When I read yesterday that Ryan Grant was out for the season after sustaining a 'significant' ankle injury my initial reaction was "Oh (insert expletive here)". Grant is when all said and done, a guy who in his last two seasons has rushed for 1200 yards at a solid but unspectacular average and seemingly gets better towards the business end of the season. Huge blow for the Pack's title ambitions right?
Lets get this straight here, yes Grant is a good runner and a competent number one guy, but people are overreacting having seen his stats. He's not at the elite level of a Chris Johnson or an Adrian Peterson in terms of speed and power, he's nowhere near as elusive as a Ray Rice or Maurice Jones-Drew and he's not as good catching out of the backfield as Matt Forte or Jamaal Charles. If anything the best way to sum up Grant is to say he's a jack of all trades and a master of none. I am in no way saying that Grant is a passenger in this scheme, but there are two things to say here. One, defensive co-ordinators do not scheme for Grant, he's decent but not a gamebreaker since a certain game against Seattle. Two, the entire running game is very much the second string to the offensive bow. If this had been God forbid Aaron Rodgers or Jermichael Finley then that's a different matter, but Grant and indeed the running game in general is a foil to the Packers' aerial attack.
And that leads me to Grant's immediate replacement Brandon Jackson. Jackson is a decent runner who arguably has greater speed and elusiveness than Grant who's a high-motor workhorse. Jackson also offers more in the receiving department which means the screen pass becomes a greater tool in Joe Philbin's playbook. By the same token, the fact that Jackson is not in the game just for his excellent pass protection means that opposition defenses will be not quite as sure as to what his role will be play to play. In summation then, Jackson, whilst not a great, 'between the tackles' player, does a lot of things well that are possibly a better fit within the offensive system.
It is possible however, that Jackson could be a faliure. And then it's truly over right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
People seem to have forgotten a number of points here. For starters, Grant was an undrafted free agent who was on the Giants' practice squad before Ted Thompson came calling. The top rusher in week one was undrafted Arian Foster of the Texans, of all the positions on the field, running back is probably the one where there is the greatest strength in depth around the league. There's also the possibility of Thompson trading for a player, the popular choice - if a very unlikely one - is Marshawn Lynch, and Ted has shown in the past that he's willing to be decisive in the draft to get players that he wants. A final point to make here is that the recently signed Dimitri Nance was pinched off the Falcons' practice squad who were apparently keen on keeping him, and as a team with a good stable of rushers they probably know a thing or two.
Ryan Grant will undoubtedly be missed, but there's always a rusher or several who come from nowhere every year and make an impact. While he's most certainly a loss and his injury a blow, lets not get ahead of ourselves just yet...