- Keep It Simple, Stupid (Especially In Pass Protection)
Look, no one is under any illusions about this weekends game against the Browns. Or at least they shouldn't be. If The Packers lose, everyone should be fired. OK, maybe not, but you can bet the doom merchants that populate the comment sections of the Journal Sentinel and the Press Gazette will be calling for heads to role, and for once, they may have a point. There is no reason, whatsoever, that the Packers should lose this game. They are better in every area, from the front office to the coaching staff to the players, all except one - Browns returner Josh Cribbs. The Packers don't have anything resembling the dynamic athletic presence Cribbs' brings to the field.
Luckily for the Packers, the Browns are not only bad, but they are at less than full strength in their badness. With all the injuries, the sickness, etc - this will be the second week in a row the team is facing UFL-level talent. But even with the talent disparity, this game could easily become season-defining for the Packers. All it takes is one wandering-of-focus by one of the offensive linemen and Rodgers and the Packers season could be over.
In the video below you can see Grant go in motion. Note how he makes like he's going to go lineup wide outside but then comes back in. This is new this year for the Pack and I think it's one of those great wrinkles that McCarthy comes up with from time to time that I just love. The motion is designed to make the defense tip its hand without having to send the back out to the perimeter. You get to look at the coverage but still get to keep the back in to block. Brilliant.
All of which would be fantastic if Clifton wasn't completely screwing up on the backside.
When the linebacker comes up into the gap, Clifton has to recongnize it and once the ball is snapped he HAS to take him. There's no question. In pass protection everyone from linemen to tight ends and backs are taught to work from the inside out. You can see the defensive line shift down and that Colledge (for once) and Wells do the right thing and block inside and down. Clifton, for reasons that only he can explain, never even looks inside, taking the defensive end and letting the linebacker come through untouched. Yes, if Clifton takes the linebacker, the end has a free rush, but that player becomes Rodgers responsibility. It's clear the slot receiver (I think it's funny how you can tell the safety wants no part in having to cover him, pleading with his defensive mates before the snap...) would have been there on the Out if Rodgers had had more than a second to throw the ball.
Now, some of that is coaching (Mr. Campen) and some of that is just Clifton messing up (Nine year veteran? Really?) but it drives home that there's a lot going on with the potential to go wrong when it comes to pass protection. The simpler McCarthy keeps it, the better.
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