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After Further Review: Packers vs. Lions (Wk. 17)

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After Further Review: Packers vs. Lions (Wk. 17)

Ross will provide a few observations every Monday afternoon following a Packers game based on a few viewings of the condensed version of the game on NFL GamePass.  While this might not be the All-22 camera deep dive that might be more "educational", it should provide a conversation point for the rest of the week.

I have run out of things to say about Aaron Rodgers.  It's strange.  If you look back in the archives of the things I've written here at Cheesehead TV, and even the hundreds of posts I made at PackersTalk.com, so little of it is written about Aaron Rodgers.  It makes at least a degree of sense.  For years, there hasn't been much to say.  There are only so many ways to say a player is good, only so many ways to break it down or describe it.

The second half of 2015 and early 2016 provided a little bit of drama for Rodgers loyalists, but here we stand, at the end of 2016, and Rodgers was so brilliant over the second half of the season that his end of the year numbers match up with anyone else.  Rodgers was not as statistically great as Matt Ryan, but his value to his team is greater.  The MVP is a dumb award (I'd replace it with POY or MOP), but this year the MVP should be taken home by Rodgers.

As far as this game goes specifically, Rodgers didn't play quite as well as he did against the Vikings, but was still exquisite.  As Rodgers gets healthier his desire to extend plays and pay attention to the rush increases.  He did a little more of both, but made up for that with his ridiculous play to Geronimo Allison and the game clinching dime to Davante Adams.

Speaking of Geronimo Allison... how about that?! I maintained during and after the draft that I thought Allison was a draftable player.  I'd have been fine with him as a 5th round pick or later but a 40 time in the high 4.5s and 4.6s limited his draft ceiling.  His 6'3" frame and 34+" vertical brings a body type to the receiving group that they don't already have.  Green Bay has also been able to use Allison as a route runner, not just some kind of red zone weapon.  

I keep talking about the need to move Nelson to the slot long-term (he's a monster from there), and that the Packers need a big outside receiver to pair with Davante Adams so they can do that with 87.  Maybe Allison is that player.

LaDarius Gunter is a starting caliber corner in this league.  I know a lot of people want the cornerbacks replaced next season but I'm not convinced they're going to get their wish.  Gunter, who has admittedly had an up and down season, was up in this game.  He was hardly targeted.  Green Bay is getting to the point now where they might need to start giving other corners help and leaving Gunter alone.  

If the Packers, as I do, believe Gunter is a starter, I wouldn't anticipate a corner as a high draft pick in April.  Randall and Rollins have pretty obviously been playing injured (because they've had to) a la Davante Adams in his sophomore campaign.  Thompson and Whitt are far more likely to see what their two top 60 picks that aren't Gunter have in store in their 3rd year than they are to hit the reset button on the entire position group.  With that said I'd still move Quinten Rollins to free safety.

This game was officiated.....poorly.

Datone Jones gets a lot of crap, especially on account of his draft position, but he's been a pretty good player all season long.  Pro Football Focus ranked 113 edge defenders, Jones clocked in at 57th.  Dead average.   Not terrible for a player who came into the league as a 5-tech.  Jones had a costly offsides penalty, but he was excellent in run defense all night long on a night the Packers didn't play very well in run defense.  He also created rare pressure on Stafford.  Stafford likes to get it out quick and Green Bay was not impressive in their effort to create pressure and relieve their secondary.

Green Bay still needs to get some things cleaned up in blitz pick-up.  The offensive line is tremendous at pass blocking.  I'd be surprised if they weren't the best pass blocking line in all of football.  With that said, the make-shift crew the Packers are using at running back are struggling against the more exotic interior pressures.  Minnesota exploited it and Detroit got an early sack out of it as well.  Fortunately for the Packers, they're not going to see a ton of that in the NFC playoffs until they have to mess with Atlanta or Seattle.  Dallas and the Giants are far more likely to use a 4 man front and keep their linebackers and defensive backs off the line of scrimmage.

I would be working on an extension for Jared Cook as we speak.  The offense works better with him on the field, whether the ball is going his way or not.  His presence as a matchup problem doesn't allow the defense to take away other Packers weapons.  

