Only the Best: Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy Lead Shorthanded Packers Offense

Patrick McDermott

With the month of October drawing to a close, we take a look at the players who have led the Packers' offense through adversity and put their performances over the last four games into historical perspective.

Over the month of October, the Green Bay Packers have lost offensive playmaker after offensive playmaker to injury. Running back James Starks missed three games this month with a knee injury. Randall Cobb and James Jones suffered injuries in the second week of October and have not been back since. Jermichael Finley spent several days in a hospital a week later. Somehow, though, the Packers continued to win games, putting up a 4-0 record in the month while outscoring their opponents 116-70.

How did this happen?

Well, obviously Aaron Rodgers is awesome, and that accounts for a big part of it, but one can argue that two other players have stepped up when they were needed most: wide receiver Jordy Nelson and running back Eddie Lacy.

This is not an argument to say that their contributions have gone unnoticed. But I am willing to make the suggestion that they have not been properly appreciated for what they have done over the course of the last four weeks. I'll break down the numbers to see just how ridiculously effective these two players have been.

Let's start with Jordy. Here are his stats over each of the last four games, as well as his total numbers over that span. Then I extrapolated those four games out to a 16-week season. The results are pretty staggering.

Period Receptions Yards Yards per Catch Touchdowns
Week 5 (DET) 5 82 16.4 0
Week 6 (@ BAL) 4 113 28.3 1
Week 7 (CLE) 5 42 8.4 1
Week 8 (@ MIN) 7 123 17.8 2
Weeks 5-8 21 360 17.1 4
Extrapolated to 16 games 84 1440 17.1 16

Those are some pretty extravagant numbers, and would exceed Nelson's career year of 2011 in every category except yards per catch. To refresh your memory, that year Jordy put up a stat line of 68 catches for 1263 yards (18.6 per) and 15 scores. To have the kind of production he has over the past few weeks while being the focus of opponents' game-planning in the secondary is pretty damn impressive.

Oh, and only five Packers have ever kept up a pace of 90 receiving yards per game over a full season. Those names: Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Billy Howton, and Don Hutson.

Now let's look at Lacy.

Period Carries Yards YPC Receptions Rec Yards Touchdowns
Week 5 (DET) 23 99 4.3 1 -2 0
Week 6 (@ BAL) 23 120 5.2 1 5 0
Week 7 (CLE) 22 82 3.7 5 26 1
Week 8 (@ MIN) 29 94 3.2 4 18 1
Weeks 5-8 97 395 4.1 11 47 2
Extrapolated 388 1580 4.1 44 188 8

Yikes, that's one hell of a workload over an entire year, but it's an impressive one. Do you remember the last time a Packer back had more than 1,500 rushing yards in a season? I bet you do, because Ahman Green's 2003 season was arguably the best by a Packer running back in history. But what about the last time it happened before that? No? Good, because Green's season was the ONLY time a Packer runner has ever eclipsed 1,500 yards in a year. (Though I'm sure I'll get some comments from the older fans about Jim Taylor's 1,474 yards in 1962, when there were only 14 games.)

In fact, only two Packer backs have ever recorded a greater number of yards from scrimmage than the projected 1,768 extrapolated here.

Now there is virtually no chance that Lacy will keep up this pace, purely because of the number of carries he has been receiving over the past four games. But in terms of a total production standpoint, Lacy's last month ranks right up there with the best full seasons by any Packer running back in history.

These two players have put up historic runs over the past few weeks, and they have combined to help Aaron Rodgers keep the offense humming without the help of their injured teammates. It's an impressive combination, and one that will hopefully continue to lead the Packers to victories over the next three and a half months into early February.

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