The Green Bay Packers’ passing attack is under a microscope after last year’s subpar performance. But while everyone focuses on whether the Packers will keep seven wide receivers on the roster, and who will fill the WR3 role, the roles of the running backs in the passing attack get overlooked.
In 2015, the Packers had one running back have a career receiving year, while the other saw his numbers drop by more than a half.
James Starks rushed for 601 yards, but as a receiver he had 43 catches for 392 yards, a 9.1-yard average.
Starks set career highs in all three statistics last year. Plus, Aaron Rodgers only targeted him 53 times, resulting in a fabulous 81 percent completion rate. Starks’ previous best receiving yardage total came in 2011, when he had 216 yards.
As for Eddie Lacy, he had only 20 catches for 188 yards, a 9.4 average. Just a year before that, in his second season, Lacy had fine receiving numbers: 42 catches for 427 yards, a 10.2 average.
Last year’s postseason was even more of a disaster. In those two games Lacy and Starks combined for 18 receiving yards on 8 catches, barely a 2-yard average gain.
Lacy and Starks are what the Packers have to work with, as the running back stable is lean until at least next year. To do their part to re-establish a dynamite passing game, 800 combined receiving yards is a reasonable target for this duo.
It’s not too much to ask for. Last year the Lions’ Theo Riddick (all 5’9” of him) had 80 catches for 697 yards, but only 133 yards rushing; Falcon Devonta Freeman had 73 for 578; Buccaneer Charles Sims had 51 for 561; Duke Johnson Jr. of the Browns had 61 for 534; and Shane Vereen of the Giants had 59 for 495.
None of those guy are great rushers, nor are they being thrown to by quarterbacks anywhere near Aaron Rodgers’ level.
The Packers’ backs not only have the ability to pick it up, they need to for the offense to function at its highest level.