Sydney Speaks! Who's going to run the ball?

Harry Sydney, a former NFL fullback and running backs coach with the Packers, analyzes Green Bay's halfbacks in his column today. With a new blocking scheme and two top backs coming off major injuries, the Packers have some serious concerns at this position, Sydney says.

As training camp approaches I started to look over the roster and see who is hurt and who's not, who can play and who can't. In my mind I'm putting the depth charts together because I like to do that before training camp, and then right before the regular season so I can see who surprised me and who didn't. So, as I was doing that it occurred to me the running game just could be in trouble, and here's why:

I know we all remember last year when the old coaching staff shuffled the linemen around all training camp and never settled on any real starting lineup before the season started, and how that hurt the running game. If I'm not mistaken, not only did the offensive line struggle with opening holes, but also with pass protection. Well, as I see it, the running back situation at this time is worse off. There are so many questions regarding the running back position. For example, how healthy is Ahman Green? I have heard all types of things, such as he is supposed to be full-go right before the last preseason game, but what does mean? And what if he's not able to go? Can this team put all its hopes on Samkon Gado? I don't think so.

Who is going to step up their game? As I look at the roster I don't see anyone with any real experience and that scares me, and it should. I see guys like Noah Herron who came late last year, and we saw some flashes of a hard-working guy this off-season, but is he the guy that would put fear into the opposing team's defensive coordinator? I don't think so. For that matter what about Najeh Davenport? When he was out on the free agency market this off-season I didn't see any team wanting to knock down his door. He has been so injury prone throughout his career that nobody seems to want to take a chance with him, so he's back in Green Bay.

Back to Ahman. He is aging we - all know that - and he has had fumbling issues in the past. I know he is trying to prove his critics wrong and I hope he can, but what if he can't? Do the Packers put their running game in the hands of Chaz Williams from Georgia Southern, or Arliss Beach from Kentucky? Please understand I'm not trying to disrepect these guys at all, but let's be real. Not everyone is going to emerge on the scene like a Samkon Gado. Those stories happen only every once in a while.

What about the timing with the offensive line? In order for the running game to really click, it must spend a lot of time working together in drills and spend time in meetings so that everyone is seeing the same thing. The offensive linemen can't be wondering what Green is seeing. Scott Wells, Jason Spitz or Daryn Colledge can't be in the huddle wondering whether Samkon is going to see the cutback, or why Noah stayed play-side instead of cutting it back. The best running backs make the offensive linemen's blocks so much easier because they help the linemen by setting up the defender, allowing for them especially in the new zone blocking scheme to run a course and destroy anything in their way. It's the running back's job to run to the right landmarks. For example, on every running play there is an aiming point. It could be the inside foot of the play-side guard or the outside foot of the tackle. The offensive line and the running backs have to trust each other and the only way they can is if they run a lot of plays together because then it becomes automatic. Believe it or not when you think too much in football, you usually make mistakes because you start hesitating which throws off the timing, and that's the last thing any coach wants to happen. These are my concerns because when will the timing take place between Green and the starting offensive linemen, if he isn't healthy?

I have been very upbeat with this new staff, but this is one thing, I believe, they dropped the ball on this off-season. They should have signed or drafted another legit running back that can carry the load and that isn't coming off of some form of injury. The running game this year is so crucial to the Packers success, and I feel that the running back position is being taken for granted. Edgar Bennett is a good, young coach, but when you have only average that's what you are going to get – average. This year they need more than that. So, like I said, WHO'S GOING TO RUN THE BALL?????????


Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at packrepted@aol.com, and it will be forwarded to him.


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