One of the best surprises of the 2013 season, well, let’s face it, the BEST surprise of the 2013 season
was Eddie Lacy. Watching Eddie Lacy truck linebackers and cornerbacks was one of the highlights of the season, especially for Packers fans like myself who had been saying that we needed a successful running game for years. Eddie Lacy brought balance to the Packers offense like Anakin Skywalker brought balance to the force in Star Wars…just because he brought balance, didn’t mean nobody got hurt.
But there is a problem…The Packers used Lacy too much.
Now, before you jump all over me, first let me say that I love watching Eddie Lacy hammer away at a defense and blast any would-be tackler that gets the slightest bit out of position, fails to wrap, or takes a bad angle on a tackle. But the Packers have all but admitted that they used Lacy too much, especially in the absence of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers by their own admission are looking for a couple things to change about how they use Eddie Lacy:
- They want to rotate the second string back in more to keep him fresh
- They want to get him more receptions out of the backfield
This strategy is pure genius on Mike McCarthy’s part. He understands that pairing an elite back with an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers could keep the Packers in the running for a Super Bowl for a LONG time to come. But the problem is that running backs wear out so fast. Lacy hammered away like Adrian Peterson and we needed him to last season…there will be times we need him to in the season coming up too but this should not be the overall, long-term strategy.
Limit the use of Lacy during the season so that he feels better down the stretch
The Packers have a couple excellent potential backups in James Starks and DuJuan Harris. These guys are obviously not going to take the majority of the reps but they can be used to keep Eddie Lacy on a “pitch count” during the regular season that will help Lacy out down the stretch. Don’t be surprised if Lacy’s carries go down (from 284) but his average yards per carry go up (from 4.1). And more importantly, assuming the Packers make the playoffs, Lacy will feel better when it really counts.
Use Eddie Lacy as a receiver out of the backfield more
Aaron Rodgers has said that Lacy has very good hands and a LOT of people in Packernation are excited to see the extra dimension that Lacy can bring the Pack with more receptions. But here is why I am excited to see Lacy catch the ball out of the backfield…it is safer. If Eddie Lacy is going to be one of those backs that lasts for seven or more years in the league he can minimize the risk by catching the ball more. Now, you can never eliminate the risk for injury on a given play but I like the idea of Lacy out one-on-one against a cornerback or linebacker in free space, having to make one guy miss than watching him always have to blast through a line of 300+ pound guys to meet the eight guys the opponents have in the box. I think about Matt Forte who had a great season last year. He had roughly the same amount of carries but almost twice the number of receptions. If Lacy can have more receptions and at the same time not have to carry the ball quite so much, it could do wonders for his longevity in the league.
Coach McCarthy does it again
I love what coach McCarthy is planning to do with Lacy this season. Sure, coach will call upon Lacy early and often and any time he is needed. But I believe Mike McCarthy is managing Eddie Lacy for a long career with the Green Bay Packers. We will see when signing time comes if Ted Thompson feels the same way about a player at a position of diminishing status in the NFL. But if the Packers are able to keep Lacy, it will be a boon for the Packers long term.
And as far as bringing balance to the force…10+10 =20…yeah maybe seven+ years a 20th championship would do the trick! Ha!