Taking a look inside the Xs & Os, personnel and schemes after watching video of the Packers 20-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday…
- The loss of Jermichael Finley dramatically altered the personnel the Packers utilized on Sunday. There were 21 plays in which the Packers used no tight end at all. For comparison’s sake, here’s the amount of times the Packers used sets with no tight end the first five weeks of the season from Week 1 to Week 5: 6, 2, 0, 1 and 3. That also lend credence to why the Packers may not go after Spencer Havner.
- While not as staggering a statistic as the zero-TE sets, the Packers gave quarterback Aaron Rodgers extra help in protection against Miami more than they have all season long. The Packers kept either 7 or 8 blockers in pass protection 13 times on Sunday. For the sake of comparison, here’s the amount of times the Packers used max protect sets the first five weeks of the season from Week 1 to Week 5: 10, 6, 10, 9 and 9.
- The Packers gave up five sacks, but it looked as if Aaron Rodgers could have avoided at least three or four of them just by getting rid of the ball.
- The Packers used the inverted wishbone (3 running backs) on two plays on Sunday. In a formation that indicated run, both were passes to Greg Jennings on comeback routes down the sideline. That was a pretty decent job of going against the grain and being successful while doing so.
- Daryn Colledge didn’t do the offense any favors on the Packers’ first offensive series of the second quarter. On second-and-10, Colledge was to blame for a screen pass to Brandon Jackson only accounting for 2 yards when he couldn’t sustain his block. The very next play turned a third-and-8 into third-and-13 when Colledge false started. Andrew Quarless bailed the offense out with a 23-yard reception on the next play.
- Until Brady Poppinga got hurt, the Packers seemed to be playing Brad Jones only in the base defense. It was almost exclusively Brady Poppinga and Frank Zombo in the nickel. You can see why Jones was used in the base defense as he does a very good job playing the run, but at the same time, it shows that he’s fallen a little out of favor in passing downs. When Jones accumulated 4 sacks last season, everyone was hoping for more.
- Once Poppinga went down, however, the Packers tried using Robert Francois for one possession. When he couldn’t get the job done, they used Jones and Zombo the rest of the way: dime, base, hippo, whatever.
- Once the Packers realized the Dolphins were using max protect sets, they rarely blitzed. Dom Capers blitzed only 10 pass plays all day long. Normally that number is above 20.
- The Packers played 32 plays in base defense, 44 in nickel, 2 Psycho and 3 Hippo.
- On the 3 plays the Packers used the Hippo, T.J. Lang was used as a defensive lineman ahead of Jarius Wynn. Just goes to show what they think of Wynn vs. the run.
- Pass rushers off the edge frequently go by a rule of thumb telling them not to get deeper than the quarterback. On Chad Henne’s 10-yard scramble for a first down, Brady Poppinga got deeper than the quarterback leaving the area wide open for Henne to run.
- Immediately after Henne’s scramble, the Dolphins hurried to the line of scrimmage with less than a minute to go in the half. In their haste, both A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop lined up about 7 yards off the ball instead of their usual 5 to 6. The result was an 11-yard run by Ronnie Brown putting the Dolphins in even better field position for a Dan Carpenter field goal.
- I still can’t understand when the Packers make no bones about rushing only three players, why they don’t just use their dime defense. No matter who’s been the Packers’ nickel cornerback this season, whether it’s been Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush or Pat Lee, they’ve all played pretty well. The dime is an opportunity to get them on the field, especially in long passing situations. It will only make more sense to use the dime once Al Harris comes back.
- Jarrett Bush is the reason Quinn Johnson was able to get his hand on a Dolphins first half punt. Bush feigned a blitz from his jammer position on the right side of the field and doubled back at the snap of the ball. The Dolphins shifted their protection to account for Bush, which allowed Johnson to get up the middle.
- Pat Lee had the best day of his career on special teams, and it didn’t really have anything to do with his returns (although he did have one long return of 28 that was decent). On Tim Masthay’s short 38-yard punt in the fourth quarter, Lee made his way all the way over from the opposite side of the field to make the tackle. He also made the tackle on the opening kickoff of overtime that aided in field position. And on punt return, he gave Tramon Williams some extra room to maneuver on the punt that Williams picked up off the bounce.
- The newly acquired players like Dimitri Nance, Robert Francois and Maurice Simpkins just aren’t playmakers on special teams like Korey Hall, Jarrett Bush, Desmond Bishop and Tramon Williams. They better start to be playmakers because special teams depth is looking even worse with Brady Popping now scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery.
- Tim Masthay placed two of his first three punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Too bad for him that his two short punts in the fourth quarter and overtime offset and probably over-shadowed any positives.
- The only action Michael Montgomery appeared to get all day was on field goal and extra point defense.