Apparently James Starks Is Not The Answer

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James Starks

Starks has fallen off the map.

Running back James Starks burst onto the scene three weeks ago when the Green Bay Packers hosted the San Francisco 49ers, running for 73 yards on 18 carries and seemingly reviving the team’s stagnant running game.

Afterward, coach Mike McCarthy praised Starks’ ability to gain extra yards after contact.

On Sunday, Starks wasn’t even active for the Patriots game.

After averaging 4.1 yards per carry against the 49ers, Starks gained only eight yards on six carries, a 1.3-yard average, against Detroit. Of course, the Packers offensive line had their worst game of the season and no Packers running back fared well.

Starks now has 81 yards on 24 carries for the season, a 3.4-yard average.

On Sunday, the Packers chose to activate Dmitri Nance to go with Brandon Jackson and their three-headed fullback — John Kuhn, Korey Hall and Quinn Johnson.

The move was probably more of a nod to special teams, as Kuhn, Johnson and Hall play on multiple units. However, if the Packers thought Starks could help their running game, they could have deactivated Nance, who has only 63 yards on 27 carries this season.

Fortunately, the Packers didn’t need any help running the ball on Sunday, when they had their best rushing performance of the season. Jackson gained 99 yards on 22 carries and the Packers netted 143 yards on the ground.

Jackson, who has 961 total yards on the season, clearly re-established himself as the Packers top back, on Sunday. Kuhn, who has 245 yards rushing, is clearly the No. 1 option in short yardage.

Starks may need to establish a role for himself on special teams in order to be active on game day from here on out.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

13 Comments on "Apparently James Starks Is Not The Answer"

  1. ay hombre

    Iltarion, myself and a few others out there have been saying all fucking year long that we can run the ball if we commit to it. This was the first game of the fucking season where we committed to the run while the game was competitve. Hey MM…you waste of fucking life…you might notice that play-action passing has a higher tendency to be successful when the other team feels as if you may actually hand it off!

    Keep switching backs, formations, and blocking schemes you useless piece of shit! You’re a fucking disgrace and part of me would rather see the Pack lose the last two then make a token playoff appearance that saves your fucking job for another year.

    Fuck you!

  2. Ryan

    I personally think McCarthy is a pretty good play caller. In fact, when Aaron’s in, the Packers offense is one of the most exciting offenses to watch in the league. Sure, I would like to see a little more commitment to the run, but Jackson has showed very little until Sunday night. MM has had no option but to throw the ball this season; without Grant, no one (until Starks and then Jackson on Sunday) has done anything.

    With an effective running game, like we had Sunday, McCarthy called an excellent game. We couldn’t throw anything deep because Flynn had no where near the accuracy of Aaron, but the play calling was a perfect balance. McCarthy wants to run the ball, but its difficult to stay committed to the run game when it gets us nowhere. Fortunately, we have one of the best QBs in the league to keep us in the playoff hunts with his arm alone. If we can sustain the running game as well and get Aaron back so we can do what we do best (mid-range passes over the middle and deep passes) our offense will be almost unstoppable.

    Layoff MM a bit. He is an excellent QBs coach and an in my opinion a good play caller.

    • ay hombre

      You said it…he’s an excellent QB coach and a pretty good play-caller. But he’s not a quality head coach. He makes far too many simple mistakes and will continue to when the game is on the line. Watch.

    • ay hombre

      “Sure, I would like to see a little more commitment to the run, but Jackson has showed very little until Sunday night.”

      WRONG! He’s on his way to 1000 yards all-purpose with virtually no commitment to the running game. He’s averaging 3.9 yards a carry which is really a far cry from being pathetic. Anything over 4 yards a carry is quality so 3.9 must be totally useless, right?

      “With an effective running game, like we had Sunday, McCarthy called an excellent game. We couldn’t throw anything deep because Flynn had no where near the accuracy of Aaron, but the play calling was a perfect balance. McCarthy wants to run the ball, but its difficult to stay committed to the run game when it gets us nowhere.”

