7

September

Cory’s Corner: Eddie Lacy can jump start Packers’ offense

Eddie Lacy, Packers running back

Eddie Lacy could snap the Packers’ 43-game streak without a 100-yard running back, the longest active streak in the NFL.

A year ago, everyone was screaming for general manager Ted Thompson to fix the running game as the Packers finished 20th in the NFL in team rushing offense.

Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, most analysts tabbed Eddie Lacy as the top running back. However, Lacy was the fourth back off the board.

In training camp, a picture taken and posted online by the Packers that gave the impression that he was carrying a little too much weight. The photo quickly went viral and teams began justifying why they steered clear of the powerful Alabama back because of how husky he looked.

It isn’t going to take long to figure out that Bengals, Steelers and Broncos missed on getting a franchise cornerstone that can run through and around defenders.

In the preseason he proved why he’s the real deal with perfectly placed spin moves that made him resemble a third down scat back.

Lacy is the most important feature of this offense for the success of this team. Obviously having Aaron Rodgers is of the utmost importance, but with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson only playing two snaps in the preseason, the passing game will have to get its sea legs before it can start wowing its opponents.

Until then, Lacy needs to be the dominant straight-ahead runner that they coveted last spring. And if he continues to get creases and keeps his thick legs churning the Packers will snap the longest active streak of 43-straight games without a 100-yard rusher.

The most impressive stat from Lacy last year was when Alabama’s offense was facing third down with a range of one to three yards to pick up the first down. Here, teams are keying on the run and most of the time, Alabama has an extra blocker in the game telling the opponent its intentions. On 21 attempts, he racked up 108 yards, good enough for a very strong 5.14 average. Those are very respectable numbers from the SEC.

Lacy has shown he can catch the ball, but that isn’t his best quality. He likes to hit the opponent just as much as the opponent likes to hit him. Defenders will begin to learn his ferocity after taking his helmet to the ribs on multiple occasions.

Besides setting up the passing game, and giving the offense another weapon, Lacy is the guy that can bleed the clock late in the game. How many times over the last two years have we seen the Packers maintain a four-point lead with two minutes left only to punt it back to the opponent because they couldn’t move the chains?

Lacy will change that. He will suck the life out of opponents in the waning moments. He had at least 15 carries eight times last year and had 20 carries when it mattered most — in the SEC Championship and BCS national title game.

Some people have said that Lacy isn’t as versatile as Montee Ball or Giovani Bernard. Even if that’s the case, which it’s not, Lacy is more NFL ready right now than both of those two.

When Lacy isn’t carrying the ball, his main concern needs to be sacrificing his body for Rodgers or mastering the finer points of pass blocking, the biggest stumbling blocks for younger backs.

I’ve always said that the Packers haven’t needed a dominant back ever since James Starks tallied 66, 72 and 54 yards on the ground in the final three postseason games en route to winning the Super Bowl in 2011.

But now they’ve got one. And with the unproven depth behind Cobb and Nelson combined with the inconsistency of tight end Jermichael Finley, his presence will not only be much appreciated, but highly needed.

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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28 Responses to “Cory’s Corner: Eddie Lacy can jump start Packers’ offense”

  1. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    I hope you are right. But let’s wait and see how effective Lacy (and the OL) is before we anoint him.

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    • Dobber says:

      There are a lot of good OL and good runners who will be humbled by the SF defense.

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  2. BZ in BA says:

    Let’s hope you’re right. I think that Lacy may well be the missing component that kept this team from advancing last year, for many of the same reasons that you mentioned. However, I think that it is also a position where injuries frequently occur, and I don’t think that we can/should become dependent upon one specific player. Having a two dimensional offense will definitely open things up – a solid running game makes it much easier to find passing lanes, just as a solid passing game means that they can’t load up the box. GO PACK!!!!!!

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    • mudduckcheesehead says:

      We’ve been dependent on one specific player for a long time now, but your point is well taken. I think we now have some reason to hope that we’ve found our second dimension.

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  3. James David says:

    Rogers has a great record whenever he has a runner that gains 100+ years in a game. If TE Finley and WR Cobb can open up the middle of the field after RB Lacy has some success running with the football, then I see a nice GB win because SF will be off balance as they bite on play action fakes to Lacy.

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  4. nick perry says:

    Thanks Cory, my thoughts as well. I can’t help but really excited about Lacy. Everybody is bagging on the Packers offensive line. That they stand no chance against the 49ers which I really don’t get. Last season from LT to RT the Packers put Newhouse, Lang, EDS, Sitton, and Barclay. At halftime, the Packers Dujuan Harris had out gained Frank Gore, he actually had more rushing yards. It was M.M. who panicked, totally getting away from what was working for him in the first half. Sunday the Packers lineup from LT to RT, Bakhtiari, Sitton, EDS, Lang, and Barclay. We all know Newhouse was a horrible run blocker and his pass blocking was nothing to write home about, so Bakhtiari must be a improvement over Newhouse. Lang, who’s elbow was said to be the issue last year should be much improved if that was Lang’s problem last season. EDS has gained valuable experience this off season, and should be better as well.

    Now we throw Lacy into this mix. Personally I believe Lacy is a huge upgrade over Harris and will have success, as long as McCarty stays committed to the run. The Packers have to keep running Lacy, keep trying because he will have SOME success. That’s where you’ll begin to see the positive results. The Safety’s begin to cheat down. The defense begins to pause, if just for a second which is all Cobb, Nelson, Jones, or Finley need and Rodgers begins to pick apart this defense, just like everybody did last season. Just stay committed Mike, I think it could be a beautiful thing. I mean how great would it be to see a Lacy spin move, right around Patrick Willis for a long gain and a Collision with Lacy and a Safety. I’ll bet the Safety loses.

