In 2013, running back Eddie Lacy burst onto the scene as a member of the Green Bay Packers, posting 1,178 yards rushing, another 257 yards on pass receptions, and 11 touchdowns. Those stats were enough to earn him the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year.
However, the Packers offensive line struggled in run-blocking on the edges, suggesting that Lacy might have had an even more absurd rookie year with better support up front. One stat which underscores just how tough Lacy runs was his missed tackles forced. In the 2013 regular season, Lacy forced 56 whiffs on running plays and another five on receptions for a total of 61. That ranked him fifth in the NFL among running backs in forced misses, behind only Marshawn Lynch (86), LeSean McCoy (75), Adrian Peterson (67) and Jamaal Charles (63).
In week one against the Seahawks, Lacy didn't have an impressive day in the typical counting stats. He carried the ball 12 times for 34 yards and caught three passes for another 11 yards. However, his rate of missed tackles increased last week, against the best defense in the NFL.
In 2013, Lacy's 61 missed tackles came on 319 total touches, for a rate of 0.19 missed tackles per touch. Against the Seahawks, Lacy forced a staggering nine missed tackles on both runs (6) and passes (3), good for a 0.60 missed tackles/touch rate.
For more context as to how impressive this performance is against the defending champs, consider this: only twice in 2013 did the entire Seahawks defense miss nine or more tackles in an entire game. Those came against the Buccaneers in week 9 (10 misses) and against the Vikings in week 11 (9).
Of course, the Packers were having success inside before deciding to run more to the outside, a decision which we at APC questioned after the game. With the interior blockers being successful, it seems likely that Lacy's impressive efforts could have been put to much better use. After all, only one of Lacy's missed tackles came on a run up the middle, and he regularly was shaking defenders in an effort just to get back to the line of scrimmage rather than doing so downfield to pick up big yardage. If the coaching can recognize where the running game is working, Lacy's ability to break tackles should set him up for many big games the rest of the season.
Overall in week one, just two backs exceeded Lacy's nine misses in week one and, coincidentally, both were fellow 2013 second-round picks. Le'Veon Bell of the Steelers forced 11 misses, while former Wisconsin Badger Montee Ball from Denver forced 10.
Hopefully, Lacy will return from the concussion he suffered late in Thursday's game in time for the matchup against the New York Jets next Sunday. We're really hoping that his performances force us at APC to make this into a weekly post.
(Missed tackle stats from Pro Football Focus)