31

December

Cory’s Corner: Eddie Lacy deserves Rookie of the Year

Eddie Lacy has been a bull this year as he leads the nation with 441 yards after contact.

Eddie Lacy has been a bull this year as he leads the league with 441 yards after contact.

If there was a tinge of doubt before, there shouldn’t be any now.

And no, I’m talking about Aaron Rodgers or Randall Cobb returning from injury — which by the way, was amazing.

I’m talking about handing Eddie Lacy the offensive rookie of the year. It should be all his, no questions asked.

He shrugged off a concussion, nagging right ankle and foot pain and asthma that flares up in winter. He came into an offense that was predicated by the pass and won over the hearts of Packers fans with his grit, coal-churning engine and his stubborn-as-a-mule mentality.

Lacy is the reason the Packers are in the second season. When Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 9, it was Lacy that remained the consistent performer on an offense struggling to find an identity. With a roller coaster ride of four different starting quarterbacks, Lacy has churned out 10 games with 20-plus carries and five with 23 or more.

And to think none of this could’ve happened. Packers general manager Ted Thompson passed on Lacy, who was projected to go in the first round last spring, with Datone Jones in the first round. After Giovanni Bernard, Le’Veon Bell and Montee Ball were taken, Thompson swooped in and took Lacy as the 29th pick in the second round. Lacy was the fourth of five running backs taken in the second round.

The reason Lacy has been such a welcome sight in Green Bay is because the running back position has been an afterthought for 10 years when Ahman Green ran for over 1,800 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in his third Pro Bowl season. Lacy closed out the regular season by running for over 1,100 yards, scored 11 times and he started one less game than Green but didn’t get a Pro Bowl sniff.

Without Lacy, the offense would’ve resembled a ship with unsealable holes. It might’ve been able to move the ball every once in awhile, but when the time would come to get those needed yards, that is where they would’ve been sunk.

21

September

Packers vs. Bengals: Keys to the Game

 

Bengals running back Giovanni Bernard

Bernard is the type of dynamic player that the Packers need to key on

The Green Bay Packers will hit the road again after a compelling win at home last week against the Washington Redskins.  Week three has the Packers in Cincinnati to face the Bengals.

The NFC/AFC matchups are always intriguing because the opponents are not familiar with each other.  It has also produced some of the more exciting games over the past several years.  A few that come to mind:  At Pittsburgh in 2009, at New England in 2010, at San Diego in 2011 and at Indianapolis last season.  I happened to attend the San Diego and the Indianapolis games and I have no idea why I bought a “seat” because I was standing the entire time.

While there is a lot to be encouraged about from last week’s performance by the Packers, let’s keep in mind that the Bengals are not the Redskins.  Cincinnati will be playing at home and has quite a bit more talent than does Washington.  That talent runs on both sides of the ball.

The Packers bring in their own wealth of talent and will look to score a big road win heading into their very early bye week.  Let’s take a look at the keys to this week’s game, from the Packers perspective.

Packers Offensive Line vs. Bengals Defensive Line

Games are won and lost up front and this contest will be a classic example of that.  The quarterback and run game that can establish its rhythm early on will have a marked advantage over the other.  While Aaron Rodgers may be light years ahead of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in terms of his ability and play, he still needs time to display both.  Against a very active pass rush, the Packers will need to not only afford Rodgers the needed time to throw, but they need to keep him off his back.

The Packers offensive line comes into this game after a stellar recovery and performance last week.  According to Pro Football Focus, each lineman graded positively and the two guards, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, both graded out highest.  In fact, Lang was the highest-graded offensive player, ahead of Rodgers.  While they turned in one of their best performances as a group last week, they likely will need to be even better this week.

24

February

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Gio Bernard, RB North Carolina

North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard

North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: RB Giovani Bernard

Player Information:

Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina
5-10, 205 pounds
Hometown: Davie, FL

STATS:

NFL Combine:

N/A.

News and Notes:

Bernard enters the NFL as a redshirt sophomore … Missed his freshman season with a torn ACL before becoming the Tar Heels’ starting running back for two seasons … Can do everything from the position: catches the ball well out of the backfield and hits the hole quickly … 45 receptions as freshman, 47 catches as a sophomore … Started over Wisconsin RB James White at St. Thomas Aquinas HS in Florida … 2012 First-Team All-ACC (ACSMA, Coaches, Phil Steele) … 2012 ACC Player of the Year (CBSsports.com) … 2012 Third-Team All-America (Associated Press, Phil Steele) … 2011 First-Team All-ACC (ACSMA) … 2011 First-Team Freshman All-America

 What they’re saying about him:

  • CBSSports.com: “Bernard is compactly built with good lower body drive, running decisive and hard with some power. He has quick feet and loose hips to make smooth lateral cuts and make open field moves with the acceleration to force poor angles by defenders.”
  • DraftInsider.net: “Nifty, elusive, double cut runner that consistently creates his own yardage.” (Only RB that warrants a 1st-round grade.)
  • Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Natural runner with great vision.
  • Impressive as a receiver out of the backfield. Doesn’t only catch screen passes; runs a number of pass patterns and catches the ball with his hands.
  • Doesn’t have breakaway speed, but has enough to get to the second level.
  • Perhaps the nation’s best punt returner this past season; returned 16 punts for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Ball security not much of a concern; lost two fumbles as a redshirt freshman but didn’t lose a fumble during the 2012 season.
  • For only playing two years of college football, Bernard is a polished runner with a complete skill set for a running back.
  • I really like the idea of Bernard in the Packers offense. North Carolina ran a lot out of the shotgun, asking Bernard to pick up the blitz as well as catch passes out of the backfield. The Packers haven’t had a guy that could run, catch and pick up the blitz in some time. To me, Bernard is a natural fit for what the Packers like to do offensively.