Eddie Lacy said this past week that his focus this offseason is “just being able to finish runs.”
For the love of Robert Blanton, has Lacy ever seen footage of himself?
If Lacy does anything as well if not better than any running back in the league, it has to be finishing runs — at least the numbers and highlights would suggest as much.
But for Lacy, improvement runs deeper. The vision for 2015 — coming off a strong first two years with the Green Bay Packers — is of the micro variety, not the macro.
“Towards the end of the season, I got to it but this year I want to be able to do it from Game 1 to the last game and that’s when I get to the secondary and instead of trying to make a move or make the safety miss, just make him tackle me and put the pressure on him,” said Lacy following Thursday’s OTAs.
In what seems to be a team-wide theme this offseason, these Packers are looking to start faster. In 2014 and 2013, they started each regular season just 1-2. And in 2012, a slow start reached 2-3.
Individually, Lacy has followed suit. Over the first three games of 2013, he carried 15 times for just 51 yards (missing one game with a concussion) before becoming a workhorse down the stretch on his way to Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. And in 2014, he ran for no more than 48 yards in any game over the first quarter of the season (at just 3.0 yards per carry) before finishing with 1,139 rushing yards by the end (at 4.6 yards per carry).
As a big back, Lacy separates himself from other elite backs with his power. While the Packers cut down his carries per game last season — from 19.1 to 15.9 — only Marshawn Lynch was better in gaining yards after contact per carry among 23 running backs who played at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps according to Pro Football Focus. Lynch averaged 3.0 yards after contact and Lacy 2.8 during the regular season.
Lacy also forced a total of 73 missed tackles on runs and catches, which was fourth behind Lynch, DeMarco Murray and Le’Veon Bell. Two plays for Lacy stuck out in particular. The first was when he ran through the Minnesota Vikings’ Blanton, knocking the safety’s helmet off inside the 5-yard line on a 10-yard touchdown run. And the second was when he forced two missed tackles and carried two other tacklers to the end zone on a 32-yard touchdown catch against the Philadelphia Eagles.
A year ago in training camp, Lacy was calling himself “Randy Moss” as the Packers prepped to get him more involved in the passing game as a three-down back. The results came to fruition. His catch total went from 35 to 42, his receiving yards from 257 to 457 and his receiving touchdowns from zero to four. He also had only one drop in 54 targets (including playoff games).
So, Lacy has some recent history for making his offseason improvement “goals” work out. Would-be tacklers beware, if not previously being on high alert.
“We have a chance to be great,” said Lacy of the Packers offense which returns all 11 starters. “That’s starting fast and finishing strong and doing it through the whole season. We have the guys to do it, we just have to put it together, stay on the same page and just try to do a lot better than we did last year and go all the way to the (championship).”
Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org