      What are you talking about? Against Washington Jackson averaged over 10 yards a carry on 10 carries…yet we abandon the run. People that say we have no running game have not been watching this year. We have a running game that we don’t use because our head coach is an idiot. Either that or if something works in the running game, he’ll abandon it altogether.

      Last night was the first competitive game of the year where we ran the ball and stuck with it. Every other time any commitment to the run was a study in running out the clock.

      • jeremy

        I blame Campen for the blocking issues. He never paly in or coached a zone blocking OL until Philbin became OC. They should either get a coach who can teach zone blocking or go back to power.

  3. While Starks would have been a big improvement in the running game over Nance, it can be argued that Nance probably offers better pass protection and pass-catching ability over Starks simply because he’s had more active time in the offense.

    I still think Starks, if given the opportunity and stays healthy, could prove to be real special, a poor-man’s Adrian Peterson. But he is going to have to improve those things that make Brandon Jackson a great 3rd down back.

  4. Ryan

    He has 645 yards this year. While it is surprising to see his number that high, that’s well off from 1000. He would need to average almost 180 yards over the next two games to reach 1000.

    I stand by what I said about the run game being ineffective for the majority of the year. Was Jackson excellent against Washington? Absolutely! His average yards per run was an outstanding 11.5; however, that number is an extreme outlier and has greatly skewed his season average. In other games, where a run game probably would have helped us win the game, he had dismal numbers. (1.7 yards per carry against Chicago, 2.7 against Detroit…) You can’t keep running the ball in that circumstance when its not working. McCarthy had no choice but to throw the ball.

    Jackson is designed to be a 3rd down back. However, his use has been diminished because the Packers constantly find themselves in 3rd and long situations where a running play is simply not a viable option.

    Finally, aren’t you contradicting yourself a bit? You have admitted that McCarthy is a “pretty good play caller” but then say that he abandons the run because he is an “idiot.”

    I’ll say it again, I like McCarthy. Keeping the team in check after the loss of a legendary leader (more like the defection of said leader) was not an easy task. With the help of Thompson, he was able to see that Rodgers was more than capable of leading this team. He has coached Aaron to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league and has an offense that, barring injuries, is pretty good. He has finally begun to make some gutsy decisions (although I would have liked to see him go for it on 4th and goal from the 1 on Sunday night)… but the fake punt against the Vikings should have worked and the onside kick Sunday was brilliant.

    Give McCarthy a chance. The Packers have been in the playoffs 2 out of his 4 years here, including an NFC Championship game and he has the team in position to go to the playoffs again. He has been dealt an unprecedented amount of injuries, both in his first as well as the current season. The only thing the Packers need to show improvement on is winning tight games. I thought the win against Minnesota this year would be the turnaround for that; other than a special teams breakdown against Atlanta, we haven’t really been in close game situations. (I don’t count Detroit or New England because a backup QB with 0/1 career starts was leading the team.) If anything, I’d like to see McCarthy fire the offensive line coach – that is the biggest (and really) only weakness of the offense. The special teams is another issue entirely.

    I realize I probably won’t convince you that McCarthy is a good head coach; he needs to do that by winning games. I just merely want you to give him that chance.

    GO Packers!

  5. Shawn iltarion

    Ryan, I agree with your sentiments regarding McCarthy. Regardless of a horrific injury situation, the Packers have competed hard in every game and had a chance to win every game. Hindsight allows us to overanalyze things and blame the Coach for everything that didn’t go right and every call we didn’t agree with, mostly because IT DIDN’T WORK. However, the fact of the matter is that usually close games are won or lost by a couple plays where PLAYERS either did or did not make the play.

    Chicago- James Jones doesn’t fumble the ball, then we don’t get to go apeshit over MM’s handling of the final 2 minutes. Also, pressured up the middle by Matthews, Cutler throws it over the middle and hits Nick Collins in the chest. Collins drops the ball. Two plays later, Cutler throws it downfield and gets the interference call that set up the easy winning FG.

    Washington- Mason Crosby makes a FG, we win.

    Miami- It isn’t MM’s responsibility to cover Brandon Marshall nor could he force Matthews to play. It also isn’t his fault that the refs decide to call a nonexistent penalty to give MIA a 2nd chance at a late TD drive. Still flummoxed by that call. Never seen the like in thousands of games viewed.

