Confessions of a Polluted Mindset - 2019 Packers - Seattle Playoffs

The Weekly Packers Brain Drain from Jersey Al.

I still haven't watched the game on video, so here are just some quick thoughts based on in-person viewing. (Also note that Polluted Mindset will be delayed next week).

Lambeau Field: It's back baby. I was lucky enough to be at the game and the fan support was fantastic. I remember the four playoff games at Lambeau I have attended. First was the Seattle Snow Globe game in January of 2008. Fans were on point, except for the first few minutes when Ryan Grant fumbled twice and Seattle went out to a  very quick.14-0 lead (shocked silence). But then as Favre led the charge back, the place was rocking and it's likely a game that will never be surpassed for me. Next was Packers - 49ers in January 2014. No one gave the 8-7-1 Packers much of a chance against the 12-4 49ers, and that include the pessimistic and subdued crowd. Perhaps the -7 degree temps had an effect but still, it was quiet in there. Then came the Packers - Giants in January 2017. While a bit better, again, not what you would call a true playoff atmosphere in Lambeau. Thank goodness for OBJ's butter fingers. But last Sunday's game - I'm sure a full day to tailgate helped a bit, but you could tell the appeals all year from LaFleur and Rodgers to make Lambeau a tough place to play have had their effect - the fans are all-in.

Russell Wilson: I've hated Russell Wilson since the Fail Mary. Mainly for his smug comments to the press after the game. But man is he a warrior. He practically carried the entire team on his back to keep things close and give the Packers some nervous moments. I doubt Seattle is an over .500 team without him. I still want to hate him, and I will, but damn it, I have to respect him too.

Snaps: A couple of interesting things - First was Montravious Adams resurfacing for an appearance on 20% of the defensive snaps. Likely Pettine wanted some more beef to offset Beast Mode when needed. Next was Jace Sternberger - this was a guy who was inactive against the Vikings, had 12 snaps in the Lions game and now was inserted in this game for close to half of the offensive plays (28 snaps). Sternberger was impactful - lead blocking well for Aaron Jones on several occasions and what I noticed most was that he really moves well. This caused me to go back and watch his combine performance and I have to say what I saw on the field translated to what he showed in the combine. I think I had been under-estimating this guy. Finally, the ever polarizing Rashan Gary. Personally, I noticed his #52 catch my eye several times where he was being aggressive and causing problems for Russell Wilson. I really though he played more than what his snap count (10) indicates.

Rodgers: Definitely his best performance since the Raiders game. The stats might not appear that way, but he did have to throw quite a few balls away as he left the pocket and had no one open.The completion to Graham where he dropped it in perfectly to a well-covered Jimmy Graham was vintage MVP-level Rodgers. Ditto for the huge third down completion down the sideline to Adams late in the game. Was this performance a bit of luck or has he found his mojo again? I don't know but he'll need every ounce of it against the 49ers.

Jimmy G: Speaking of Graham, the comments I heard from fans around me when he caught a pass were pretty funny and all pretty much to the tune of "about time he did something for 12M" or  "Wait, he actually caught a pass?" 

Running game: I'm surprised that Jamal Williams only got one attempt, especially with Jones not able to break through after the first 23 yard run. Seattle was determined to stop Jones and did a good job of it. I did notice several opportunities where sending Jones out on a swing or wheel route would have resulted in a big gain as there was simply no one in that area that could have caught up with him. I hope LaFleur sees those opportunities on tape and puts in some plays for the 49ers game plan.

King and Alexander: Please guys, get yourselves a juggs gun and practice catching the football this offseason. I can only imagine how good this defense would be if they capitalized on turnover opportunities.

LaFleur: Shortly after the game ended, I received this message from a fellow McCarthy dis-believer which pretty much sums up how I feel:  

There is absolutely NO WAY that Mike McCarthy throws the ball TWICE on 3rd down there to win the game. So happy to have LaFleur!!! #GoPackGo

 

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"Jersey Al" Bracco is the Editor-In-Chief, part owner and wearer of many hats for CheeseheadTV.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a recovering Mason Crosby truther.  

