19

December

This season, Eddie Lacy over Le’Veon Bell an obvious choice

Eddie Lacy and Mike Daniels celebrate Lacy's fourth-quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

Eddie Lacy and Mike Daniels celebrate Lacy’s fourth-quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made headlines earlier in the week when he said it was an “easy” decision to draft former Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell over Alabama bruiser Eddie Lacy.

“It was an easy decision for me,” Tomlin said Tuesday, per ESPN. “Obviously, Lacy’s a top-quality back, but probably it’s a matter of preference — just like I’m sure Cincinnati went through the same discussions and thoughts when they took Giovani Bernard in front of both of them.”

Bernard, Bell and Lacy have each enjoyed a successful first season in the NFL, albeit in different ways. Bernard has served in predominantly a complementary role with the Bengals alongside BenJarvus Green-Ellis, while Bell and Lacy have been “the guy” for their respective teams for as long as they’ve been healthy.

It will be several years before we’re able to determine who’s the best running back from this year’s draft class, but the best running back from the 2013 class–in 2013–is Lacy.

Bell–the 48th pick in April’s draft–has proven to be a well-rounded back who can play all three downs, but Lacy–the 61st pick–has emerged as one of the most reliable runners in the NFL with the Packers, possibly on his way to being named this year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Throwing out the Washington game in which Lacy suffered a concussion on his first carry, Lacy has played 12 of a possible 14 games, while Bell has played in 11. Lacy is averaging 85.6 rushing yards per game compared to Bell’s 58.7 and his 4.1 yards per carry trump Bell’s average of 3.3.

As a rookie, Lacy has been the definition of a “workhorse.” The Packers put an emphasis on running the football this season and have leaned on Lacy even more since Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone Nov. 4 against the Chicago Bears, as Lacy has carried the ball 20 more more times in nine of the past 11 games. Bell has carried the ball 20 times just three times, while Bernard has yet to hit that mark in a game.

Coming into the draft, there were concerns about Lacy’s ability to hold up over the course of a season and throughout a career due to the condition of his toe, but he’s shown no signs of slowing down despite the fifth-heaviest workload in the NFL among running backs. The Steelers reportedly didn’t want anything to do with Lacy because of his toe, but now, the 230-pound rookie is seventh in the NFL in rushing with 1,028 yards.

And despite Tomlin’s opinion that Bell was a better choice than Lacy, the latter said he wouldn’t be motivated by the coach’s comments.

“I mean, you can use it for motivation, but I’m not one to use external factors for motivation. That’s not my personality,” Lacy said, according to Jason Wilde. “To me, it’s only temporary. Like, OK, you’re mad at this one team, so you play angrily against that team. But then where does it go the next week? You have wasted energy then. So I stay constant.”

Lacy’s production as a rookie has been constant. He’s been as consistent as rookies come.

Following the season, the race for Offensive Rookie of the Year will come down to Lacy, Bernard and San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen. And while there’s no hardware for the best running back from a given draft class, Lacy has certainly been that despite being the fourth running back off the board after Bernard, Bell and Denver Broncos rookie Montee Ball.

It will be a while before one of them can boast of being the best of the bunch, as a running back’s career is a marathon, not a sprint, but in his first season, Lacy has certainly been better than the rest. In 2013, Lacy over Bell is an easy choice.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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13 Responses to “This season, Eddie Lacy over Le’Veon Bell an obvious choice”

  1. Bedroske says:

    Lacy isn’t just a runner. PFF has him as top 3 in pass blocking proficiency (correct me if I’m wrong) and Bell is late 40′s in that category. His ability to protect the franchise by running and blocking make him much more valuable than Bell.
    It’s been said Bell is better as a receiver, and his stats show he has been thrown to more often. But, I would venture a guess Lacy is just as good as Bell out of the backfield.
    He’s just a stud.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

    • Bedroske says:

      Not to mention he is near the top in forced missed tackles. Imagine if the line wasn’t rated in the 20′s for run-blocking.

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  2. Big T says:

    Lacy is a beast period. He is running behind the worst O-line in football and still has over 1000 yards. He is hands down the top dog. Big time stud…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  3. Big T says:

    Lacy plays with heart. If the rest of the team had half the heart that Lacy does we would be superbowl bound…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  4. Big T says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  5. Razer says:

    Everyone loves their dog. Bell does a lot of good things for the Steelers and Lacy does the things that the Packers need. Hey, Stacey is doing a great job for the Rams. It really doesn’t matter as long as your guy does what your team needs and Lacy is our stud.

    I do agree that Lacy could even be better if our O-line was stronger and consistently healthy. Maybe Bulaga, Sherrod and Tretter will help make this line one of the best and Lacy the best – next year.

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  6. funcrusher says:

    Can’t blame Tomlin for how he answered the question. What’s he supposed to say?

    “We made a mistake and would rather have Lacy than our guy.”

    Of course not (even though he’s probably thinking it). Lacy’s an absolute beast. Right now he’s a top ten running back and his best days are ahead of him. Great pick by TT!

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    • marpag says:

      I agree with you for the most part. And more than that, if you saw Tomlin’s full quote, it wasn’t nearly as bad as most of the tabloid-like sports media outlets presented it to be (big shock there, I know). A lot of media stories completely omitted the part where Tomlin called Lacy “tremendous”, or something like that.

      I do think that Tomlin could have phrased it a little better, though. He’s gotta know that stuff will be twisted and taken out of context. A head coach has to be a bit more savvy than that.

      Maybe Tomlin’s a closet Packers fan…

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    • Stroh says:

      Steelers actually had Lacy rated higher than Bell. They REALLY wanted Lacy, but were too concerned w/ the toe issue he had. So they passed on Lacy and took the next best power RB in Bell.

      Very happy they did… I wanted Lacy all along, just not in the 1st rd. Anywhere in the 2nd was fine by me. He’s been EXACTLY what I thought he would be. Given the Packers the physicality they needed on offense and balanced the offense perfectly. Getting him at the end of the 2nd shows Thompson is genius!

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      • Ken Allen KW says:

        Stroh … there were a LOT of teams that got scared away from Lacey because ofthe toe. If you use the standard grading system, he should have gone somewhere around 22nd O.A. Just wait a year or so and see if TT can grab TJ Yeldon to be Lacey’s #2! LOL It seems a lot of RBs come out early so they don’t get as worn down and drop in the draft. Which was a concern about Bell … he stayed for his senior year and put on a TON more miles.

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  7. Since '61 says:

    With the exception of Rodgers the Packers could use 20 more players with Lacy’s heart at all their other offensive and defensive positions. Let’s hope he gets us going against the Steelers the way he did against Dallas last Sunday. Thanks, Since ’61

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

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