In his first two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 2,151 yards with 15 touchdowns on 4.1 yards per carry. In Eddie Lacy’s first two seasons with the Green Bay Packers, he rushed for 2,317 yards with 20 touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry. In Lynch’s third season, he was suspended for three games and lost playing time to Fred Jackson, and he only rushed for 450 yards. In his fourth season, he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks to play in Pete Carroll’s system designed just for a back like him.
In Lacy’s third season, weight problems really began to take a toll and he lost starts and playing time to James Starks, rushing only for 758 yards and three touchdowns. In his fourth season, he was looking better on 5.1 yards per carry before going on injured reserve after only five games. The weird thing about the Lynch-Lacy comparison that we sort of forget because of how great Lynch became in Seattle: Lacy arrives as potentially a better prospect at running back than when Lynch was traded to the Seahawks in 2010.
Lynch was not without his red flags and his first season in Seattle was fairly unexciting until the playoff game against the New Orleans Saints that changed everything for how Seahawks fans viewed him. Lacy has the better stats and a similar bruising running style, but his issues are in the kitchen, not with the law. That’s why Seattle inserted a $385,000 bonus tied directly to his weight in Lacy’s new one-year, $5.5 million contract, only about half of which is guaranteed. The team may want him around 245, he’s rumored to be at 267. There’s still about six months to go before Week 1, so if Lacy can get to that desired playing weight by then, the Seahawks could be getting a player who was a top-10 running back in 2014 and still only 26.
In 2014, Lacy had 1,566 yards from scrimmage with 13 touchdowns. FootballOutsiders put him at eighth in DYAR and DVOA. Consider that in Lynch’s second season with the Bills, he was only 25th in DYAR despite his 1,000-yard season, behind his teammate Jackson. Lynch was 29th in DVOA and had a success rate of 46%. Lacy had a 48% success rate in 2014.
Though his DYAR and DVOA went down during his slump season in 2015, Lacy’s success rate actually went up to 49%. Lynch had hit a lower low before arriving in Seattle than Lacy’s current low; and I’m using the term “low” for a player who did average 5.1 YPC last season.
Since entering the NFL, Eddie Lacy has averaged 2.15 yards per rush after first contact, second to only Marshawn Lynch in that time. pic.twitter.com/V7mis3fK7c— ESPN (@espn) March 14, 2017
Look for Lacy to compete with Thomas Rawls, the 2015 leader in DYAR, for the starting gig, but if both are healthy I’d expect them to be a legit duo and to give the Seahawks one of the best backfield threats in the NFL. Add in C.J. Prosise as a receiver/back and teams won’t know what to do with that. Look at the New England Patriots, who utilized LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, and James White with great success last season. The Atlanta Falcons had Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
You may always have your single back success stories like that of Ezekiel Elliott, but true two-back and three-back systems may be the hot commodity of 2017. That could be why the visit with Jamaal Charles wasn’t cancelled after signing Lacy. The more the merrier.
Now it’s just a matter of making it through the next 10 months without any hiccups. That’ll be the trickiest part.