Slow? Lazard Speeds Through Saints’ Secondary
GREEN BAY, Wis. – To keep pace in the track meet that was the Sunday night game between the Packers and Saints, Green Bay turned to an unlikely player to carry the big-play baton.
Lazard’s super night at the Superdome was especially impressive “considering that I’m slow.” He caught six passes for 146 yards – both career highs – and set up two touchdowns by getting behind the Saints’ secondary.
On the first, he beat the Saints’ top cornerback, Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore, for a career-high gain of 48 yards. One play later, he blocked for a moment, then slipped out in the route for an easy 5-yard touchdown. On the second, he caught the secondary napping for a gain of 72.
“For the 48-yarder, I was talking to Aaron before the play and we had the play dialed up,” Lazard said. “I told him if the safety and the corner dropped low, I was going to keep it high and just keep going. So, I felt him trigger on the run and I just dug out of my break, put my head down and started running. And when I looked up, the ball was just right there. And the 72-yarder, it was the first series out of halftime. I told Aaron Jones during halftime, I was like, ‘Look, I’m going to need another 75-, 80-yard touchdown’ – whatever it was last week – to start off the second half.”
Other than a 103-yard day against the Giants on Dec. 1, that 72-yard gain represented more receiving yards than he had in any of his other 18 games last season.
“I think we have the best deep ball thrower in the league if not NFL history, as well,” Lazard said while holding the game ball. “To be able to go out there and connect on those plays, I think, is huge. It’s demoralizing for the defense, especially when you’re backed up. My 72-yarder was on third-and-(10). First series coming out of halftime and we’re able to put the ball inside the 10 is huge. Not only builds confidence for us, it demoralizes the defense. It takes away their confidence, their energy, if they were to have any. To be able to connect on those deep passes, even for me, I think I’m going to be able to get more respect in my vertical game considering that I’m slow.”
With a 4.56 in the 40 at the 2018 Scouting Combine, Lazard went undrafted despite excellent size (6-foot-5) and production (3,360 yards in four seasons) at Iowa State. His best games were for 147 yards against TCU and 142 yards in the Liberty Bowl in the final game of his college career. He got the game ball that day, just as he did against the Saints.
The Packers rolled to season-opening wins over Minnesota, which had replaced its top three cornerbacks from 2019, and Detroit, which had two of its top three cornerbacks sidelined by injuries. So, Green Bay’s 85 points in those games had a hint of fool’s gold to it. Instead, even without Davante Adams available, the Packers piled up 37 points against a quality Saints defense.
Now that’s a statement performance for the guy Rodgers barely knew early in training camp last year.
“They’re a very good team,” Lazard said. “Obviously, well-coached, performed very well – offense, defense and special teams, especially. To come out with a win, especially on the road, even though there’s not fans here, it’s still huge. Being 3-0 is a lot better than being 2-1. We have a lot of confidence. We know we have a lot to work on still. We’re going to get prepared this week for Monday night next week.”