So that happened.
While many expected the Green Bay Packers and Steven Jackson to come away from Wednesday with a deal in place, not only did that not happen, we had NFL.com reporting that Jackson had signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
Worry not, Packers fans because I have a plan for this. This plan is a simple one and if Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy follow it, it's 100 percent guaranteed to work (guarantee not valid in states that end in vowels or consonants or any Canadian provinces).
It's just five simple steps.
Step One: Get Cedric Benson Back
You have to admit that Benson looked solid behind a shaky run blocking offensive line last season before his Lisfranc injury. While he's not a workhorse back, he's a perfect compliment to one of the others already in house (we'll touch on that in a few steps).
Benson will come cheap, because of the injury as well as the limits to his overall skill set.
Is he Steven Jackson? No, by no means is he even as good as an aging Jackson.
He is a solid back though, and if he is healed from his injury, would a productive piece of this backfield.
Step Two: Draft a solid backup
Now, there will be a certain segment of Packers fandom who will want Alabama's Eddie Lacy in the first round of the NFL Draft. This is a good choice, one I can't hate. However, there is always plenty of value later on to choose from.
I'll admit the Packers haven't exactly been setting the world on fire, so you might not feel confident they'll get the right guy. However, they won't be looking for an every-down, bell-cow type back.
You'll be looking for a guy who can fill in and develop into a solid change of pace guy, maybe someone who can make some noise in space, a playmaker who has the speed to break off long runs, if not the staying power to carry the ball every down.
Step Three: Improve Offensive Line Run Blocking
According to Pro Football Focus (subscriber link) the Packers were 29th in run blocking as a team. That's far from good.
Some of it was certainly due to injuries, but getting some healthy road graders in there would go a long way towards making whomever is in the backfield much more effective.
There's not much to this step at this point—figure out who your best overall players are, draft some more talent, designate some tight end blocking help and go.
If there is only one regret the Pack should have it's that they didn't at least talk to a few of the free agent tackles out there (that we know of).
Step Four: Give DuJuan Harris the Ball. A lot.
I was high on Harris when he first emerged during the great running back injury scare of 2012 and continue to be high on him. Is he a perfect back? No, he definitely has some more refining to do.
However, he is a good combination of power, decent speed, vision and toughness, someone who is a lot better—and performed a lot better—than people expected.
He and Benson (or he and Alex Green or James Starks) would be a very solid combo and, while they might not be as dynamic as Steven Jackson individually, they have the potential to be a very potent backfield.
Step Five: Profit!
That's self explanatory, isn't it?
Yes, missing on Jackson—especially when the contract was cheap—is probably pretty frustrating for fans.
It's not the end of the world though, and my plan is just one of several ways to go (though none as brilliant, right?). If they follow my simple and easy steps, and then have Aaron Rodgers do his "Aaron Rodgers" thing, this is an offense which can be very, very potent in ways it hasn't been in some time.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!