CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It pains Aaron Rodgers to say it, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback thinks the offense might be better served by running the ball more with James Starks and Ryan Grant.
While the Packers’ offense under Mike McCarthy will always be quarterback-driven, Rodgers, who had his second straight 300-yard passing game in Sunday’s 30-23 victory over Carolina, admitted that the team’s 1-2 running back punch merits more of a role.
Starks had 85 yards on just nine carries, thanks to a 40-yard run, while Grant carried six times for 25 yards. Both players also had three receptions, with Starks gaining 30 more yards and Grant gaining 14.
Rodgers said Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott kept the offense “off-balance” for much of the game and that the running game was “really important” to overcoming that.
“We probably need to give James and Ryan a few more touches. I'm being honest here,” Rodgers said. “I thought James ran the ball really well. Ryan had a couple of really nice runs as well. It's nice to have that balance and to rush for over 100 yards again. This is going to be something we're going to need to do moving forward."
In last week’s opener, Starks ran 12 times for 57 yards, while Grant had nine carries for 40 yards and one reception for 5 yards, with Starks playing almost 30 more snaps than Grant did.
For the second straight week, there was a large disparity in snaps – unofficially, Starks played 37 while Grant played 16 – so as long as he stays healthy, it appears Starks will see more playing time.
“I really wanted to be balanced. We thought we were going to be able to run the ball against these guys,” McCarthy said.
Asked if it was hard for him to admit that the offense needs more running plays, Rodgers chuckled and said, “I don't know if I mean it 100 percent, but when those guys are running the ball the way they are ...
“I think those guys need more touches. Now, it just depends on the flow of the game. Today, we pretty much got the ball after three plays in the first quarter and we were down 13-0 and we were trying to find a rhythm. … So a lot of those calls were situational calls that don't give us a lot of opportunities to run the ball in normal down and distance situations. I think we need to get those guys a couple more touches when necessary. And if we keep throwing the ball effectively, it should give them good opportunities."
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