Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy appears to fit the team’s need for better Red Zone conversions in 2017. But Lacy has never been used as a goal-line workhorse before.
Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy seems to fit perfectly in an offense that badly needs help scoring from inside their opponents’ 20-yard-line in 2017. A big, physical back (maybe too big), Lacy seems to fit the mold of a classic goal line pounder a la Marshawn Lynch in the days of yore, or former Ducks and Patriots running back (and ultimate jerk*) LeGarrette Blount.
But, looking over Lacy’s useage by the Green Bay Packers over the past four seasons, I noticed that he wasn’t relied upon to punch the ball in from inside five or ten yards as much as other so-called goal-line running backs around the league.
Do the Seahawks have a Goal-Line Back in Lacy?
For this exercise, I’m using Blount as the prototypical goal-line back. He led the NFL in rushing touchdowns last season for the World Champion New England Patriots, who used him expertly to punch the ball into the end zone from inside the five yard-line. I’m using statistics available on FootballReference.com.
Of his career-high and league-leading 18 touchdowns last season, Blount scored 13 from his opponent’s five yard-line or closer. Incredibly, he scored 11 touchdowns from the one yard-line last year. He scored 72% of his touchdowns from five yards out or less.
I still think Lacy could be a useful, or even a star player, for the Seahawks next season, but he doesn’t appear to be the battering ram on the goal-line I thought he was.
Let’s compare Blount’s season of goal line plunges with Lacy’s 2014 season, in which he scored 13 total touchdowns and accounted for 1566 yards from scrimmage. I chose Lacy’s 2014 season because that was the last year he was the feature back for the Packers, before he Bogarted himself out of favor.
Of Lacy’s 13 TDs, nine were rushing scores. Of those, six came from the five yard-line or closer. One receiving score came from an Aaron Rodgers dump-off for one yard. If we include that touchdown, Lacy scored seven of his 13 total TDs from the five yard-line or closer, or 53.8%.
I initially thought highly of Lacy’s signing because I thought he could help the Seahawks score in the Red Zone more. They were 25th in the league in Red Zone scoring in 2016. I still think Lacy could be a useful, or even a star player, for the Seahawks next season, but he doesn’t appear to be the battering ram on the goal-line I thought he was.
That Doesn’t Mean He Can’t Be…
Touchdowns are dependent on player usage. That’s why they’re difficult to predict for a given player. We could criticize how the Packers used Lacy all day versus how the Patriots used Blount, but the fact is Lacy hasn’t been used as a go-to, prototypical goal line back in his career yet.
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Under the leadership of Darrell Bevell, Pete Carroll, and Tom Cable, Lacy could become a bulldozer for the Seahawks at their opponents’ goal lines in 2017 and lead the league in touchdowns, much like Blount. Just don’t assume he’ll take the role from the beginning based solely on his girth. Unlike Blount**, Lacy is useful catching passes out of the backfield as well (101 catches for 900 yards and six touchdowns in his career), so we could see an expanded role for him supplanting Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise next year.
I’ll set the over/under for Lacy’s touchdown total at seven. Will you take the over or the under?
*I substituted the word ‘jerk’ for a word some might consider offensive. Remember his trolling of Lynch after The Game That Will Not Be Named? Socking a guy in the jaw? Full disclosure: I drafted him for my fantasy team. Touchdowns are touchdowns, although I still missed the playoffs.
**Lacy also seems like a nice guy, unlike Blount.