Ryan Grant done for the year; are the Packers? Nope. « Ol' Bag of Donuts

Ryan Grant done for the year; are the Packers? Nope.

The news out of Green Bay today is that running back Ryan Grant will miss the rest of the year after tearing the ligament that holds two bones in his ankle. The injury is similar to the one that cost Dorsey Levens half of the 1998 season, and Grant said on his Twitter account there was a possibility of ┬áhim coming back late that year like Levens did, but the team decided to put him on injured reserve because it couldn’t waste the roster spot.

There’s no question this is a big blow for the Packers; Grant has the second-most yards in the league behind Adrian Peterson since 2007. But is this a death knell to the Packers’ Super Bowl hopes? No. Here’s why:

Grant’s best attributes as a running back are that he a) doesn’t fumble and b) stays healthy and plays through injuries (the ankle injury notwithstanding, obviously). He’s broken some big runs in his career after making one move and hitting a hole, but he’s not an explosive runner by any means, and he’s not particularly dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s the NFL running back equivalent of a Toyota Camry; sturdy, efficient, but not dynamic. That’s not to minimize his solid 4.4 yards per attempt average last year, or the fact that he gained a career-high 1,253 yards on just 282 carries, but Grant’s numbers are so good in large part because he’s been able to stay on the field. He only had three 100-yard games last year, and only three of his 11 touchdown runs were longer than 10 yards.

Most importantly, though, Grant’s injury doesn’t kill the Packers because their success isn’t predicated on running the ball. No matter how much Mike McCarthy gives lip service to the idea of being a power running team – and no matter how much we implore him to run the ball at times when the weather gets cold – this is a pass-first team, and has been since Mike Holmgren took over in 1992.

The NFL has become a quarterback’s league, and the Packers have one of the best in the game. They’ve got plenty of weapons on offense, and Brandon Jackson is capable of carrying at least some of the load. I worry about the depth at running back – and as Chris pointed out in a phone conversation today, we’re not hearing much from the Packers-will-be-fine-with-two-RBs crowd today. But the Saints won the Super Bowl last year with a leading rusher (Pierre Thomas) that gained 793 yards. A stable offensive line has almost as much to do with a successful running game as the skill players in the backfield, and that will ultimately dictate the Packers’ success on the ground. Besides, McCarthy never ran Grant more than 19.3 times a game anyway. Give 14 or 15 of those carries to Jackson, find another running back to take a few, and the Packers are capable of recouping much of the rushing output.

Grant’s injury is a punch in the Packers’ collective gut. But I sometimes wonder if we overvalue running backs because of how necessary they are to win in fantasy football (and even that’s changing). The loss will hurt them, yes, but their Super Bowl chances are far from dead.

–Gene Bosling

4 comments to Ryan Grant done for the year; are the Packers? Nope.

  • bird

    Dimitri Nance …just a body or something more?

  • admin

    Bird,

    It’s hard to say at this point. They moved on Nance extremely quick, so that has to mean something. And it sounds like Atlanta really did not want to lose him. But, he was also not good enough to crack Atlanta’s 53, so that also has to say something. And James Starks comes off the PUP after the Miami game, too. You have to think Nance will get some sort of a shot until then, though. If he’s good enough over the next 5 weeks, I could see the team keeping all three backs. Hopefully, the Packers have learned their lesson about the stupidity of keeping just two.

    -Chris Lempesis

  • Yoop

    Stupidity to keep two RB’s? Hardly! Grant was hurt so what, Jackson was drafted to be a featured back and now he gets to do that. And Kuhn would get FAR more playing time then ANY 3rd or 4th RB. Kuhn is a good RB better then most of you think, but that is besides the question.
    Behind Grant and Jackson? Lumpkin? Porter? Or Kuhn at the 3rd A VERY good Special teams player along with Hall.
    And Johnson for the end of the season pounding.
    The other big reason is they have Starks coming back after week 6. He was VERY close to coming back the last pre-season game.
    So he should be completely healthy. For me as a runner Starks is a better Grant IMO, he has better balance, change of direction and cut back ability then Grant.
    Excellent Receiver, and a very good runner with some power and fluidity.
    Watch the video below, at 1:15 no RB on the team has that kind of change of direction ability and he shows excellent balance.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ3dPkL0pr4

  • [...] Ol’ Bag of Donuts also isn’t giving up: Ryan Grant done for the year; are the Packers? Nope. [...]

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