The strange lack of production from running back Eddie Lacy was one of the biggest question marks surrounding the Green Bay Packers in recent weeks and finally, Sunday in Minnesota, Lacy looked like his old self.
To be fair, Lacy was suffering from a nagging injury since the Kansas City game. And it always appeared to me that something was not quite right with Lacy, who relies on his normally incredible footwork like all great backs do.
Yet for some reason the explosiveness, the power, and the change-of-direction just wasn’t there. And in the NFL you need to break tackles and make people miss. Defenses are just too good to get blocked for long. So it’s up to the back to make people miss and with an ankle injury among other ailments, Lacy just couldn’t do the things he is accustomed to doing.
But with a few wrinkles offensively and a week off to get healthy, Lacy turned back the clock to his first two dominating seasons in the league.
The former second-round pick destroyed the Vikings defense and did it mostly with his ability to avoid tacklers. According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the Packers offensive line was less than stellar and he it with nine-and-a-half bad runs (plays that gain one yard or less) and if wasn’t for Lacy’s impressive performance, the running game wouldn’t have gone anywhere.
One thing that appeared to help Lacy was the pistol.
You may remember Green Bay using the pistol formation last season when Aaron Rodgers was dealing with his calf injury. And after looking at the game again, the increased use of the pistol was something that stood out.
Essentially it allows the quarterback and the offense to be in more of a spread-type set, while still giving the running back a chance to gain forward momentum before the run. The problem with the shotgun is that taking the handoff from that spot forces you to go lateral first, instead of forward.
The Packers went to the pistol and often times used it with a fullback and a tight end and two wide receivers or with a fullback and three receivers. And for whatever reason, Lacy felt comfortable in that formation and ran extremely well out of it.
For that matter, Rodgers played well out of the pistol a season ago and with the recent struggles the Packers have experienced offensively it’s possible that we could see more and more of the formation as the season goes on.
At this point if it works don’t stop doing it.