Archive for November, 2008

Secondary primary for this team

November 12, 2008

Read here for an article on the Packers’ secondary. I disagree with one statement in this article by Kurt Shottenheimer: “It’s all a combination of the pass rush, the linebackers and the defensive backs, all playing with the right techniques and the right leverages.”

Not true. A few of you (Ace, I believe DaveK, Brother Steve, others) have astutely observed that the Packers’ secondary has been dominating with very little help from the other parts of the defense. The Packers rank 22nd in sacks (with 16 – leader Pittsburgh has 34) and my guess is that they are similarly down the list in pressures and knockdowns. The D-Line has not been pressuring QBs well this year and opposing QBs appear to have plenty of time to complete passes. Packer linebackers have been below average overall, though I will allow for the possibility that the pass coverage piece from the LBs may be a bit better this year. I will also allow for the possibility we may be blitzing less and keeping 8 in the box less and that this may be helping with coverage (and possibly hurting our run defense).

But again, the thing that impresses me about this secondary is that it appears they are defending the pass incredibly effectively on their own. No secondary in the NFL, right now, is better than the Pack. Stats back this up big-time:

  • Leading in passes defensed with 72 (Woodson #2 here and Collins #9 here)
  • Leading in interceptions with 16 (Collins and Woodson lead the NFL in picks with 5 each)
  • Leading in interceptions returned for TDs with 6 (3 more than anyone else)
  • Leading in return yards after interceptions with 533 (2nd place? NYJ at 246)
  • Leading in longest return for a TD at 99

This secondary, as the article points out, has done this in the face of some injuries to important players. If the Packers can get some wins, I think Charles Woodson should be a candidate for MVP this year – and I’m not kidding. His interceptions and TDs are huge yes, but his passes defensed and important down-field tackles separate him from most CBs in the NFL. (Antoine Winfield doesn’t have the game-changing interception talent Woodson does – probably only rookie CB from Tenn Cortland Finnegan is in Woodson’s league right now). Nick Collins should be looking at signing another contract soon the way he’s played this year so far. Tramon Williams has been phenomenal and Harris seems to be back to his old shut-down tricks. And Will Blackmon has been decent in coverage (unreal on special teams).

While this team needs a win badly this week and it sure has had its ups and downs this year, the secondary has been a really nice positive.

More Problems with Officiating in Packer-Viking Game

November 11, 2008

For all of the whining I did about the officiating during last week’s game, I missed this.  And it could have been crucial.  Adrian Peterson removed his helmet after scoring the go-ahead touchdown with just over two minutes left in the game.  So the Vikings should have kicked from the 15 yards line.  The guys at PFT are all over it, here.  They write: “Bottom line?  Minnesota’s 28-27 win carries almost as much tarnish as Denver’s Week Two win over San Diego.”

Hard to disagree.  It’s a silly hypothetical, but If the Packers had run the exact same plays with the exact same results, Mason Crosby would have been kicking a 37-yarder.

On a related note, NFL director of officiating, Mike Periera, reviewed the play on NFL Network.  He does this segment every week.  Ostensibly, he reviews the plays and tells viewers whether the officials made the wrong or right calls.  (You won’t be surprised to learn that they’re almost always right.)  So you also won’t be surprised to learn that he thinks Al Riveron made the right call on Aaron Rodgers’ “illegal forward pass.”  Says Pereira: “So, it is intentional grounding. The mistake was, we should have called it that in the first place and not say illegal forward pass even though he clearly did mean to say intentional grounding. Kind of an interesting play because it’s not your natural throwing motion, so the standards are higher.”

How does Pereira know that Riveron “clearly did mean to say intention grounding?”  He doesn’t tell us.  Read Tom Silverstein’s entire post to further erode your confidence in NFL officiating.

A “Noteable” Drop in 3rd Down Percentage

November 11, 2008

This comes from Lori Nickel at the JS Online Packer Blog.

While many fans are questioning the Packers and the high penalties, and whether or not that’s a product of poor discipline or coaching, remember that the Packers were the second-most penalized team a year ago, too. Last year, the Packers and the playmakers were able to overcome the penalties. Perhaps more significant is that in 2007, the Packers converted 43% of their third downs. It’s down to 41% now, a noteable drop.

Two percentage points didn’t seem like a notable (not “noteable”) drop to me. So I looked it up. The Packers are 50 for 122 on third down conversion attempts. If they were 52 out of 122, their percentage would be 42.6. If they were 53 out of 122, their would be converting at a rate of 43.4%.

Any missed third downs hurt. But for someone looking to explain the difference between last year’s Packers and this year’s version, I’d respectfully submit that not converting three third downs is not it.

UPDATE: Great comment from Bucky.

Interesting stat about third downs: SI.com has passing splits for all quartbacks, including Aaron Rodgers. On third down, he is 59 for 88 (67%), for 778 yards, 10 TDs, and 2 picks. A passer rating of 123.2

And oh yeah, he’s been sacked 8 times.

This other quarterback I looked up was 57 of 82 (69.5%), for 575 yards, 2 TDs, and 6 picks, with a passer rating of 66.9.

