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Decisive Cutbacks Helped Lacy Regain Form Against Vikings

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The cutback play was critical on Thursday night, and both Eddie Lacy and his offensive line made it work on several occasions.

John Konstantaras

With this week's Packers game coming on Thursday, we didn't get to address Marshall Faulk's weekly question for SB Nation's NFL blogs prior to the game, but we'll do so on this slow Saturday filled with College Football. Here's his question this week:

The "bold decision" that we were hoping for happened on Thursday night. Through the first four games of the year, Eddie Lacy had been showing a lack of decisiveness on the ground, bouncing to the outside or failing to make a cut and start his momentum going up the field. Certainly, poor run blocking was partially to blame, but there were some instances where Lacy failed to commit to a hole in time and paid for it with a tackle for loss or a minimal gain.

On Thursday, however, Lacy showed no hesitation as he regularly was dropping his pads and moving upfield instead of bouncing around in the backfield. He even said after the game that he made a conscious decision to avoid "slowing down and hitting the air brakes" in the backfield. Perhaps the playcalling aided him in that respect - though they still ran traditional power plays (think Lacy's big 29-yard gain in the first quarter), the Packers ran more zone concepts in the run game than they had early in the season, and the cutback lanes for Lacy to attack were better.

Two plays illustrate Lacy's attacking style and the zone-blocking that brought him his success this week. First up is his second carry of the game, which started the Packers' first touchdown drive. Below, you can see the line get a good push off the line of scrimmage and Josh Sitton get a cut block on Linval Joseph (just below Lacy). The runner has two options, either bounce outside the mass of linemen piled up to his right or to cut upfield and accelerate through the hole to his left. He chooses the latter, and splits through the blocks for a big 18-yard gain.

lacy-cutback-1

The second play is early in the third quarter, and finds Lacy with much the same decision. With a lead blocker in John Kuhn in front of him towards the middle of the field, Lacy commits to running north-south and picks up nine yards on first down.

Lacy Cutback 2

On multiple occasions, Lacy was able to get past the front seven quickly thanks to decisive cuts. Once he did so, he frequently punished defensive backs trying to make tackles, Robert Blanton especially. No replay illustrates this as clearly as this, Lacy's second touchdown of the game:

Eddie Lacy bulldozes Robert Blanton

All told, Lacy carried the ball thirteen times for 105 yards and two scores. Getting Lacy going took effort and decisiveness on many people's parts: Mike McCarthy's as a playcaller, the offensive line's, and Lacy's own. But he's rolling now and will look to keep up his newfound success against the Dolphins a week from Sunday.

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