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Charting Packers RB Eddie Lacy vs. Georgia, Notre Dame

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Charting Packers RB Eddie Lacy vs. Georgia, Notre Dame

Over the course of the two biggest games in Eddie Lacy's collegiate career, the Green Bay Packers second-round pick displayed the kind of skill set that will likely make him the front runner to be Green Bay's starting running back next season.

Facing Georgia in the SEC Championship and Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, Lacy dominated. Overall, he rushed for 331 yards and three touchdowns over just 40 carries. In both games, Lacy was clearly one of the best players on the field.

And if it wasn't already evident, Georgia and Notre Dame weren't push-over college defenses.

The Bulldogs' unit featured a number of NFL draft picks, including first-rounders Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones and others such as John Jenkins, Shawn Williams, Sanders Commings, Cornellius Washington and Bacarri Rambo. Lacy shredded the group for 181 yards, two touchdowns and a 9.1-yard average.

The Notre Dame defense came into the National Championship ranked in the top five against the run, having given up under 95 yards a game and just two rushing touchdowns. Middle linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o anchored the defense. But Lacy again went to work, rushing for 140 yards and scoring twice in a dominant showing.

The back-to-back performances to end his Alabama career were a big reason why many pegged Lacy as the draft's top running back.

Of course, at the collegiate level, cumulative stats can mean very little. In Lacy's case, much of the credit was heaped on the Alabama offensive line, and rightfully so. Few offensive lines in recent history can compare to Alabama's in 2012.

With this information in mind, I decided to chart every one of Lacy's snaps over the two games. The goal? To find out if Lacy's finish was the product of an average running back working behind an elite offensive line, an elite running back working behind an elite offensive line, or something in between.

I'll admit, the results caught me by surprise.

Here are my charted totals:

Lacy vs. Georgia

Snaps: 25; 10 from shotgun/pistol, 12 from singleback, 3 from I-formation
Inside runs: 14 for 80 yards
Outside runs: 6 for 101
Broken tackles or created plays: 11
Yards after contact: 54
Converted third-and-short: 1/1
Converted goal line carries: 1/2
Negative runs: 1
Catches/drops: 2/0
Pass blocking successes: 2/3 (1 sack)

Lacy vs. Notre Dame 

Snaps: 28; 9 from shotgun/pistol, 17 from singleback, 2 from I-formation
Inside runs: 8 for 60 yards
Outside runs: 12 for 80
Broken tackles or created plays: 17
Yards after contact: 61
Converted third-and-short: 1/2
Converted fourth-and-short: 1/1
Converted goal line carries: 0/0
Negative runs: 2
Catches/drops: 2/1
Pass blocking successes: 3/3

Totals

Snaps: 53; 19 from shotgun/pistol, 29 from singleback, 5 from I-formation
Inside runs: 22 for 140 yards
Outside runs: 18 for 181
Broken tackles or created plays: 28
Yards after contact: 115
Converted third-and-short: 2/3
Converted fourth-and-short: 1/1
Converted goal line carries: 1/2
Negative runs: 3
Catches/drops: 4/1
Pass blocking successes: 5/6

Lacy is widely knocked for playing behind an elite offensive line, but there were a number of cases over the two games where he created on his own. His 28 snaps with a broken tackle forced or created play and 115 total yards after contact provide evidence for his individual skill carrying the football.

This run clearly wasn't the result of dominating offensive line play:

And Lacy wasn't a one-trick pony; he carried from a number of different offensive formations, and he was equally productive running inside or outside the tackles.

There's more for the Packers offense to like, such as Lacy's strong conversion rate on short yardage carries, his avoidance of negative runs and the success rate of his pass blocking. On his one blown goal line opportunity, Lacy was stuck at the line of scrimmage and then attempted to reach the ball over the goal line, while his one sack was the result of failing to stick with a double team of Jarvis Jones.

His one drop was a mental error, likely the result of running before securing the catch. But Lacy also followed up that mistake with this catch and run later:

Lacy dropped to the second half of the second round because of concerns with his surgically repaired toe, but even by last January, the injury appeared to be a non-issue. Lacy was occasionally explosive but always fluid as a one-cut runner, especially to end the season.

