The (obvious) case for Eddie Lacy

When the big man rumbles, the Packers usually come out ahead. This is a fact. 
 
Take the 16 best games, measured in total yards rushing, of Eddie Lacy’s still-young career and check out the win column: 12 wins, 3 losses and a I-wish-we-could-all-forget-that-one-game tie (in 2013 against the Vikings). 
 
When people pontificate as to whether the thundering load of a tailback should return in 2017, with a new contract and hopefully the same offseason dedication to P90X or low-carbs or Jenny Friggin’ Craig, I’m here to tell you that the choice is obvious in the highest degree. 
 
Bring the big man back. Let him rumble again. 
 
This is an already much-explored topic, so I’m not here to blow your minds with groundbreaking analysis. But it’s worth pointing out that in Eddie’s “fat season,” when he followed a pair of impressive 1,100+ yard seasons with a 758-yard dud in 2015, he did so averaging the same yards per carry as his rookie season (4.1). He wasn’t given the opportunity to shine, going from nearly 19 carries a game in his rookie year to just 12.5. This isn’t to say there weren’t legitimate complaints about Lacy’s growing portliness — but those concerns, much like his (or my own) waistline in a good year, were overblown. 
 
Anyone remember a guy named Jerome Bettis? You know, the running back who outweighed half the league’s linebackers and carried the moniker “The Bus”? He played at 250+ pounds his entire career. His HOF story is about sustaining a high level of play over several years. Well, in his first four years he played in 63 games, starting 53, and rushed 1,116 times for 4,522 yards for 24 rushing touchdowns, averaging 17.7 attempts per game while rushing for 4.1 yards per carry. 
 
Eddie Lacy’s stats in his first four seasons, the last of which was cut dramatically short by a season-ending ankle injury? He played in 51 games, rushed 788 times for 3,435 yards for 23 rushing touchdowns (and an additional 6 receiving TDs) while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. 
 
The difference seems to be availability and opportunity. 
 
On the availability side, Lacy has been a durable back despite his violent rushing style. And his late-game attempts against Dallas last season, playing against a huge deficit while already nursing a banged up ankle, shouldn’t detract from how we evaluate his toughness. Bettis was a bigger workhorse, but that’s understandable when you take into account the crappy offenses he played for in his early goings. 
 
Lacy has never been the feature of Green Bay’s offense, but I think he’s an underrated part of it.  
 
Did a guy who lost weight in the offseason leading into 2016 need to be featured less in the passing game, or more? In 2014, Lacy turned 42 receptions into 427 yards — earning significantly higher yards per catch than Ty Montgomery did in 2016 (7.9 YPC), despite Monty’s lining up at WR for at least a portion of the season. When featured in the passing game, Lacy excelled. Even in his “fat season” in 2015, he averaged 9.4 yards a grab. But in five games before the ankle injury ended his season last year, he was targeted just seven times and finished with 4 catches for 28 yards. 
 
It seems to me the issue is opportunity — not talent. Not willingness. Not weight. The issue is opportunity. So let’s give him more. 
 
With Montgomery’s emergence as a credible backfield threat, and in light of his differentiating strengths — vision, patience and burst — it seems like he’d be a great compliment to Lacy. If Lacy takes the majority of carries, you’ve got a bruiser with another bruiser behind him — Montgomery was among the best RBs after contact in the league in 2016.
 
Green Bay’s run game, if McCarthy doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel, could actually be a serious strength in 2017. Given the team’s historical reliance on just two players to do the rushing, Rodgers notwithstanding, the future is bright with Lacy and Montgomery. 
 
Don’t take this for penciling Lacy in for a Bettis-like, HOF career. But the preoccupation for the number on the scale is baffling, particularly in light of the fact of his more-or-less per-snap production over his career is excellent. And there's the fact that the slimmed down, P90X-Lacy who took the field for five games a season ago looked rejuvenated in all senses of the word. 
 
Let the big man rumble. 
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Comments (25)

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zoellner25's picture

February 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Just put a better weight clause in his new contract, 235# or below every week

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Handsback's picture

February 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm

The Bus had very few injuries and right now Lacy has been injuried almost every season. Is Lacy's weight too much and that's the reason he's getting injuried or he's getting ijuried regardless of his weight? I don't know, but I'm more concerned about his injury history verses his weight.

