If Eddie Lacy is not the best running back in the NFC North in 2014, he will be in 2015. Think about that for a second. Matt Forte is an exceptional back. I really like his game and appreciate the way he provides impact in all phases but he’s not the monstrous athlete that Lacy is. Reggie Bush is a fantastic athlete but struggled with consistency during his career. He’s 29 and approaching the running back expiration date of 30. Adrian Peterson is the best back of his generation. His ferocity and surprising agility for a large man is shared with Lacy but he has explosiveness and long speed that Lacy will never have. With that said, Lacy is already a better pass catcher and pass blocker than AD. The biggest problem with Peterson (and scary for the Vikings considering they still owe him $60.8 million) and why Lacy will pass him is that he is also 29 years old staring at 30. When this season is over (largely because of Minnesota’s inability to produce a passing game) Peterson will have 2,350 carries.
The Packers have had one of the best 5 or 6 offenses in the league every (healthy) year of the Aaron Rodgers era despite absolutely not being able to run the ball. My guess is that you can count on one hand the times that Aaron Rodgers has seen an 8 man box between the 20’s. The Packers used to score tons and tons of points, won a Super Bowl and had a 15 win season throwing the ball against NFL defenses that knew they were going to throw the ball.
In contrast after Aaron Rodgers was hurt in 2013, the Packers had to go to a one dimensional offense the other way. Everyone in the stadium knew that the only way the Packers were going to be able to sustain offense was to hand the ball (actually a lot of pitching the ball) to Eddie Lacy. This included averaging 84 yards/game and scoring 7 TDs during the 8 games in which Rodgers missed time. Eddie Lacy won the Offensive Rookie of the Year in a season in which he only played 14 games and in which more than half the time the defense knew it was coming.
It would appear then that we know two very important things. First, that the Packers can throw the ball even if the defense knows they cannot run. This isn’t going to change with the healthy returns of Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin. It’s certainly not going anywhere with the infusion of young talents Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, Richard Rodgers and Colt Lyerla. Secondly, they can run the ball even if the defense knows they cannot pass. The Packers’ 1700 yard rushing duo of Eddie Lacy and James Starks are back. This ability certainly isn’t going anywhere considering the ages of Lacy (24), and the returning DuJuan Harris (25) and Johnathon Franklin (24).
Green Bay hadn’t embraced the Rodgers and Lacy duo going in to the 2013 season. They actually had named DuJuan Harris the starter. Rodgers and Lacy only played a handful of games together and never with Rodgers having a full complement of his receivers. This off season the offense is going to be built around Rodgers and Lacy. If the Packers have been able to do what they want to opposing defenses (and they have) when they know what’s coming, what’s going to happen when they’re just guessing?