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GB-MN: 3 Plays & Done

GB-MN: 3 Plays & Done

rodgers-vikes200x120

rodgers-vikes200x120

 

I sat down tonight to review the film of the Packers - Vikings game. I didn't make it very far. Within the first 5 minutes, I saw three plays that would foretell how the game would unfold.

 

 

 

 

Already disgusted, I threw down the remote and bailed on watching the whole game. Why torture myself? It was clear that these three plays would give me plenty to write about.

 

Play # 1: Packers first running play. Grant makes a BAD, BAD decision.

With Quinn Johnson as the lead blocker, Rodgers hands off to Ryan Grant on what looks like an outside zone run. Johnson meets the linebacker head-on and everywhere, the play is blocked perfectly. Every Viking player, except for the deep safety, has a Packer blocker in their face. The Packers are all holding their blocks well, and you can see a nice seam for Grant to run through between Sitton and Barbre. Make it through that hole and at least a 10-yard gain and possibly a huge play awaits....

 

Grant

 

In the picture above, you'll see that Grant is looking to that hole. But look at the picture below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For some unexplainable reason, Grant cuts inside, trying to squeeze between Quinn Johnson and Sitton. He ends up running right into Johnson and the Viking player he's blocking. As you can see from the next picture, Grant goes nowhere:

 

Going Nowhere

 

Grant actually ends up fumbling on this play, but the Packers get lucky and the officials rule forward progress stopped, so Minnesota was not allowed to challenge.

 

With all the heat the offensive line has been taking, I have quietly felt that their run blocking for the most part has been good enough. But I held off laying the full blame at Ryan Grant's feet. Well, the gloves are off. Ryan, if this is the best you can do, then you are a thief - you are stealing the Packer's money.

 

I would opine that Brandon Jackson, who I'm no fan of, would have hit the right hole. I would expect Ahman Green to have hit the right hole, but who knows what he has left. I believe that Tyrell Sutton, who the Packers chose to let go, would have hit the right hole. And finally, let me one more time invoke the name of Kregg Lumpkin, buried on the Packer's practice squad. I am sure Lumpy would have hit the right hole.

 

Play # 2: Rodgers doesn't sense the pressure.

There has been much discussion of Aaron Rodgers holding on to the ball too long. And most of it is accurate. He is too often determined to make the big play, ignoring safer and quicker options.
I devoted an entire article to this subject after the first Vikings loss. But another issue that goes along with that is that he doesn't yet sense pressure until it is right upon him. It's maddening to watch, at times, and the play I will show you is very symptomatic.

 

Here Rodgers moves to his left in the pocket. Ray Edwards gets around Alan Barbre late and is pursuing Rodgers from behind. It's 3rd and seventeen, so Rodgers is looking down field, hoping for a long completion. As you can see from the first picture, as Edwards is only two steps away, Rodgers is still looking down field, ignoring a wide open Brandon Jackson, who has no defender within ten yards of him.

 

Under Pressure

 

As Edwards, gets closer, Rodgers is still waiting for the deep receiver to complete his pattern. Although he has room, he doesn't continue moving up in the pocket to avoid Edwards because he doesn't feel him coming. Instead he sets himself to throw.

 

In the next picture, you can see a wide open Donald Driver directly in front of Rodgers. But does he unload the ball to him? No he does not. He ignores Driver and Jackson (again), and tries to thrown the ball further down field. But because Rodgers didn't feel the pressure, Edwards is able to hit his arm as he throws.

 

Wide Open

 

Finally, in this picture you can see what Rodgers was waiting for:

 

Jones Open

 

You can see the third Packer receiver (James Jones) who has just made the inside cut on a post pattern. Unfortunately, the ball is now fluttering to nobody and Rodgers is on the ground. While Rodgers was looking for a big play on 3rd and seventeen, he ended up with nothing. As you can see, Jackson and Driver are still wide open. If he had sensed the pressure sooner and continued to move away, Rodgers would have bought himself another half-second, which would have been more than enough to allow him to get the pass off to the deep receiver. Or he could have just thrown to Driver or Jackson for an easy completion. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Aaron, you just have to improve this part of your game or all those gaudy numbers you put up will mean nothing in the end.

 

Play # 3: Brett Favre will make you pay if your blitzers don't get to him.

Here we have a 3rd and five on the Vikings' first possession. The Packers are showing blitz (a bit too obviously and too soon) and the Vikings make adjustments. You can see the Vikings' right guard pointing and no doubt calling out a blocking assignment (See that Aaron?). The Packers run their tired crossover blitz, with Aaron Kampman circling behind Clay Matthews. Barnett does not blitz and is responsible for coverage, if needed. You can see the huge area that will be left empty when the linebackers blitz.