Don't worry about Jordy Nelson.  He was beating Slay plenty.  Rodgers has always and will always attack the weakest link.  His #1 might be better than your #1, but if his #3 is leaps and bounds better than your #3, the #3 is in for a long day.  I'll never forget what Rodgers did to William Gay in Super Bowl XLV.  It's not like Slay bottled Nelson up.

The left side of the offensive line played well, specifically Lane Taylor.  I used to get very angry when the Packers would run left in short yardage situations.  Bakhtiari was a liability and Sitton wasn't a good enough road grader to make up for it.  The Packers did it more than once on Sunday night and it was effective.  Taylor is a bit of a mauler, and Bakhtiari is no longer weak in the run block game.  It'll be interesting to see if the Packers are able to use JC Tretter at all during the playoffs.

Micah Hyde gets so disrespected by Packers fans.  No, he's not the fastest.  He's not an elite cover corner.  But he does whatever the Packers need and he provides at least an average starter's production at that position.  safety, nickel, dime, outside corner, punt returner it doesn't matter, Hyde does it.  His INT last night may have looked like PI, but Tate was initating contact, too, and it wasn't called.  Hyde makes big plays in big games.

Ripper!

What an outstanding drive at the end of the game.  The Packers, specifically McCarthy take a lot of heat for getting conservative protecting leads at the end of games.  Green Bay, because of a missed Mason Crosby extra point, needed to end that last meaningful drive with points, and they did.  Credit Rodgers specifically with the courage to throw the fade to Adams when at first glance it appeared that a field goal would do it.  Detroit loaded the box and allowed Adams to be covered by Nevin Lawson with no help.  That's not a one on one that a lot of cornerbacks are going to win. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Oppy's picture

Agree about Hyde. He is a very useful tool in the Packers arsenal. When he is asked to do too much (due to injuries at CB, for instance) it does expose some of his physical limitations. But all this guy does is everything that is asked of him, and he IS a "playmaker".

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I like Hyde as a curl to flat defender. I also like him as a swiss army knife defensive backup, and a no frills punt returner. I bet he could even play ILB in a pinch.

dobber's picture

Agreed...but if you're an opponent and you know he's going to be playing a lot of snaps against you on the outside, I'd be looking for an opportunity to exploit that.

MarkinMadison's picture

I'm going to disagree on one thing. This season has proved you can never have too many cornerbacks. Specifically, I think the Packers need to pick up an experienced CB to replace Shields. When Nick Collins had to leave the game sooner than expected he should have been replaced with a free agent. Instead the Packers wandered around for years in the wilderness while failing to adequately replace a player in his prime. Lets not repeat that mistake.

Ross Uglem's picture

You're not disagreeing, in fact you're agreeing. If they don't have Shields I would love them to sign an experienced corner. Not draft one. Corners take too long to develop to think a 1st round pick is going to fix things in 2017. Even in a guy like Terrance Newman on a one year deal would be fine.

MITM's picture

Terrance Newman was a rookie in 2003. Id rather not. Zimmer has kept him employed with the Bengals and Vikings hes useless in our scheme.

Ross Uglem's picture

I'd love to hear what you think it is about Green Bay's scheme that would make a player like Newman "worthless". Capers is about as versatile as it gets in the back end for better or worse. Regularly calls man, Cover 1/3, and Cover 2 concepts.

MITM's picture

Zimmer loves press man coverages, its his calling card in the secondary, not that he doesnt use zone coverages because he does. My point was that Zimmer had him in Dallas Cincinatti and Minnesota so there has to be something to the fact that Zimmer was single handedly keeping him employed. Oh and he will be 39 when the season starts next year, so a 39 year old corner potentially playing out of his comfort zone is more or less useless to me. You dont have to agree. But im sure nobody in here thinks the veteran corner we need is a 39 year old.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Terrance Newman lead a mutiny against Zimmer's Game Plan and got torched by Jordy Nelson and got the Vikings eliminated from playoff contention.

Not Packer People.

