It took only four quarters of football for the Green Bay Packers to (again) reassure the entire league just why in fact they are a force to be reckoned with.
Green Bay's 34-16 thrashing of San Fransisco Sunday afternoon surprised little to none, and should be considered a new starting point for the new-look Packers.
However this game was inspired by a simple name: James Starks.
Starks, making his NFL debut Sunday against the 49ers, actually led the way for Green Bay's entire running back corps, attaining 73 yards on 18 attempts. An impressive feat, no doubt.
Along with Starks' first few awe-inspiring hand-offs, there were many different contributions from the entire team as a whole -- something that the Packers should be able to feed off of heading into the final four weeks of the season.
Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Starks, Clay Matthews were all in the thick of the action Sunday, carrying this Green Bay ballclub past a rocky start into a complete team-effort victory.
Rest assured, this victory was absolutely essential.
The first half of Sunday's football game wasn't exactly the ideal beginning Mike McCarthy and Packers fans had in mind, but the fact of the matter is: we got the job done. Yes, I realize the Pack will still be in fact behind the Chicago Bears in the standings after today; but this win signifies what the remainder of the season has in store for us: a complete football team right down to the very core.
Aaron Rodgers continues to play up to his potential
It was only a few days ago we were in fact criticizing Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay offense for having essentially no run-game whatsoever.
Well, let me be the first to say that Aaron Rodgers did in fact manage to pile up 39 yards on the ground. "What's the difference?", you might ask. Well, Rodgers had enough time to read the defense -- especially in the second half of the contest -- and made conscious decisions on whether to scramble outside of the pocket, or to stick an incredibly well-thrown football right in the chest of Donald Driver.
In other words, Rodgers had no intention of running the football for the sake of leveling out the play calling diversity.
For the first time in quite some time, Rodgers didn't have to put it upon himself to carry this football team. This is what makes championships.
The added pressure eventually gets to average players, including Rodgers. But the fact that the running game was in fact working efficiently make for a great passing performance such as we saw Sunday against the 49ers.
When asked about what coach Mike McCarthy thinks is the key to Rodgers' play over the last month, he had this to say: "Aaron is playing sharp. Just the emphasis, really starts with ball security, staying within the offense, that’s what you want from all your players, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams. He’s really in a groove."
Now, let's get to the straight up statistics.
Rodgers threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns, including extending his streak without throwing an interception to four straight games. Impressive stuff. It's time to give him his due.
Donald Driver is not to be forgotten (along with Greg Jennings)
The "old man" certainly made his presence felt within the San Fransisco secondary, contributing to 73 yards on four receptions including a touchdown.
However the statistics don't quite tell the tale that was.
Making one of the top plays thus far in the mature NFL season, Driver has given every ounce of energy to this football team, and contributing to the pure winning style that is now known as the Green Bay Packers' wide receiving corps.
Driver has proved, over the course of his entire career, why in fact he is one of the all-time Packers greats. Thanks, Donald.
With that being said, there is another guy sharing Aaron Rodgers' receptions; I'm not quite sure if you've heard of him -- his name is Mr. Greg Jennings.
Jennings continues his career-best season, again managing to lead Green Bay receivers in yards (122), touchdowns (2), and receptions (6). The guys is a perennial All-Pro for years to come -- what else is there to say?
James Starks the future of Green Bay's run game?
Well, maybe for the rest of this year, at least.
The hype that was gradually built over the course of just a few weeks finally reached it's climax on Sunday, when Packers fans got a first glance at the potential savior of Green Bay's Super Bowl chances in 2010 -- none other than James "save our season" Starks.
"I like his running style. Everybody is going to talk about how high he is, just because of his particular build. But he’s a talented young man and when he comes off the back end, you better watch out, it’s going to the end zone", McCarthy later went on to say about Starks.
Again, Starks officially ran for 73 yards on 18 attempts, breaking out and showing us all what he is capable of doing in the open field, with two runs of over 15 yards each.
With Ryan Grant out for the season, you'd have to initially think Starks is the main man for the job here on out -- but that more than likely is not the case. Brandon Jackson will continue to get is fair share of carries, and will probably get many screen opportunities for the rest of the season.
What does the remainder of the season hold in store?
Make no mistake about it, this victory was one of the premier home showcases the Packers have put on in a decent amount of time.
Everyone made a contribution towards the win; making the taste of victory only that much more savory to Mike McCarthy -- who has taken on a lot of heat from the press about his team's inability to run the football.
But this week was the proverbial season turnaround for the Packers, who now have a shining star waiting to be born in James Starks.
The growth of one of the league's most talented and promising teams is now on an imminent fast-track to becoming a diverse, completely developed team.
That, my friends, is why this will be our year.
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