To answer my original question, I found Lacy to be much more than just an average back running behind an elite offensive line. He's isn't Adrian Peterson (but who is?), and he's not the same overall runner that former teammate Trent Richardson was coming into last year's draft. But Lacy was clearly an offensive catalyst to Alabama winning its two final games and securing the National Championship last season. Without pre-draft worry over Lacy's toe, there's a very good chance that the Packers wouldn't have had one, much less two, opportunities to take him in April's second round.

If Lacy can now translate his late-season dominance of two top college defenses to the NFL level, the Packers will have their starting running back for the 2013 season.

Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at zachkruse2@gmail.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (63) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

JackintheBox's picture

"If Lacy can now translate his late-season dominance of two top college defenses to the NFL level, the Packers will have their starting running back for the 2013 season."
- And beyond :)

Nice job Zach. If the line is improved even 5-10% our offense will be almost impossible to stop...that's the way I like it!

steven's picture

I have to say I'm more excites this year than I can remember. Is see Lacy with 1200 yards and 8 tds. Which if you can't do the math = less cover 2

Stroh's picture

I posted this link a couple days ago. Credit to Brandon the Former Mgr at APC for finding it.

http://thesidelineview.com/columns/nfl/metrics-breakdown-top-running-bac...

Everyone wants to love Franklin, and he's got a lot of upside too, but IMO we need Lacy to be the feature RB. We need some power and physicality to balance our offense and as much as there is to like about Franklin, physicality isn't his forte.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Franklin's forte isn't power, but he is a physical runner for his size. No he isn't going to run guys over like how Lacy can. But he doesn't avoid contact either.
I agree that we really do need Lacy to succeed because he is a RB like none other that the Packers have had in a long time. He is a RB that can break tackles, make people miss, and hopefully become the RB the Packers have been missing for years.

Stroh's picture

Franklin certainly doesn't shy from contact. I wasn't implying in any way he does. But the Packers need a physical presence that can help wear down a D and bring the safeties into the box. I'm not sure Franklin would provide that even if he's being successful. Lacy on the other hand is a physical presence that might pull safeties into the box even if he's not running roughshod over the D. Its about the impression he leaves when guys have to tackle him. And Franklin just doesn't have that.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah, I get what your saying. And I agree with you.
Franklin is more of a Reggie Bush style of RB whereas Lacy is more of a Steven Jackson style. Teams pull safety's up to stop the Jacksons, they don't for the Bush's. I completely get what you area saying.

I do really feel that Franklin could become a major weapon out of the backfield in the receiving game. He is really good in space, and could do some major damage underneath when the safety's are playing deep and he is one on one with a LB. That's where I think Franklin can help get defenses out of the deep safety looks.

Stroh's picture

I couldn't agree more. Franklin could become another good weapon. His (and Harris's) abilities are a very good compliment to Lacy's.

PackersRS's picture

Wow. Thanks for the link, great work by the author.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Good stuff, Zach.

Lucky953's picture

Excellent job of bringing actual data to a question that has generated plenty of opinions. That is a very nasty spin move for such a powerful man! He is a load to bring down.

Paul Dier's picture

A more-diversified offense= a more effective Aaron Rodgers. Can't wait for this season to start.

Mojo's picture

I've watched a bit of Lacy run video after the Packers drafted him and the thing that has impressed me the most is how quickly he reads the hole(if any) and then decisively attacks it. Surprisingly quick initial cuts for a bigger rusher.

After last year ended I was excited about what Harris brought to our run game. Now with him, Lacy, Franklin and Green/Starks I really believe opponents are going to have to legitimately respect the run game. In addition, I'll go on record as saying the Packer's run game will actually win a couple of games this year, instead of being used basically to set up the passing game.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I can dig it.

Nerd's picture

Me too.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I completely agree. A lot of people wanted to talk about the O-line he ran behind, but he showed great vision, in finding the right holes. His ability to see where the hole was before it opened up, was impressive.

