Cory’s Corner: Eddie Lacy is one of three elite Packers

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Eddie Lacy is an elite Packer. Not Clay Matthews.
Eddie Lacy is an elite Packer. Not Clay Matthews.

I think we all know who the best and most important player on the Packers roster is.

The question is who else is up there? According to Pro Football Focus, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Sitton and Clay Matthews were placed into the elite category.

Rodgers? Obviously. We all saw how much he meant to this team when he missed seven games last year.

Sitton? Yes. The season opener at San Francisco was his worst game of the year with his whiffs on numerous run blocks. But after that, he turned into a rock and I will go so far as to say that with the patchwork of four quarterbacks that started for the Packers this past year, it was Sitton that got the Packers in the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

If the offensive line wants to get respect in a hurry, it needs to keep Rodgers’ jersey clean. Allowing 47 sacks a year from 2009-2012 is unacceptable. Sitton is a guy that not only turns into a beast on gameday but he can also galvanize the rest of the unit. People listen to him and he needs to lead them if this team is going to get a whisper of success.

Matthews? I just cannot see it. Is he a good player? Yes. But there are too many question marks with him. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler for a reason but the last time he played in at least 15 games was 2011 and he’s never started all 16 yet. Last April he became the highest-paid linebacker in the game and if he keeps ending up on the injured reserve, he will have to start collecting his paychecks with a ski mask.

I truly believe there’s one guy that’s missing from the elite equation. And that person is Eddie Lacy. I realize he has only played one season but his value to the offense is like having a Visa card: Priceless. A legitimate running element is something that nobody has seen in Green Bay since Ahman Green was plowing ahead for tough yards.

Teams will always scheme to stop Rodgers first. Lacy will feast on safeties cheating back, making his path to the second level that much easier. Lacy still racked up over 1,100 yards on the ground and that includes three games of less than 30. People that underestimate Lacy should do so with caution. He may look like Jerome Bettis but he can move better and is even more fearless.

I’ve said it before and I will continue to say that the running back position is dying. But I see Lacy turning into the Marshawn Lynch type of back. Which is perfect, because when Lacy hits his prime in four or five years, the Packers will need him even more when Rodgers begins his taper his pass attempts. He is thick enough to be a horse, quick enough to turn it upfield and versatile enough to catch passes.

The reason that it’s hard to place a Packers receiver in that elite category is because without Rodgers, I’m not sure how good any of them would be. Jordy Nelson has shown a knack for making the impossible catch, but would a different quarterback be able to put it that close? Randall Cobb can zoom past most defenders, but would another quarterback have an arm to hit him in stride?

And forget about the defensive side of the ball. The Packers haven’t had a dynamic defender since LeRoy Butler, a guy that changed the game with his 20½ sacks and 38 picks.

The Packers can win without the trio of Rodgers, Sitton and Matthews. But they will not win without the trio Rodgers, Sitton and Lacy — which is why those three are the most important players on this team.

 

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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

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  • Icebowler

    I just want to see Rodgers and Lacy play together in the same backfield all year. It could be an All-Pro combo, if they both stay healthy. They will feed off each other and drive DC’s nuts.

  • http://allgbp.com Thegreatreynoldo

    Lacy is not elite, IMHO. If he becomes a 3 down back with good Pass Pro and looks more natural catching the ball, I will seriously consider him for elite status. CM is elite. Does everything very well: rushing, setting the edge and dropping into coverage.

    The article apparently cherry picks out some of the PFF ratings. I hope Peppers turns out to be an above average starter. PFF rated him just average, and it rated Bakhtiari as a below average starter, with which I agree. I do expect Bakhtiari to improve this year. Other players that PFF rated as below average starters that I expect improvement from include Datone, Neal, House and Mulumba (and Raji, although I hope but don’t really expect a lot of improvement from him).

    • Packer 4 ever

      I somewhat agree. Last season he was a rookie that defenses were not sure what to expect from. We’ll have to see what Lacey can do now that defensive schemes will be accounting for him. If he can stay healthy and the O-line does their job I think Lacey has the ability to have a hugely successful season. Also, keep in mind that last season he was running behind an offensive line that was held together with paste and sticky tape. Pretty impressive on any scale.

    • Tmoneey

      He was a 3 down back by half way thru the year. His pass protection rating was very good according to pro football focus. And as far as catching the ball, I don’t remember him dropping passes last year, maybe 1 ridiculous dump off pass…
      He gave us everything you could ask for from a running back last year. He punched the ball in the endzone, he picked up lots of tough short yardage 1st downs, and he even cracked a handful of long runs. I think he broke more tackles last year by himself, than the entire GB running back group from previous 2 years. I think he is pretty elite and a special player so I would put him in that top group.

  • Packer 4 ever

    It’s hard to get on Clay for being injured when he draws soooo much attention from opposing offenses in the form of double and sometimes triple teams. Not to mention the chop blocks from backs on their way into the flat. He hasn’t had much if not any help from the D-line to draw people away from him. That along with his style of play, always running full out and never letting up, lead to injuries. it will be interesting to see what he does now that now that he has a talent like Peppers on the other side.

  • Kevin Hull

    I thought Master Card had the “priceless” commercials, not Visa…

  • Tmoneey

    Lacy is the REAL DEAL, there should be reason to be super excited at the thoughts of having the best QB in the league healthy for an entire season, lined up with a young ultra tough and talented RB in Lacy. I wouldn’t trade Eddie Lacy for any other RB’s in the NFL other than Adrian Peterson or Lesean McCoy, thats how “Elite” I think he is.

  • Shavager

    Cory, if you believe the running back position is dying–then you’ve bought into the Arena football mentality where it’s all pass, pass, pass-get 45+ points per game at the least and defense is as lost an art as running back is. I don’t buy it-the NFL will always have great running backs, we’ve just not seen as many great ones because many college runners get injured and come out not ready for prime time. Statistics prove teams that try a run/pass balance are more successful than those depending on the passing game and the Packers are a perfect example.