The Green Bay Packers have had one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL for several years running, largely due to Aaron Rodgers and their high-octane passing game. Still, the team was ranked 13th in the league in total offense this past season and averaged only 106.4 yards rushing per game. Considering the players they had at the position, that is a bit surprising.
Going into the offseason, the Packers currently have Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant, DuJuan Harris, James Starks, Alex Green and Brandon Saine on the roster. Clearly, the team has favored a committee approach in recent years and has not seen a 1,000-yard rusher since Grant in 2009. Green was the leading rusher this past season with just 464 yards.
The Packers have defeated many teams by stretching the field and letting Rodgers throw the ball around while mixing in a run play here and there. That strategy has worked, but how well will it work going forward?
What should Green Bay do with the running back position next season?
No. 1 wide receiver Greg Jennings will be a free agent and will likely sign with another team. Also gone is the veteran presence of Donald Driver, who recently announced his retirement (via ESPN). Driver recorded just eight catches in 2012, but the guidance he provided to young players like Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin was invaluable.
Add to all of that the fact that Benson and Grant are free agents, and the Packers have some decisions to make. Benson was effective in the early part of the 2012 season before suffering a foot injury that ended his campaign. Still, he didn't find a team until mid-August when the Packers came calling.
The team brought Grant in almost out of desperation for its playoff push after Starks was injured. Saine and Green were both hobbled with injuries as well.
Aaron Rodgers will be one of the league's best quarterbacks for many years to come, but it wouldn't hurt him if the Packers had a little more certainty in the running game. There are options out there, should Green Bay choose that route.
Reggie Bush will be a free agent and could be incredibly dangerous as a dual running and receiving threat coming out of the backfield. They could also draft a guy like Eddie Lacy out of Alabama or Stepfan Taylor from Stanford. Either would be a huge upgrade over what they have. Using a draft pick on one of them would also allow the team to let Benson and Grant walk.
We all know Rodgers is great, but adding a more talented player at the running back position would make him even better. Injuries have helped derail title hopes for this team the last two years and in 2012, the running back position was a big culprit in that regard. It may not be a decision that team officials act on, but they should.