4 Downs: Packers smart to let Eddie Lacy depart
Every week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ 17-9 defeat of the Seahawks on Sunday
We got a good look Sunday at why the Packers were smart to draw a financial line with running back Eddie Lacy last offseason. Their former running back ended up leaving them for a one-year deal with Seattle that was loaded with weight incentives. He receives $55,000 each time he makes weight, and reportedly did so in May (under 255 pounds), June and August (under 250) and September (under 245). He can make the same money for being under 245 for weigh-ins once a month for the rest of the regular season. So much for weight clauses making all the difference. On Sunday against the Packers he gained five yards on three carries. He ran hard — he always does that — and he still has a good spin move. But he lacked the speed to get around the edge when he tried to bounce a run outside, and just can’t create like he did in his first two seasons with the Packers, when he was much lighter. I’m sure he’ll have some good games this season, but he’s just not the same guy who weighed in the low 230s when the Packers drafted him in 2013. Not even close.
Coach Mike McCarthy and/or his analytics staff made a big mistake when they used timeouts while on defense at the end of the first half. It ended up gifting Seattle three points. Seattle was pinned at its 11 with 55 seconds left and was happy to run out the clock and go into halftime at 0-0. McCarthy had only two timeouts and used them after the first two runs. That left 43 seconds on the clock on third down. McCarthy couldn’t stop the clock again, so if Seattle didn’t convert a run, the play would have taken at least three seconds, and the Seahawks could have burned the the rest of the half by letting the 40-second play clock run down. Instead, the Seahawks converted third down, called time out, hit a pass for 34 yards, got 29 more on a Russell Wilson scramble, and kicked a field goal to go into the half ahead 3-0.
One play in particular showed what a big difference pressure on the quarterback can make even if it doesn’t yield a sack. In the second quarter, Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett sprung wide open deep when cornerback Davon House got caught peeking in the backfield. The play had the makings of an easy 43-yard touchdown pass. But Mike Daniels beat his block and forced Wilson to rush his throw — Daniels hit the quarterback just after he released the ball. Wilson overshot Lockett, so the play was a big nothing. Also worth noting, Wilson missed a couple open deep shots last year early in the Packers’ 38-10 win.
At least to start the season, the Packers’ top draft pick, Kevin King, isn’t among their top three cornerbacks. Coordinator Dom Capers used his nitro package almost the entire game — that’s a nickel defense where safety Morgan Burnett is one of the two inside linebackers. The three cornerbacks on the field were House and Damarious Randall on the outside, and Quinten Rollins in the slot. King came on in the last couple weeks of training camp, but Capers stuck with Rollins ahead of him — if King makes the top three, he’d play on the outside and Randall would move to the slot. You have to wonder if one of the reasons for going with Rollins on Sunday was to help the run defense. He’s a better run defender than Randall. The nitro already is a smaller defense with Burnett at inside linebacker, so Capers might have wanted his best slot run defender on the field to help compensate.