Yes, there are a billion “curious case of XYZ” articles out there, but that’s my title and I’m sticking with it.
Because, let’s face it, Eddie Lacy and the controversy surrounding him at the current moment is curious.
How did we go from the NFL Offensive Player of the Year to grounded for staying out to late? That is a very puzzling question. That first season was stellar. While he continues to average a little over 4 yards per carry (that hasn’t changed more than a few inches in either direction since 2013), there is no question his productivity has dropped off.
Just looking at his statistics and he is a different player. That rookie year he scored 11 TDs with the rush. Last year he had only 9 rushing TDs but made up the difference with 4 receiving touchdowns. This year, he only has 3 touchdowns combined and is far off his pace to hit 1100+ rushing yards by end of the season like he had the past two years. As in 300 yards off target to date.
Ever since that photo came out years of ago of him looking portly in training camp, there has been criticism about his weight. In college, he weighed 220 pounds. Needless to say he isn’t there now. The Packers list him at 234 pounds, but who knows how far north of that number he really is. Not that it is a dig on Lacy, as many pros play at a higher weight than in college, but Nick Saban’s players at Alabama have set weight expectations and their diet is often micromanaged down to the calorie.
Their nutritionist plays an integral role in an athlete’s development. After Lacy underwent toe surgery in college, nutritionist Amy Bragg gave him a “calorie budget” so that his recovery and return to play would not be hampered by unnecessary weight gain. And last year at Alabama, Lacy ran for 1100 yards in 13 games. He wasn’t hindered by injury, and he was a dangerous north-south weapon.
But weight gain is not the entire reason for his issues. Sure, he could probably be more nimble if he dropped the spare tire. Couldn’t we all? But missing curfew isn’t helping matters. In fact, that’s the quickest way to wind up in the dog house. Sure, he may be a big name running back, but that name isn’t big enough to skip/be tardy to the Packers’ final meetings in the evening before the game.
That has nothing to do with weight and everything to do with accountability and professionalism.
Remember all the press conference equivalent of subtweeting in the past few weeks? Hints of not enough preparation during the week and the rumors of exorbitant video game time? Remember when everyone picked up their pitchforks and torches and were ready to storm the Davante Adams castle absolutely convinced it was Adams everyone was sub-pressering? (it’s a word now!)
As refresher, quarterback Aaron Rodgers had this to say about his concerns about his peers’ lack of preparation, “It goes back to what you’re doing in your spare time and what you’re doing with your time in the facility. Being a pro is all about making sure you’re as ready as possible by the time the game hits. I think that’s the important thing for guys to remember here, especially young guys.”
For those keeping track at home, the shorter version of that is There is no I in Shut Up and Do the Work.
What if those comments weren’t directed at Adams at all, and they were pointed at the Packers’ running back?
It’s no secret Eddie Lacy isn’t a football nut like the rest of us are. He doesn’t watch it and he doesn’t follow games or players.
In Paul Imig’s article last year, he illustrated what Lacy does once he’s off the clock. Like many of us, he leaves work at work and tries to relax at home. After all, we all strive to find that work balance. Imig writes:
Lacy has the same routine every day during the season. He’ll typically get home from work around 4 p.m., and then take a nap until 6 or 6:30 p.m. That’s when he watches an episode of the 1990s sitcom “Martin” and follows it up by playing video games — Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, among others — before shutting that down in time to watch an episode of “Family Guy” at 10 p.m.
Whether this is a factor or not, we will probably never know. But whatever Eddie Lacy has done, he’s on the radar with the Packers’ leadership.
Things came to a head one way or another and he found himself watching the game last week from the sideline after running for only 4 yards while his partner in crime (no, I don’t think he committed any crimes. It’s a figure of speech!) Alonzo Harris was shown the door. Harris was expendable, but the Packers have a lot invested in Lacy. He has value for the team, but apparently needed a wake up call.
It reminds me of a scene from Hangover 3 (yes, it was a horrible movie, and is it bad that my 9 year old sings I Believe I Can Fly?) where the bad guy Marshall wants to send a warning and punish the heroes. But instead of killing them, he decides to kill his own chief of security whom the Wolf Pack knows. In this scenario, Eddie is the Wolf Pack, and Harris is the now dead Doug the drug dealer/security guy.
Harris may have been the fall guy for Lacy. He may have been the supposed bad influence either. And then there’s the possibility he was the reminder than anyone can get cut, and the shock of Lacy’s compatriot hitting the waiver wire was a huge wake-up call. He’s been put on notice, no question about that.
Of course the general managers of that expansion team Twitter have declared that Lacy’s tenure in Green Bay is all but done and that the Packers will, without a doubt, not extend his contract.
Hold your horses, Scooter. If the Packers wanted him gone, he would’ve joined Harris on the waiver wire. The Packers, have appeared to decide to keep him for the time being.
Looks like Mike McCarthy is all about second chances. In his weekly press conference, he didn’t throw out the baby with the bath water. It looks like he is willing to give another chance to not only remain on the roster, but also reclaim his starting position. McCarthy went on the record and said, “Everything is in front of him. If Eddie or any other player wants to jump up and grab that opportunity, it’s right in front of them.”
Who knows, maybe the scared straight tactic worked. As of yesterday, McCarthy wasn’t talking about Lacy the Slacker any more. In fact, he described a Lacy that was ready to get down to business and play a part in the offensive scheme.
“I think Eddie’s been rejuvenated,” McCarthy noted. “His work was good today. Checked in on him, just like I do with all of our players. I look for him to have a very good week of practice and look for him to be productive Sunday.”
Eddie Lacy may be at a crossroads of his career. What those factors are that have been roadblocks (and yes, the same applies to him as does his quarterback) whether injury, weight, and/or off field issues will likely never be known by the public. But one thing is certain, the Packers aren’t going to put up with anything but 100% commitment to the task at hand.
Lacy may not reach 1100 yards receiving this season. But that’s not to say he isn’t capable of a little self-scouting and become the impact player the team expects him to be as the race to the playoffs draws near.