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RodFlash's picture

February 24, 2017 at 03:31 pm

That's not really accurate. lacy lost last season to injury after 5 games. His 1st 3 years he only missed 3 or 4 games with injury. Hardly an example of always being injured.

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Ryan Graham's picture

February 24, 2017 at 12:41 pm

David, you make some good points. But I disagree with the concept of comparing the two, for now. Before continuing I wanna say I like Lacy for 1 year $2 million deal with incentives and clauses regarding production and "playing shape" not weight. He's a big fella, I want him to stay around a LEGIT 240, if he comes in at 250...that's a bit large.

For one, the NFL is a completely revamped game. And Jerome Bettis was far more reliable in his early years with LA and Pittsburgh. I am not sure Lacy would still be around in that nfl at this point in his career.

Adding to that, I'm not sure "opportunity" is an appropriate, validation to his lack of production the last two years. He's had opportunity to stay in shape and to not hurdle FOUR times in a game on a bum leg, just for one example....bonehead move to begin with at his size.

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dnicholson's picture

February 24, 2017 at 03:46 pm

I guess what I meant by opportunity is the general lack of carries. He tends to do better when he's given more, so let's give him more.

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Seth Borden's picture

February 24, 2017 at 12:43 pm

I like the idea of bringing Lacy back on the proverbial one year "show me" contract. I would also offer Christine Michael a vet minimum deal.

Let the top 3 of Ty, Lacy, C-Mike, Don Jackson, Crockett & a draftee run.

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RodFlash's picture

February 24, 2017 at 03:34 pm

Crockett & Jackson are non entities, I don't include them in any equation, they're "just guys". Michael has had 4 years in the league to make a mark but he has too many limitations to count on. Let him test the market and if he wants to come back on a short cheap deal, fine, see if he can make the roster. This draft is sick with talent @ RB, have to draft one, but I'm all for bringing Lacy back.

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Turophile's picture

February 25, 2017 at 04:49 am

I hate contracts described as 'show me' offers, because it really means giving a lowball offer. That is counter-productive when it comes to motivation.

However, something similar (that I don't mind) is an incentive laden contract, not with impossible targets, but LTBE types, reachable goals that will pay very nicely if met.

Packers RB crew in 2017 should be Lacy, Montgomery, and a 4th/5th round draft addition.

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Bert's picture

February 24, 2017 at 02:55 pm

Hope not. I just have no stomach for child beaters.

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dnicholson's picture

February 24, 2017 at 03:35 pm

The only intriguing piece of this is that AD has always faced stacked fronts, and surely would not in Green Bay. But take his consistent decline the past few seasons, I'd stay away.

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Bert's picture

February 24, 2017 at 02:57 pm

I'm OK with bringing Lacey back as long we are covered in case he gets injured or too fat again. Sure don't want to go into TC depending on him though.

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Packmaniac's picture

February 24, 2017 at 04:15 pm

Feed the beast.

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

February 24, 2017 at 04:31 pm

It all comes down to motivation. Does he truly love football or does he love what football brings?

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JacFrost's picture

February 24, 2017 at 09:38 pm

Or does he love food more

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JacFrost's picture

February 24, 2017 at 09:37 pm

My two cents which arent worth a penny, ha. I would either release him, you get nothing back doing that, or give him at best a one year lo ball show me deal.
You cannot give him multi year pact not knowing which Lacy shows up next year.
Look the guy has severe asthma and the more weight you put on the worse it gets. He cant be a three down back anymore, way to heavy for that so he is going to be a part time guy no matter what

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Ferrari Driver's picture

February 24, 2017 at 11:23 pm

Quote: "It seems to me the issue is opportunity — not talent. Not willingness. Not weight. The issue is opportunity. So let’s give him more."

All Lacy has to do is see your quote and with that endorsement, he may very well show up for training camp in July with a butt that weights 250.

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Phillthy's picture

February 24, 2017 at 11:53 pm

This dude has no motivation or desire to play for Green Bay. He wants out, when his contract is up he's gonna ask for good money because someone will pay it. Unfortunately for all we will be in a transition time with our GM position, so it's hard to predict what action an out going or incoming GM would do considering this debacle.

