Eddie Lacy went from a too fat, too hyped running back out of Alabama to the 2013 NFL Rookie of the year (which I predicted right after he was drafted). Â However, Lacy’s meteoric rise to the best football player from the 2013 NFL draft was probably not as the Packers predicted; with the injury to Aaron Rodgers collarbone the Packers morphed into a conservative, ball control offense lead by pounding Lacy behind Josh Sitton, TJ Land and Evan Dietrich-Smith. Â Naturally as Lacy proved to be the most effective weapon the Packers had left, he got more carries, which lead to more yards, more touchdowns and naturally more accolades. Â But with the return of Rodgers with a fully healed collarbone, what can the Packers expect from Lacy?
First off the disappointing news; successful rookie running backs don’t do as well on their second season. Â According to statistics pulled from Rotoworld, of running backs who gained at least 600 yards during their rookie season in the last 10 years:
- 66% of running backs saw a decrease in their rushing production in year 2
- 72% of running backs who rushed for at least 7 or more touchdowns saw a decrease in their scoring in year 2
- 75% of running backs who rushed for at least 1,000 yards saw a decrease in their production in year 2
As the article states, there is really no concrete reason why running backs tend to decline going into their 2nd years; one possibility is that teams have a full year’s worth of film to watch and thus are able to properly analyze what types of plays, holes or cuts a running back typically executes and can plan accordingly. Â Another possibility is that while running backs aren’t typically over utilized their rookie year, high drafted runners like Lacy already come into the league with a lot of tread off their tires; it’s quite well known that running backs have one of the shortest shelf lives of any position in the NFL and it’s possible that a rookie running back is already at his peak by the time he enters the NFL. Â There’s also the increase responsibility of being “veteran” player; rookie running backs (as well as all rookies for that matter) are often given more simple assignments and only asked to do things they are already comfortable doing. Â With another offseason, 2nd year running backs are expected to fully know the offense, which for a running back includes protecting the quarterback, running a more diverse route tree, etc. Â With more things to think about and being put in more foreign situations likely results in a dip in production as well.