Welcome back to Pack to the Past! This week is the week we’ve all been waiting for. It’s almost too much. The party is on and the Packers and the Seahawks are doing double-shots to get this thing off the ground. I mean, this could very well be the most important game of the season! Give me a game against the Ravens or something to get going, I need to soak for a while.

Not only is this the start of the season, this is the return of the prodigal son. I’m, of course, talking about Eddie Lacy. Sometime in the distant past, the Green Bay Packers’ running game was the Chupacabra of the NFL. No one believed it existed, but everyone was scared of the idea.

Then we drafted the sweet bowling ball from Alabama in the second round before 2013 and life changed for us. Granted that was the year we lost Aaron for half the season, but Lacy was really the only bright spot on the offense that year.

But now, with tears in our eyes, we bid farewell to the most lovable guy to ever bust a spin move. Worse yet, we gave him up to the greatest rival we have outside of the division.  And that’s not a question. Don’t believe me?

There has been no greater threat to the Packers and my sanity than Seattle for the last 5-6 years. But, it’s cool Eddie. I forgive you. Too many people made fat jokes. I get it. Also, Ty Montgomery kind of stepped in and took your spot.

Granted, I think Ty is a great player. But Eddie Lacy was one of the most cheerful and infectiously happy people I’ve ever had the pleasure of rooting for. That’s why he’s going to be the focus of this week’s Pack to the Past.

It’s Not Easy Being Neon Green

I was tempted to name the title of this post “The Return of the Hulk”, noting our wayward running back’s penchant for wearing a “Hulk” undershirt for games. However, I decided it’s time that we start taking the guy seriously. His blithe attitude has the effect of making people underestimate him and I think it’s about time that we estimate him, to paraphrase Michael Scott.

Lacy took the ball and went home (Really he just took starting RB money from Seattle, who wouldn’t?) in a move that left Packers, not surprised, but morose. Lacy was a fan favorite, he was someone you could count on for a great play or two every game. But, he was somewhat prone to mistakes and could also be counted on to miss games every year for various causes. It’s easy to forget that Lacy was the Rookie of the Year not so long ago, how did we get here? Interestingly, we can find many of the answers from looking at various Packers v. Seahawks games over the years.

WEEK 1 – 2014

GREEN BAY PACKERS AT THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

SEPTEMBER 9TH, 2014

FINAL: SEA-36 GB-16

It’s hard not to draw an immediate comparison to this game. Both teams came into the year with sky-high expectations. Rodgers was back after committing a heinous murder in Chicago the year before. We had stolen Julius Peppers to heal a leaky defense. We were going somewhere. Feels familiar, I’d say. The Seahawks were fresh off their destruction of the Denver Broncos and were on top of the world. It looked like a heavyweight fight was in order.

What a dud.

The Seahawks seemed beatable at first. The Packers were able to win the first quarter 7-3. The rest of the game they were outscored 33-9, if that even needed to be said. The Seahawks outgained our offense 255-398, killing us with over 200 yards on the ground. It seemed our leaky defense had not improved from the previous year, when Kaepernick sent us packing with a massive performance through the air. Whatever happened to that guy?

Seen here explaining to Blaine “The Brain” Gabbert for the
4th time that he wasn’t just “tying his shoes” during the anthem.

The biggest factor in this game ended up being ball control. The Packers held the ball for significantly less time than Seattle, due primarily to Green Bay’s inability to either stop the run or run it themselves. The Packers were only able to gain 80 yards on the ground–the passing game wasn’t much better. So, what the hell happened?

The Hell That Happened

Eddie Lacy was injured early in the first half and did not return for the rest of the game. All offseason the Packers had spent their time converting the Aaron Rodger’s-led offense into a smash mouth affair that would (eventually) become nigh unstoppable. The Seahawks sure stopped us that night, limiting Lacy to just 34 yards on 12 carries. Starks actually had a better game with 37 yards on just 7 carries.  Sprinkle in an Aaron Rodgers interception and an injured lineman and you have the recipe you need to lose big on the road in Week 1.

This year is definitely going to be different. The Seahawks are no longer the same juggernaut they were that year, when they lost in the Super Bowl to the Patriots. The Packers come in with an upgraded defense and an offense that projects to be just as potent. It is unlikely the Seahawks will be able to dominate on the ground in the same way. It can be sure, with Thomas Rawls possibly missing the game, that Lacy will be the doombringer if that does come to pass.

2014 NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

GREEN BAY PACKERS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

JANUARY 18TH, 2015

FINAL: GB-22 SEA-28

Oof. If you read my piece on the Seahawks last year, you are aware that I actively avoid this game. I avoid this game like I avoid my racist grandparents. I avoid this game like the inevitable reality that my existence will come to an end. I hate this game. Still, it’s on in the background as I write this. I don’t know. I guess I’ve come to a point where it doesn’t fill me with existential dread about the heat-death of the universe. I mean, do I exist simply to be tortured by an unfeeling creator? I wasn’t able to answer that question by watching this game again. But I did learn some things.

 

For instance, we learned that Russell Wilson is made of literal steel.
That dude was definitely concussed.

Lessons From the Past

  1. This might have been the first time that I had ever heard of Connor McGregor. He introduced himself (using a way more pronounced accent) to America that day on a bump between plays. Who knew he would turn out the way he did, huh? They called him the Irish Muhammad Ali, which is just…I don’t know.
  2. There were 5 turnovers in the first half. Both quarterbacks are known for their ball security. I blame grunge.
  3. Wilson threw 4 picks in this game! The Seahawks had 5 total turnovers! 2 of which happened in the second half–when the Packers did not turn it over at all.
  4. Aikman and Buck noted, with 9 1/2 minutes to go in the second quarter, that the Packers had dominated the time of possession by nearly 12 minutes to start the game. What happened man. What happened.

I might actually have an answer here and it pains me to say this: Eddie Lacy straight up disappeared. I don’t know if he was winded or if Seattle simply started playing the run with more effectiveness, but Lacy absolutely disappeared.

Aikman, himself, mentions in the 2nd quarter that Lacy had already gained more yards than he had in the Week 1 game. Eddie did have a few splash plays that got us into scoring position. However, he was only able to gain about 30 more yards for the rest of the game. On 21 carries, he gained just 73 yards for the game. He was targeted 3 times and didn’t manage a catch.

There is no need to put the blame solely on Lacy. He was an important cog–but he was just a cog. However, when you’re trying to ice the game against the Seahawks, 3.5 yards per attempt simply does not cut it.

The Packers offense had not been challenged much that year, leading the league in scoring and blowing teams out with regularity. When they couldn’t move the ball, it seemed like they couldn’t figure out the formula for the rest of the game. I’m not certain the Packers’ offense recovered until the “Run the Table” episode last season.

Available Now!

What does all of this amount to? The fact is, Eddie Lacy is a very specific type of running back. He’s a great choice when you have strong lineman to pull out and lead him down the field. But, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers really aren’t built for that anymore.

The thing that saved this team last year was letting Aaron loose and getting back to the roots that started this wild ride in 2008. The fact is, it was a fun run–Lacy will always hold a place in my heart. But, this is a different Packers team without him and it just might be better. Let’s see if we can get some different results, too. Welcome back, friends.


 

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