After Further Review: Packers vs. Texans

Ross will provide a few observations every Monday afternoon following a Packers game based on a few viewings of the condensed version of the game on NFL GamePass.  While this might not be the All-22 camera deep dive that might be more "educational", it should provide a conversation point for the rest of the week.

Honest to Peter, heavens to Betsy, and goodness me, please stop using James Starks out of the gun and pistol formations.  He's a train wreck.  I don't mind him in single back or even from the I but he's not decisive enough to run out of the Packers' favorite formations.

I appreciated what Christine Michael was able to do.  Hopfeully he continues to be a hard worker in the playbook and in the meeting room because he's the key to progress in the running game.  

Or maybe he isn't.  Ty Montgomery is averaging 5.3 yards per carry.  There were plenty of evaluators that pegged Montgomery as a running back coming out of college, and he's been impressive.

The fact that he's been trained in Green Bay's receiver group and is as good of a wideout as he is only helps in the ways he can help the offense.  I hope he's healthy now, and that his health was the resason for his marginal snap totals leading in to this game.  I really think he should be on the field 70+% of the time.

That was a missed pass interference call on Davante Adams' man at 1:48 2Q.  It just was, sorry. 

I was really impressed with Lane Taylor all game long.  He's the man in the guard tandem now that Sitton is in Detroit and Lang is out of the lineup, and I don't really think he's disappointed at any point.  Taylor, to me is an average starting guard, and that has value.  There is value to having a guard better than half the guards in the league and maybe not as good (or as well paid) as those in the top tier.

Say what you want about their grading systems, but Pro Football Focus seems to agree with me.  They rank Taylor 31st at the position (there are 64 starting guard spots in the NFL).

Dean Lowry, how about that.

I'm excited to watch the All-22 for this game, because LaDarius Gunter was very, very good.  I think the defensive backs were good (and they were helped by the struggles of Brock Osweiler) all day with the exception of the Hopkins TD (which I think was Hyde's fault).  I only ran through the condensed version of the game twice, but I counted two pass break ups and I don't think he allowed a catch.  

Houston, because of Osweiler and their offensive line, play offense on a short field.  That's where Gunter excels. He is not a "deep" corner, but give him the confidence that the offense can't beat him over the top and he turns into a real problem for opposing offenses. It woudl ceirtainly be exciting to see him play with Sam Shields, though I'm not convinced we'll ever get that chance.

I like Joe Thomas plenty, and I think he has a place on the 53 man roster for the next two seasons, but he really is a problem defending the run, especially if he's not just chasing.  It seems like every time I watch Thomas take on a blocker in the run game, the play is over for him.  That's something that makes a bit of sense, though.  He's quite undersized.  I understand what Green Bay did from a roster construction standpoint, believing that they could kind of make things up as they went at ILB if the depth got it, but it got hit and things went poorly.  They have to find a way, almost no matter what, to get Thomas off the field in run situations.

The third and medium and third and long conversions on draw plays were really soul-crushing.

That Davante Adams play was about 3" of sideline away from reminding me a lot of the Donald Driver play against the 49ers in the throwback uniforms.  What a player Adams is turning out to be.  I couldn't be sure because of the camera angles, but it seemed like Houston was game planning for Adams with their safeties instead of Nelson.  So what happened? Nelson: 8 catches, 118 yards and a TD.

Nelson isn't getting much separation.  No one on the coaching staff is admitting it, but he's a different kind of player now.  It might be time to look for a new #1 deep threat receiver if Trevor Davis can't be that guy.  There might be a Larry Fitzgerald-like second career for Nelson coming up in the slot.  He's very, very good from there.  Even with a lack of separation, he's still going to eclipse 1,000 yards for the year and has already scored 10 TDs.  He's quite the player.

It at least doesn't seem like Spriggs is embarassing himself at guard, but what do I know?  He had a particularly good block 2:10 3Q.  Green Bay ran a bunch formation left and ran it right, with no fullback or tight end help.  If Spriggs doesn't reach the linebacker, the Packers are punting from their own end zone with the game tied at 7 basically going in to the 4th quarter.

