Tag Archives: Packers Eddie Lacy

The Packers Have a Running Game!?!

It’s a wrap. The 2013 NFL Draft is over. And the Packers made significant strides on offense, may have found Cullen Jenkins’ replacement, and added quality (hopefully) depth to the offensive line and a number of positions on defense.

But, perhaps the most important improvement from this draft will come from the Packers’ selections of Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. For the first time since Ahman Green (and, yes, I’m overlooking Ryan’s Grant’s short stint), the Packers should field a dangerous rushing attack. After falling into the consensus top-RB in Eddie Lacy in the second round, the Packers traded back into the end of the fourth to grab Johnathan Franklin.

Franklin's selection was surprising, but also very smart by TT. Now, the Packers have a legitimate running game that goes three-deep.

Franklin’s selection was surprising, but also very smart by TT. Now, the Packers have a legitimate running game that goes three-deep.

Out of UCLA, Franklin is 5’10” and 210 lbs. Powerful in his own right, Franklin is more the elusive, scat-back type. He’s a capable receiver out of the backfield and has just enough speed to break a long one. And he’s a high-character individual, aspiring to be the Mayor of Los Angeles after his playing career.

So, heading into training camp, the Packers will field three-headed backfield that should finally force teams to honor the run game. Eddie Lacy should be the starter and player to get most of the carriers. He’s built for delivering punishment and getting the hard yards; yet, he’s quick and blessed with a devastating spin-move. Franklin should ascend to the third-down role because he’s a good pass-catcher, can pick up the blitz, and good in the open field. And, we can’t forget DuJuan Harris, the breakout player over the last several games. He’s a bowling ball that runs as hard as he can every time he touches the ball. He showed burst, vision, and some good moves in limited playing time.

The importance of fielding a legitimate run game cannot be understated. It’s been 43 games since the Packers last had a 100-yard rusher. In the last three years, Packers’ running backs have 12-total rushing touchdowns and averaged the lowest yards-per-carry in the league.

Because a run game was nonexistent, teams regularly played some form of a cover-2, taking away the big-play threat that defined the 2011 season. The once-dangerous play-action game became nonexistent. And, as you might expect, the Packers offense was stagnant throughout the season. It is just too difficult to sustain long drives relying almost solely on the passing game. This leads to short drives – meaning the defense is on the field more – and inconsistent production on offense.

With all the excitement about Lacy and Franklin, we can't forget about DuJuan. He's the wild-card in this three-headed backfield.

With all the excitement about Lacy and Franklin, we can’t forget about DuJuan. He’s the wild-card in this three-headed backfield.

But now, the three-headed backfield will force teams to honor a run game. This brings the defenders closer to the box and the defensive line has to consider the run game before getting after the passer. To put it differently, guys like Jared Allen, Peppers, and Suh can’t just pin their ears back and get after it. A legitimate run games makes them play honest. In turn, that provides more time for Rodgers, opens up the field for the deep ball, and reinvigorates the play-action game. So, in a roundabout way, TT did protect his $110M man.

Of course, the key a successful run game is an offensive line that can open up holes. Not exactly our line’s strong point. Remember, though, the Packers will get back Bulaga at RT (or LT) and Lang will be fully healthy. EDS is an upgrade over Saturday. And it appears evident that the Packers are going to do whatever it takes to get better production out of the LT spot. So there is hope that the line-play will be better next season. And you can’t overlook the fact that talented running backs can take advantage of what the line does give them with better vision than the hesitant Starks and Green.

By all accounts, Datone Jones appears to be a great fit for the DE spot – a critical piece to the success of our defense. But, the additions of Lacy and Franklin should excite Packers Nation. An already dangerous offense just got significantly better. September 8 can’t get here soon enough!

2013 Draft – TT Just Can’t Help Himself

Heading into day 2, the Packers were in good position to add a couple players that would help fill areas of need. Armed with 7 picks, the Packers had the resources to trade up to get a player they coveted, or sit back and let the value fall to them. Instead, TT reverted to his old self, trading back three times to amass a whopping 10 overall selections tomorrow. We’ll get to that later. Let’s deal with the good news first.

Lacy hoisting both arms in the air. An image Packers fans will hopefully get used to seeing!

Lacy hoisting both arms in the air. An image Packers fans will hopefully get used to seeing!

At the bottom of the second round, the Packers may have struck gold in getting the running back they have been so sorely missing since Ahman Green left town. Heading into the draft, most pundits had Eddie Lacy as the top overall running back – and for good reason. Lacy has great size at 5’11” and 230-pounds, but also has deceptive speed, capable of housing it when he breaks through.

For the very reasons I coveted Steven Jackson in free agency, Eddie Lacy will be a great fit for the Packers offense. He’s a tough runner that breaks through arm tackles and will finish runs hard. He’s a capable receiver out of the backfield and he’ll stick his nose in their in pass protection. And despite the tough and physical nature in which he runs it, he’s nimble on his feet, evidenced by his trademark spin-move that is video-game worthy. You know Rodgers is smiling with this selection (or maybe it’s the $40M he just pocketed today. Probably a draw.)