Last year Harris proved that a RB with vision and decisive running could run well with this o-line.

For the first time since Ahman Green, I am excited about our RB's.

I am not going to say that the Packers run game will win a couple of games, I will say though that the Packers run game will make the offense entirely better.

The TKstinator's picture

I look forward to lining up with 3 wide, Jermichael, and Eddie. Does the defense go nickel? Hopefully GB could then run them over. Or, does A-Rod take whichever matchup looks best? A LB on Finley? The #3 corner against Cobb, Jordy, or Jones? Options, versatility. But, still gotta block and execute.

Fi crane's picture

He doesn't seem undersized and he looks like he can help us now. What was TT thinking?

Love those quick feet and he dishes it out for sure.

I bleed Green More's picture

Its early but from what I saw in college films both backs look great. Might be the best running we have had since the early 60s.

TXCHEESE's picture

Since the 60's? Have you forgotten Ahman Green? Dude was a stud! Have to say I really hoped we would draft Lacy though. He's going to be a BA!

Stroh's picture

Little known facts regarding Ahman.

He led the NFL in rushing over a 5 yr period from "00 thru '04.

He has the highest rushing total for a season w/o winning the rushing title. 1883 in '03, when Jamal Lewis had over 2000 yds.

One of only 2 RB in NFL HISTORY, to have 2 90 yd TD runs. Bo Jackson is the other!

Ahman Green was a great RB! And if Holmgren hadn't had him in his doghouse for 2 yrs in Seattle and been in GB from the start of his career, he would likely be in the NFL HOF.

MarkinMadison's picture

Absolutely, Ahman Green was great. I can't wait to see what Lacy will do though. I can't point to any single skill and say he will be better than Ahman Green at it, but he is bigger, he is quick, he has an amazing spin move, he can pass block and he can catch. He looks like the complete package. If he can pull it all together at the NFL level Green v. Lacy might be an interesting discussion in five years.

cow42's picture

"If he can pull it all together at the NFL level Green v. Lacy might be an interesting discussion in five years."

wow.
you might want to slow down a bit.

MarkinMadison's picture

I know, I know. I'm getting way ahead of myself. You're right. There is no reason to think that TT didn't F up when he took this guy. This team is so screwed. ;-)

Tim's picture

Let's hope Lacy doesn't fumble at the rate Green did.

Stroh's picture

I'll take the fumbles for that kinda production everyday and twice on Sundays!

Oppy's picture

I had seen a number of scouts/analysts who stated before the draft that they thought Lacy was a better overall RB than Richardson or Ingram..

I have no opinion, haven't followed any of these guys much at all. I only hope Lacy is a better overall RB than the Packers have had for quite some time :)

Stroh's picture

Think u might have misunderstood. The scouts thought Ingram and Richardson were better than Lacy. Not that Lacy isn't very talented just not quite as much.

RC Packer Fan's picture

And I have heard that Lacy was more talented then Ingram, but not as talented as Richardson.

Either way, it doesn't really matter. He has to prove himself on the field. He is in a great spot to prove himself.
In an offense with Rodgers, their WR's, defenses won't be stacking the box to stop the run.

Stroh's picture

I haven't seen a scout anywhere that thought Lacy was more talented that either. Everyone I've read said both were slightly higher rated RB and more talented. Would be interested in seeing what scout said Lacy was more talented than either Richardson or Ingram. Everything I've seen says the opposite.

spiderpack's picture

I think you have to look at the scheme into which the college RB is coming. For me, its not so much whether Lacy, Ingram, or Richardson is more highly rated/touted, its how the RB is going to fit into & excel in his new environment. As has been mentioned, Lacy is exactly what the Pack needs, & I think we will see him excel because of that Packers team fulfillment. The team will rally around him (both physically & emotionally/motivationally) because of what he does; the OLine will get seriously spunked blocking for him, their pass blocking will get better not only because of the subsequent/resulting balance of the offense, but also because they (the OLine) will be more pumped & "physical" in their nature. Basically the OLine will want to KICK ASS a whole lot more than they used to. This is what Sitton meant with one of his post-game comments he made last year after the Seattle game when he said that the OLine, in order to perform well, has to have the confidence that the playcaller will actually CALL a run. I just think Ted Thompson & McCarthy learned a few lessons or recognized a need, and know what the hell they are doing building this team.