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Comments (43)

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Coldworld's picture

January 15, 2020 at 06:35 am

I wondered about Williams’ lack of snaps. Could it be in part a reflection of his readiness after injury?

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2020 at 10:31 am

Jars on the shelf for the 49rs. I believe LaFleur put this game in Rodgers hands from the start. Like to see Sternberger get some looks in the passing game off the Y stack.

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NickPerry's picture

January 15, 2020 at 06:40 am

One thing I've noticed as well is Jones isn't having his number called much at all as Adams has gotten healthier and healthier. After what he's done in some of the games in the passing game like in KC for example, you'd think MLF would be scrambling to find more ways. IMO they'll need to get Jones, Williams, and Ervin (I like that kid) the ball more against SF this weekend.

Gary has been flashing on my TV Screen more and more in recent weeks. That's exactly what I've been watching for each week...Progress, and that's exactly what's been happening. One thing is certain, Gary is in excellent hands with a excellent position coach and creative DC. I'm starting to think this guy will pan out just fine in a year or two.

For the first time in Adams career Rodgers talked about having a "Jordy Like" connection with Adams against Seattle. That is music to my ears because few have been better EVER than Rodgers to Nelson. They KNEW what each other was thinking. Hopefully they keep that connection and keep it rolling.

In week 12 the O-Line had it's ass whipped against the 49ers. This weekend I think we see an O-Line out to redeem themselves. In week 12 that game CHANGED on the Bullshit call against Adams on the first drive. It wiped out a 16 yard gain, backed them up 15 yards, and Rodgers fumbled shortly after. But even with all the issues the offense had, the defense played really well the first half. I mean they were gassed by the final drive in the 1st half. As long as the offense does it's job this weekend, I have no doubt the Packers can win this game. It WILL start with the O-Line though.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 15, 2020 at 07:04 am

Hopefully the NFC CG will have refs that don't like to insert themselves into the game with such ticky-tack calls as the PF on Adams. I don't blame that call for the pounding the Packers took. But you're absolutely right that it had an impact.

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Houndog's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:30 am

Another good post, Nick.
Let's hope the Refs 'let them play' without being blind to what are real infractions.
And getting the ball to Jones (and maybe Tyler Ervin) in the passing game, I think, can only be advantageous to the Pack. Mix it up, you know the 9ers will be doing everything they can to stop Adams.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

January 15, 2020 at 12:36 pm

What I found sad about our the refs from the last game was that all the other games seemed to have great referees. I especially thought that the refs of the Titans/Ravens game were fantastic where they avoided all the ticky-tack calls and let the defensive backs play a little stronger on the WRs which I like if it goes both ways.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:05 am

Spot on as always, NP.

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Guam's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:52 am

Part of the O-line getting whipped in week 12 was Bulaga getting injured and only playing nine plays. Alex Light was completely overmatched against the SF D-line. When one guy is breaking down other guys try to compensate and get out of position and it is jailbreak time. A healthy and well rested Bulaga for the whole game will help next week.

But your call is spot NP, the Packer O-line will determine the outcome of this game.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2020 at 10:36 am

Lindsley and Turner have to tighten up the middle and watch for Warner or the safety blitzing inside.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 15, 2020 at 11:48 am

I really like what Ervin brings. I hope we see him a lot more against the 49ers. I would love to see some formation with all 3 RB's on the field together too. Ervin on those jet sweeps/motion plays have really added to the offense.

I think Gary will explode next year. That being said I would like to see him get double the amount of snaps he is getting now. I would prefer to take a few reps from Fackrell for Gary.

If 12+17 connection equals 12+87 connection that will not be good for defenses! Adams already possibly the best route runner in the league, and he gets on the same page as Rodgers mentally. Seriously look out.

The OL did get its ass whooped especially when Bulaga got hurt. Since then they have played much better. Against the 49ers they gave up 5 sacks and 10 QB hits. A good example of improving is the game against the Vikings. Playing away on MNF, they only gave up 3 sacks and 5 QB hits. The Vikings for the record have the same number of Sacks as the 49ers.