I worry.  The weather brings out the worst in the post-2014 version of Aaron Rodgers. There were a number of occasions in which Rodgers held on to the ball too long.  His performance against the Eagles was so promising in that he hit his drop, made his read, and released the football, and in doing so seemed to erase some of the physical mistakes he was making earlier in the season.  "Good Rodgers", to me, is still the league's best signal caller and his current pace for 64.5% completion, ~4400 yards and a TD/INT ratio of 39/9 is honestly usually MVP worthy, though no one would mention his name in such a manner now.  

The bad weather made him obsess about turnovers.  You could see it.  Until they get the deep passing game rolling again (which will require a running game and an actual deep threat, two things they probably aren't getting back this season) Rodgers needs to hit his drop, make a read, throw the ball.  That's it.  13:31 4Q.  Throw it to Cook or throw it to Montgomery.  You're hurt, stop running around.

It's a lot of fun watching Randall Cobb return punts again.  Cobb was pulled off of punt duty in the pass on account of beeing "too important" to the offense.  Green Bay now has Nelson and Montgomery who can contribute from the slot position and Cobb isn't being used as a running back any more so he's less exposed there.  He's a good returner.  I hope they keep using him.  Montgomery is really good at kick returns too.  Might be time to use him over Janis.

Nice play design on the Janis reverse.

I can see why Rodgers likes Ripkowski so much.  He's a bit of a joke-y folk hero on #PackersTwitter, partially because of his unique last name and partially because of his defacto replacement of John Kuhn, but he's a serious football player.  He's worth-while with the ball in his hands and useful as a blocker. He also seems to be quite the weapon on special teams.

Houston's touchdown was preatty freakin' obvious offensive pass interference, no?

AJ Bouye is a good player, like really good.

Just two catches for Jared Cook, but they were good ones, and they were big ones.  You never know when McCarthy will design a game plan around him like he did against Washington.  It always has to be in that back pocket.

I kinda can't remember the last time the Packers tackled this well, which is tough to do when it's cold as hell.  Kudos to the defense, especially the defensive backs.

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Ross Uglem is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @RossUglem 

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Comments (7)

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Handsback's picture

December 05, 2016 at 05:13 pm

Thanks Ross, verified my thoughts as well. Glad to see that reverse for Janis. It will make those FS/SS defend that and open up a few throwing lanes.
One question, how did Bak grade out?

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dobber's picture

December 05, 2016 at 08:00 pm

"Glad to see that reverse for Janis. "

The Colts just ran a jet sweep on MNF, by the way. They gained about 10 yards. Damn gimmicky college offense... ;)

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cpabandit's picture

December 05, 2016 at 05:54 pm

Excellent column Ross, really enjoyed the read. One exception I have is with Ty Montgomery. If Christine Michaels doesn't work or until we draft a top running back, Ty Montgomery has and will fill in very well. Though he always wanted to be a RB, he's not. Next year I hope he returns as a receiver only. Jordy is starting to slow down due to age and recovery from last year, Cobb gets hurt often, Janis, well, who the hell knows. They need to keep Ty healthy and active a s a receiver.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 05, 2016 at 07:23 pm

Why is Montgomery not working at RB? He is averaging 5+ yards per carry. He blocks well and catches the ball out of the backfield really well.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 05, 2016 at 07:21 pm

I don't get how that TE didn't get called for offensive pass interference on the TD. He pushed Rollins off balance backwards for about 3 yards.

Also on that play, did the TE maintain control of the ball? There was a replay sideline view of it, and it looked like to me he maybe lost control of the ball when he hit the ground and out of bounds? The replay I think was later in the game if I remember right.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 05, 2016 at 07:52 pm

I have been on Starks all year. His best attribute at this point is that he knows the offense and protection schemes.

He continuously tries to bounce everything outside, misses holes and often runs into defenders vs following blocks. That screen pass last week was a perfect example. He should have had 10+ yards if he stays behind his blockers, instead run runs right into the defender and gets 5. He has had plays like that all year.

The combination of Montgomery, Michael and Ripkowski should get about 95% of the snaps at RB moving forward.

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stockholder's picture

December 05, 2016 at 08:07 pm

Thomas will never strike fear in the opposing team. The guy has 31 tackles so far. But No Sacks! You know he's getting caught in traffic way to much. Let alone run support. Just another problem on why the middles soft. I still would take peppers 6.5 sacks first. The guy still knows how to pressure. He may be old, but his presence and play show up more.

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