It’s time somebody said it: running back Eddie Lacy’s waistline looks no better than last year. He’s overweight and not fit.
Despite being called out at the end of last season by coach Mike McCarthy, Lacy appears not to have positively responded to the criticism. Back in July we speculated how Lacy would perform if he were slim, borderline, or fat.
He’s fat. What this likely means is that we’ll have a repeat of the 2015 Lacy, not the Lacy of 2013 or 2014.
What we learned last year is that an unfit Lacy is slow, immobile, and easily winded. An unfit Lacy is next to useless as a pass receiver. Even more worrisome, Lacy appeared to add on weight in 2015 during the course of that season.
As a runner, here are comparisons with his combined first two years’ rushing averages versus his third year production: carries 265 vs. 187; rushing yards, 1,159 vs. 758; yardage per carry, 4.35 vs. 4.1; touchdowns 10 vs. 3; first downs, 59.5 vs. 36; and fumbles 2 vs. 3.
Similar comparisons to Lacy’s receiver output are: receptions 38.5 vs. 20; receiving yardage 342 vs. 188; yardage per catch, 8.88 vs. 9.4; first downs 14.5 vs. 7; fumbles 0 vs 1.
I’m not comforted by Lacy’s good preseason stats of 114 yards gained on 20 carries. If 2015 is a guide, we can expect injuries to mount and his production to tail off as fatigue sets in. In the final eight games of 2013, Lacy averaged 73.75 rushing yards per game. In that span in 2014, he averaged 95.75 yards. In 2015, however, he averaged only 62.75 yard per game over the second half of the season. In his final seven games, he only had more than 13 carries one time. Lacy also had bothersome ankle and groin injuries when at his heavier weight.
By not shaping up, Lacy has put his future with the team in jeopardy. His lack of self-discipline is a big letdown. Even with his four-year contract up at the end of the year, it seems nothing can motivate Lacy to be the player he is capable of being. If the front office’s trust in Lacy proves to have been misplaced, then the Packers made a mistake by not drafting a running back last spring.
Suddenly, the team appears to be very thin (irony unintended) at running back. James Starks (3.4 yards per carry) has had a mediocre preseason, John Crockett was put on injured reserve and fullback Aaron Ripkowski is injured.
If Lacy has a repeat of 2015, the team will probably struggle once again just to make the playoffs. McCarthy has made a pounding and ball-controlling running game a priority this year. The key to that of course is Lacy, but it doesn’t look like he’s prepared himself to assume that responsibility.