The Green Bay Packers just did something they normally haven’t done during the Ted Thompson era: they looked outside their own walls for help. More specifically, the Packers went to the trade market to better themselves, officially agreeing to a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday to add backup running back, Knile Davis.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) October 18, 2016
Hit by a rash of injuries in their offensive backfield, Green Bay was forced to use a wide receiver at the running back position in week six and the end result was a lopsided home loss to the Dallas Cowboys. With starting running back Eddie Lacy (ankle) ailing and backup rusher James Starks (knee) slated to miss up to a month of action, Green Bay had two options: to continue as they were, or seek some outside help.
Thompson and co. wisely opted to swing a trade for Davis, who was wasting away in Kansas City.
The harsh reality is that Green Bay has been in an arguable offensive funk all season, and at 3-2 it may be time to start wondering why they’re struggling. Some point to the offensive line, a lack of speed at wide receiver or Aaron Rodgers’ regression, but not having a healthy stable of running backs is understandably part of the problem.
Lacy isn’t 100%, but even beyond Green Bay’s top rusher, there were major struggles. Starks had been averaging a meager 1.8 yards per carry ahead of his knee injury, and the Packers’ running back depth chart was so bad that the team rolled into week six with Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb (two wide receivers) seeing added time as running backs.
That simply isn’t a way to conduct business in the NFL, naturally facilitating a much-needed trade for Knile Davis.
Boost in the Backfield?
The trade for Knile Davis seems a bit underwhelming at first glance. Of Kansas City’s available running back talent, any of Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware or Charcandrick West would have been much more appealing. All three are highly versatile weapons with well-rounded skill-sets and are all also arguably more explosive than Davis.
That isn’t to say Knile Davis can’t be a strong addition to the Packers, however. In fact, he actually looked quite good in spurts for the Chiefs just a couple of years ago:
At the very worst, he’s added depth, which the team sorely needed with Starks on the shelf for the next four weeks, at a minimum. Davis has experience in short yardage situations, on kick returns and while he’s had some issues with ball control and consistency, he absolutely brings size, speed and experience to the table.
There was even a time where the Chiefs thought Davis could be their top backup behind Charles, when he temporarily was on a roll during a 2014 season that saw him pile on over 600 total yards and seven touchdowns.
It’s fair to wonder if Davis is as washed up as he’s appeared to be in Kansas City, but the 25-year old could still have some untapped upside. Regardless, there is little doubt a change of scenery and an ehanced role may offer him the chance to turn his career around.
While Knile Davis at one time displayed appealing talent, he’s not a guy that is going to make people miss, he showed steep regression as a runner with the Chiefs over the last two years and he’s had a history of fumbling woes.
On paper, this is a less that inspiring trade and it’s fair to wonder if the Packers could have made a stronger play. It’s possible they didn’t want to step on the toes of Lacy or Starks and merely picked up some depth in Davis, but they arguably should have taken the situation a lot more seriously and attempted to land a true difference-maker.
The reality is Green Bay lacks speed and versatility all over their offense and probably in their backfield, more than anywhere else. Eddie Lacy can still be a productive starter, but he’s not healthy and it’s arguable that an effective change of pace back would do Green Bay’s offense wonders.
Davis probably isn’t going to provide that.
Needless to say, Green Bay’s offense is slowly sinking and going into a short-week showdown with the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football, they have massive question marks in their running game. Adding Knile Davis doesn’t change that.
The Packers started the 2016 NFL season with the second best Super Bowl odds. They’ve since slid over at Bovada (5th best odds, +1200). Entering week seven in what figures to be a must-win home game against a bad Bears team, Green Bay could be losing steam as a popular Super Bowl pick if they can’t find a way to get their offense back into high gear.