GREEN BAY — Eddie Lacy isn’t really into comparables.
The Packers’ running back couldn’t tell you how his start to the 2016 season measures up to his previous three NFL seasons or the rest of the league for that matter.
For Lacy, success or failure is defined by proper pad level, broken tackles and how well he takes care of the football. If those three things are in alignment, he’s pleased with the outcome.
Statistically speaking, Lacy is off to a solid start with 43 carries for 214 yards (5.0 yards per carry), which ranks 12th among all NFL running backs.
More importantly, his 17 carries for 103 yards on Sunday went a long way toward establishing an early lead and preserving a 34-27 Packers victory over the Lions at Lambeau Field.
“Personally I think I’m off to a pretty good start,” Lacy said. “The offensive line is giving me opportunities and I’m taking advantage of it, but it’s still early in the season. I just have to continue to keep rolling.”
The Packers were highly successful running with Lacy in the preseason (20 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown) but admittedly got away from the run in the first two weeks of the regular season.
Lacy factored heavily into the Packers’ game plan for Detroit after Head Coach Mike McCarthy proclaimed last week that the offense needed to run the ball more consistently going forward.
The Packers used Lacy as their vehicle for making that a reality against the Lions, opening in an I-formation that catapulted Lacy to 42 yards on six attempts in the first half, including a 25-yard gain.
Green Bay then began tossing Lacy the ball out of a single-back set in the third quarter. He generated 30 yards on four consecutive carries on the opening series of the second half, helping set up an eventual 46-yard Mason Crosby field goal.
Lacy couldn’t quantify exactly why the toss was so effective against the Lions, but he admitted that the play seems to work for him. For the Packers, it proved to be a productive change of pace.
“It’s a different look for the defense,” said offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett of the toss. “I think he does an outstanding job running those type of inside zones and our offensive line did an outstanding job creating creases for him, and he took advantage of it.”
Bennett’s favorite part of the running game’s performance on Sunday was how many times Lacy kept his feet churning, which allowed the offensive line to push him for extra yards on a few occasions.
When the Packers needed to close out the game, Lacy responded with his 9-yard gain on second-and-1 at the two-minute warning to thwart any hopes of a comeback for the Lions.
Afterward, several players in the Packers’ locker room praised Lacy’s performance for helping the passing offense establish momentum early and allowing the Packers to put away the Lions in the second half.
Likewise, Lacy felt the big plays the passing game generated in the first half – one play of at least 30 yards on each of the first three offensive drives – helped create opportunities for the running game to succeed.
“I felt like we did a good job of one helping the other,” Lacy said. “There were a few pass plays that helped open up the run and then runs that helped open up the pass. I think we’re definitely on the same page with that.”
After an up-and-down season in 2015, it would appear that the extra work Lacy put in this offseason has translated to the field. He played 70 percent of the offensive snaps (38 of 54 plays) on Sunday.
The Packers came into the season with questions about Lacy and two new starting offensive linemen in left guard Lane Taylor and center JC Tretter, but the run game has been off to a solid start so far.
The key is maintaining that momentum once the Packers return from their Week 3 bye. Lacy plans to spend the week off back home with his family in Louisiana, but he understands the task at hand once he comes back.
“It gives us confidence,” said Lacy of the run game’s success on Sunday. “I think the offensive line did a great job, tight ends and receivers did a great job blocking and opening holes. I was able to take advantage of what they gave me.
“It just gives us confidence and lets us know if we have to run the ball, we can definitely do so.”
Spofford: Turns out Packers need early bye