Power football might sound like something your dad misses while watching today’s NFL, or how he tells you they used to play “back in the day!”. Now we all know that the power run game is not the most beautiful, or fun style to watch during a football game. However, the style is very crucial to an NFL offense, and if done correctly it can lead you to a Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Packers have one of the top offenses in the league, led by Aaron Rodgers of course, with dangerous guys on the outside like a returning Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, and the speedy rookie out of Cal, Trevor Davis. But it’s the guy in the backfield that can prove to be the biggest part of the offense this season. That guy is Eddie Lacy. Lacy, who had a tough season last year dealt with nagging injuries all season but most notably dealt with weight and conditioning issues. But this offseason Lacy has been working with the creator of the P90x workout and fitness guru, Tony Horton. The Packers held an offseason practice near the end of May, and Lacy appeared to be slightly slimmer than he looked on game days last year. At the beginning of training camp last year, Lacy was listed at 242 lbs., and according to ESPN, Lacy has lost 15-18 pounds so far this summer although he is listed at 234 on the Packers roster page.

Having a slimmer, quicker Eddie Lacy could bring the Green Bay offense back to huge success like they saw in Lacy’s first two seasons with the team. In those first two seasons, Lacy was a force to be reckoned with in the power running game. In his rookie season, Lacy rushed for 1178 yards, and 11 Touchdowns, his second season was good for 1139 yards, and 9 TDs. During those two years, the offense was nearly unstoppable and was ranked top 10 in the entire league when it came to points, and yards. This last year saw a dramatic dip in production for the Packers offense however. Lacy only rushed for 758 yards, and 3 touchdowns throughout the entire season. This led to a dry, stagnant and ineffective offense  that struggled throughout most of the second half of their season. Rodgers was out of sync with his wideouts, the run game was nowhere to be found and the Packers did not look like the Packers. Those bad memories can all go away this upcoming season with a rejuvenated and healthy Eddie Lacy to open up the offense. Eddie Lacy is a power runner that looks for guys to run at, and drag them along for big runs. Those big runs, are a huge part to a championship type of offense the Packers have. Establishing a power run game early in the season, will force defenses to bring more guys on the rush, and have the safeties in the defensive backfield crashing inside to try and get the hard runners down early. Bringing all those guys inside will make Aaron Rodgers a very happy guy because that will create tons of one-on-one matchups on the outside, something that he and Jordy Nelson are the best in the league at recognizing, and attacking. Pounding the ball inside with strong runs, will sharpen the offensive line and will also open up a key part of the passing game. Play action pass plays. While having more guys crashing on play action plays, Rodgers will have to be quick and precise while moving around the pocket and finding his receivers down field. That is one of Rodgers’ best skill traits, so having that opened up more will restore the league leading offense that Green Bay had in 2014, when they were a few minutes away from the Super Bowl, if not for a monumental collapse. That power running game led by Lacy, needs to be reestablished for the Packers to explode and return to the top offense in the league. With Nelson returning this year, Green Bay has as good a chance they have ever had to get back on track after a down season last year. There have been countless great, championship teams that won it all with a power running game. While it is a different style of power running, this past season the Carolina Panthers went 15-1 and ran through the NFC on their way to the Super Bowl. Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and the NFL Most Valuable Player Cam Newton used the running game, and option running game to tear down defenses. With Newton being built like a fullback, he was able to run at defenders and them over with pure power. Using the power option put the defense in a bad position with them not knowing where the boom was going to come from. Carolina averaged 142.6 rushing yards per game which put them second in the league in that category, only finishing behind Buffalo. The strategy made Newton look like his alter-ego, “Super-Cam” when he was out on the field. With a less than elite receiving core, Newton was able to open up the passing game because the defense had to be prepared for the run game. Cam finished with 3837 passing yards to go along with 35 touchdowns in the passing game, and 636 rushing yards with 10 rushing touchdowns. That’s 45 total touchdowns from just the quarterback alone. Newton single handedly carried the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, only to come up short to the best defense in the league, the Denver Broncos. When it comes to winning a Super Bowl with a great power running game, most recently the Seattle Seahawks had a dominant season and won it all at Super Bowl 48. That season, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 1306 yards and 13 touchdowns in a running game that was considered very powerful. This resulted in Seattle quarterback, Russell Wilson having a very solid season in which he finished with 3475 yards, and 20 touchdowns to go along with a 64% completion percentage. The Seattle offensive line was one of the sharpest in the league that season in making sizable holes for Lynch to power through and dismantle a defense’s confidence play by play. Russell Wilson isn’t one of the top quarterbacks in the league when it comes to pure accuracy and dominating a game with his arm. When Lynch was powering through teams, they were getting worn down attempting to bring the guy known as “Beast Mode” down. This fatigued the defensive backs throughout the game, and made it easier for the Seattle wideouts to gain separation whether it be from crashing inside to try to stop Lynch, or from already being beat down by Lynch. With a quarterback that many consider the best in the league, if the Packers can get this style going with Eddie Lacy this upcoming season Green Bay’s offense will be virtually unstoppable. In a passing dominant league, the Packers having a power run game will catch teams off guard in their gameplans and how they prepare to go to battle with Green Bay.  

 

Picture of the "New and improved Eddie Lacy" taken by Ryan Wood of The Green Bay Press Gazette.
Picture of the “New and improved Eddie Lacy” at the first Packers OTA on May 24, 2016. Taken by Ryan Wood of The Green Bay Press Gazette.

 

While Eddie Lacy might feel the pressure from the organization to lose weight, the Packers are only trying to help Lacy’s long term health, and help him reach his full potential and return to the unstoppable force he once was. Aaron Rodgers may be the MVP of the Packers, and the guy that engineers the offense. But Eddie Lacy is the key that can open all the doors on the path to a Super Bowl Trophy.

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