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Communication Breakdown

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Communication Breakdown

After the Lions game, I was taken to task in the comments section by Jersey Al (along with others) for positing that Chad Clifton blew the protection call below:

My point was simply that Clifton HAS to block down (to his right) to pick up the blitzing linebacker, leaving the defensive end for Rodgers to worry about. Al couldn't seem to wrap his head around what I could possibly mean - why would you ever leave a man free? Why would you not have a hat-on-a-hat every time? I'm not saying that isn't preferable - but it's not how this particular protection is set up.

All this is lead up, of course, to the fateful sack on Sunday where TJ Lang seemingly let Jared Allen go and have a free run at Rodgers. While I was upset (to put it gently) when it happened, I reminded myself of the Clifton play above and went back to watch the Lang play (0:30 mark) again last night. And lo and behold - I think Lang did the right thing. Apparently, Tom Pelissero agrees with me:

Communication issues aside, it’s tough to fault to rookie LT T.J. Lang too much for blocking down on the play, since MLB E.J. Henderson was showing blitz in the A-gap and Lang couldn’t risk giving DT Kevin Williams a short path to the quarterback inside. Once Lang decided to turn Allen loose, it was on Rodgers to get the ball out.

There are those who seem to think Rodgers should be above criticism - nothing could be further from the truth. I'll never forget the deluge of email I got this past summer simply because I dared to write three posts on things Rodgers needed to work on. I just don't get why people are so upset when someone takes it upon themselves to point out that, yes, Rodgers is putting up some nice numbers, but there's a hell of a lot more to playing quarterback than putting up numbers. And yes, Rodgers isn't getting a whole lot of help. To which I say:


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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

That is why I like you Aaron. You are objective. Rodgers is ABSOLUTELY not above being criticized.

Andyman's picture

I think you saw a lot more during this Vikings game than the last one (or most of the other games) that Rodgers seems to be trying to do way too much and hang on to the ball way too long. There are times when you take a sack and there are times when you either A) find the checkdown or B) throw the ball away. He seems to taking more sacks because he won't do either.

jrarick's picture

Totally agree! Great analysis again. Rogers has room to grow, definitely. But really, the sky's the limit. He has room to grow and is leading the league in QB rating, after only 23 starts. Kinda crazy really. We could have the best QB in the league for years to come, assuming he doesn't get crippled before that happens, of course. :)

cheese5's picture

Wow. AR has 1 sec to toss to Jennings on the hook. He has to read that blitz. He reads that and a lot of options come open.

It's like in soccer where as a Goalie you pick a spot on penalty kicks - you dont react to the kicker because there is no time. He sees blitz reads it and gets the ball off as soon as the ball is snapped. That's a lesson Favre was still learning in his 2nd year.

cheese5's picture

Its also why the gunslinger aspect to NFL quarterbacks is relevant. Quick draw is a weapon. Use it.

packeraaron's picture

It's the glaring checkdowns, sitting right in front of him, that are killing me Andyman.

packeraaron's picture

Corey - excellent observation on Favre and the fact he was still learning the above in his second year as a starter. I have no doubt Rodgers will get better - it's just maddening having to live through the growing pains...

jrarick's picture

The only problem is, is that if the defender jumps the route, it can be a pick six the other way. In that blitz, should Jennings have just stopped and turned around at 3 yards? Why the out pattern?

darolls's picture

Totally agree with Corey!

jack's picture

i love rogers and think that he has the potential to be one of the great qb's in the nfl. i think the main thing with him is that he's a perfectionist and is very confident in his abilities to make plays. the only problem is that most of the talent around him is either average or mediocre (i'm talking about the o-line and our running backs. our receivers are studs).

rogers needs that internal clock to kick in a little earlier and get rid of the ball if there's nothing there. also, a lot of this is on mccarthy too. he needs to start off with those 2-3 step drops/quick passes to get our offense in rhythm and instill some confidence in our players. i'm having a hard time understanding why it usually takes mike a full half of football to figure this out.

