Like with many things in life, the happy-go-lucky Lacy doesn’t care. He shrugs off outside criticism with the ease that he shrugs off a cornerback going for the tackle.
“It’s only hard if you’re worrying about what you’re hearing outside of what you have going on on the team,” Lacy said on Wednesday, one day before the Packers host the Vikings. “I think a lot of people, if they don’t have a good game or they don’t get what they expect, then they watch TV or social media or whatever, then maybe they’d be down on themselves because of that. But as long as what you’re doing is you’re contributing positively and, at the end of the day the team’s winning, there’s really no need to pressure yourself and try to do more.”
Through four games, Lacy has rushed for 161 yards and just 3.04 yards per carry. Last season, Lacy rushed for 1,178 yards and averaged 4.15 yards per carry en route to being named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
“Every game, every run isn’t going to be a 50-yard run or a 100-yard game,” he said. “Sometimes, you’re only going to get 60 or 75 (yards), but it’s a team sport at the end of the day. The ‘W’ is what counts. As long as what you’re putting in, the team’s getting positive (results), then it doesn’t matter what people think outside of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
To an extent, the criticism of the Packers’ running game runs only skin keep. Yes, the Packers rank 28th in rushing and 26th in yards per carry. However, the Jets (in Week 2) and the Bears (in Week 4) either stuck with their base defense against Green Bay’s three-receiver sets or continually ran a safety into the box.
The results: Green Bay’s running game, frequently outmanned at the point of attack, has suffered. However, with one less defender in coverage, it has provided a green light for Aaron Rodgers to attack through the air. He lit up the Jets and Bears for a combined 648 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I think that’s definitely helping us out in regards to passing the ball,” Lacy said. “We have great guys on the outside and we all know who our quarterback is, so anytime you give him time and even when he extends plays, you know you’re going to have a big play through the air. So them having an extra guy in the box, it makes it easier for him to do what he has to do and for our receivers to be able to make plays down the field.”
Still, everyone acknowledges the run game needs to improve. On Tuesday, Rodgers spoke of the need for more balance. Offensive line coach James Campen said being outmanned in the box is no excuse. Coach Mike McCarthy said more carries would help.
"We're not blocking good enough,” Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton said. “The running backs aren't running good enough. The quarterback is not making the right check all the time. Receivers aren't making their blocks good enough," Sitton said. "We're not good enough in the run game right now — all around.”
Against Chicago, Lacy ran 17 times for 48 yards. That includes 10 carries on first down for 33 yards — respectable production. The only third-down play, a third-and-2, was stopped at the line of scrimmage, though a defensive penalty moved the chains.
Lacy’s seen the criticism. Not surprisingly given his personality, he’s not using it for motivation. He’d rather clown around with friends or watch cartoons or call his sister than stew in negativity.
“I’m not that person,” he said. “To me, that’s temporary motivation. I mean, if you were to do that, it’s like, OK, you have a whole bunch of people saying negative stuff, so you have motivation for that game. You go out, have a great game, but where does that leave you for next game because nobody said anything bad because now they’re all on your side? It’s just a bunch of, I don’t know, people who like you when you’re up and talk about you when you’re down.”email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.