I’m pretty happy with the guy we’ve got. I’d be even happier if we could keep guys on the other team off of him.

Confirmed – Nick Barnett out for the year

November 10, 2008

Read here from jsonline.com: Nick Barnett has torn ligaments in his knee and is out for the year.

Barnett out for the season

November 10, 2008

I am presently scouring the internet for more info on this (actually, I am presently typing this post and will return in the near future to scouring the internet for more). Here is the source of this info.

If true, I am sad for Barnett and our defense because I do believe he is a leader of that defense and he’s had a few great seasons for this team. I also had hopes that he would return to the excellent form he displayed last year. He hasn’t played well this year, but at this point, with Hawk ineffective and Poppinga Poppingaing, if you will, and Chillar apparently having a serious shoulder injury, his loss will dramatically hurt our depth. The only hope here is that Desmond Bishop steps into this opportunity as well as Tramon Williams did earlier in the year with his (and I actually have a strong hunch this could happen).

Who’s to blame?

November 10, 2008

I’ve been struggling with this question for the last day after our horrific loss to the Vikes. Painful, painful loss. There is lots of blame to spread around. Here are some thoughts – and let us know your thoughts.

  • McCarthy. Abandoned the run when it was working very well (Grant was averaging 4.7ypc and would have had well over 100 yards on 18 carries if the officials hadn’t blown 2 holding calls). Challenge was a waste. Did NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING to counter the brutal pass rush. I’ll bet he over-emphasized run blocking in practice this week and forgot re pass protection. While I’ll admit, I’m a big 4-5 WR set advocate, I would have dropped that idea after the 4th time Rodgers got rocked. Where were the TEs? Every good team in the NFL figures out how to use their TEs – MM hasn’t done that consistently.
  • Offensive Line. To be fair, the O-Line did run block really well. Had McCarthy called more running plays, this game may have ended differently. But the pass protection was so bad it was unbelievable. Rodgers had almost no time back there. Clifton was sorry (as I think he has been since the middle of last season). On more than one occasion, it seemed Wells was doubling up someone when his man was running free to explode on Rodgers. Spitz and Tauscher were less obviously bad, but still bad and Colledge is almost always bad.
  • D-Line. I would only assign a bit of blame to the D-Line mostly for not getting a few more stops at the line of scrimmage and for not pressuring the immobile Frerotte very well (only 2 sacks). This may surprise some of you, but the D-Line, considering they were on the field for a huge part of the game (36 of the 60 minutes), actually held AP to lots of runs of just a couple yards. Fox showed the very interesting stat in the 3rd quarter re how many 0-3 yard runs AP actually had. But when he got through to the next level on several occasions for 20-40 yard gains, it was the LBs who failed to stop him. (Reader RayMidge also pointed this out).
  • LB play. This group, which was supposed to be good, is not good this year. Poppinga is a waste (he was given 6 assisted tackles for the game yesterday – apparently he gets credit for falling on people after someone else tackles them). Hawk does very little but block well after we have an interception. Barnett’s loss may have hurt in leadership ways I’m not privy to, but he wasn’t doing much prior to his injury and I’m not sure he would have done much better than Bishop (who came back with a few nice plays after his 2 screw-ups).
  • Derrick Frost. The guy sucks. Jon Ryan has a several more punts over 59 yards this year than Frost (5-2, something that would have helped a lot yesterday), a better overall average and as many punts inside the 20…in one less game. Mistake to cut Ryan.
  • Aaron Rodgers. Yes, he really couldn’t do much under that kind of pressure, but the fact is, he didn’t do much. Great players can usually figure something out…anything. Rodgers didn’t figure anything out. Maybe he will figure it out more effectively as he gains experience, but he didn’t do anything yesterday. Lots of that again was due to the pressure and due to McCarthy not calling plays that could counter that mad pass rush. Though it’s not a fair comparison, what happened to Rodgers was really no different than what happened to Peyton Manning against he Vikes in Week 2 – I thought Manning was going to die…and they had zero running game – but he figured something out (check downs, getting TEs involved, FBs, RBs on misdirection screens, a few purposeful bombs).
  • Adrian Peterson. He’s really, really, really good. I was counting on a 100+ yard game from him and maybe a TD or two, but what he did was unreal. I don’t look forward to more games against this guy.

Stupid Call By McCarthy

November 9, 2008

Why would he challenge Adrian Peterson’s touchdown?  Very, very stupid.

Insane

November 9, 2008

There was no hold on Daryn Colledge on Ryan Grant’s 13 yard run with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Didn’t happen and, as Troy Aikman noted, it wasn’t even close.

The only thing worse that the Packer offensive line is the officiating, which has been embarrassing.

UPDATE: After Clinton’s false start, the offensive line regains the lead over officiating for worst performance of the day.  It’s going to be close.

Clifton needs to be benched

November 9, 2008

I know Jared Allen is very good and I lobbied to get him in the off-season – but he has dominated Chad Clifton today and Clifton’s run blocking has even been weak. He’s just not good anymore.

Poppinga best in NFL at falling on players after play over

November 9, 2008

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