Andyman's picture

Exactly, Aaron. I'd much rather get a pass that goes for 1 or 2 yards than have Rodgers consistently pounded for 8 to 10 yard losses.

Ron La Canne's picture

The communication problem between you, other bloggers, and pressies is the fun part of the blog. It helps keep things on an interesting level. I love the opinion related arguements. It brings out a lot.
The complexity of the blocking scheme requires comminication between the QB and the line, the Center and the other linemen, and between each other. If this doesn't get communicated correctly the ZBS becomes very unforgiving. The blown assignments may, indeed, not be the error of the obvious offender from ouir view. That said, it has been more than a year, almost a year and a half, since MM proclaimed these issue will be fixed. They are not! Either the system is too complicated for the players, the players are not talented enough for the system, or, and this is my favortie, MM cannot teach fundementals. By default inclde Campen in the last option.
If it is talent the Packer problems have just begun. TT's picks have been in place for up to 5 years. By now at two linemen should have solidified their hold on a position. Name just one of TT's selections who have done that to date. A few have shown potential none have taken over a spot.
Teaching? Simple replace the teachers
Too complex - SIMPLIFY!
I think the Packers only option now is to Simplify, and hope for the best.

cheese5's picture

What about running a 2 minute offense like Holmgren did for the 1st drive. I want dinking and dunking dammit!!!!!!

Andrew In Atlanta's picture

What I saw in the first half against MN was what I have seen most of this year - Rodgers seems to want to move laterally in the back of the pocket as opposed to stepping up. In the 2nd half against MN he stepped up. He ran sometimes and moved laterally at the line of scrimmage other times before throwing. In my mind, this HAS to keep the LBs and DBs honest because he's right there at the line and can take off at any point. Am I crazy Aaron?

bucky's picture

I'm sorry, I still think that any scheme that leaves Jared Allen completely unblocked is fundamentally flawed. We can say that "the book" says that Lang is supposed to pick up an imaginary blitzer, but to leave unattended a defender who has spent more time in our backfield than Ryan Grant is simply a mistake.

brady.augustine's picture

That play was a defensive win by the set. Chad has to go inside out so yes, he should block down on that play. The blitzer has the shortest distance between two points. A-Rod had to check out of that play or call a timeout. The only other out is the receiver to slant to the open space and A-Rod to throw directly at the blitz which we all know he is not likely to do.

Corey is exactly right about A-Rod wanting to back out and run laterally rather than stepping up. He extends plays that way but the negative yardage on our sacks is through the ROOF! Stand in! Step up!

packeraaron's picture

bucky - Lang doesn't block down to pick up an imaginary anything - he blocks down so that the DT doesn't come barreling through and flatten A-Rod.
Trust me people - if I'VE seen this, every opposing coach is telling their defense: "When they go empty end on the left side, blitz the backer up the middle - ARod can't handle a free end rusher." Until Rodgers starts making people pay, you'll keep seeing this same thing again and again...

bucky's picture

Well, seeing as there was no blitzer on the play, we wound up with two guys blocking one DT.

I understand what you are saying. I suspect in many instances I might agree with your conclusion. However, I also think any play that cannot be adjusted to account for a guy who has flattened our QB about 50 times the past month is flawed. Period. If you have a formation that results in Allen coming unblocked, you really might want to think again about running plays out of that formation.

I'm not arguing that Rodgers is above criticism. On two of the first half sacks he held the ball *way* too long; he needs to either take off or get rid of it a hell of a lot sooner than he did.

MCS's picture

jarick said of Rodgers, "He has room to grow and is leading the league in QB rating, after only 23 starts."
Maybe he is leading the league in rating because he won't throw the ball away or get it to the checkdown. More risk may lead to more reward.