Lucky953's picture

Agreed, which is why I think Don Barclay will be our RT and Newhouse will be fighting for a roster spot. He was by far the worst run blocker on the OL.

JakeK's picture

@spiderpack

No matter how emotionally jacked GB's OL & team will become because of Lacy, you still have an opposing force (the opposition's defense) that is just as capable of becoming jacked at stopping the run. At the NFL level, motivation is rarely a problem for most players. ... Because of that, it comes down to the talent level of opposing forces.

If GB's OL cannot control the opposition's DL, having Lacy at RB will make little difference. ... 4.5 per carry vs. 3.5 per carry is the only thing that matters.

Rodgers is the best player in the NFL. Handing the ball off to anyone removes Rodgers from the equation. ... No matter who the RBs have been for both Brady & P. Manning, they both still throw to win. ... It'll be the same with Rodgers.

Stroh's picture

By running the ball consistently well, the OL gets stronger while the DL loses strength. That's takes a lot out of the pass rush during the course of a game. That's kinda what McCarthy meant when he said the yards running weren't as important as the attempts.

Ask any OL and they'll tell you, its easier to block when your moving forward and imposing your will and physicality, than it is to be always moving backwards in pass protection. Start to change that by running the ball more often and more productively. THat puts the DL and LB on their heals!

Good post Spider.

JakeK's picture

Most teams rotate the DL on a regular basis during most games. The O-Linemen are very rarely rotated by anyone at any level of football. ... As a result, the talent level usually decides the outcome of the trench warfare.

Although your argument has some validity, there's nothing that can possibly trump talent. ... It's always been that way in the NFL.

Stroh's picture

Jake... I would say that teamwork on the OL trumps individual talent on the DL. That's why teams don't usually invest high picks on OL except for LT, and chose to use lower round picks on the OL, than DL. Its always been that way in the NFL!

JakeK's picture

@ Stroh

"Teamwork" ?? ... This isn't HS, it's the NFL.

If you haven't noticed, Thompson has been drafting higher & higher trying to fix the OL & running game the last few drafts.

And to think all this time, all GB needed was 'better teamwork'. That's hilarious. Try again.

Stroh's picture

Really? Thompsons drafting higher and higher? He used 1st round picks on the OT as I mentioned, other than that all the picks have been 4th or 5th round picks, except for Colledge and Spitz who were 2nd and 3rd, but they aren't even on the team anymore! Yeah, TEAMWORK! You know football is a TEAM game, far more than any other US Sport. And the coaches and OLmen all say that playing OL is the most TEAM oriented position in the game! So yeah TEAMWORK, and I'm pretty sure you know this, but are continuing to argue for the sake of arguing!

Which makes you, as I've mentioned before, NOTHING BUT A PATHETIC TROLL!

zeke's picture

If individual talent trumped all, the Eagles and Chiefs would have been playing for the title the past two years.

RemoteOppy's picture

First, I didn't misunderstand just because you don't agree.

Second, here's a quick link I found immediately when googling, from Journal Sentinel.

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/scouts27-pk9nk2u-204964241.html

Quick snippets:

AFC scout: "He is probably better than the guys that came out the last years. He's definitely better than the guy with the Saints (Mark Ingram). He makes big, big plays."

NFC scout: "Very laid-back guy. He wouldn't impress you in an interview. He's not as strong as (Trent) Richardson but pretty close. He's better than Ingram. Very quiet kid. Not a real good communicator. No major issues, but one of those guys that is always on the edge. Something's going to happen. Smart enough. You will not get a good first impression."

AFC scout: "If you could evaluate him in the vacuum of the Georgia and Notre Dame games, then he's a first-round pick. He may have as much or more ability as Ingram and Richardson.

