Ryan Grant was one very large reason for the excitement that this years Green Bay Packer team generated before the year began. With the showing he had last year everybody expected him to just start this year where he left off last year - running 100 yds a game and scoring touchdowns. With seeing Aaron Rodgers go in for the touchdown with a sore shoulder last week you have to think that there is a now a valid cause for concern. Sure, he started the year with a sprained hamstring which is a pretty good excuse but when you watch him run straight into his blockers instead of taking the cut back lane you start to realize there is more to the story.
So we know the result - Grant is getting less yards than before, now to find out the reason. I present you with the following possibilities:
A. Brett Favre - when you have a guy that put the deep ball threat on every play you run this will open your running backs ability to run the ball. With Aaron Rodgers first being unproven and now being injured the defenses are not worried about the deap threat as much.
B. Contract - whether you'd like to admit it or not it seems that players in the NFL that aren't on contracts play harder than most with a contract. Last year Grant was running to earn the big money, now that he has this locked in writing he might not have the same drive. The contract gives him not very much in guaranteed money but does have the incentive to earn more if he breaks 1500 yds in '08. That is used many times to get the back to keep up thier performance - but in this case I'm afraid it may have broken his spirit. He turned down their initial offer and might have signed just so he's playing this year and already be thinking about where he might go next year - of course to be traded next year he will need to have a mediocre season.
C. The Offensive Line - The first loss the Packers had this year was against the Cowboys in which starting center Scott Wells sat out even though by all account's I've heard he was willing and able to play. Between the stupid penalties and the communication issues it makes me wonder what they are doing at practice. The line coach needs to start back at the basics and get these guys back on the same page.
We'll see if they can turn the running game around - but to do this I think they need to let Rodgers air it out, show Grant he is appreciated, and practice the basics with the Offensive line. If they can manage to do this Grant will be carrying the ball for 100+ yards a game.