Taking a look inside the Xs & Os, personnel and schemes after watching video of the Packers’ 31-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday…
- The pressure the Packers brought on defense only resulted in one sack, but that really doesn’t show how much success the Packers had when they blitzed Brett Favre. The Packers employed their five-man rush “fire-zone” blitz with six defenders in coverage (three deep and three underneath) on 16 passes on Sunday. Favre completed only 5 of those 16 passes when he was frequently under duress, on the run and generally forced to get rid of the ball early including several over-throws.
- There was a 17th time the Packers brought a fire-zone blitz in which the Vikings didn’t get a pass off. It was a fourth quarter third-and-10 play with only about 7 minutes remaining in the game. Vikings center John Sullivan was so concerned with the cross dog blitz the Packers were bringing up the middle with A.J. Hawk and Brandon Chillar that the shotgun snap to Favre was fumbled for a loss of three yards.
- Just when it seemed as if the Packers were getting comfortable with their tight ends in life after Jermichael Finley, they used very few tight-end sets against the Vikings. In the first four games of the season with Finley, Packers used two tight-end sets on 21, 16, 18 and 17 plays in each game. Understandably, those sets decreased over the next three games with only 7, 3 and 3 plays with two tight ends. In the past two games against the Jets and the Cowboys, the Packers seemed to have gotten used to their tight end personnel and the two tight-end sets got back to double digits with 11 and 10 plays. Then on Sunday against the Vikings, the two “TE” sets decreased once again with only six such plays. It will be interesting to see if the addition of Spencer Havner changes that in the next couple weeks.
- On the first play of the fourth quarter, a Ray Edwards sack may have been given up by Bryan Bulaga, but he got absolutely no help from John Kuhn. Assigned to help Bulaga, Kuhn tried to chip on Edwards and had zero impact. The sack probably could have been prevented with a little more help from Kuhn.
- On the first play of the next possession in the fourth quarter, Rodgers was under pressure and was forced to scramble for a gain of two yards. The personnel on that play was the “inverted wishbone” meaning the Packers had three running backs to help out five offensive linemen in pass protection. Everson Griffen was too much for Chad Clifton to handle basically forcing Rodgers to scramble. I just don’t know how–with eight men in protection–some help wasn’t given to Clifton.
- On the very next play, second-and-8, Brandon Jackson took a draw play for a gain of only 1 yard. The interior blocking had basically done it’s job. The reason the play gained only 1 yard was primarily due to Greg Jennings’ inability to sustain a block at the second level.
- You know the Packers’ punting situation is improving when a punt of 31 yards is considered a shank. Tim Masthay’s third punt of the game early in the second quarter was an ugly punt that landed 10 yards out of bounds, but still was good for 31 yards. Remember those shanks by Derrick Frost that were lucky to travel a dozen yards?
- Bryan Bulaga replaced Tom Crabtree as a blocker on the right wing on field goals and extra points. That was made possible by defensive lineman Howard Green being added as an interior blocker, which is a good use of personnel. If Green is only going to play 10 snaps a game or so on defense, it’s good to get at least a little more mileage out of him on special teams.