AFC scout: "He's a big back. I like that. He hits the hole hard. He's a pro running back. There's really not a ton of difference between him and the guy (Richardson) from last year. He runs more violently, actually. He has been hurt a lot."

Stroh's picture

Good find... I stand corrected. I hadn't seen that article, don't know how I missed it. Seems the consensus is that he is probably a little better than Ingram, but probably not quite as good as Richardson. Speed being the big difference between Richardson and Lacy, along w/ durability concerns. I always said leading into the draft, the 1st round was too high for me, but I would take him as soon as early 2nd. He was a steal end of the 2nd.

IMO, he'll have to be the #1 RB of a committee. Then use a guy like Harris/Franklin to spell him and keep him fresh. That should help his durability issues and keep him strong. I wonder if his conditioning could be improved too.

Don't get me wrong, I liked Lacy all along, just not in the 1st and think he'll be best in a committee approach. Richardson is more of a leave him on the field every down, Lacy is more the guy you need to spell and maybe limit his touches a bit.

RC Packer Fan's picture

That is what I have seen about comparing Lacy to Richardson and Ingram. Lacy is better then Ingram but not as good as Richardson. We shall see who is right, but coming out of college that is how I would have ranked each as well.

I couldn't have agreed more. I absolutely didn't want the Packers taking him in round 1. But I love that they got him in round 2. To me he is a steal in round 2, and especially when you consider they moved back got another pick and took him. absolute steal.

Cpheph1's picture
Oppy's picture

Holy cow, there's like three different scouts stating they feel that Lacy might be equally or more talented than either Ingram or Richardson right here in one little article.

Wow, who saw that coming?

PackersRS's picture

And that's true (that the 3 of them said it), but, in that article, there're 17 quoted scouts.

I can't say anything about consensus, simply because that's very, very, very subjective. How many do you interview before you reach consensus? You're not gonna get every single opinion out there...

What I can say is this: I'm excited about Lacy. What I've seen from him goes beyond the (outstanding) OL of Alabama. Kruse's (also outstanding) article reinforces that notion. And he's just perfect for what the Packers need (Lacy, not that Kruse isn't very good at what he does...).

Lacy doesn't have the speed to be the center of an offense, but he won't and doesn't need to be in Green Bay. He needs to be someone that defenses will respect, enough so that they don't play the pass almost every time.

And I think he'll be just that. He'll gash those 6 in the box defenses. He'll bring safeties to the LOS. And that's just what Rodgers and McCarthy prayed for.

I wanted them to develop some horizontal passing game. McCarthy is just too stubborn to do that. But, with a power back of the (perceived) caliber of Lacy, he might just not have to.

As for the durability concerns, Stroh nailed it. That's what Franklyn and Harris are for.

Lot's of ifs (that's the reality of the sport), but if Lacy can be what he's supposed to be, if Perry, Neal and Jones can provide a counterpart to Matthews, and if we (the Packers) get a little bit lucky (specially injury-wise), we (yes, I'm a part of it, because) might just be hoisting that silver football come february 2nd!

And I've just jinxed it...

Jamie's picture

Man, we just need the running game to be somewhat productive. Just enough to get defenses a little jumpy about a two back formation. If we can achieve thatm it's game over and AROD will feast on defenses.

I was watching some 2011 highlights recently and that play action roll out we ran out of a two back set worked basically every time.

Lucky953's picture

Ahman Green had breakaway speed that Lacy just doesn't. Ahman also could literally run over DBs. He was a rare talent and we got him for Fred Vinson. But I love Lacy's jump cut! Surprisingly quick change of direction which makes people miss at the LOS. I think he can consistently get to the second level.

Rob's picture

So I guess we are all no longer mad at TT for passing on Steven Jackson. I think we can count on TT for making good decisions to progress the team. I will not speculate on predictions but I will speculate that TT pick a good one. In TT we trust!

cow42's picture

but if he would have signed jackson, they could have used their r2 to address one of their other positions of need...

like safety.
would you rather have...