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Turophile's picture

February 25, 2017 at 04:39 am

I like this piece for the reason most people like a piece - because it agrees with what I believe.

I think Lacy is, as Dave Nicholson suggests, a good RB, and the Packers should keep him for that, as much as any other reason.

However, I'll add another reason why he should be kept. The most serious needs the Packers are likely to have are at CB and OLB. The secondary really struggled mightily when Sam Shields, the no.1 corner, went down.

It sure looks like the Pack need another corner who can be a no.1 type. That means addressing the position in the first two rounds of the draft. This years draft has good depth at CB, but there are never that many shutdown corners.

The OLB situation is similar, they need a top rusher, with Peppers likely retiring and probably one of Jones/Perry not being re-signed. Just as it is at corner, the draft is a good one for 3-4 OLB types, good enough that a decent OLB could be had in the first two rounds of the draft.

With those two pressing areas of need, along with the need for a complementary TE alongside Cook (it's a good year for them, too), it makes a lot of sense to keep Lacy. This allows Ted to wait until the 4th or 5th round for a RB to spell him. With Lacy and Montgomery, you could solidify the position with a day 3 draft pick, like Corey Clement (Wisconsin), Jamaal Williams (Brigham Young), or Elijah McGuire (Lafayette).

The draft is so much easier when you already have starting calibre guys at most positions. Lacy helps the RB position, just as Cook makes TE a little less urgent, than if he wasn't retained.

It really help the Packers when the draft has good depth at what I think are their three main areas of need (just as well they don't need an OT this year, bad year for them). The Packers have a chance to spend their higher picks on quality prospects that leave them with far fewer holes than many years in the past, where they went into the season with serious holes in the O line, Safety, ILB.

PS. I haven't addressed veteran free agency here, because Ted probably won't either, not in any significant way.

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dobber's picture

February 25, 2017 at 05:30 am

On a new front (which impacts the "draft a RB idea"), the Packers get a 5th in compensation for Casey Hayward. A little disappointing. I was hoping for a 4th. Still, with tradable compensatory picks, it's more ammunition for the upcoming draft.

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TheVOR's picture

February 26, 2017 at 09:26 am

Totally agree, how does a pro bowl player who had 7 picks = a 5th round compensation? Man we got screwed on that deal? Perhaps the bigger mystery is how did GB let him leave? The Chargers got him on a 3 year deal for 15M? How in the hell wasn't he worth that to GB? Wow....!

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NickPerry's picture

February 26, 2017 at 10:42 am

Been saying the same thing since the day he signed with SD. Most fans here felt his play in 2014 and 2015 wasn't worth a 3 year $15 Million deal.

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Since'61's picture

February 25, 2017 at 09:01 am

Offer Lacy a one year ($2-3mil. at most)prove it contract with an under 240 weight clause. If he doesn't take it or if he isn't under 240 by week 1 of the season chuck him. We don't need someone who doesn't care enough about his own weight, his career or teammates taking a roster spot and leaving yards on the field. We've been eliminated in the playoffs with him, we can be eliminated without him. In the upcoming draft we can pick an RB or 2 who will show up in shape and ready to play. Thanks, Since '61

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Lphill's picture

February 25, 2017 at 09:22 am

Bring him back ,when Rodgers had the injured collar bone Lacy was the offense.

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TheVOR's picture

February 26, 2017 at 09:23 am

Anyone who objectively can't see that Lacy lacks discipline with his weight, and his weight is injuring his body, is missing it all! The dude is eating himself out of the NFL, and his body and playing style is not designed to carry 260 lbs., period!

Gee, lets resign the dude to a prove it deal, watch him balloon up and injure himself again, 8 weeks into the season? YOU've got to be kidding me, right? You can put all the weight clauses in his contract you want to, but the dude doesn't care. McCarthy asked him to come in shape, he was barley there, and was back up to probably 255-260 when he re injured himself last year. At this point he's a broken record. Let him take his pork act to another team and disappoint someone else. JMO.

Loved this player in his first few years, not any more. I think he can play, I just don't think he can stay healthy, and what good is that!

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