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Packer_Fan's picture

January 15, 2020 at 06:54 am

Russell Wilson has played really well this whole year. So beating Seattle was not easy. I thought the play calling had gone stale in the second half and contributed to letting Seattle catch up. They started blitzing and the Packers didn't have a good answer. Otherwise a great game. I didn't notice the open wheel routes. I wish they would use them more especially a quick pass to Jones in the flat. He has a chance to break one in the open.

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PackfanNY's picture

January 15, 2020 at 07:14 am

Thanks Al. Great observations as always.

I would add that I think the last step for Sternberger is to get his hands on the ball. Like you said he can move pretty well and I would like to see him in some space. Maybe they slip him out in the flat this week.

There was some good stuff on “Showtime Inside the NFL“ last night. Jimmy Graham thanking LaFleur for believing in him. Hopefully, Graham can have a last shining moment as this is probably the end of a great career. He also jumped on the bench and waived to the crowd..

I always turn to my son and usually say to my son King and Alexander are defensive backs for a reason. If they could just catch half of what they drop. Something to work on in the off-season.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 15, 2020 at 10:40 am

One thing I like about Sternberger is his attitude. He was giving it right back at the Seahawks!

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2020 at 06:52 pm

He's high on my list.

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NickPerry's picture

January 16, 2020 at 02:53 am

YES he was TB...I really like this kid. The knock on him coming out was his blocking. He wasn't asked to do much of it at Texas A & M so the "Experts" as usual didn't really know. The kid has soft hands and is an excellent receiving TE. It's a damn shame he was injured and out much of the season...IMO the future is bright for Sternberger.

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BoCallahan's picture

January 15, 2020 at 07:30 am

I have a question:
10 seconds left in the 1st half.
Fackrell is racing to get off the field before the snap and it appears he is going to make it.
No snap occurs and the ref blows his whistle and penalizes GB for having too many men on the field.
Why?
Thanks for any clarity you can add.

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jlc1's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:08 am

With no "additional footage" I'm afraid I can't help you out.

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Houndog's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:31 am

LOL, I like that!

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ejr450's picture

January 15, 2020 at 09:31 am

Refs are allowed to call a pre-snap penalty on the defense for having 12 men on the field, ready to play, as it can unfairly cause an offensive adjustment/audible/etc. Similar to the offense having the 12 men in the huddle penalty. It's a ref's discretion whether or not to call the penalty or let the play go on

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BoCallahan's picture

January 15, 2020 at 10:11 am

Thanks for the response.
I could see a ref calling that if the defender is lined up in a defensive position, but Fackrell was breaking the sound barrier trying to get off the field. He wasn’t causing the offense to audible to account for him.

Yes, the “additional footage” comment was hilarious!

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:12 am

Lambeau Field: You can see it on tv that the atmosphere is louder then previously. If only the Seahawks didn't screw up the end of the game against the 49ers. Also, if only the Refs didn't screw the Packers at the end of the Eagles game. We could have been playing one more game there.

Russell Wilson:
Completely agree on Wilson. He single handedly almost brought the team back. I love what he did for Wisconsin that one year, but since then I really do not like him. I do respect him though.

Snaps:
I did notices that Adams was on the field more. I do wonder if part of it was with Clarks back?
Sternberger I think played more because Vitale was out. That being said I really like what Sternberger brings. I think its only a matter of time until he has a really big play offensively.
Gary I think deserves more snaps. He constantly is getting push. He was really close to at least 1 sack. If it was a different QB other then Wilson I think he would have gotten to him.

Rodgers:
Rodgers was Elite! His performance was definitely the best since the Raiders game. But in this game his throws were perfect! His connection and throws to Graham and Adams couldn't be any better. If we see that same connection against the 49ers, we have a very, very good chance!
I really think the bye week help Rodgers and those guys get in sync. Rodgers just looked sharp.

Jimmy G:
Graham IMO had his best game as a packer. Maybe not statistically. But just about every catch he made was huge. I know most if not all of his catches were on 3rd down. He made big time plays! For us to get where we are going, we need more of those plays from Graham!