    Atlanta- A-Rodge fumbles the ball at the goal line. Special teams gives ATL the ball at midfield. ATL wins by 3.

    D-troi – A-Rodge doesn’t slide. Flynn throws a pick on the goal line. O-line appears hung over all game.

    Pats- Special teams allows longest kick return by a offensive lineman in the history of the NFL. Charles Woodson, one of the best corners in the history of the NFL, drops a pick right in his hands. Pats score 7; Packers lose by 4.

    However, I do agree with ay hombre in regards to the running game. We don’t run the football not because it isn’t working but because we don’t INTEND to run the football. I invite you to watch Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson run once and count the number of times they have a gain of 2 yards or less. You’ll find it happens quite often, even with the best RBs in the game. The difference is those RBs keep getting carries, enough carries usually to make up for the negative plays. Our RBs don’t.

    On top of not sticking with the running game, MM also refuses to stick with even a formation that works. James Starks had great success running out of the inverted wishbone against San Fran. Next game against D-troi? Never saw the formation once. All of a sudden, Starks was running out of the single back set or the I. Even against New England, in short yardage, we ran out of the I with Brandon Jackson behind John Kuhn, regardless of the fact that this formation has rarely worked. Every time the Packers have ran out of the inverted wishbone or the FB T, we have been successful in short yardage. Why not stick with it? Because MM believes more in his ability to fool the opponent by changing formations than he believes in his players’ ability to just block the guys in front of them. Pretty simple!

  6. Buddy

    Eli Manning held the meeting to explian how to properly fuck a chicken’s ass. The Giants will be too busy screwing farm animals this week and we will beat thier asses.

  7. Ryan

    Good analysis iltarion, although your summarizing each disappointing loss was a bit painful. (Especially the Miami game – I was at that one and will go to my grave not understanding how a penalty can be called literally 5 minutes after the play. I have been to Lambeau 6 times (not that many, I realize, but I’m from Florida) and I never seen it that mad.)

    Anyways, you are probably right about the running game. Quite frankly, its not MM’s style; he is a pass first guy and unfortunately sometimes that love for the passing game results in the running game being abandoned. Rodgers is great at airing it out and MM usually lets him do it at least once a drive – which is certainly fun to watch!

    I think MM is a great coach. As a University of Florida student, watching a MM coached offense this year has been a pleasure compared to what we have been dealing with at UF. Also, things that I directly blame McCarthy for have shown improvement over time – namely, penalties. No one needs reminding of the Bears game, which we still could have won. But let’s face it, despite a horrendous amount of injuries, if the Packers make about 2 more plays each game, we are practically undefeated. We have not suffered any embarrassing losses (well, Detroit) like the Bears did to the Patriots at home and while that makes it sometimes more difficult to bear, MM has had the team prepared well (again, except maybe for Detroit.) I think MM deserves a lot of credit for the way he prepared the team for NE; no one gave the Pack any chance, yet his team played their hearts out and were about one sack away from beating the best team on the road with a QB making his first career start.

    I have heard nothing about McCarthy being on the “hot seat” and quite frankly, he doesn’t deserve to be. God willing, next year we will not have the same injury problem as this year; correct the offensive line and the special teams (which has suffered from the injuries the most) and this team should be a favorite to go to the Super Bowl.

    In the end, I completely support MM as head coach.

  8. Denny

    Ryan, you are an idiot. How many more games are we going to allow this baffoon to lose for us. The injury excuse has to end. There are teams that are beat up just as bad as us and they are fine. It’s time for the fans to ask themselves what they want from their team. If you give MM a pass for this season and you like him, then you are happy with mediocrity. I say that because if that idiot would have been able to make the right decision half the time, we would be 10-4 right now. The rest of the sane fans want a proven winner year in and year out and a coach and GM that will not tolerate anything else but perfection from his team and staff. As long as MM is the coach of the Packers, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, of every home game, they should plaster his “I just pumped the neighbors cat” look on the scoreboard. Becuase as long as he is the coach, that is the look we will see game in and game out.

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