MITM's picture

Yea and that.

sonomaca's picture

The Packers let 3 corners go over the past two seasons. Maybe would have been prudent to have kept at least one. I know, I know, that costs money.

croatpackfan's picture

No, two of them showed that reason was right. They declined. Only Casey shows more in SD, but I wish him well in watching Packers in play off, sitting at home...

snowdog's picture

@croatpackfan . That's cold . Hayward being in SD is on Thompson .

dobber's picture

After his rookie year, he never really showed that he was any better than what the Packers had on the roster already. Whether that's system or how they used him or his own motivation, who knows. Good for him that he's made good for himself, but he wasn't that kind of player over the last couple years in GB.

DesertPackFan's picture

Woodson was going to slide to Safety, except he broke his collarbone again. Then missed another 1/2 season.

DesertPackFan's picture

Woodson was going to slide to Safety, except he broke his collarbone again. Then missed another 1/2 season.

RCPackerFan's picture

That final drive was one of the best drives of the season. Only up by 6 points, with 7 minutes left in the game, and to take it down and not only to score a TD (and 2 point conversion), but to also take nearly 5 minutes of time off the clock. That was truly impressive.
But the best part of that drive was it kept our wounded defense off the field.

It put them up by 2 TD's with under 3 minutes left in the game.

That drive hopefully left the voters with a lasting impression of who should be the MVP.

dobber's picture

I think that ARod brings a more varied resume to MVP consideration than Matt Ryan (who is the other prime contender, I think). He runs the ball (and has had key first down and TD runs) and didn't have the benefit of a strong running game behind him like Ryan did: that's the key difference. In the end, I think Ryan will win because Atlanta started strong and never went into a funk...but ARod is just as deserving. It's too bad they don't announce these until SuperBowl weekend: it would be good for putting a chip on #12s shoulder.

Handsback's picture

Green Bay has some good safety prospects maybe for the first time in ages. CBs are a different story. If Shields is done, then the Pack will need a potential #1 stopper to add with their current group. Their top need is a pass rusher. Might even help their weak corners.

wimiller's picture

imagine what AR's production would be with julio jones? if Ryan gets the MVP then he needs to split it with julio.

Colin_C's picture

So many thoughts, but I'll just say this. It's Josh Hawkin's time.

dobber's picture

Depending on the injury situation come Sunday, I think you're going to see him play a significant role. Putting Micah Hyde on the outside a lot is inviting teams to exploit him. He might make some plays, but in the end he's going to give up plays, too. I don't know that Hawkins will do any better in that regard, but I think either guy will be targeted by the Giants. Put Hawkins on the outside and let Hyde cover the slot where he's probably better equipped to be successful.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I really like your articles, and often agree. So, here goes:

Nelson: I suggested moving Nelson to the slot prior to the Seattle game. For want of a better alternative, I suggested splitting Cook out wide more often. I'd love to move Nelson, but we do need production outside. My concerns are whether this would make Adams face the defense's #1 CB and whether he is ready for that. Some teams will match their #1 CB up on Nelson in the slot, many won't, like Slay didn't move. It also brings up what to do with Cobb. My own answer is we keep him. If he returns to form, great, and we play more with 2 slot receivers, and rotate Nelson outside some as well. If Cobb doesn't return to form, well, we overpay him for a yr. I agree that Nelson beat Slay more than enough.

Allison: I like him. Concerned about irrational exuberance though. He was matched up for a time against a CB Detroit claimed off the street 5 days before this game. His long reception came off a blown assignment. Still, he does look promising. #3 or #4 WR promising, but promising.

Gunter: I think you're dreaming, but maybe. That is not to say that Gunter isn't a useful chess piece for Capers; Gunter can be matched up against the Alshons of the world and do a good job. I do think it would be prudent to dip into FA and find a respectable Veteran CB. Bouye, Amakumara, maybe Claiborne or even Newman (I imagine we could get Newman on a short deal). There are pricier FA CBs as well. Our draft order isn't set as we are a playoff team; right now we're at 26; I am hopeful we'll be 32nd, but it could be low 20s. Regardless, I agree rookie CBs capable of starting early are hard to find period.

