If there was a tinge of doubt before, there shouldn’t be any now.
And no, I’m talking about Aaron Rodgers or Randall Cobb returning from injury — which by the way, was amazing.
I’m talking about handing Eddie Lacy the offensive rookie of the year. It should be all his, no questions asked.
He shrugged off a concussion, nagging right ankle and foot pain and asthma that flares up in winter. He came into an offense that was predicated by the pass and won over the hearts of Packers fans with his grit, coal-churning engine and his stubborn-as-a-mule mentality.
Lacy is the reason the Packers are in the second season. When Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 9, it was Lacy that remained the consistent performer on an offense struggling to find an identity. With a roller coaster ride of four different starting quarterbacks, Lacy has churned out 10 games with 20-plus carries and five with 23 or more.
And to think none of this could’ve happened. Packers general manager Ted Thompson passed on Lacy, who was projected to go in the first round last spring, with Datone Jones in the first round. After Giovanni Bernard, Le’Veon Bell and Montee Ball were taken, Thompson swooped in and took Lacy as the 29th pick in the second round. Lacy was the fourth of five running backs taken in the second round.
The reason Lacy has been such a welcome sight in Green Bay is because the running back position has been an afterthought for 10 years when Ahman Green ran for over 1,800 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in his third Pro Bowl season. Lacy closed out the regular season by running for over 1,100 yards, scored 11 times and he started one less game than Green but didn’t get a Pro Bowl sniff.
Without Lacy, the offense would’ve resembled a ship with unsealable holes. It might’ve been able to move the ball every once in awhile, but when the time would come to get those needed yards, that is where they would’ve been sunk.
Lacy is the guy that defenses hate because he doesn’t just attack them, he punishes them. A prime example is the Packers’ comeback win at Dallas. With the Packers down much of the fourth quarter, he still got nine final quarter carries — including the eventual game-winning one-yard belly flop. Defenses just get sick of tackling the guy that would rather seek out and hit them, which is why he leads the league with 441 yards after contact.
Lacy leads all rookie running backs by 203 yards and is the top rushing touchdown scorer by three. Heck, the 5-foot-11, 230-pound back is tied with the speedy Tavon Austin for the most 40-plus yard runs by a rookie. Lacy catches passes, he picks up blitzing linebackers and he’s all done it with the surprising freshman poise while figuring out the intricacies of every Packers quarterback.
Lacy shouldn’t just win the offensive rookie of the year award, he deserves it. Someone had to carry the burden while its franchise quarterback was shelved for seven weeks.
And that person was the humble Eddie Lacy. He may not think he is that deserving or worth the recognition, but that’s exactly why he’s the guy. As a rookie, your job is supposed to be a supporting actor. But he has understood the script and performed so well that he isn’t supporting anything anymore — he is the best actor on a team living out a Hollywood script.
Hopefully a pass-happy academy doesn’t overlook the hardest-working rookie in the league.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn