Marcedes Lewis is crucial to the Packers’ rushing attack
Sammy Watkins being out for the Green Bay Packers in Week 3 is a costly injury for the offense. Watkins has been the Packers leading wide receiver through the first two weeks. With most of the Packers’ available wide receivers on the injury report this week, it’s assumed the team would rely on their rushing attack against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only issue with that gameplan is the Packers best blocking tight end, Marcedes Lewis, is also questionable for Week 3.
Lewis has a groin injury, according to the Packers injury report. He did not participate in Thursday’s practice but was limited in drills on Friday. Lewis hasn’t caught a pass yet this season, but his play has been instrumental in the success of the offense, especially in Week 2 against the Bears.
He played in 46 percent of the Packers snaps last week. That was an eight percent increase over his count from Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings, which ended in a lackluster score by the Packers offense in their loss. The Packers’ ability to run the football effectively was the main difference between their first two weeks. Lewis was a major contributor to the success of the Packers in the run in Week 2.
What Lewis run blocking numbers show
Lewis was ranked Packers’ number three overall best run blocking player in Week 2, according to Pro Football Focus. Where he shined, in particular, was in zone blocking. In zone run blocking, Lewis was the Packers best rated run blocker in Week 2. The Packers called a 3:2 zone-to-gap running scheme ratio in the game. And it worked effectively against the Bears. The Packers had 203 rushing yards in a 27-10 win over the Bears.
Missing Lewis would hurt the momentum he’s bringing to the Packers’ rushing attack. Tight end Tyler Davis was statically the second-best run blocking tight end in Week 2. But PFF rates him about 14 points lower in the zone rushing category. Davis was more effective as a gap-run blocker against the Bears. (Granted, Davis was rated higher as a gap blocker than Lewis in Week 2.)
Without Lewis, the Packers would likely need to adjust their running scheme to feature more plays from the gap-blocking system. The Packers have stayed with a 3:2 ratio of zone-to-gap blocking through the season’s first two weeks. The Packers, who need to focus on getting the ball to their playmakers at running back this season, would be ill-served by missing their best run blocking tight end against the Buccaneers. Especially with a depleted passing attack by both injury and inexperience.