Archive for the ‘Playoffs’ Category

A few ideas for Sunday

January 15, 2015
  • Not sure why I keep thinking this but I think lining up James Starks essentially as a WR out wide a couple times might pose a bit of a matchup issue for Seattle. If he could catch a few short passes lined up like this I like his chances after he gets past their first line of defense (the D-Line). I know the entire Seattle D is quite good at tackling but Starks is quite a bit harder to tackle when he has some extra body momentum – as he does when catching passes.
  • At the same time and for similar reasons, I think MM should be working on a few screen pass plays for Lacy. Seattle’s D is so aggressive and that pass rush is often so aggressive that a few well-executed screens might really make the D Line and LBs think twice before just blindly bull rushing up field.
  • I want to see Randall Cobb throw a pass. I know our offense doesn’t necessarily need to resort to trick plays as it’s already good enough, even with Rodgers injured, to take down Seattle. But one way to really throw this particular defense for a loop (and instill instant fear in an otherwise fearless D) could be a well-designed option pass for Cobb. Line him up in the backfield and let him decide to run or throw after getting the ball. Or do what Brady-Edelman did against Balt (lateral pass behindĀ  the line – easy TD pass from Edelman).
  • While there will be those who say “no trick plays – too risky” (which to some extent, is true), letting Cobb do it makes it much less risky because he’s such a smart player. But the real reason I suggest this particular kind of play against this particular team is that the Seattle secondary takes (way too much) pride in diagnosing plays instantly. Sherman, Chancellor – all of them talk about recognizing and anticipating plays before they happen. And just watching them you can see how confident they are in their diagnoses because they make quick, decisive moves based on their diagnoses. Well, play action passes, screens, option pass plays, delayed hand-offs – these are the kinds of plays that force defenders to at least pause a moment before being able to diagnose a play – so why not give them a try.
  • And if the Pack really wants to show it’s not afraid of this D, they would line up Kuhn and Cobb in the backfield and let Cobb chuck it on the very first play of the game. Would be awesome to see a stunned, quiet 12th man trying to absorb the fact that Jordy or Adams has just caught an 80 TD pass because their defense reacted too quickly!

Mid-week thoughts Packers/Seattle

January 14, 2015

As I read more about this game I am noticing that the story lines are mostly about Rodgers, the calf, the Packers passing game, Richard Sherman, the “vaunted” Seattle D, Seattle’s 12th man, Lynch knocking people over, Seattle being at the beginning of a dynasty, Seattle being unbeatable, Seattle essentially already being awarded the Lombardi Trophy. But I have a few thoughts about some other potential post-game story lines:

  • Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart averaged 5.4 yards per carry and ran for 70 yards against Seattle last Saturday night. Seattle’s unstoppable defense struggled to contain the guy. (Actually all 3 Carolina RBs averaged over 5 yards per carry.) Eddie Lacy is a better RB than Stewart – though Stewart has been very good the last 5-6 weeks. While it may seem like Lacy could struggle against a speedy/aggressive defensive style like Seattle’s because he’s not fast, I’m guessing MM and staff are putting quite a bit of time into making sure the O-Line is prepared to open holes and Lacy is ready to give Seattle a taste of its own medicine (won’t just be Lynch knocking guys over). This would be advisable both for time of possession reasons and to open up the passing game. I think there is a real chance Lacy has a career game Sunday. Also worth noting, his asthma shouldn’t be much of an issue. I have asthma too and can attest to how difficult it can be to run in cold weather – really does make it worse. But forecast is for 51 degrees and rain – he should be fine with that. Lacy had 100 yards rushing against Detroit, the NFL’s #1 run defense, in Week 17 – in a meaningful game. And Detroit was only giving up about 60 rushing yards per game at that point. Against Dallas, the #8 rush defense on the year, Lacy had 101 yards. Look for Lacy to assert himself and deliver a quality game. This will be a real test for the O-Line as Seattle has to know the Pack will try to run a fair amount. I’m guessing Chancellor will be playing a condensed field – which should eventually help Rodgers. But if the O-Line can win this battle, there is a good chance Lacy could be a bigger factor than people are talking about now.
  • Seattle gave up 377 yards to Carolina last weekend. Carolina is not an offensive powerhouse so at the least, this kind of defensive performance does not align well with the reputation of Seattle’s D. I watched the game and came away thinking that D is not as flawless as the media makes it out to be.
  • The Packers defense was not great last week. Dallas had their way for much of the game. Romo and company were solid, the playcalling was solid and the clock management was solid. But the defense woke up a bit in the second half. Peppers got in there with a few huge plays and the D seemed to step up some. Still, I would not rate the overall defensive performance very highly. Clay Matthews was just plain absent. Tramon Williams had a poor game (except for some decent man coverage on Dez at times…though Shields I think should get more credit for that). Morgan Burnett was also absent, barely contributed. Yet, this defense has shown over the course of the second half of the season that it can play at a high level. And many of these guys who were absent last week have had some monster games this year. Yes, I am worried Seattle’s quality O-Line will handle our D-Line like the Cowboys line did for a while. Yes, I am worried about Marshawn Lynch being a beast. And of course, I worry about Russell Wilson’s special ability to make the exact right decision on the football field nearly every time. These are scary things. But I think the Packers defense – much maligned for their poor playoff performances in recent years – may be ready to spring a surprise. Seattle’s offense is well-balanced and they play smart but there have been a few games in the last 6-7 weeks when Capers has drawn up exquisite game plans. I’m not going to guarantee anything here, but I think it’s actually quite possible that our defense, a quiet and often not-talked-about piece of this team, makes a statement and rises up to help the offense in a game when the offense will probably need a bit more help than usual. And importantly, there isn’t a whole lot of pressure on the Packers D right now as I think most expect a fairly pedestrian performance. If Peppers is himself, Matthews makes a difference and Tramon and Burnett play like they can play, there may be a few articles about the Packers defense come Monday morning.