Cook: He has proven what he can be for GB (30 recs for 377 yds, 12.6 yd. average in 329 snaps), and an extension is warranted. I gather that insurance is cheaper than it used to be so players can protect themselves more easily, making extensions less beneficial to teams. Still, the issue is how much? Ask me after a few playoff games. Right now I'd be in the $7M - $8M AAV range.

Rollins: FS might be his best position. Hard to see how that move benefits GB other than depth.

Hyde: No, he is not an average starter at safety or outside corner. He is as a punt returner, and maybe as the nickle or dime. He is a green minus at most of those positions, yet generally better than a yellow. (Okay, sometimes I think he is a yellow.) I'd hope to re-sign him for Guion money.

Datone: 57th of 113 is dead average, statistically speaking. One might note that there are 64 starting OLBs and some more semi-starters like Ware and Feeney: still, being 57th is nothing to write home about. He made a real nice play against the run, and was good on the edge, but his rare pressure was 1 pressure. He is versatile. Worth a little more than his current AAV, but he's got some leverage given the state of OLB talent under contract next year.

Lawson: He was in good position on that TD pass. That is a great throw, made to the perfect spot, tossed on time, and a nice finish by Adams. Helps to be 6'1" with some vertical. Even the best CBs would rarely break that one up.

Nick Perry's picture

That much for Cook? That seems really excessive for a player who gave us 329 snaps. I agree on keeping him but at that kind of money? He's also going to be 30 years old at the start of OTA's next year.

dobber's picture

I don't know if he'll command that much money...he really didn't show much more productivity in GB than he has at any other stop. But by investing in Cook, it takes a pressing draft need off the table. This is what FA is for, IMO, and the best way to use it.

Tundraboy's picture

" But by investing in Cook, it takes a pressing draft need off the table. This is what FA is for, IMO, and the best way to use it."

Absolutely!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Hi NP. Regarding Cook, maybe I am too high on his AAV. Cook generally has been healthy during his career, so I extrapolated his stats using his 329 snap to reach some really nice numbers had he been healthy - something like 65-75 receptions, 825+ yards, 12.6 average, then scanned overthecap. Now I've looked harder:

$5.0M AAV: Ladarius Green - 2016, best season was 37 recs, 429 yards
$6.5M AAV: Vance McDonald 2016: 29 Recs, 391 yds, 16.3 ave (10 games)
$6.7M AAV: Coby Fleener extended 2015 season: 50 Recs, 631 yds, 12.6 average
$7.2M AAV: Delanie Walker ext 2016 season: 65 Recs, 800 yds, 12.3 average
$7.3M AAV Dwayne Allen, 2016, best season is 35 recs, 406 yds, 11.3 average
$7.6M AAV Charles Clay, 2015, 57 recs, 552 yds, 9.7 average
$8.5M AAV Zach Ertz, 2016, 75 recs, 853 yards, 11.4 average

Upon further review, I'd suggest Cook has a floor of about $6M, and tops out at $7M. I see that in 2015 Greg Olson signed for $7.5M AAV after a thousand yard season, though he did get 53.3% guaranteed, while I'd say TT likes to be lower than that, often 30s or low 40s on the % guaranteed. Maybe Cooks' injuries hurts him more than I think it will.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I thought McCarthy's decision to go with 2-Fullback sets was really innovative. It completely changed Detroit's gameplan, bruising their D-Line.

We might see more of that against New York. Then again, knowing McCarthy, we'll see something altogether different.

jlc1's picture

This is so refreshing, somebody crediting MM with a good game plan and not complaining about where was Montgomery. Could not agree more with the assessment of this game and that we, and more importantly, the Giants don't know what's coming next.

Ben Pearson's picture

Yikes, raise your standards. Ladarius is miserable, he might look a little better because Rollins and Randall have been putrid this year. Ladarius Gunter is not a starter in this league his QBR against is 112.0. As for Micah Hyde... I guess he's an okay plug-in player but his QBR againt this season is 123.0.... and he is anything but a threat as a punt returner. Yes he can stand back there and catch the ball when it's punted to him, if that's your standard as a good returner I guess we disagree there. Datone Jones has been a "pretty good" player all year sure, but is that really what you want out of a first round pick..? You want a 57th/113 out of a first rounder..? But hey, I do agree that Geronimo was a steal.

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