Packers-Redskins: Early analysis
James Starks. Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
If not for a record-tying performance by Aaron Rodgers, then James Starks would be the story of the day. Filling in for Eddie Lacy, Starks unleashed for 132 rushing yards on 20 carries.
A little footnote here: Starks is the first Packers running back to top the century mark in a regular season game since Brandon Jackson did against against Washington in 2010. So apparently playing the Redskins guarantees a 100 yard day. More importantly two storylines emerged from the performance.
First, Starks ran with authority. The kind of authority that has been missing from the rushing game for quite awhile.
Second, Starks actually had some daylight to run to. Outside of the Rams preseason game the offensive line had struggled with run blocking. Of course, there's only so much a running back can do on his own so for the Packers running game to work, they need good blocking up front. Starks had it today.
With three number one wide receivers the Packers are now the new Saints: you never know who will get the most targets from one week to the next. Just seven days ago James Jones looked like the odd man out with two targets and no receptions. Today he looked all-world.
Meanwhile Jordy Nelson, last week's leading receiver, had a "quiet" day with just three receptions. This is what makes the Packers air attack so dangerous. As a defensive coordinator who do you game plan for? Be it Jones, Nelson or Randall Cobb, who had another big day, Rodgers has his pick of playmakers.
From a pure numbers standpoint it didn't look like a good day for the defense. RG3 ended the day with 320 passing yards, Alfred Morris rushed for 107 yards and Pierre Garcon gutted the secondary with 143 receiving yards.
However, most of that came in the second half when the Packers were already up 24-0. Two games in we know this about the Redskins: they're a heck of a second half club.
The most important number though is 1. That's the number of rushing yards by RG3 himself. The read option threat simply wasn't there.
As a bonus the Packers don't have to worry about that scheme for awhile. It's clear Griffin is not his usual self as a runner but he can certainly generate offense with his arm.
And this brings us back to Rodgers, who torched the Redskins for 480 yards. It serves as a reminder that while the Packers want to commit to the run, this offense is still directed by Rodgers and when given time to throw he can beat any secondary in the NFL.