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    • mudduckcheesehead says:

      ^This.

      “Just stay committed, Mike.”

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    • Stroh says:

      There is absolutely no way of knowing that Bahktiari is an improvement over Newhouse. He has been decent in the preseason, that’s it and didn’t really performed very well against StL. We all hope Bahktiari improves the blocking at LT, but that’s far from a certainty. I think EDS will be improved over last year having been able to play Center only all offseason. Lang won’t have any injuries either so those help the OL in general.

      Ideally we would have Lacy and Harris, but I do think Lacy would have become the feature RB anyway relatively quickly. As long as Lacy is getting something done the D will have to honor that even if its just to hold the LB a split second, it allows the WR and Finley to get that step of separation almost immediately.

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      • Nick Perry says:

        Well the fact that he’s starting over Newhouse should tell you something shouldn’t it? Or is your theory that their just throwing him out there blind. My point was the Packers were doing just fine before M.M. Stopped running the ball. That and it stands to reason that if he’s starting, the coaching staff feels he’s better. Actually if you want to hear a report, 5 scouts had him at Gaurd or Center, not one thought he could be a LT. Considering Newhouse is like a fricken turnstile and couldn’t run block to save his life, yeah I’ll go out on a limb and say he’s better.

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    • Cow42 says:

      Both Smiths were hurt in that playoff game. They’re healthy now. Lacy rushes for less than 50.

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      • Dobber says:

        Cow, I think you’ve made an important point that I actually agree with! Primarily that these two guys create a different look for the Niners D from a year ago.

        Entirely possible that Lacy doesn’t go for 50…entirely possible that the Packers don’t go for 50 rushing yards. The key is the difference that Lacy may make over the course of 16 games.

        GB vs. SF is only one game.

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      • Nick Perry says:

        Actually it was just Justin Smith that was hurt and once that happened Aldon Smith failed to be even half as effective. I may be wrong but I remember hearing all the comparisons with Aldons sack totals with a healthy Justin and without.

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        • Dobber says:

          I thought Aldon Smith played the playoff game with a club on one hand last year…

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          • nick perry says:

            I may be wrong Dobber. Like I said, I remember hearing that annoying hater Troy Aikman and Joe Buck (What IS wrong with Aikman) making comparisons with a healthy Justin and without.

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            • Dobber says:

              I despise Aikman. He’s got a chip when it comes to the Packers…I think it’s because the rise of the Packers (and the Favre love) coincided with the decline of the Doughboys.

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  5. Big T says:

    Lacy will be a beast… As long as are strength and conditioning coaches stay away from him we will be fine. We don’t need any more injuries.

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  6. Archie says:

    Until Lacy does it against real bullets from a strong defense it’s all hope and conjecture. I hope he is able to make it our new reality this Sunday v 49ers. If not, I see a bleak season ahead for the Pack. W/o a run game, w/o G Jennings and w a questionable OLine and defense, and throw in our tough schedule and it is easy to see things not working out very well for the Pack. A dynamic run game behind a dynamic RB would change all that. Hey, I’ve been whining about a Vontae Leach/Marshawn Lynch backfield for ages. Instead, TT gave us John Kuhn and Alex Green. Defenses took advantage. That AROD was still able to succeed and win another Divisional crown with that backfield is a testament to his greatness.

    Supposedly the plan is to run Lacy out of the no huddle. I will be watching for that on Sunday. If it works, I’ll have a wide smile on my face. If it doesn’t work, it’ll be a long season.

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    • Dobber says:

      There are a lot of good offensive teams that will have bad offensive days against SF and still have good seasons.

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  7. Chad Lundberg says:

    Eddie doesn’t need to become a top 10 running back. We just need him to be as good as Ryan Grant. And he’s probably better than him.

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  8. Germ Ike Al says:

    No respect for James Jones? Led the NFL in TD receptions? Heard of him?

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    • Dobber says:

      Read an interesting FFL analysis of Jones last week…primarily that he had a career year scoring TDs playing more snaps than any other Packer WR and catching a career high in passes…but did it catching under 800 yds. They basically said it was a “lightning in a bottle” season.

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  9. Nopainnogain says:

    we gotta take his alabama stats w/ a grain of salt. he was running behind a historically dominant oline

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    • Stroh says:

      He was also running against the best Defensive players in college football. The same ones that fill out more NFL rosters than any other conference. Yes he had a very good OL, but he also played against NFL talent every week! Not saying he’s gonna do as well in the NFL but that he faced a lot of NFL talent in the SEC.

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      • Nopainnogain says:

        if you watched the games, he frequently was 3 yds down the field before anyone even touched him. sure SEC is better defensively but he was literally running behind an all-pro line. 3 of the guys were /are expected to be top-11 Overall draft picks! Center & TE were also drafted. that’s ridiculous, even for SEC.

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    • Dobber says:

      He’s still better than anyone else we got.

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  10. wil marsh says:

    it’s not so much that Lacy is a punch mouth rookie, he has vision is what i’ve read and he’ll need it with a developing GB O-line; GB has had bad luck the last 2 of 3 OL drafts with busts so it’s not like they haven’t been trying!

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