GREEN BAY—About the only thing Eddie Lacy didn’t do on Sunday night in New Orleans was get in the end zone, but that was an issue for the entire offense.
Lacy “played probably his best game as a Packer” against the Saints, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday, as the second-year running back racked up 182 yards from scrimmage, including a career-best 123 receiving on eight catches.
Breaking several tackles on his 13 rushes as well as on several screens and checkdown throws, Lacy also handled his pass-protection responsibilities with aplomb. McCarthy noted Lacy read and reacted perfectly to the Saints’ pass rush on the first third down of the game, the one that resulted in a 70-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb.
“That’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the complete player that he is,” McCarthy said. “The opportunities came last night. He’s a lot more than just a big, 230-pound back. I was very pleased with the way he played.”
While McCarthy has at times criticized himself for not handing the ball off to Lacy enough this season, he has shifted the focus somewhat to how often Lacy gets the ball, no matter how he gets it. He had the ball in his hands 21 times overall against the Saints and averaged 8.7 yards per play, highlighted by a 67-yard catch-and-run on an early screen.
“I think you have to focus on touches,” McCarthy said. “Let’s not forget who our quarterback is. It’s important for us to get the ball to our players, our perimeter players, and Eddie is one of those guys, whether he carries it, whether he catches it.”
Unfortunately, Lacy’s production and the offense’s in general didn’t result in enough points. Two turnovers and three field goals on five prime scoring opportunities doomed the Packers in a noisy road venue against a high-powered opponent.
It also didn’t help that the Saints were in high gear two-dimensionally, with a strong running game setting up play-action and deep shots through the air.
New Orleans running back Mark Ingram, Lacy’s former Alabama teammate, rolled up 172 rushing yards on 24 carries. He gashed the Packers for 124 of those yards on 14 carries in the second half, an unsightly 8.9 average, as the Saints scored touchdowns on four straight possessions, twice with short fields following a turnover on downs and failed onside kick.
“The run defense was our Achilles’ heel,” McCarthy said. “That’s where it all started. Play-action comes off the run game production; missed tackles led to that production. That was clearly not our best effort.”
For their bye week, the players are off until next Monday, when McCarthy said they’ll reconvene to review the film from New Orleans and hit the practice field to begin preparing for the Bears’ visit to Lambeau Field on Nov. 9.
By design, the film review didn’t occur right away, because McCarthy feels the team will benefit more if it’s tied into the next stage of preparation, rather than as a pre-bye wrap-up. It’s part of the schedule he changed from his earlier years as a head coach.
“I think sometimes those lessons get lost, especially coming after a loss, and after a loss as we lost last night,” he said.
“We knew we were going into a hot situation against a very good football team that needed to win the game. I love that opportunity. It’s something we needed. We did not take advantage of that. But with that, we’ll learn from it.” ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - OCT. 27