For the next few weeks–maybe longer–the Green Bay Packers will need to make do without quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He has a broken left collarbone and will be missing from action. The team will respond by changing up their scheme with backup quarterback Seneca Wallace at the helm.
Look for help to come from its running game, namely, rookie running back Eddie Lacy, to help this team move forward. He said this week of playing without Rodgers via USA Today, “It’s definitely different, but you can’t really focus on that. We have a job we have to do, but you could definitely tell it’s different.”
In last week’s 27-20 loss to division rival, the Chicago Bears, Lacy had 22 carries with a career-high 150 yards and one touchdown. The majority of those yards (130 of them) came after Rodgers left the game and those numbers represented the first by a Packers running back to rush for 150 yards in a game since Dec. 9, 2007 by Ryan Grant against the Oakland Raiders (156 yards).
In addition, Pro Football Focus had credited Lacy with nine missed tackles forced against the Bears. This comes after the Packers had a total of 38 from 432 attempts in 2012 using the identical metric.
For Lacy it’s been a good freshman season as he’s had 134 carries for 596 yards. This has essentially come from five games as the player has already suffered a concussion this season, leaving the one game when it happened (against the Washington Redskins) and then the following week versus the Cincinnati Bengals.
There is talk of Lacy as the league’s rookie of the year. In October, he was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month after he ran for 395 yards in four games. That represented the most in the league by a player–either a veteran or a rookie–in that time frame.
In addition, Lacy sits at the top for rookies with his 446 yards rushing even as he missed time from his concussion.
Recently, when asked about the possibility of winning the top rookie award, Lacy said via ESPN, “I think it’s pretty cool, but it’s a long season, and that’s not what I’m focusing on right now. I have to go out and produce every week in and week out. That’s all I’m focusing on.”
But what does the future hold for Lacy as a top running back? Time will tell but he was the fourth running back taken in this year’s draft after many thought he’d go in the first round. He came in after Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati Bengals), Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Montee Ball(Denver Broncos).
At the end of October, according to ESPN, Bernard had 282 rushing yards; Bell sat at 202 and Ball had 177.
With his workload expected to increase and as long as Lacy stays healthy, there’s no reason to think he won’t end up at the top. But he will he hit a sophomore slump? Let’s just take one season at a time.