An area Lacy will immediately upgrade is short-yardage situations. For the past several years, the Packers have been pathetic in short-yardage situations. The result is that they will often spread the field out. Or, the alternative play-call, is the predictable, and less-and-less successful, quick draw to Kuhn – easily, my least favorite play. Now, with Lacy, the Packers have a power runner that’s talented enough to move laterally to find the hole, fast enough to get there, and tough enough to get the yardage – basically, all of which John Kuhn isn’t. This will be a welcome sight for Packers fans.

Lacy is also a running back that can wear defenses down in the fourth-quarter. Instead of relying upon Rodgers to pick up first-down after first-down through the air, the Packers have a back they can hammer an opponent to ice the game.

So, with all these attributes, what the heck caused him to fall? It’s a great question and certainly one that can give you cause for concern. The rumors during draft coverage were that many thought he was damaged goods, likely a byproduct of his inability to fully test out at the combine and the ‘Bama pro day because of a bum hammy. But, Lacy played through any injury he may have had.

What makes this injury concern more curious is that Lacy was always in a time-share at Alabama, which led to only 390 combined rushes and receptions in three years. This fact cannot be overlooked. Most running backs have short shelf lives. Getting a talented back like Lacy with such little wear and tear is a coup for the Packers. And this is part of the Alabama system, who recruits its back on this premise – namely, they will have reduced workloads in college by sharing carries so they can preserve their legs for the pros. Packers are the beneficiaries.

Finally, for those Sconnie alumnus clamoring for Monte Ball – Lacy was a great pick by the Packers. Lacy was the unanimous top back in pre-draft rankings by most scouts and pundits. He is a bigger and, frankly, more talented back than Ball. He has 390 combined touches to Ball’s 1,000+ combined touches. This fact cannot be overlooked. And they are different backs in that Ball is the shifty, elusive back, whereas Lacy is the powerful, yet still nimble back. The latter is a better fit for what this team needs. We have shifty, elusive backs in DuJuan Harris and Alex Green.

Now, to the bad news. Last year’s Evil-TT where he traded up twice in the second round was apparently a one-hit wonder. In typical TT fashion, he traded back three times, collecting four more picks, leaving the Packers with 10 selections in rounds 4-7 – specifically 2 fourth-rounders, 3 fifth-rounders, 2 sixths, and 3 sevenths. As Vince Lombardi said – what the hell is going on out there?!

The Packers are a deep team with young talent. The last thing we need are ten more late round picks to battle for the last roster spots. We need players to fill areas of need that can compete now. By continually trading down, the talent likewise goes down. This was already a shallow draft to begin with, so trading down to amass extra late round selections makes little sense. And the fact the Packers traded out of the 3rd round immediately after Stedman Bailey (a WR often linked to the Packers) went, you have to wonder if TT got burned. I guess TT just can’t help himself come draft weekend. SMH.

Day 3 Preview –

So, now we have 10, count them, TEN, picks tomorrow. What the hell he does with them is anyone’s guess. I’m hoping the Packers trade up in the fourth to get a guy they covet and somehow trade some of these picks for picks in next year’s draft so we then have the assets to move up in next year’s draft – in the event Evil-TT wants to reappear.

There are several players leftover that would fill areas of need and offer good value. The best value in the fourth round appears to be on the offensive side of the ball. Barrett Jones is the guy I would love to see the Packers target. He’s a guy that started at every position on the line for three national championships at Alabama. He’d immediately challenge EDS for the starting C gig, and offer flexibility in the event of injury that Packers seem to like for their linemen.

If not Jones, then guys like Khaled Holmes (C – USC), David Quessenberry (OT – San Jose St.), Quinton Patton (WR – La. Tech), and Da’Rick Rogers (WR – Tenn. Tech) are players that could be targeted.

And for the defensive side of the ball, keep an eye out for the following players that may be one of the TEN selections the Packers have left: Joe Kruger (DE – Utah (brother of Paul Kruger)), Josh Boyd (DT – Miss. St.), Nico Johnson (ILB – Bama), Chase Thomas (OLB – Stanford), A.J. Klein (ILB – Ia. St.), Cornelius Washington (OLB – Georgia), Tony Jefferson (S – Oklahoma), and Earl Wolff (S – NC St.). Out of this group of players, I lean towards adding Boyd, Johnson, Thomas or Washington, and Wolff. They are good rotational players that would bring some good competition at all levels of the defense.

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention that I would not be the least bit surprised if TT uses one of his TEN (still shaking my head) selections on a kicker. I don’t think I need to rehash the calamities of Crosby’s season. But, needless to say, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to bring in legitimate competition. Remember, the Vikes nailed a Pro Bowl kicker last year in the sixth round.

The top two kickers are from the state of Florida: Caleb Sturgis (Fla.) and Dustin Hopkins (FSU). Sturgis is compared to Phil Dawson – a longtime Cleveland Brown – whereas Hopkins is compared to Billy Cundiff. So we have a guy compared to someone from Cleveland – a sports town that God literally hates – or a guy that may have had the biggest choke job in recent kicking history. Give me the choker. Cleveland sucks. (You’re welcome for this sterling analysis.)

Packers fans will have lots to watch tomorrow thanks to those TEN selections. Enjoy and make sure to check back here after the draft for our recap.