Taking a look inside the Xs & Os, personnel and schemes after watching video of the Packers 28-24 win vs. the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday...
- A key component to the Packers' success on Sunday was getting in third-and-manageable situations. The Packers offense faced 11 third down situations with the average first down distance being third-and-4.8 yards to go. Not surprisingly, they converted 6 out of 11 third downs, a 55% success rate. They also faced only one single time where they were third-and-10 or longer. Compare that to 6 times they faced third-and-10 or longer the previous week against the Dolphins.
- The success of the running game and very few penalties, only 2 for 20 had a lot to do with being in third-and-manageable situations.
- It's interesting to note the use of rookie tight end Andrew Quarless in goal-line situations ahead of Donald Lee. One of Lee's bigger strengths coming into the season was that he was a known quantity as a blocker, unlike a Tom Crabtree. Crabtree has obviously eclipsed Lee as a blocker and Quarless may have as well.
- Josh Sitton blocked three different defenders on the draw play to Brandon Jackson on second-and-16 in the first quarter. Absolutely amazing.
- Jordy Nelson had a beautiful crack-back block on a Vikings linebacker on a first-and-10 run by Brandon Jackson in which he gained 5 yards. Nelson turned the play from a possible tackle for a loss into a positive gain.
- I counted five passes in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his wide receivers were not on the same page. One of them saw either the back shoulder throw or the go route, and vice versa. I'm having a hard time understand where McCarthy isn't seeing a problem.
- On both of the tight end screen plays to Donald Lee, running back Brandon Jackson was also an available receiver on the other side of the field as a check-down option. It's nice to have that available.
- The third quarter playcall on third-and-2 was a head scratcher. The Packers utilized two running backs and tight end Tom Crabtree all as pass blockers on a play necessitating two yards. In essence, the Packers had eight blockers and only two receivers running routes. Not a very good use of personnel.
- It was rather funny to see running back Dimitri Nance used a decoy several times on offense. It was as if the coaches told him, "Okay, you can play on offense this week, but you can't touch the ball." I realize he was the intended receiver on the screen pass intercepted by Jared Allen, but other than that he was motioned out of the backfield or not given the ball on two John Kuhn dives.
- There's something not being said about Brandon Chillar. He was used on third-and-medium to third-and-long situations early in the in nickel situations. Then in the second half, he wasn't used in that role any longer. Maybe he's just being limited by a snap count due to his shoulder injury, but there a couple times where Chillar did not perform very well either either getting beat in coverage or failing to funnel run plays back to his help in the middle of the field.
- There was only one play in which the Packers sent six or more pass rushers, a play in which Favre made the Packers pay for their gamble. It was on Visanthe Schiancoe's "touchdown," in which both inside linebackers, A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, blitzed leaving the middle of the field wide open. Luckily for the Packers, the play was ruled incomplete.
- Favre showed his veteran savvy another time by making the Packers play for a Charles Woodson blitz and then threw to Percy Harvin left uncovered on the left side of the field. Woodson blitzed six times on the evening.
- B.J. Raji is doing a fantastic job sniffing out screens. On one first quarter screen, it was thanks to Raji the Packers were able to tackle Adrian Peterson after only a gain of four yards. Raji also correctly diagnosed the screen play on the Vikings' final possession that Peterson took for 26 yards down to the Packers' 15-yard line. It was just bad luck that Peterson was able to reverse the field for such a long gain.
- After struggling to handle bunch and stack formations last season, it's worth noting that A.J. Hawk's interception came on a play which the Vikings used four receivers lined up in a diamond formation to one side of field and handled it perfectly.
- The run defense may have been gouged for 131 yards by Peterson last night, although it was a bend but don't break type-of-evening. Peterson had a long run of 17 yards, but the Packers weren't subject to giving up several long runs. The same went for Toby Gerhart.
- It's worth noting that safety Charlie Peprah had a very solid evening. Sam Shields too.
- Similar to his role on defense, Brandon Chillar was removed from his role on special teams. He had a nice block on the Packers' first kickoff return of the game that helped spring Pat Lee, but was later replaced by Dimitri Nance.
- If the Vikings were prepared, they would have known that as soon as Matt Flynn stepped onto the field as the place kick holder that something was fishy on the fake field goal attempt. Flynn has not been the holder a single time all year up to that point.
- After getting burned by Harvin on a couple kick returns, the Packers decided to squib the ball away from him, which had mixed results. The first time the ball got down to the 21-yard line. The next time it hit a player and the Vikings recovered at their own 42, which kind of defeats the purpose.
- The kickoff unit is going for speed over size with seven defensive back/wide receiver types including Jarrett Bush, Brett Swain, Pat Lee, Brandon Underwood, Anthony Smith, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams.
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