BY Art Thiel 11:08AM 05/19/2017

Thiel: Lacy likely best story in Seahawks camp

Eddie Lacy was too fat for Green Bay, which, for the cheese/brat/beer capital, is saying something. He has come to a Seahawks position that is way too thin. This will be a good story.

Eddie Lacy won’t get swarmed by the Seahawks defense this year. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

When a guy gets called out for being too fat in a place where haute cuisine consists of PBR, bratwurst and cheese curds, the shame figures to run thick as poutine. Which is why Eddie Lacy is shaping up as the most intriguing training camp story for the Seahawks in July.

You may have heard that the Seahawks free-agent running back from Green Bay, where Jenny Craig is just another waitress at the Bar on Holmgren Way, met his first contract incentive Monday.

At 5-foot-11, he weighed 253 pounds, two under the prescribed limit, an achievement rewarded with a $55,000 bonus. Just about every sports-talk radio host in Seattle is paid to shill endlessly the weight-loss wonders of something called 30/10, but Lacy earned himself the value of a basic Land Rover merely by driving past the drive-through window.

I like his deal better.

If Lacey hits all seven milestones for weight in 2017, he will earn $385,000, according to a story by ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia.

It’s part of $2.7 million in performance bonuses that Lacey can earn beyond his $2.9 million guaranteed salary. It’s the Seahawks way of incentivizing Lacy to return to being a load of bricks instead of a loaf of bread.

If he reaches 245 in September and stays there through December, he’ll earn the $385,000. Should he rush for 1,200 yards, the bonus is $1.3 million.

Overshadowed by his most recent two years with the Packers was his first two years there. Coming out of Alabama as the 61st pick in the 2013 draft, he rushed for 2,317 yards combined in 2013-14 — most by any Packers back in his first two years with the club. Same thing for his 24 touchdowns. He was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year.

But in 2015, Lacy’s production fell to 758 yards and three TDs. Another running back, James Starks, drew many carries, and Lacy was benched for a game in December for missing curfew. Packers coach Mike McCarthy was blunt.

“He’s got a lot of work to do,” McCarthy said in his season-ending press conference in January 2016. “His off-season last year was not good enough and he never recovered from it. He cannot play at the weight he played at this year.”

The Packers were always vague about his exact weight, but word was he played north of 260. He was listed at 230 for the beginning of 2016, but that was more like a range finder.

After five games of 2017, it didn’t much matter. He broke an ankle, had surgery and was done for the season, his fourth and final on his rookie-year contract. With the emergence of converted wideout Ty Montgomery from Stanford, the Packers no longer wanted Lacy, especially with his apparent need to feed. They let him go into free agency.

But in those five games, Lacy averaged a career-high 5.1 yards per carry, much of it in the tackle-busting style of Marshawn Lynch.  You may have noted that in the absence of the the temporarily retired Lynch and oft-injured Thomas Rawls, the Seahawks’ running game was without menace.

The Seahawks averaged the most running plays per game over QB Russell Wilson’s first four years than any team in the NFL. Last year, they were 20th.

“We lost 100-something runs last year, and that was basically the story,” Carroll told ESPN 710 radio this week. “That was basically the tale of why everything came about as it did. The defense had to do some more stuff. We had to throw the ball more. We had to pass protect more. The running game got knocked up.

“With the quarterback being a mess and the running-back situation, everybody being banged up, we were just unable to find it. So I think we’ll come roaring right back at it.”

Earlier in the off-season, Carroll said, “When Russell wasn’t equipped to run, it factored into the running game in the subtle ways. Over the years, he has made us unique.

“In one respect, we’ve learned how to play without it and still win the division and we’ll be better for that. But that’s not the way I want to go. So I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible.”

That’s why they took a chance on Lacy, who won’t be 27 until Jan. 1. Between him and Rawls, 23, the Seahawks seek about 90 percent of what Lynch gave them in his prime. The other 10 percent, the sheer crotch-grabbing ferocity, is unavailable anywhere else on the planet.

Seahawks enfeeblement was plain in the playoff loss in Atlanta that ended the season. After slashing for 161 yards in 27 carries against mediocre Detroit in the first post-season game, Rawls was held to 34 yards in 11 carries by the Falcons. Wilson led the team with 49 yards rushing.

Obviously, the Seahawks fell behind and had to throw, but Carroll had little faith the offense could grind its way back into contention. Without an ability to rush effectively, the dominoes of Carroll’s plan fell all over the floor and out the door.

For 2017, Rawls, the incumbent, and newcomer Lacy will hash it out in preseason, along with second-year RB C.J. Prosise. Besides letting it be known he hit the first poundage mark with his new team, Lacy is also trying to sell his new fan base with his dedication to fitness here and here on Twitter.

He also said farewell to Green Bay in a salutary way, offering a public garage sale of four years of stuff, with all proceeds to charity:

It would appear that Lacy has one characteristic that is found in a lot of Carroll hires: A desperate desire for a do-over and/or a make-up for opportunities missed. And he’s fighting a weight problem, making him like 100 percent of sports-talk hosts as well as 90 percent of America.

Plus, the Seahawks open the regular season in Green Bay.

It is hard not to like this guy’s story. If he pulls it off, 12s will be urged to leave open a coronary artery or two for celebratory brats and curds.


YourThoughts

  • Stephen Pitell

    Where were the twisted metaphors? At this point, Art, you are probably so busy you don’t have the time to twist metaphors on a regular basis in every story you write. You write three times the number of stories you were asked for from the P-I, and so it’s understandable, but if money allows, why not hire a twisted metaphor ghost writer? Like Johnny Carson, you can’t write fast enough for so many articles.

    Great analysis, anyway. I love the potential Lacy brings to our team. He could be used as the Lynch like RB who hammers the opponent into submission, but he can also be use as a FB and lead blocker, and possible as a Larry Csonka FB who never lost a yard and almost guaranteed any 1 yard carry into the end zone or just a first down.

    I’d love for Rawls to return to his pre-injury ways of running the ball with great vision and decisiveness, but we didn’t see it much last year – hence the Lacy move. Carson, who was drafted one round higher than UDFA Rawls, could easily be a Rawls replacement if Rawls can’t regain his rookie form. RB’s don’t seem to need seasoning the way other positions do, and is almost like great cooking where too much seasoning destroys it. (My last sentence needs one of your famous metaphors, Art.)

    • art thiel

      Thanks for understanding the task. I’m loading a fresh 55-gallon drum of metaphors as I write. Amazon has everything.

      Rawls actually needs to slow down. Lynch was the master of patience before decision, but Rawls hasn’t found the lower gear yet.

      Here’s an analogy. Lynch is like great sex. Rawls is like porn.

      • Steed

        Yuck. It’s ok to self edit once in a while Art.

        How about, Rawls is like a cruise missile, and Lynch is like a bunker buster bomb?

        I have a feeling the O line is going to be a lot better this year.

        • art thiel

          I’m a fan of avoiding all war analogies. If I were king for a day, I’d hold a pillow over the faces of Goodell and ESPN’s John Skipper until they promised to ban “war room” from the lips of all their employees.

          • wabubba67

            Make love (metaphors), not war.

      • wabubba67

        I don’t know if Rawls is capable of slowing down and then accelerating again to break tackles…for his size, I think that he has to operate at full speed all of the time. That was the beauty of Lynch….big enough to slow down and still shed would be tacklers. Lynch had some of the most amazing -1,0,1, and 2 yard runs that I have ever seen behind a very poor offensive line for most of his career in Seattle.

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