Dissecting Johnathan Franklin’s 30 Minutes
These types of articles are typically featured in TheFantasyFix.com’s “Front Office.” This article is free, but in the future you will need to subscribe to gain access to this content. Learn how to be a “Front Office” subscriber here.
The NFL is a show me NOW league, and Packers heralded rookie running back Johnathan Franklin didn’t impress anybody during training camp or the preseason. His poor performance prompted one scout to describe him in these less than glowing terms: “he’s not a real impressive guy. He plays small and he doesn’t play fast.” But what of his record breaking numbers at UCLA? What of his running back leading 4.49 40-yard dash (and 11.33 60-yard shuttle) at the combine? His statistical accumulations in an up-tempo spread based offense and prowess in athletic testing were no longer relevant. In the present, he was faltering.
Alas, fortunes can spin 180 degrees in short order. Following a knee injury suffered by starter James Starks, Franklin was forced into action to begin the second half of Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. To say he capitalized on his “Wally Pipp moment” would be a vast understatement. The 5’10 205 pounder dashed for 103 yards on 13 carries in a single half of football against a powerful front four. In an instant, those echoes of disappointment surrounding Franklin were suddenly muted in favor of Darren Sproles comparisons.
Franklin shined on his opening drive of the season. He put in all the work from the Cincinnati 22-yard line: rush for five, rush for five, rush for eight, reception for seven, rush for two-yard touchdown.
On the second play of his second drive deep in his own backyard, Franklin patiently eluded congestion on a shotgun toss, made multiple quick cuts and burst up the left sideline for a 51-yard gain.
Franklin’s elusiveness and compact running style were on full display in this seven-yard jaunt. He possesses “hide-and-seek” qualities which allowed him to turn a certain negative play into a positive first down gain.
- Played 43 of 48 second half snaps. The packers used three empty backfields, one set with Randall Cobb lined up in backfield, and one with Jeremy Ross lined up in backfield.
- Franklin received six carries out of the shotgun formation resulting in 78 yards. More specifically, three shotgun tosses for 66 yards (including 51-yarder).
- Six of his 13 carries culminated in either a first down or touchdown.
- 75 of his 103 rushing yards were picked up after initial contact (5.8 per carry). He forced five missed tackles.
- He caught all three of his targets for 23 yards, 20 of which again came after being contacted.
- Pro Football Focus graded his passing blocking effort at a respectable 0.8.
Until the 3:47 mark of the fourth quarter, Franklin’s overall performance was virtually flawless. Then, with the theme of fleeting prosperity once again rising to the top, it all came crashing down. The Packers were a first down away from putting the game on ice (up 30-27 at CIN 30) when Franklin dove into the pile on 4th and short. The ball was jarred loose and subsequently returned for a game-winning score. Protecting the ball, or lack thereof, is by no means a new issue for Franklin, but improvements in that facet had been evident. Point blank – in that situation the ball carrier needs to wrap up. He did not.
Let’s put his costly gaffe aside for a moment (something Mike McCarthy might struggle with). Franklin played a well-rounded football game in his first action of the season: he ran well both between the tackles and outside them, caught the ball out of the backfield and didn’t miss any blocking assignments. His rushing effort provided the Pack with offensive balance, albeit, the scoreboard didn’t find favor in this balance because of three costly turnovers at mid-field or in enemy territory. The angry bullish power of Eddie Lacy (concussion) and the slippery, speed element of Franklin could provide a dynamic thunder/lightning type duo. Injuries notwithstanding, it will be interesting to see how the backfield situation plays out in Badger State. Keep in mind they have a bye week to fully assess the situation and heal their wounds.
Once a waiver-wire afterthought or dynasty stash, Franklin is relevant in the NOW.
*Premium Stats provided by ProFootballFocus.com*
Follow Adam on twitter @AdamGaneles for NFL analytics and breakdowns