- 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 behind 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!
Archive for the ‘Rodgers’ Category
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.
Read here from si.com. Robert Klemko has an interesting look into life with Richard Sherman – while Sherman is watching the Packers/Cowboys game. Fun read.
I have struggled to form a solid opinion on Richard Sherman. In my last post I called him a “moron” but as I wrote that I was mostly thinking about how he acts on the field – so incredibly cocky and obnoxious. I think he should be flagged for taunting more than he is and I’m generally not someone who likes arrogant self-promoters. At the same time, he is actually really, really good at what he does and I respect that. And he isn’t your average blowhard because he can be a fairly thoughtful dude. Combine that thoughtfulness with the fact that Sherman is often in the mode of saying whatever he thinks without filter, and it’s not surprising he is a media favorite.
In this article, his take on Rodgers is interesting – and dead on. But his candid and clear respect for Rodgers along with his willingness to go public with that respect 5 days before the NFC Championship game, makes me have just a tiny bit more respect for him. And it also emboldens me as I start to think about making a prediction for this game – as I detect a slight fear from an otherwise fearless guy, about the possibility of Rodgers coming in and lighting up the vaunted Seattle D.
Read here from the startribune’s Jim Souhan. (Article is titled “Rodgers surpassing Favre’s legend”).
In the article, Souhan doesn’t give enough credit to Favre for his streak (which like Cal Ripkin’s streak, truly was amazing) and how reliability at the QB position can be key to the development of a winning organization. (Though Rodgers has been fairly reliable too…despite not having a streak to speak of.) And he also doesn’t make enough of the fact that Favre does hold many NFL records – a huge accomplishment to be sure. Nor does he talk much about the league being a bit different in the 90s (as it’s more of a passing league now than it was then).
Still, his other arguments are quite sound and frankly difficult to refute. Rodgers is an astonishingly efficient QB who can make all the plays that great QBs need to be able to make in the modern game. His career passer rating of 101.2 (through I believe week 3 of this season – so it’s probably higher now) is nearly 5 points higher than anyone else in history – and the next tier includes QBs like Steve Young, Tom Brady, Tony Romo. Given how many quality QBs are within just a few points of one another in the 94-96 QB rating range, Rodgers’ 5+ point lead is simply staggering.
Some of you may recall a post I put up a few years ago after Favre retired (the 2008 retirement). I’ll admit after re-reading it, it was a rather meek/tentative post. But my general point was, just before Rodgers’ first full season as a starter, that maybe, just maybe the Pack would be OK with this guy. The title of the post was “Could Rodgers be…more effective than the recent Favre? ” He’s definitely been that.
Read here from jsonline. Packers declaring he’s out now officially.
This sucks. While Flynn being in there does give us the remote chance for a Miracle on Ice type upset, I’d have to say things don’t look good for the Pack tomorrow night. Flynn isn’t bad and he will surprise some folks I think with his ability to manage the offense. And he has won a national championship so it’s not like he hasn’t played in big games before. But the Pack could really struggle tomorrow night – especially with a lack of running game.
Speaking of a running game, interestingly, this could be our only chance. I wouldn’t be surprised if James Starks gets more work than folks anticipate early as the Pack tries to establish some semblance of a running game. The NE defense is not good despite appearing to be better lately. It’s the Pat’s offense that has made their defense good lately and while that may continue Sunday night, if the Pack can establish the run and keep the Pat’s offense off the field, this could be a decent game yet. Of course, that is asking a lot from a coach with a toddler’s patience for the running game.
Check out this comment from reader Scott W (thanks Scott):
“Madison sports talk this morning mentioned Rodgers angrily threw his towel into his locker when asked about the play calling. Finley also expressed his feelings comparable to Rodgers.”
Tough to know what’s really going on here. My guess again is that it’s probably pretty basic. Rodgers wants the offense to be super-explosive mostly because he just wants to win and he knows that our defense and special teams won’t always be able to bail this team out. He knows that without a decent RB, the offense won’t produce like he knows it can considering the overall talent level – so he wants to go back to that dink and dunk offense that moved the ball quite easily against the Bears.