 

Third and Five

 

Brett Favre also sees it coming (See that Aaron?), and looks over and gestures to running back Chester Taylor to move to his right:

 

Audible

 

When the blitz does come, the Vikings offensive line is ready for it. And so is Favre. He simply lets Chester Taylor run into the big empty area and feeling pressure from Cullen Jenkins, quickly unloads the ball to Taylor. A 5-yard pass becomes a 20-yard gain.

 

Dump Off Taylor

 

It's so basic and simple, and it's what the Vikings and Favre did to the Packers in both games. Pick up the blitz, throw the ball to the area left vacated by the blitz and move the chains. It's the reason why, in both games, the Packers covered more and blitzed less as the game went on. Of course, that in turn allowed Favre more time to throw and we all know he can pick you apart if you let him. So it becomes a no-win situation for Capers.

 

So in summary, these three plays were all you needed to see to let you know how this game would turn out. Rodgers continuing to have issues with not feeling pressure soon enough and looking too much for the big gain. NO running game, to which McCarthy's answer is to just give up on it. You mean, he can't see that Grant is just plain playing POORLY? Why wouldn't you at least try to give Jackson or Green a few carries? And finally, if the Packers can not pressure, hurry, or sack the quarterback, they can not stop a team with a good quarterback.

 

So don't waste your time watching the whole game again, Packers fans. The first five minutes tell the whole story...

 

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You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

IronMan's picture

Bravo Al. Well done. Hopefully someone on the Packers coaching staff is reading this, because you know a whole lot more than they do.

Jersey Al's picture

That's silly, of course, but you do have to wonder at times...

FITZCORE1252's picture

Dude there may be 50 people who regularly read here. Unfortunatly, I highly doubt anyone on the coaching staff is one of them. They'd of fired themselves by now.

GBP 4 LIFE

Rockmolder's picture

I agree. Nice article. Grant always seems to take the cutback at the most horrible times... and doesn't when there's a huge hole.

I remember being frustrated last year by all the screens on 3rd and 9, but this might be just as annoying. I'm hoping that they'll go over this film a lot. Surely, MM and Rodgers both have to see that is not the way to go. Always looking deep. I mean, they figured that out by the 2nd half, it seemed.

And lastly, blitzing Favre. Let me start by saying that it's quite obvious that Favre feels pressure and sees the blitz coming more often and easier than Aaron. There's a slight difference in experience there. That said, Rodgers is still to blame, of course.

Anyway, when you come up to the line that obvious, you better bring a lot of heat. Thinking Falcons 11 man blitzes or Bears 10 mans. Otherwise, you'll get beat in that scenario every single time. Maybe a little 'chaos' would do this defense good. Baltimore style. Not very likely that we'll see that, but that'd make things a little more confusing for whoever the QB may be.

Oh, and bringing 3, essentially DTs, on 3rd and 15 or something?.... I really, really hope that we won't see that again.

Jersey Al's picture

No doubt Favre can feel pressure and knows how to cleverly avoid it. He's one of the best at it. We've been spoiled by that, for sure. But Aaron will need to improve in that department.

As for blitzing, Matthews is the only one with a knack for it, but the Packers keep sending him on inside blitzes. I'd love to see him come from the outside more...

Aaron's picture

Excellent as always Al - and again, I never said I LIKED the way the Packers call their protection. Just pointing out HOW they do it. (And, er go, why it sucks)

Jersey Al's picture

I know - I just had to give you a little tweak there...

Matt M.'s picture

I WANT to believe Rodgers will learn from these mistakes as he matures into a more journeyman quarterback. BUT you would think he would have seen enough film sessions by now to evaluate these conditions in which he fails to find the underneath safety valve.

I thought the essence of the West Coast style was quick release and if necessary, dink and dunk. Why all the downfield passing?

I REALLY want to like Rodgers...but this is getting old fast!

Excellent analysis again, BTW.

Asshalo's picture

I'm convinced he had better pocket presence last year. He's just on edge more. Despite some of these sacks being his fault he is getting hammered more so than any packer QB in recent memory. 31 sacks by halfway point? Take away a third of that (and conservatively attribute them to Rodgers) and that's still as many sacks as most teams have in a single season.

Jersey Al's picture

I think you are 100% right and actually, I wanted to express that in this article also, so thanks for bringing it up. But whatever the causes, he has to adjust.

Jersey Al's picture

Yes, I don’t think you can call it the West Coast offense anymore…

Manitowish Waters's picture

I think our #12 has been taking too many Big Ben notes. Rothlisburger has the body and strength to stand like a statue for 12 minutes as plays unfold. But the truth is, Rodgers doesn't need to play that way anyway, he has so many other options, especially in this offense. It's almost like he thinks he has to make these huge sacrifices, but it's starting to look damn near suicidal.

