Despite not punching the ball into the endzone, the Packers’ (kinda) first-team offense passed the eye test Saturday night against the St. Louis Rams.
Eddie Lacy continually punished defenders with his smash-mouth, bulldozer-like running style. Jermichael Finley was running free in the Rams’ secondary, four times catching wide-open passes from Aaron Rodgers.
On 18 snaps against the Rams on Saturday, Finley managed to catch four passes for 78 yards. Last season, Finley set a franchise record for receptions by a tight end with 61, but his 78 yards Saturday night would have been his highest single-game total in 2012.
And with Lacy providing the Packers with a newfound physical ground game, totaling Finley’s job may be a little easier in 2013.
The former Alabama running back racked up 40 yards on eight carries despite subpar offensive line play, as outlined earlier this week by Jersey Al. And although it was Lacy’s first game appearance in the NFL, it’s pretty clear that the Rams already respected the 22-year-old bruiser.
Let’s take another look at Lacy’s two best runs of the night.
1st Quarter 14:31 remaining
In a two-tight formation, Lacy gets the handoff as the single back. The line is sliding to the right, but center Evan Dietrich-Smith doesn’t quite have the quickness to cross his man’s face.
But instead of being stopped for negative yards, Lacy uses his well-documented spin move to get upfield. It was only a seven-yard gain, but a runner creating something out of nothing hasn’t been a common occurrence in Green Bay as of late.
1st Quarter 13:23 remaining
Again, Evan Dietrich-Smith is beaten off the line, but Lacy’s power bails him out.
After breaking out of the defensive tackle’s tackle, Lacy sheds another arm tackle from rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree. The 15-yard gain was Lacy’s longest of the night. It was at this point that Packers fans were all like, “Wow.”
On two of Finley’s four catches, Rodgers began the play with a fake handoff to Lacy. Let’s take a look at those two plays.
1st Quarter 14:01 remaining
Finley is lined up in the slot, Lacy is the deep back and the Rams are in zone coverage. Finley has a cornerback lined up across from him, but he’s released into the middle of the field upon his break.