Eddie Lacy Is Learning On The Job
After two games, Green Bay Packers' running back Eddie Lacy has shown that even for running backs, the rookie learning curve is sharp.
Lacy has 15 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown so far this season. He also has one catch that went for 31 yards and a fumble lost. He missed most of this past Sunday's game due to a concussion, which shouldn't worry Packers fans too much, as he didn't have a history of them at Alabama. A 3.4-yards-per-carry average and a touchdown to turnover ratio of 1:1 won't keep a job in the NFL for a running back for long. Every year a new crop of running backs enters the league who are younger, faster and can be paid less.
The ceiling on Lacy is high. His combination of speed and power along with his viability as a passing game target give him the attributes a good NFL running back needs. For right now, that's what's keeping Lacy in the mix for the Packers: Potential. James Starks clearly outperformed him on Sunday after Lacy left the game.
Starks showed the vision and burst that an experienced running back gains after hundreds of carries. It should be noted that Starks did this all against a terrible Washington Redskins defense at home and all but one of Lacy's carries came against a stingy 49ers defense on the road. Still, Starks was able to see the play developing and hit the hole at the right moment. Lacy has yet to be as proficient at this skill.
Lacy also struggled in pass protection in the one full game he played. A running back in the NFL that wants to be on the field for the majority of the offensive plays must learn how to read blitzes and throw a block. With an offensive line that is questionable in pass protection, it's even more imperative for Green Bay for Lacy to be able to help.
In order for the Packers to spend a second-round pick on Lacy, they must believe that he has the capacity to learn these skills. The faster the better, and while you can't sacrifice wins for the good of one player, there really isn't any other way for Lacy to perfect these parts of the game other than to be on the field in these situations.
If Lacy can stay on the field, he should have plenty of opportunity to develop. Time will tell whether or not he will take advantage of it.