Again, my lean here is with Rodgers. I think he’s right – the offense hasn’t crafted a strong identity yet and they haven’t put together a solid game. But I can’t help but wonder if at least part of this is Rodgers voicing sideways frustration at TT for not picking up another running back. I think the real thrust of his comments might have been aimed at our RBs – and by extension at McCarthy for putting these guys on the field when they aren’t our “best players”.
Maybe this is what needs to happen to force TT to make a move – Rodgers is his boy after all.
As Silver notes, this makes sense on many levels. A 3rd rounder and another player might be a bit much, but not if losing that other player wouldn’t hurt us (like Brady Poppinga). But if there is any truth to Buff not taking offers for him or being difficult about it at all – I totally agree with Silver, that’s lunacy. Buff is in a bad way. They need all the help they can get and they have exactly one position of luxury – RB.
Rodgers’ comments don’t surprise me at all. I had noted before that he played with Marshawn so he knows what kind of player he is. And at this point, Rodgers already has Sidney Moncrief-type credibility…if bothers speaking up about something, he’s probably right.
Check this out from USA Today – 5 of their 8 staff writers pick the Packers to win the Super Bowl. Several of you have noted the increasing amount of positive press the Packers have received heading into the season. Lots of the expert types are picking the Pack to win the Super Bowl. Normally, I would be a bit concerned about it – will the players be able to handle the weight of expectation? will they keep their heads? and just as importantly, how will the coaching staff respond to this kind of pressure?
So far, I like the way the team has responded to this pressure. It seems the players may have been given the “OK” to simply address questions about expectations head on – instead of offering up the usual cliche crap like “we’re only focused on the Philly game”. Really, since the team regrouped this spring, it seems to me that generally, the players have not avoided questions about expectations. After the Family Night scrimmage for example, Jermichael Finley and a few others talked very directly about the expectations indicating that the team has the same expectations and the team believes they belong in the Super Bowl. McCarthy must be coaching the guys up to believe that these are not unrealistic expectations and I really like this. There seems to be a message floating around Lambeau that players/coaches ought to embrace this goal publicly rather than avoid it at all costs.
For some reason, I suspect that one guy who may be behind this head-on approach to managing expectations may be Dom Capers. I think Capers, a veteran coach who has seen a lot throughout his NFL coaching career, may be encouraging this open attitude about expectations in part because he knows on one side of the ball, he has a QB who can handle it mentally and on the other side, he has a veteran leader who can handle it mentally – and who wants it so badly (Woodson). One thing that will continue to impress people in the next 3-4 years in particular, is just how strong Aaron Rodgers is mentally. I’m not quite sure the same open approach toward expectations would have been encouraged if we had a different QB.
Read here, from ESPN magazine. Rodgers is a stud – and for those in fantasy football, don’t hesitate to make him your #1 QB this year because nobody will be better.
Check out this interesting article by John Lopez from si.com. I think he came up with this 26-27-60 rule himself – impressively thought out I have to say. The general idea is that QBs who have a 26 or higher on the Wonderlic, 27 college starts or more and a completion percentage of at least 60%, will succeed in the NFL. His examples of successful QBs who have met those numbers are compelling: Manning, Matt Ryan, Brees, Romo, Schaub, Rivers. (Check out Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Wonderlic score of 48…wow.) At the same time his list of those who did not have all 3 of these qualifiers was also compelling: Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, Tim Couch, David Carr, JaMarcus Russell (among others). A few notable exceptions are Brett Favre (22 on Wonderlic) and Donovan McNabb (14 on Wonderlic) – and he doesn’t mention him, but our own Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers I believe falls short in the games started category – he started 22 games in college as far as I can tell. I believe he had a 35 on the Wonderlic and his completion percentage was 63.8%. So, technically, like Favre and McNabb, Rodgers would actually belong in Lopez’s loser category.
Not a perfect theory, but still not bad.