McCarren: With improved running game, Packers can do 'big things'

CREATED Nov 5, 2012

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  • James Starks. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

GREEN BAY - The days of "Thunder and Lightning" are, for now, back in the Packers' backfield.  At least "Thunder and Lightning Lite."

No, Alex Green and James Starks should not be confused with Lombardi-era Hall of Famers Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor.

But in the Packers' 31-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals, Green and Starks helped lead the Packers to 176 yards on the ground, the highest total since 202 yards in a win against the Cleveland Browns in 2009.

Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Packers Radio Network color commentator and TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Larry McCarren, a former Packer himself, says this could be a launching point for future success in the late season and the playoffs.

"The Packers, if they can use this as a starting point and build on it, when we come around bad weather when the games really count, the Packers have a two-dimensional offensive system where people have to respect the run, they can do big things," said McCarren.

He explained that the combination of Green and Starks provides contrasts of styles that defenses must take into account.

"I kind of like the 1-2 punch.  They're entirely different runners.  Alex Green is the speedier of the two and better out in the open, but James Starks is a big man.  When he plants his foot and gets rolling downhill, he's a force to be reckoned with.  He's got to be painful to tackle. It's very contrasting styles.  Being able to rotate them, depending on the situation, what you want out of the running back on that particular play, that's a nice luxury to have."

One luxury the Packers do not have is healthy offensive linemen, particularly with the hip injury to Bryan Bulaga during the win.

T.J. Lang will be taking over those duties for now, at least unless Bulaga returns after a much-needed bye week.

"T.J. had some experience at right tackle," explains McCarren, a former offensive lineman. 

"However, what we're talking about is a handful, 'just in case, the worst happens,' well, the worst happened.  I think it's a tremendously challenging situation.  He's not just switching positions, he's switching sides."

McCarren further revealed how the position change can mean a whole new set of techniques that are hard to master at the NFL level at a critical position in pass protection. 

"A tackle set is a lot different than a guard set.  I don't want to get over technical, but the footwork is totally opposite when you switch sides and switch positions.  The real onus in pass protection is on the tackles.  If you're not getting it done, the quarterback is going to pay the price."