Running game:
I am actually more surprised that in the 2nd half they kind of stopped using Ervin. Earlier in the game they seemed to use Ervin a lot more on the motion. I don't really recall them doing that in the 2nd half. I am hoping against the 49ers we see a lot more of that. That motion will help control their LB's.

King and Alexander:
In these games, we need those guys to make those catches! If the ball hits them in the hands, they have to catch it! Especially this weekend. if they can make that game changing interception, that could be the difference in going to the Super Bowl or going home.

LaFleur:
I love and respect what McCarthy did for us. I was never a McCarthy hater. But the things that LaFleur has done and is doing is such a difference from McCarthy. McCarthy no doubt would have ran the ball. LaFleur went for the win!
One thing that i have noticed is that LaFleur has learned from his mistakes all year. That is a major reason why I think we have a really good chance this weekend! I really like how LaFleur has evolved in his first year.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 15, 2020 at 10:06 am

MLF is very adaptable. Hopefully he has a long career in by staying that way.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 15, 2020 at 01:09 pm

I really like that about LaFleur!

I am really looking forward to seeing his offense once Gutekunst adds some players that fits what he wants to do too!

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The_Justicar's picture

January 15, 2020 at 04:38 pm

For those harping on McCarthy would’ve run it....in the nfc championship game vs the Seahawks on our last real drive of regulation on 3rd down McCarthy/ Rodgers threw it. And it was dropped. And Seattle tied the game on the next drive. And McCarthy was roasted by gb fans for not running it. Do people just forget these things or have their own narratives? (On one of the last drives they ran Eddie lacy on 3rd and failed to convert. On the other, Quarless dropped a 3rd and 4 pass.

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PeteK's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:42 am

I finally made it to the frozen tundra of Lambeau!! There is nothing in any sport that compares to the Green Bay atmosphere. It's a Packer fan's fantasy world, even the street signs have the Packer helmet insignia.

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PackfanNY's picture

January 15, 2020 at 02:37 pm

I was a fan all my life. My father was a huge fan. No connection to Green Bay or Wisconsin. I went to games here in NY as a kid. In 1993 my wife found a tour company and we went to Broncos/Packers. Favre vs Elway. Reggie White ends game with back to back sacks. For obvious reasons, financial and other I caught some games in other places but not GB.

In 2010, I brought my son for his 16th birthday. Now being in a better place financially I come to GB once every year since 2010. I have been to many stadiums including other sports and I would rate it the best fan experience in all of sports. I travel frequently and it is the highlight of my year. Plus I love the Packers.

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Point-Packer's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:59 am

Great piece, Al. I had the exact same thoughts post game in the context of game management approach from Mike McCarthy vs LaFleur . This is exactly the type of game that Mike McCarthy would have blown - run Aaron Jones into a wall on 3rd down on that last drive, punt and give the ball to a hot Russell Wilson, "play the odds (???)" and watch Seattle march down the field for a game winning TD as the clock winds down and you've blown all you time-outs in the 3rd quarter. How many time did some version of that script play out? Mike McCarthy was the king of conservative game management with a lead - see 2014 NFC championship game as the perfect example - too often allowing teams not only to get back into the game, but to ultimately win. A highly successful football coach just "playing the odds" - pad level. MLF was very good (not perfect) on game management all year, hence the proliferation of close wins. So refreshing to see a coach in GB play to win, as opposed to not lose.

As to Russell Wilson, also with you. Spent over a decade in Seattle, loved it there, but being around Sea-turd fans was insufferable. Most bandwagon fans in the NFL. Listening to Russ and Pete's meta platitudes over and over again is something I am happy to not suffer through when listening to local sports radio. Side note: Dave "Softy" Mahler is the biggest tool bag in all of sports. His one year with Bucky never phased me, watching Seattle lose to GB is a beautiful, even more beautiful when it sends Russell Wilson back to Seattle to "neck" with Ciara, or whatever they do (or don't do) in the sack: https://www.eonline.com/news/678681/ciara-russell-wilson-and-i-are-going...

