Taking a look inside the Xs & Os, personnel and schemes after watching video of the Packers 13-16 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday…
- Quarterback Aaron Rodgers seemed to have gotten his wish to spread out the offense and get more multiple-receiver sets on the field against the Redskins. However, it only resulted in 13 points, the fewest points scored in a game since by the Packers since December of 2007. The Packers used a season-high 14 plays with empty-back sets. The only other time they had over 10 plays with no running back this season was against the Chicago Bears, a game they also lost. For comparison’s sake, they used no-back sets far less often in their wins against the Lions (3), Bills (6) and Eagles (3).
- The Packers also employed sets with 2 or more running backs a season-low 14 times. By comparison they used sets with 2 or more running backs more often in every other game including the Lions (18), Bears (17), Bills (20) and Eagles (25).
- That being said, on the six plays in which the Packers used 7 or more blockers in pass protection, Rodgers completed only 2 of those 6 passes.
- Four sacks were given up by the offense, the the offensive line protect Aaron Rodger very effectively for three and half quarters. The first two sacks were probably best described as coverage sacks. It wasn’t until Bryan Bulaga gave up a sack late in the fourth quarter and Chad Clifton one in overtime that the offensive line really didn’t hold up its end of the bargain.
- Josh Sitton, the best run blocker on the team, was responsible for the 4-yard loss by Brandon Jackson on second-and-1 from the 1-yard line in the first quarter. Sitton tried to cut block Phillip Daniels; Daniels jumped right over him and made the tackle.
- It’s hard to blame Mike McCarthy for not reviewing the early second quarter pass to Jordy Nelson along the sideline in which he may or may not have gotten into the endzone. Nelson was so close to the sideline that even watching the game on a large-screen, high-definition television, there may have not been enough evidence to overturn the call. In fact, it’s possible they even could have lost yards on the spot of the football.
- Shame on Aaron Rodgers for not running out of bounds on his late fourth quarter scramble while trying to set up a game-winning field goal attempt. He only got to the Packers’ own 44-yard line, still far short of field goal range. By getting out of bounds, he would have preserved the Packers’ only timeout remaining.
- Was using John Kuhn the wisest use of personnel when he motioned out of the backfield on a third-quarter play on third-and-2? Rodgers threw to Kuhn for a 1-yard gain, still one yard short of the first down marker. Seems like Brandon Jackson’s speed compared to Kuhn’s could have made that 1-yard difference.
- McCarthy claimed run/pass option plays took away some rushing attempts from Brandon Jackson. I only counted three run/pass option plays, thereby in theory only taking away three potential carries from Jackson.
- Nobody in the defensive backfield is quite the blitzer that Charles Woodson is. Pat Lee blitzed on pass plays nine times and caused very little damage. Same thing last week with Jarrett Bush. It may take the return of Sam Shields or Al Harris until the Packers are confident enough to use Woodson in the slot again.
- The defense was in the base 3-4 a season-high 21 times on Sunday. They were in the nickel 56 times, used the 4-defensive lineman “Hippo” formation twice and used the “Prevent” defense on the Hail Mary at the end of regulation, which included Jarrett Bush, Brandon Underwood and Derrick Martin.
- Cullen Jenkins has performed more than admirably with his club-like cast, but I can’t help but wonder if there were a few instances in which he may have been able to bring down Donovan McNabb had he not had that cast.
- Mike Neal dropped into coverage once just before halftime with the Redskins having a first-and-10 at the Packers’ 13-yard line. Neal forced McNabb to overshoot his intended target, Anthony Armstrong, in the end zone.
- Charles Woodson’s penalties are starting to become costly. One penalty on Sunday wiped out a sack by Clay Matthews, another put the Redskins in much closer field goal range for the game-winning kick in overtime. He had a third illegal contact penalty that was rather ticky-tack, but that wasn’t the one that was costly.
- On the Packers’ third punt of the game, Derrick Martin inexplicably picked up the ball off the bounce at the 25-yard line instead of letting it roll. The ball’s momentum was carrying it toward the Redskins’ endzone could have gotten another five yard or so had Martin left it alone.
- Mason Crosby had a perfectly placed second half kickoff pinned along the sideline. Jarrett Bush and Maurice Simpkins had the opportunity to force the Redskins’ return man out of bounds but couldn’t.
- Tim Masthay also had a perfectly placed 46-yard punt along the left sideline. Neither Bush, Martin nor Pat Lee could force Redskins return man Brandon Banks out of bounds. He returned the ball for 30 yards.
- Dimitri Nance lost contain on a 17-yard return midway through the fourth quarter instead of forcing the returner back to the middle of the field toward his help.