Now, more than ever, it’s time to hitch the wagon to Eddie Lacy
Jay Hodgson, Packers contributor
Eddie Lacy. Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Back in April, as the first round of the NFL draft was progressing, Packers fans everywhere were anticipating who the Packers would take with their 26th overall pick.
Pundits everywhere were saying the smart money was on Alabama running back Eddie Lacy. Some draft experts ranked him as the best running back in the draft.
By the time the Packers’ 26th overall pick came up, no running backs had yet been selected. It sure looked like a great possibility that Lacy would be drafted.
But, he wasn’t. General manager Ted Thompson decided to fortify his defense by selecting defensive end Datone Jones out of UCLA.
I was thrilled with that pick, but in the back of my mind, I wanted Lacy. I thought there was no way Lacy would last into the second round.
Surely, there would be no chance the Packers would see him by the time their 61st pick rolled around. My heart sank a little then.
Why did I want Lacy so much?
I am an alumnus of The University of Alabama. Naturally, I’m a huge Crimson Tide fan.
I got to watch Eddie Lacy run wild all through his opponents for a good three years. He was shadowed by larger names for a while, including Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and future 3rd-overall draft pick Trent Richardson.
But, before his breakout 2012 season, I knew he had something special. He ran hard. He ran decisively.
Then, nearly the whole world saw him run over the vaunted Manti Te’o in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game.
While watching Lacy those years, I learned several things about him.
First, he’s going to get dinged up occasionally. It’s just the nature of how he plays. He doesn’t know anything except full speed and violent running. He will play hurt while he slowly heals.
Second, he gets stronger as the game progresses. By the fourth quarter, he’s running roughshod around, and through, the opposing team. It was simply him imposing his will onto the opponent.
Third, he always came through when needed. Whenever Alabama needed a tough yard, he got it. Whenever they needed a first down, he got it. If they needed a touchdown to close out the game, he got it.
Alabama used him en route to back-to-back championships.
He fell, you could argue, in the 2013 draft because of lingering questions about his injuries. I never feared that. In fact, I knew whichever team saw through the dings and bruises would have a remarkable pick in the draft.
The Packers got an absolute steal in the second round of the draft. Lacy fell the to the 61st pick and was the fourth running back taken. I'm sure Ted Thompson did a happy dance when he saw Lacy still there.
Compared to the other three running backs, Lacy has rushed for the most yards this season with 669. The next closest is Giovani Bernard, from the Cincinnati Bengals, with 419. Wisconsin fan favorite Montee Ball, taken three picks before Lacy, has only 197 yards.
At this point, it seems the draft experts were right. Lacy was the best running back in the draft.
When Lacy is compared to the other Alabama running backs to come out before him, he once again has more yards this season. Trent Richardson has 355 yards and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram has only 195 yards.
It seems that not only did Ted Thompson get a steal in the draft, he got a workhorse.
The Packers need to hitch their wagon to this workhorse while the delicate season is in the balance.
With their first two quarterbacks missing time due to injury, the Packers have turned to youngster Scott Tolzien to direct the offense.
While Tolzien showed some poise during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he’s still virtually unknown. No one knows just how good he can be.
I expect him to perform admirably, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to win games on his own. He’s going to need a little help.
And that help has a name. His name is Eddie Lacy.
Just like Eddie did in Alabama, he can do for the Packers.
He can get that tough yard. He can get that first down. He can get that decisive touchdown.
Even though he’s just a rookie, Lacy is a proven commodity at this point. He can do it, and I know this because I’ve seen it time and time again.
It's time to hitch that wagon and let him carry the team. Feed him the rock. He gets stronger the more you feed him.
All rushing statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com