Ok I'm done. Go Pack.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

January 15, 2020 at 09:36 am

I’m so with you PP on the Seahag fans. Total bandwagoneers. My phone has texts about how the Packers were gonna lose...some from people I hardly ever see. I’m enjoying the crickets this week. We just need a few 6-10 seasons to turn the 12th man into the 6.5 man. And then when the Packers come to town it can be Lambeau West again like it was in ‘96 in the Kingdome.

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Houndog's picture

January 15, 2020 at 09:03 am

Great Post as usual Al, and spot-on as usual too! Here's my take.
Lambeau: Play-offs or not, the place is magical.
Russel Wilson: What can you say, 'the best midget to ever play in the NFL'.
Snaps: Yeah, I think a larger dose of Williams would be good as a change of pace, if nothing else, He's not Jones but he's not bad, and he has his own special skills and value, he's a warrior. I liked what I saw from Ervin, Sternberger, Gary, and M. Adams too. They'll need the D-Line to stay fresh against the 9ers.
Rodgers: He's been saying all year his stats "didn't matter to him, he just wants to win", Sunday night he played like it, and played well. Keep it up!
Jimmy Graham: He finally showed up, let's hope he stays visible through the rest of the year.
Running game: See 'Snaps' above, and keep changing things up. Jones, Williams, and Ervin, it looks like they all have something to contribute.
D-Backs: Hell Al, if you'd like to start a fund to buy these guys that Juggs-gun, I'll send a check.
LaFleur: What can you say, 1st year coach, learns from his mistakes, 13-3, a play-off win, there's a lot to like. Another year or two with Gutekunst and this could be something great.

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BradHTX's picture

January 16, 2020 at 07:39 pm

“Russel Wilson: What can you say, 'the best midget to ever play in the NFL'.”

Doug Flutie would like a word...

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Since'61's picture

January 15, 2020 at 09:41 am

Good job as usual Al. The first time that I watched Gary play I posted that he is lighting quick off the snap. Once he learns how to harness that quickness he can become a force on the Packers defense. I really enjoy watching the Packers defense play tough physical football. The Smiths, Kenny Clark, Lowry and Lancaster are bringing it on every play. The Packers are going to need that brand of football against the 49ers this week.

I posted earlier in the week that I thought Williams should have played more in the second half against Seattle. If we are going to control the ball against SF Williams will need to get more carries and pick up some short yardage 1st downs against SF.
Assuming that Bulaga is ready to go this week if I were MLF I would utilize Veldheer as the 6th OL during this game. He would slow down the SF pass rush and he can be effective in the run game. The other approach that I would like to see if for the Packers to go up tempo, come up to the LOS and snap the ball quickly. That alone will surprise and slow down the 49ers DL. Run right at Bosa as well.
Anything that can help the Packers OL dominate the LOS will be a critical factor in this game.

Could not agree more that our DBs need to hold onto their picks. Those can be huge plays in these games. Go Pack Go!
Thanks, Since '61

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Pauly's picture

January 15, 2020 at 10:03 am

Sternberger, I am looking forward to next year when he and Robert Tonyan become a 2 headed TE monster for the Pack. Wish I saw some passes to Tonyan, he catches everything his way and is fast 4.5, 40 time. Hopefully Special teams remembers he was a D-1 QB for a few years if they want a fake punt. Start putting him in as the kicker's protection like Tason Hill plays.
Last off season Tonyan spent time practicing with George Kittle, maybe both Sternberger and Tonyan will do the same this off season.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

January 15, 2020 at 10:23 am

Nick Perry.

Spot on!

Thumbs up for that summary.

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stockholder's picture

January 15, 2020 at 10:55 am

Lambeau Field. Wall paper for every room in my House. Russel Wilson I Loved the surprise Drug Test! Snaps. Is there an App.for that? Rodgers. Transition to retirement? Try another extension!. Jimmy G. The best ever Controvsy play at Lambeau? His greatest play as a packer! Running Game. More Tyler Ervin coming? King and Alexander. The best Tandem in the League! LeFluer- Game Plan flawless.