I think we should have at least half a dozen more balls being caught by running backs per game. The short passing game is in essence part of the running game. It would help if we had a more dynamic back but the options are there.

We're just not getting a finished product from Rodgers yet and it's frustrating.

Jersey Al's picture

Manitowish - You hit on another pet peeve. The first play of the game was a pass to Grant that went for a first down. How often did McCarthy call that play again? I can't answer that because as I said in the article, I didn't watch the whole game again. But I sure don't remember too many...

GreenBay Packer Nation's picture

This isn't the first time you've showed screenshots of Rodgers acting blind to a pass to a running back that's just beyond the line and open for a big gain following a short pass. I guess Aaron refuses to throw those passes because there isn't as much glory in them as the big strike to a WR downfield.

It'd be nice if he started dumping some of those passes off though. Turn a 3-5 yard pass into a 10-15 yard gain. It would also be nice if the coaches would start coaching him into making those plays.

Jersey Al's picture

Last sentence is the key...

PackersRS's picture

Excelent post again, Mr. Al! Great breakdowns! The Rodgers one I'd like to see it on film, though... And I'm not really that bothered by a 3rd and long in which he held too long... I'm much more worried about the 1st and 2nd downs in which he does it...

BTW, I can't believe that people would suggest that Rodgers does it because of glamour... That's just ludicrous! Talk about Favre's agenda!

Jersey Al's picture

I know you can make a case of 3rd and seventeen and he's trying for the big play, but there are plenty of other examples. This one stood out because of HOW open those other receivers were.

PackersRS's picture

And those are the ones who really worry me. I find it astonishing that he suddenly lost his pocket presence. He sure didn't have that problem last year and in preseason...

West TX Cheesehead's picture

Kudos again Al! Your breakdowns are my favorite ANYWHERE!

Jersey Al's picture

I personally love Texans that aren't Cowboys fans,,,

RonLC's picture

Al, quality and educational analysis. You add a lot to this Blog.
_____
Driver has not practiced this week because of a neck injury. Flynn has taken all the 1st string snaps in practice. By default they may need to go to a simplfied, faster placed game. They cannot afford to have Rodgers out of action, no matter how slow some think he is. The alternative is a gaurenteed disaster.

Jersey Al's picture

I'm all for toning down the passing offense a bit and utilizing the RBs as receivers more.

Thanks Ron...

Greg C.'s picture

Yeah, this game did feel bad right from the get-go. I don't have a big problem with the 3rd and 17 play, because a dump-off means they punt for sure, but as you say, there were plenty of other plays you could have chosen to highlight.

Thanks to your writing talent, you only had to watch five minutes of game tape to get an article out of it. You may not get paid for what you write, but that's payment enough right there.

I don't think I'm going to watch it at all. There were just so many bad things. Here's a totally random one: Why was Ahman Green returning kickoffs? If he ever had any talent for returning kicks, it was a long time ago. It was sad to watch him run right into the pile every time. Tramon Williams or Brandon Jackson would've at least had a chance of doing something on kickoffs.

Jersey Al's picture

I know you can make the argument that is was 3rd and seventeen, but regardless, the play illustrated so perfectly what I wanted to say, so I went with it.

My guess is they wanted to break in Ahman and get him some game action. He probably didn't have the offense down yet.

Greg C.'s picture

Yeah, that's the only explanation I can think of for having Ahman return kickoffs. Strange that the coaching staff would think so little of the return game that they would put in a guy who's no damn good at it in the most important game of the season. That's a real head-scratcher. You might even call it Sherman-esque.

Jersey Al's picture

It smacks of McCarthyism...

Stan's picture

*groan*. Couldn't bare to watch a lot of the game, we just looked... basic, until the 3rd when we caught them sleeping.

Capers defense needs the following, at least 1 more season to completely gel with the players. This defense is tough to master, it's not coming in 1 season, sorry, people who thought it would were just beliving the hype. I would expect by next season to be far more productive however.

McCarthy needs to stop f***ing with the O-Line, MY GOD, serioulsy has he any clue! It drives me mad, every week, Clifton's in, Lang's in, Tausch is in.... GET REAL MIKE. You said at the beginning of this season you wanted a consistent O-Line. Oh, but you forgot about a little thing called injuries and depth (funny, you got your ass stung by it in 2008).

Jersey Al's picture

With Clifton and Tausch near the end, the OL issues are not going away next year, either. This is a mess only a #1 pick and some top free agents can fix. Two things TT has never done...

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