At this point in the offseason, there is a lot of free time to discuss the current roster and what we can expect leading up to the season (even though it is still very early).
In terms of scheme and personnel, there are three fascinating things to think about. First, will Mike McCarthy employ the five wide receiver personnel package more? Second, will Dom Capers use the “Psycho” package more? And third, will Capers use the “Dollar” package more?
Every Packers fan remembers the 2010 season and the great receiving corps of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones. That season, especially since Jermichael Finley was injured for the majority of it, McCarthy liked to occasionally send out a five wide receiver personnel package that he calls the “Big 5." This was technically “00 personnel” (zero running backs, zero tight ends, five wide receivers), and it consisted of Driver, Jennings, Nelson, Jones, and Brett Swain.
Here is a 3x2 formation with Jones, Jennings, and Driver to the left and Swain and Nelson to the right at Atlanta in the 2010 divisional round (all five receivers are circled in blue):
Here is the same personnel grouping at New England in 2010. Here, they lined up in a “Quads Bunch” formation (four receivers to one side lined up in a bunch) with Driver, Jennings, Nelson, and Jones lined up together on the left and Swain to the right:
Going into this season, the Packers are in a situation where they have a myriad of wide receivers, but not very many big-play tight ends. McCarthy likes to use “11 personnel” (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers), and he will still employ that very often. However, with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Myles White, Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, and Jeff Janis (just to name a few), McCarthy will have plenty of receivers to work with. A “Big 5” package consisting of Nelson, Cobb, Boykin, Adams, and Abbrederis, for example, would look very intriguing.
Next, remember when Dom Capers used to employ the “Psycho” package much more? This is technically a 1-5-5 nickel package (one down lineman, five linebackers, five defensive backs), and it is designed to create confusion for the offensive line in long-yardage situations. Ted Thompson has not addressed the inside linebacker position this offseason, but this package could still be very useful with the personnel the Packers have now. Here are a couple of pictures of the "Psycho" package from the 2009 game at Pittsburgh and the 2010 game versus Buffalo:
In terms of the personnel for the "Psycho" package, Capers could use many different combinations. An example of what he could do is this: Using Mike Daniels as the one down lineman, and Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, A.J. Hawk, and Carl Bradford as the linebackers. After watching some tape on Bradford, Arizona State did put him at inside linebacker in a couple of packages, and he looked like a good blitzer.
The secondary would be the same as the normal 2-4-5 nickel package (Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Morgan Burnett). The "Psycho" package is a great way to keep offenses off balance, and maybe we will see Dom use it much more this season.
The final topic pertains to how much Capers will use what he calls his “Dollar” package. This is a seven defensive back package. Capers has used this some in this past. Now that Casey Hayward is healthy, Capers has a very talented secondary to work with. He could employ the Dollar package more this season against teams like the Lions.
The advantage of this package is that there are generally no blatant mismatches no matter what personnel or formation the offense presents. Here is a picture of the Dollar package from the 2012 game versus the Saints (the seven defensive backs are circled in blue):
On that particular play, Capers used two down linemen, two (outside) linebackers, and seven defensive backs (2-2-7).
A specific scenario when the Dollar package would have been useful was during the 2013 game at Detroit. Packers fans: Remember the play when Reggie Bush beat A.J. Hawk down the sideline for a 32-yard reception?
Well, on that particular play, the Packers were playing their dime defense (two down linemen, three linebackers, six defensive backs). You would think that the Packers would match up well across the board.
However, on the play, Dom Capers called Cover 1 to double (bracket) Calvin Johnson with Sam Shields and Morgan Burnett. This meant that everyone else was playing man (one-on-one) coverage with M.D. Jennings as the deep, single-high safety. So, once Bush motioned out of the backfield and lined up wide, Hawk had to follow and cover him with no help (depicted by the red figure-eight):
This was a brilliant job by the Lions. Even though the Packers had six defensive backs on the field, the Lions found a way to create a mismatch. By the design of the defensive play call, Hawk had to cover Bush. You cannot put all the blame on Capers, but if he would have employed the "Dollar" package in this situation, a defensive back would have covered Bush instead.
So, who would be playing in this package? As of right now, it would likely be Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Morgan Burnett. If Dom utilizes this, offenses will have a tough time finding open receivers.
With three months left before the season starts, there are many scenarios that could occur between now and then. Nevertheless, it is still entertaining to discuss all of the possibilities surrounding the Packers. Everything written above serves as something to think about as we persevere through this current lull in the NFL offseason.
Thanks for reading, Packers fans. Follow me on Twitter at @RobertOlson92 for daily analysis on the Packers.
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