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Cubbygold's picture

January 15, 2020 at 12:29 pm

I view the world through green and gold glasses too... but alexander and king are definitely not the best tandem in the league, long way to go. Been huge beneficiaries of smith/smith/clark being able to get to the QB, and still allow huge WR performances.

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Turophile's picture

January 15, 2020 at 01:01 pm

Quote Jersey Al "Sternberger was impactful - lead blocking well for Aaron Jones on several occasions and what I noticed most was that he really moves well. This caused me to go back and watch his combine performance and I have to say what I saw on the field translated to what he showed in the combine."

Regarding Sternberger That was the book on him before the draft. He doesn't have the fastest 40 (though he isn't slow), but he moves like whipped cream in honey.......very deceptive and about as different from Badgers TE Troy Fumagalli as you can get. Just as I loved Kittle when he was bagged by the 49ers (for a 5th rounder !), I was also a big fan of drafting Sternberger, and for once, the Packers brass agreed - Hooray !

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Handsback's picture

January 15, 2020 at 01:19 pm

Nobody feels sorry for teams that have injuries. So for the 49ers game, it appears that both teams have their full compliment of players available to play.
I agree that the Oline will have a big say on the outcome of the game. One thing I haven't looked at and keeps coming up ( I know it means nothing but thought I would mention it) is that many draft sites have the Packers picking a center in the first round. I'm looking at Linsley and he's doing pretty good, so I'm not sure why people feel a 1st round pick for a center makes sense. (Any feedback is appreciated) The 49ers Dline is tough, but many teams have scored on them and certainly the Packers can do it too. There will be a player that rises up and surprises everyone with a great game. MVS would be my choice, but MLF and Rodgers will give it their best shot.
The Packer's defense should be hitting on all cylinders and if the offense can score some points...it should be close.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

January 15, 2020 at 02:25 pm

Regarding drafting a Center. Linsley will count $10.5M against the cap next season with I believe a $2M dead cap hit if we cut him. With all our contract negotiations we need to get done, is he going to be a victim of the cap?

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dobber's picture

January 16, 2020 at 07:26 am

Not if there's not an obvious replacement on hand. Some might say that Jenkins is that guy (that's what I was saying when they picked him), but if he's playing well at G, I would only mess that up if I felt he would be a dominant C.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 15, 2020 at 02:58 pm

Lot a draftnicks looking at Lindsey's contract. Equal chance the Packers move Jenkins to center and move Taylor back into the starting unit. All depends if Taylor shoulder is fully healed, and who's cheaper (or more likely, who's going to get paid.. :-) But all that is nothing more the blind guesswork till we know the state of the Packer off season and how the owners NFLPA contract fight plays out.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2020 at 07:01 pm

Taylor will be moved. Not a guy who call pull out for the wide-zone running game. Probably draft a center and move Patrick in Linsley's spot. They gave him an extension. OT is the priority on the Oline. Five to six OTs will go in the first round. Very talented draft for OTs and WRs. The whole line improved when Jenkins supplanted Taylor.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 16, 2020 at 06:08 am

Your only looking at last year. I'm see Taylor total career as starter. Stout and agile even playing with a ripped up shoulder as a starter. Be very careful not to underrate a player for one year. Giving the contract status, 3 out the 5 could be gone on the O line with worst case.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 15, 2020 at 03:19 pm

Cover the waterfront Al, nicely done. Short points. MLF ran a vertical pass game off play action on back to back weeks. (Chargers-49ers) Inexperience, catering to a veteran QB, one of many reasons resulted in the Packers getting crushed in back to back road games. After the 49ers, that went away. Packers committed to running the ball, and throwing off play action in the short to medium routes. Offense became more effective and Aaron Rodgers made a effort to make his footwork more compact. For the first time since the Dallas game, I saw Rodgers set his feet before release. Not much dancing from 12 that night. I wonder how many cuts Rodgers saw in the video room with his QB coach prior to last weeks game..

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