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Archive for the tag “Eddie Lacy”

Derrick Henry Will Not Live Up To The Hype In The NFL

(photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer)

(photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer)

The running back position has been one that has been devalued over time. Instead of many teams picking running backs in the first round, teams are starting to get running backs in the second, third and fourth rounds and even getting good ones as undrafted free agents (Thomas Rawls from Seattle comes to mind there). But every year, there is a top running back that garners enough attention that a first round pick is mentioned next to their name. One of those running backs this year is Alabama running back Derrick Henry. The 6’3”, 242 pound Florida native was the engine behind Alabama’s offense and helped lead them to the National Title this season. And along the way, he scooped up the prestigious Heisman Trophy award in New York City. The size, speed and power of Henry is something that some think will translate well to the NFL. There is no denying that there will be some teams that will see him as being a feature back for them. But unfortunately, his success at the college level may not translate to the NFL. Despite the great measureables and numbers he put up at Alabama this season and over his career, the NFL game is not a place where we will see him succeed.

Plenty speak of Henry and his power when he runs along with his speed. But have many even really watched him play. There is no doubt that he can run, but Henry is a long-strider when he runs. He often is like a runaway train once he gets it going. But the problem at the next level will be getting his speed generated quicker. Many times, Henry will not have the type of time he had when running behind that line at the University of Alabama. And that means he will have to get through the holes quicker and faster. With his long strides, that may be an issues. And because of that, those long runs that we saw him have in college could be few and far between. The difference between him and a guy like Rams rookie sensation Todd Gurley is that Gurley has explosion as soon as he gets the ball. He does not need that much room or that many steps to get his speed going. Henry does need that and he will definitely need a solid like that can afford him that time.

Another issue will be Henry in the passing game. Derrick Henry can catch the ball and that is no issue. Many did not see him get to catch the ball much, but remember this play he made in the 2014 Sugar Bowl versus Oklahoma:

Notice he had time to catch the ball, square his shoulders and generate some speed. In the NFL, it is highly doubtful that a man of his size will standing as wide open as he was in this play. And if he does, then that defense deserves whatever comes their way. But the thing about Henry is he will probably not be a back that can be used on all three downs. His quickness to run the option routes out of the backfield is something that will not scare many teams. Running those options routes requires a shifty back with sudden movements. Henry is not that type of back quite honestly. Screen passes will be something that he will be helpful in doing for the team that drafts him. But he will not be the guy you can look at to make that explosive play outside of a screen pass at all.

Drafting Henry would not be that bad at all if he was drafted in the second or even third round. But because of where he will probably be taken, he may not be able to live up to where he is picked. Henry was excellent in college. But the thing he lacks that backs like Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon from Alabama had was that explosion through the hole along with the quick and shifty feet. And unfortunately, that is something that you cannot develop as much at this stage in the game. Quite honestly, Henry could end up being like another big back that came out of the SEC almost a decade ago. His name was Brandon Jacobs. It would be great to see Henry do well and I wish him nothing but the best. But looking at film of him, he will have some struggles at the next level. And with him being a first round pick more than likely, that could mean he won’t live up to the hype.

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Are The Green Bay Packers Getting It Going At The Right Time?

(photo courtesy of Associated Press)

(photo courtesy of Associated Press)

The Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins were going in opposite directions going into the playoffs. The Packers entered the playoffs on a two-game losing streak. They had been embarrassed on national television against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16 38-8. And in the season finale going for the division crown, the Packers lost to the Vikings at home 20-13. The feeling around the Packers were that they had some issues on both sides of the football. Defensively, the Packers were solid up front. But in their secondary, there were some things going on there that were not conducive to good defense. Who can forget how the Cardinals had some fun at their expense in Week 16? But not to be left out, the offense definitely had their share of issues. The running game has been inconsistent all season long for the Packers offense and Eddie Lacy had not been himself. The wide receivers had not been able to get separation so Rodgers could throw them the ball. And the offensive line has been depleted all year. The feeling some in media had was that the hot team, the Washington Redskins, were better than the Packers at this point in the season. And if they were able to come out and jump on the Packers, then the Redskins would be marching on to the next game. But little did we know, the real Packers would come to play.

The Redskins came out and shook up Green Bay at first. The Redskins sacked Rogers in the endzone making it 2-0. And the Redskins took the next possession and drove it all the way down into Packers territory. From there, the Redskins squandered an opportunity while the Packers stood up. The Redskins thought they had scored when DeSean Jackson ran a dig across the field and got free. It appeared Jackson beat the defender to the pylon, but unfortunately Jackson did not stick the ball inside the pylon. That nullified the touchdown and put the ball at one-yard line. From there, the Packers defense made a stand. They stuffed the Redskins three straight times to force a field goal. The result of doing that missed opportunity was the potential four points that was left out there. The Packers had not shown that type of resolve in a few weeks and when put in a tough situation, they responded to the adversity instead of crumbling under the pressure. And as far as the running game, the Redskins had only 84 total rushing yards. That is outstanding rush defense.

But this was not all the Packers defense did. The aforementioned DeSean Jackson is an electrifying player. He can score from any angle on the field and make it look real nice while it’s happening. Against the Packers, it seemed the defense was clued into him and his abilities. And even though tight end Jordan Reed had a great day(9 receptions for 120 yards and 1 touchdown), the Packers were able to hold Jackson to just two receptions for 17 yards, with his longest being that reception that he should have scored on. The Packers communicated with each other and in doing so, helped each other do their jobs and keep Jackson in check. He did test them a few times down the field, but Green Bay was right there to swat the ball away. The young defensive backs of the Green Bay Packers (Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randle) handled the pressure of keeping up with Jackson and the Redskins passing attack quite well. And as a whole, the defense held the duo of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson to under 100 yards total. That kind of defense, along with them putting heat on Cousins all game, will make any offense uncomfortable.

