packers were last year, it can make a huge difference to what they want to do.
When the Packers made their run to the Super Bowl two years ago, Starks had 315 yards on 81 carries with one touchdown. Even though the yards per carry was not spectacular, the Packers at least had the threat of a running game and were willing to commit to it.
Cedric Benson was supposed to take the reins this season, but he struggled to get anything going when he was on the field and is now expected to miss at least eight weeks with a Lisfranc injury.
Now, the expectation is that Starks and Alex Green will be competing for carries over the next few weeks. According to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Mike McCarthy has said that he will ride "the hot hand."
MM: Will ride the hot hand. Alex Green will get the first crack, further ahead than Starks. But have three halfbacks.— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) October 10, 2012
Starks is incredibly frustrating, because he does have good potential but hasn't been able to reach it for one reason or another.
Yet the Packers have been given a golden opportunity to work him back into the offense, which is a win for both Starks and the team.
The Packers need to find some balance on offense to add another dimension and take pressure off the passing game. It also will allow them to control the ball more and prevent the defense from having to be on the field so much.
Through five games this season, the Packers rank 21st in time of possession. When they won the Super Bowl, they were fourth in that category.
When the Packers needed a running back to step up two years ago, Starks stepped up and it led to a championship. He needs to have that kind impact on this team again if they hope to get to the postseason, let alone win a Super Bowl.