Eddie Lacy got to touch the football a lot in the Seattle Seahawks’ 24-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers. To the surprise of no one other than presumably the Seahawks coaching staff, he was mostly ineffective.
Lacy earned a season-high 17 carries, but only gained 46 yards. He also picked up an additional 15 yards on a season-best 3 catches. That’s 20 touches for 61 yards, or just slightly over 3 yards per touch, and coming into the 49ers game he’d averaged exactly... 3 yards per touch. Lacy got extended playing time and performed in song with his already brutal stat-line, as well as failing to get into the end zone on a goal-line situation yet again.
Through eight games played, Lacy has 176 yards on 68 carries, to go along with 6 catches for 47 yards. Fullbacks can do better than that. He has 223 scrimmage yards, 44 yards less than Chris Carson, who last played on October 1st. His DVOA and DYAR are both third-to-last among rushers with at least 17 and no more than 87 attempts (Thomas Rawls is dead last, by the way). JD McKissic wasn’t even active on game days until week 4, and he’s at 317 yards on just 54 touches.
Carroll said in the post-game press conference that Lacy “ran hard,” which... doesn’t mean much to me whatsoever.
I thought he ran hard, ran tough. I liked it. That was the first time we had a chance to feel Eddie." -- Carroll on Eddie Lacy's day.— Curtis Crabtree (@Curtis_Crabtree) November 27, 2017
I’m reminded of the 2007 season, in which Shaun Alexander was pretty much shot to pieces, yet Mike Holmgren insisted on running Alexander despite Maurice Morris being far more effective under any meaningful statistical measurement. In fairness to Pete Carroll, Seattle has had to rotate its running back usage on a weekly basis, so he is arguably correct that this is the most that they’ve gotten to actually use Lacy as the predominant ball carrier, but the results are appalling.
Mike Davis returns to the lineup this week following his groin injury that kept him out of the 49ers game. He only had 18 yards on 6 carries against the Atlanta Falcons, but he also had a pair of 20+ yard receptions on screen passes, and has some speed and decisiveness in the open field that Lacy flat out lacks. McKissic isn’t an every down back, but he doesn’t have to be. He has clear value as a receiver, can be used on outside pitches to get blockers out in space, and while he runs hard (just like Lacy!), he finishes his runs with the type of oomph that is largely devoid when Lacy is getting ankle-tackled time after time after time. The offensive line has done a disservice to every Seahawks running back this season, but if you subtracted the longest runs for both Carson and McKissic, their average YPC is still more than a full yard better than Lacy. I wonder why that is?
Given the depth situation right now, I advocate Davis as the primary ball carrier, with McKissic’s touches increased to at least 15, and either Rawls or Lacy is the distant third option, with the “loser” of the two penciled in as a healthy scratch. At this stage, it looks like Rawls has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff, and I suppose if there’s one area where Lacy is better than Rawls, it’s in pass protection. What cannot happen is a repeat of this past Sunday, because the successful rushes are few and far between, and the mere audacity to run a stretch play with Lacy on 2nd and 10 may as well just be the coaching staff’s way of telling the special teams unit to prepare for the punt or field goal attempt. There are just simply more positive things the offense can do with McKissic, Davis, Carson (when healthy), Prosise (when healthy, which is never), etc. than Lacy.
I’m not saying it’s time to cut Eddie, primarily because it makes zero financial sense, but the difference between me getting on Lacy’s case over the equally ineffective Thomas Rawls is that one back has a $3.5 million cap hit, while the other is a meager $620,000. Rawls was a rookie revelation, broke the single-game franchise playoff record for rushing yards this past January, but he’s in a slump he cannot seem to bust out of. Running backs have short shelf lives, so maybe he’s hit his and the coaching staff knows it.
Lacy, on the other hand, is essentially a step above Mike Williams in terms of the patented reclamation projects that Pete Carroll and John Schneider love. Well the project has gone bust, and it’s way beyond time to abandon it.