Just Pete's picture

I find myself yelling at the TV to Rodgers "Get rid of it, get rid of it", which is exactly the same thing I did when Favre was in his 2nd year, probably up to his 5th yr. He'll adjust, just give him time.

packeraaron's picture

You had me at "yelling at the TV" ;)

foundinidaho's picture

Yeah, it's really embarassing when you're yelling at Aaron on the TV - and you're in the ESPN Zone. People stare at you, really, really funny.

I know.

JerseyAl's picture

Well, here we go again.

You will never convince me that it's better to let a player in untouched, especially from the quarterback's blind side. And let's be clear, under no circumstances am I advocating letting a someone in from the inside. But unless there are more rushers than blockers, there is no excuse for someone to be left untouched, while other players are double-teamed. Your linemen or your QB are supposed to be smart enough to figure out what's happening and adjust the pass protection. They are supposed to be coached to be able to recognize and handle such situations. The Vikings sure did it. There were certainly no Packers being given a free ride when we brought a blitz. If you don't want to blame the players, then blame McCarthy. Just another example of how his team is poorly prepared to handle any adversity.

And finally, with no disrespect meant to Tom Pelissero specifically, using any sportswriter's opinion as "evidence" doesn't hold much weight with me. Unless it's coming from a player involved or a coach, it's just another opinion from someone that doesn't play or coach, just like you or me.

packeraaron's picture

Al - I'm not trying to tell you one way is better than another. I'm telling you what was called and why it happened the way it did. What you think is 'better' is immaterial to the conversation.
How have I NOT blamed the players? I did. I just blamed the one that's politically incorrect to blame - Aaron Rodgers.

JerseyAl's picture

And protection calls can be changed before the ball is snapped. Happens all the time with other teams. It's usually the QB or center that makes some type of call. That's why I brought up coaching. If they're not being coached to do that, then I suppose we can't blame the players. But we don't know. That's all I meant by that...

greenbaypackerbob's picture

Rodgers can get better... he holds the ball too long.... that protects his stats but it will not put checks marks in the 'win column' - no risks, no rewards (sometimes you have to give other players -receivers- a chance to make a play). That QB that McCarthy could not bear to name in his post interview did it (and yes, at times too often) but it is required to win in the NFL (watch the receivers for New ORleans get in/up there for the risky balls that Breese throws - his stats suffer sometimes due to interceptions but hey, he's winning games). GB has an able dose of good receivers - no one can complain (or blame) about their ability.

I know the team can do better. When Favre left this team they were 13-3 (almost SB). Since Rodgers arrived, he has produced good stats but lousy seasons.... of course I believe that the bigger factor here is in the coaching and TT decisions to support the QB (they didn't care when Favre was there and Rodgers sure isn't going to getting any more respect (unless they believe it can save their asses). Their decisions are no better than 08 summer. But that's another story!

I'm glad to see Packer fans who are not 'zombie' like in their belief that you have to agree with every MC & TT decision or that the Pack ended up with a better team because Favre was traded in order to be a 'true' Packer fan. But it is time to fix past mistakes.

alfredomartinez's picture

i can relate to a-rod in the sense of trying to be a perfectionist at every snap and every wasnt until college that i had a coach that taught me to take chances, sometimes the personel around you may not be as talented, but thats when the competitive monster inside of you must come out! i find myself yelling at the tv, screaming at rodgers, not only to get rid off the ball, but to grow a pair. i would love for him to start calling out his o-line and demanding some protection. i want him to rip some ass, take a leadership stance, and forget about his number. some people i know compare him to tom brady (in the way he tries to manange the ball), i guess i can see that, but the pack is def not the pats! i wish a-rod had a twitter account so i could tell him "hey man get inside the other teams head, not the other way around!"

thepretzelhead's picture

One think A-ROd could learn to do, the Favre alsways does is take a quick peak of his blind side right when he starts his drop. It's a split second check- that saved Favre's body and career. Not many times did Brett get hit free and clear from the blind side.

Although I remeber a brutal one in a Steeler exhibition game many years ago.

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