Can Jackson produce in feature role for Packers?
The injured ankle that is now going to sideline Packers’ RB Ryan Grant for the entire season is a serious blow. You don’t want to see talent go down in Week 1 of the NFL season. There is no other way to spin that.
But, let’s be realistic when it applies to the Packers’ offense. This isn’t time to panic or to write off this football team because of the running back position. Brandon Jackson—who stepped in for Grant last week in the win over Philly—takes over the starting role.
ICONWith Grant out for the season, Jackson is the new feature back in Green Bay.
No question there is a drop off in talent when we compare the two. And that applies to just about every team in the NFL when the No.1 goes down at any position. Grant did provide that big play, that explosive gain. But that doesn’t mean the Packers and Mike McCarthy throw away game plans or change how they prepare for the Bills on Sunday—or the rest of the regular season.
Jackson will be expected to produce. He carried the ball 18 times on Sunday against the Eagles after Grant left the game. Expect it again this week. He is a running back that is solid in pass protection, looks like he can carry the load of a Sunday afternoon and can break tackles. Not as explosive of a player as Grant when he presses the edge of the defense, but a guy that can be a very good football player for this offense.
I would expect the same play calling that we are accustomed to seeing from McCarthy. Don’t look for Rodgers to start throwing the ball 50 times a game or for this offense to align in empty sets for the entire afternoon. Instead, they run their offense—with a new RB. And you have to run the ball in the NFL to manage the clock, move the sticks and win football games.
That is how it works in the NFL. You don’t change your identity or shrink game plans when a player goes on the shelf. You continue to execute the same offense that you put on tape the previous Sunday. Too late to change schemes or try and create new tendencies. Instead, the next guy steps in. Because backup players get game checks on Tuesdays—just like the starters.
These opportunities are rare—very rare—and players have to capitalize when they become the feature payer at the position. Green Bay did pick up Dimitri Nance off of the Atlanta practice squad yesterday, but this is Jackson’s gig. And, it can lead to a career-changing situation if the production is there.
All of us can discuss how the loss of Grant will ultimately effect the Packers this season, but until we see Jackson—and how he responds—it is all just speculation. Let him show McCarthy and the rest of that team what he can do with a full load this Sunday at Lambeau. Players often times will surprise you when they are thrown into the fire of the starting lineup.
And I think Jackson gets the job done.
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