Jackson and Swearinger
or
Lacy and Jennings/McMillian?

difficult to answer because no one knows if Jackson has anything left or if any of the other players will ever amount to anything... but to just assume that passing on Jackson was the right move is a bit nearsighted.

Stroh's picture

I'll take Lacy and McMillan. Lacy is much younger and cheaper and could easily do nearly as well as Jackson this year, and he has another 5 yrs as opposed to Jacksons one or 2. Swearinger (who is basically a slower McMillan clone) isn't a very impressive Safety and while I'm not a huge McMillan fan, I would say his upside is quite a bit higher than Swearinger. Immediate maybe a wash, but long run Lacy/McMillan has a definite edge!

zeke's picture

And what would have been the salary cap ramifications of signing Jackson vis a vis Jones, Nelson, Finley, Raji etc., post 2013? None of this happens in a vacuum.

Stroh's picture

Sign Jackson and suddenly one the mentioned is highly unlikely to get resigned. Only so many dollars your allowed to spend. If you give Jackson a few Million it takes away from the money available to sign Jones Nelson, Finley, Raji, etc... That much is easy to figure out. I assume that's what you were getting at...

cow42's picture

Jones is gone, regardless.
Too close to 30.

Finley's gone, regardless.
Been discussed a million times.
He's going to either play great and price himself out or be the same and not warrant resigning.

Anyone who can say they fully understand how signing Jackson would have affected future signings is lying.

I'm not saying I disagree with the Lacy pick, jut that it's not a cut and dry thing.

Stroh's picture

30 is not an old age for a WR, especially one like Jones that hasn't had any injuries of note. He still might be leaving, but age isn't an over-riding factor for him. He probably has 4 or 5 good years left and he doesn't rely on speed anyway, so losing a step won't hurt him.

Finley is already at the top end of the TE pay scale. Even if he has a big year his isn't going to get a large pay raise. His current 2 yr contract is due to the fact it was such a short duration. You have to pay a premium on a short contract. But it helped the Packers buy time to determine his worth. If he has a big year he'll get a nominal raise over this year, maybe 9 Or 9.5M at most, that's not a great increase from his current 8+M. If the Packers want to keep him he would be affordable, given they're already paying him top shelf TE money. A longer contract will give him security and quite possibly lower his cap number slightly.

Your acting as if these are already decided, they are not by any means even remotely close! Your stating it as fact is entirely premature, not to mention far from decided!

Lucky953's picture

Bill Huber at Scout.com published some stats on Morgan Burnett that were impressive. 2nd in the league in tackles, 5th in forced fumbles. Made me think the coaches know they've got some good talent and helps explain a bit why no safety taken. Clearly, all signs point to a more potent running game making Rodgers & co. more dangerous than last year

Tanner Smith's picture

Great work on this article Zach. People will always have differing opinions but one thing is certain, stats do not lie. You proved that Packer Nation has a lot to look forward to with Lacy. Any chance you could do an article like this for Jonathon Franklin? It would be an interesting comparison.

Lucky953's picture

+1

PackersRS's picture

Stats don't lie, but interpretation of stats do.

Being said, it is a great article. One of the best of the offseason.

Cpheph1's picture

BTW Zach, excellent article! Loved the video too!

Fi crane's picture

Again with the safety worries. Qb pressure makes safeties. And gr8 article
And comments. Submit this link for a sports blog Pulitzer

cow42's picture

i'm worried about much more than just the safeties... trust me.

PackersRS's picture

Oh, I trust you, in that you're honestly worried. I don't have a single doubt you are.

The TKstinator's picture

Don't worry.
Be happy.

The TKstinator's picture

As long as Rodgers is under center, GB SHOULD be a passing team. My thought is simply this: if a defense wants to play the pass, with both safeties deep, the hope/expectation now is that the running game is good enough to "hurt" them, make them "pay", etc. I think the disagreement stems from whether or not you believe GB is ready to do that; personnel, play calling, commitment, etc.
Can I get an "amen"?

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