The defense played well, but the offense turned a corner on Sunday. It looked like the fun was out of the game in the last few weeks for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He was visibly frustrated at what was going on. He started off rough, but he soon found his rhythm. He would end up getting it going in the passing game to Randall Cobb, James Jones and Davante Adams. The one that got him even more pumped up was the score before halftime. The defense had held the Redskins before the two-minute warning and got the ball back to the offense. And the Packers took it 60 yards for the score before halftime. That throw and that drive let people know that Rodgers was really feeling good and the confidence the offense was missing had started to reappear. Rodgers would only throw for 210 yards, but he was solid and looked like he was at the beginning of the year. And as far as the offensive line, they held up admirably after giving up the sack for a safety early in the game.

The passing game looked good, but the element of the run was a welcomed addition to this game. All season there has been no consistency there. When Lacy and James Starks were present, the team and the offense looked better and was able to win. When Lacy and Starks were not running the ball well, the Packers faced even more challenges to their offense. Sunday, the Packers’ running backs came out and ran the ball hard and tough. Eddie Lacy ran for 63 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown, including a crucial 30 yard run in the second half. And as for James Starks, he ran for 53 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. When these two are running the football with conviction and toughness, the Packers are a tough team to beat. And with the holes the Packers offensive line was opening, it was definitely a sight for sore eyes to see that size of a hole. But what made their performances even better is they did not have to have the big holes to make yardage. There were a few times that Starks and Lacy had to duck their heads and get what they could get. And both realized that and did what they had to do. Eventually, they helped tire out the defense and make Aaron Rodgers even more lethal. When a passer like Rodgers gets a running game, it can keep the defenses guessing all game long. And that is something you don’t want with Rodgers at the helm.

Overall, the Packers looked like a much different team than they did the last few weeks of the year. And because of the polish they showed, they looked like the team that everyone thought they would be all season long. After this 35-18 win, the Packers head back to the desert to play the Arizona Cardinals next weekend. It will be interesting if they can carry the momentum from this win to next week or if it was just a win against the winner of a pretty bad division.

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The Sky Is Falling In Green Bay

(photo courtesy of Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(photo courtesy of Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The Green Bay Packers are a team many look to as a contender for the Lombardi Trophy. The offense has arguably the best quarterback in the game in Aaron Rodgers and plenty of weapons at his disposal. And as far as the defense, they have linebacker Clay Matthews and a mixture of veterans and young, talented players. The Packers lost veteran wide receiver Jordy Nelson in the preseason and that made some think their offense would sputter. But after a 6-0 start, there was not many questions about the Packers. The offense was performing beautifully and the defense was causing headaches. That 6-0 start had many thinking the Packers were arguably the best team in the NFL. Well, all that thinking seems like a distant memory. In the last three weeks, the Packers have gone winless. The Broncos, Lions and Panthers took it to Green Bay in consecutive weeks and the Packers now look like a team that has to figure it out again. So what has been the source of the issues the last two weeks with them?

The Packers’ defense has been an issue the last few weeks. But it has not been the front seven that has been the biggest issue. The secondary, led by safety Morgan Burnett, was expected to take advantage of their front seven and the pressure they can create. Well, in the last three weeks, they have been exposed a little. In the game against the Broncos, it seemed like they were going after cornerback Casey Heyward. And every time they went at him, they had great success. Against the Panthers, it seemed like leaks were sprung everywhere and that led to Cam Newton and the Panthers lighting them up in the air. And finally they played better against the Lions, but just could not do enough to silence the Lions and Matt Stafford through the air (Lions scored both touchdowns through the air today). Sam Shields being missing for one of those games is something Packers fans may want to look at, but he was present for two of these games and in the Denver one, it seemed as if he was not there at all. Whatever the case may be with the Packers and their secondary, they must work to resolve it before the season gets away from them.

The Packers have problems defensively, but there are issues offensively as well. The receivers not being able to get separation and beat man coverage is one, but that isn’t the biggest one that is hurting them right now. We all know that Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. And over his career, he has carried the Packers offense plenty of times. But for this offense to be Super Bowl caliber, they must have a running game. This season, Eddie Lacy was expected to be the man and carry that burden. But unfortunately, injuries and ineffective play have plagued him. And with his stumble there, the Packers tried James Starks again as the starter. The results have been less than stellar and today Rodgers had to throw the football 61 times to even keep the Packers in the game. And what is even more puzzling is Rodgers and the Packers only put up 16 points. This high-flying team misses veteran wide receiver Jordy Nelson. But what they miss most is a consistent running game. If that is to get on track, then maybe the offensive struggles would not be as bad as they have been. Whether it be Starks or Lacy, one of these young players has to step up and be the man. If not, then everything will continue to be on Rodgers’ shoulders. And it’s not to say Rodgers cannot handle that, but this team has Super Bowl aspirations. That will not happen with Rodgers becoming a gunslinger in the pocket.

With this third loss, the Packers have now lost the lead in the division to the Minnesota Vikings. And heading into next weekend, they are headed up north to see Minnesota. If they play the way they have been playing, they could be in trouble. The Vikings have found themselves and Adrian Peterson is starting to get in a groove. But if they can find a way to get the issues with their secondary and their running game solved, then maybe we get a different team come next Sunday. Whatever the case may be, the Packers have entered a dangerous part of their season and if they are to lose against Minnesota, their season could go in a tailspin. It should be interesting to see what happens next in Green Bay.

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