The Green Bay Packers have suffered losses in four of their last five contests, now standing in second place in the NFC North division; a drought that was seemingly unimaginable just over a month ago. Doubt and uncertainty around the organization has casted on several individuals, including star-running back Eddie Lacy.
The one-time Associated Press offensive rookie of the year, 2013 Pro-Bowler and All-Pro was benched by head coach Mike McCarthy in week 9 against the Detroit Lions. Lacy’s struggles included an ankle and groin injury, as well as a lack of production.
“Definitely, I’m off to a different start.” Lacy said via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. “I’m not playing how I was the previous two years. Later on in the season, maybe it’ll pick back up. But as of right now, this is just the move that is going to be.”
Through this slump, particularly weeks 5-9, Lacy averaged just 2.07 yards per carry, with only one touchdown. Subsequently, McCarthy announced the replacement of Lacy for backup running back, James Starks.
“[Starks] is our No. 1 back right now going into Detroit,” McCarthy said. “He’s played very well; he’s earned that opportunity.”
After the Packers’ week 9 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Packers changed their approach in rushing the ball. The next week, in a vital conference battle against the Minnesota Vikings, Lacy carried the football 20 times for 100 yards; the next week against the Chicago Bears, Lacy carried 17 times for 105 yards, without scoring a rushing touchdown in either game.
With Lacy’s touches increasing, his production increased. After his benching, Lacy has surpassed 100-yard games twice, the only occurences of the season.
However, with Lacy’s production, the Packers have struggled to get their offense rolling. In the first half of Thursday’s game against the Bears, Lacy accounted for 106 of the Packer’s 203 yards, despite fumbling and a subsequent benching.
“Eddie has played very well the last two weeks, but he’s got to handle the football,” McCarthy said via ESPN. “The touchdown, he was careless with the ball there, and the fumble is clearly technique.”
In particular, one aspect of the Packer’s offense that impact’s Lacy’s carries is through the passing game. In Thursday’s loss, the Packers threw the ball 43 times, completing just over 50%. However, the Packers saw similar inconsistencies to their run game, including a late Aaron Rodgers’ turnover. Rodgers ended the game wtih his lowest quarterback rating of the year (62.4).
Regardless, since Lacy’s re-emergence in week 11, he has had his two best games of the season. Though Lacy has battled several injuries, benchings, and inconsistencies, Lacy may be a key in getting the Packers back on track.
The Packers travel to Detroit on Thursday, Dec. 3 as the Packers take on the Detroit Lions on Thursday Night Football. Kickoff is at 7:25 p.m. CDT.
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