The Packers running game has been hindered the last 2 seasons with the inability of Eddie Lacy to stay healthy or in-shape. The Packers as a team ran for 106.3 yards per game with a 4.5 avg on 374 attempts for 1,701 yards and 11 TD. The Packers had 13 runs of over 20 yards with 2 over 40 yards.
The Packers have one of the top 3 QB in the NFL still in his prime. Without Aaron Rodgers last year’s squad doesn’t come remotely close to playing in the NFC Conference Championship. That team should be proud of how far they went. So much pressure is put on Rodgers for the Packers to win a game. More production from the running game in short yardage and goal-line should be one of the top priorities of Ted Thompson and Co. this offseason. Too many 3rd and short plays end with Rodgers chucking the ball downfield for an incompletion. Green Bay often blows leads because they can’t run the ball to salt away games. The Packers are built around the passing game so pass protection is crucial to playing time for running backs.
Ty Montgomery led the team in rushing with 457 yards a 5.9 ypc and 3 TD. Eddie Lacy carried 71 times for 360 yards for a 5.1 ypc and 0 TD. Aaron Rodgers led the team in rushing TD with 4. Montgomery looked explosive after finally making the position switch to Running Back. Durability concerns for me keep Montgomery as a back that should play a significant part of a rotation instead of a bell cow role.
Lacy the last 2 seasons has disappeared in games with an inconsistent workload. The YPC is manipulated with a lack of carries. Lacy has scored 3 TD in the last 2 seasons and consistently been inconsistent. The ankle surgery was more complicated than originally reported as Lacy revealed. Multiple screws, wires, and a plate were added to his ankle to help with a deltoid ligament injury. Reportedly Lacy should be ready to go by training camp.
Odds are Lacy will be back in Green Bay on a cheap 1-yr prove it deal. I would look to move on from Lacy completely. Spend that money on your defense or to help keep an offensive lineman. Playing in the NFL is a privilege and Lacy has proven to be out of shape each of the last 2 seasons. As an organization why settle? Your championship window is still open. I’ve dismissed Christine Michael as a contributing NFL Running Back at this stage of his career.
A high priced free agent running back would take away money from filling another need. Adrian Peterson and Latavius Murray may be out of Ted Thompson’s price range. AP would have to come cheap to play in Green Bay while Murray is looking to break the bank. A lower cost free agent paired with a mid- to late round pick would be the route I would pursue. Rashad Jennings looks finished, but if there is one veteran running back that I would pursue if released. The Cowboys are reportedly trying to trade Alfred Morris for a late round pick. Morris doesn’t fit in as a backup to Zeke Elliott because of his inability to play in the passing game. Morris only rushed 69 times last season. With 3 seasons of 1,000 plus yards at age 28 I believe Morris can still play. Morris would give a different look next to Ty Montgomery and leave money to pursue other free agents.
This years draft provides potential backs to upgrade the position. Young running backs often struggle in pass protection and blitz pickup, that’s where Montgomery comes into play. LSU’s Leonard Fournette, FSU’s Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford are regarded as the top 3 backs of a deep class. The Packers may have to trade up quite a bit to get Fournette or Cook. The Packers have other holes and may fill a need on defense instead of drafting McCaffrey that early.
Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon will probably be off some teams draft boards due to character concerns. At some point in this upcoming draft Mixon’s talent will outweigh the character concerns based off the draft slot. I don’t believe the Packers would take a chance on Mixon. There are a lot of running backs eligible in this draft, but these are the few that I believe would fit draft cost wise for the Packers.
Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara is an all-around back could that make the adjustment quickly to blitz pickup in the NFL. Kamara is an explosive runner-receiver. The threat of the screen has been missing in Green Bay for years. Kamara needs improvement in setting up blocks reading lanes. The 4.56 40 yard time doesn’t change my opinion of him. I value game film more so than combine statistics. Special team’s contributions would help as the Packers returners averaged 19.7 yards per kickoff return and 9.0 yards per punt return. Squeezing out a few more short fields would help the offense.
Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine is a banger that could be paired with Ty Montgomery in short yardage or goal-line situations. Perine would be more of a check down or screen threat than Lacy. Speed isn’t his game, it’s running thru defenders. Perine avoided workload concerns by splitting time with Mixon in college.
Tarik Cohen of North Carolina A&T is one of the players I plan to follow closely this draft. Cohen is nicknamed “The Human Joystick.” You can’t teach a player that type of footwork. I believe many of the knocks on Cohen can be corrected with proper coaching. Lack of special teams experience may also hurt his draft stock. I’m willing to gamble on coaching up Cohen.
There are plenty of options out there at Running Back if the Packers decide to move on from Eddie Lacy. Free agency and or the draft provide solid options. You now know where I stand on the issue.