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Final Point: Offense

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Final Point: Offense

  • "Pass Protection" Is More Than The Offensive Line

So much has been written and said about the sacks given up "by the offensive line" in 2009. And there's no denying the unit had major issues, especially earlier in the season, when it came to protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

But the protection component of any offense is not limited to those five individuals. It is incumbent upon, to one degree or another, all 11 men on the offensive side of the ball. Oh sure, the line does the majority of the grunt work, obviously, But the quarterback sets protection, along with the center and running back. The tight ends and fullbacks are often kept in when blitzes are expected. And wide receivers must be able to read the blitz and be able to adjust along with the quarterback. And said quarterback simply can not hold the ball too long.

With that in mind, when you go back and watch the tape of the 2009 season, protection breakdowns were rampant across the board when it came to the Packers passing game, especially early in the season.

Take a look at the play below. The tight end is kept in (a week after Barbre was exposed on national television), the line is slid to the right with both backs sent to the weak side in protection. The Packers have eight men in to protect against six defensive players - and still lose.

Not only does Korey Hall completely whiff on his block, Rodgers doesn't recognize the fact that, with only two men out running routes and with the Bengals dropping six in coverage, there's very little chance of his finding an opening to get the ball to either of the wide receivers. (To his credit, it was after this game that Rodgers politely suggested publicly to McCarthy that he prefered to go down swinging with more guys out in passing routes) Now, obviously, with eight men in to protect, Rodgers should be able to feel relatively comfortable holding the ball a second or two longer than his progression would normally dictate. But the onus is still on him to process the information quickly and try to extend the play by scrambling out of the pocket.

Now, I recognize this is being hyper-critical. (Hey, its what I do.) But the point is, on the play above, the offensive line was not the problem. There are many, many plays like this that you can pick out from last season where the five guys across the line have nothing to do with the breakdown in pass pro. Mike McCarthy, Joe Philbin, Tom Clements, James Campen, Edgar Bennett, Ben McAdoo, Jimmy Robinson, and the rest of the offensive coaching staff have to start training camp by breaking down every player on the offense and ensuring they are attuned to their responsibilities when it comes to protecting the quarterback. The team simply can not afford to start the way they started last season when it comes to their protection issues.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (26) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

alfredomartinez's picture

i think jamie dukes said it better, no quaterback that gets sacked 50 times a season is supposed to make through the season (which reminds me of one of your prior posts about the unnoticed durability that rodgers has) nor get the numbers that he put last year. no imagine if the pack start to a more proficient blocking can only dream!

CSS's picture

You totally lost me at, "Jamie Dukes said...." :)

jerseypackfan's picture

...that is a weird dream.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Amen, what a blow-hard.

PackersThad's picture

Well if Hall didn't whiff...Colledge got blown up and would've pushed the guy directly into Rodgers.

Everyone else seems to hold up and would've given Rodgers at least another two seconds or so.

Steph01's picture

Breaking down a play from TV probably isn't a great idea. As Jim Mora once famously said, "You don't know when it's good or bad. You really don't know, because you don't know what we're trying to do, you guys don't look at the films. You don't know what happened. You really don't know. You think you know, but you don't know. And you never will."

packeraaron's picture

And I totally agree. But I think its readily apparent Korey Hall got schooled. ;)

Dilligaff's picture

Or was Hall supposed to slightly block and then get open for a pass?

Its true to your bigger point, it takes all 11 to make a play work, which is why I love this game, the very definition of a team sport.

Jayme's picture

If that's the case, whoever designed the route should be fired. Running back behind the defensive end to the QB? Doesn't seem like any routes I've seen in successful plays lately.

Ron LC's picture

No question Hall wiffed. Colledge however let the middle rush take away any option to step up into the pocket.

Grade: Hall Fails
Colledge Fails Miserably.

packeraaron's picture

Colledge doesn't allow pressure until 4 seconds in. That's a win for any offensive lineman.

PackersRS's picture

I was re-watching the SD game from 2007, the Vikings games last year, and the games that Rodgers was consistantly sacked, even the AZ game.

Maybe it's just lack of experience, maybe I'm seeing something that it's just not there. But I think one MAJOR problem in AR is his snapcount. Favre was a master of it. The opposing DL almost never got an advantage. The games against us, he completely exposed what we were going to do (of course, that's on us, too, as we were too eager). But looking at Rodgers take the snap, it seems like the D is always in his face. Almost like it's cheating.

I think, much more than holding the ball, this is the spot to work on. Take longer to snap the ball, change the snapcount more often, and then surprise them with a very quick snap.

Like I said, they may have already been doing this, but looking at it, I don't think so.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Very astute observation.

andrew's picture

agreed.. i feel like that is something that is pretty hard to pick out unless you actually study the film. but that is something that comes with experience for sure.. i dont know of any quarterback that is good with the snap count right away. you will probably see him diversify the snapcount more this season now that he has a few years under his belt and the o line is getting better.

andrew's picture

oh and we have to remember.. clifton was having a terrible time with jump starts.. i think with the season we had with our o line the KISS (keep it simple stupid) strategy was probably the most effective one

alfredomartinez's picture

CSS i gotcha, maybe not a good idea to post having barely woken up from a major booze coma...

WisconsInExile's picture

IIRC, doesn't McCarthy direct AR to let the play clock (nearly) elapse so as to force the defense to show it's true look? While making it easier on the offense to read the defense, it seemed that smart linebackers were timing their blitzes to the play clock. Not sure you can knock AR there. Favre just did his own thing, regardless of how he was instructed.

nerdmann's picture

I do prefer it when they burn clock time. But this is a great point about mixing up the snap counts.

PackersRS's picture

Yeah, I can't check the play clock to see if that's true or not.

Like I said, it's the feeling I got from re-watching Favre play (you know, not being blind by the rage and murderous desire) and comparing to Rodgers play.

nerdmann's picture

Favre was great at drawing dudes offsides. He definitely did do that effectively.
By Rodgers' 10th year in the NFL, he'll be doing it too, I'm sure. He's still developing.

DAWG's picture

I agree, snap count as an issue, College cannot hold the point of attack, can't remember the team or players, but he was getting tossed around like a rag doll in numerous games. Hows Newhouse coming along?

Tarynfor12's picture

The O-LINE was make-shift,unsteady and clearly out of sync with each other.What do you think would have happened if AR tried to enhance snap counts when the O-Line couldn't handle the basic snap count as in wait till the play clock gets to 3.If defenses couldn't catch that,they were worst than our OL.
The second half is when things changed but just not enough.Aaron is smarter than that and we will see him drawing Defenses off-sides more this year.
The best way to find faults in the OL is to not look for excuses elsewhere.It was what it was in the first half of season-HORRID,MISPLACED and LOST.
My reasons Aaron was the MVP,none of the other QB's would have survived that massacre imposed on him.

PackersRS's picture

VERY good point, about the OL not being settled. HOWEVER, they did have the entire offseason playing together, so they SHOULD'VE at least grasped the snap count. Not only that, but how hard it is to hear "on three"?

One thing needs to be said, though. I don't think Rodgers had a single delay of game penalty the whole season...

CSS's picture

One thing Rodgers doesn't get nearly enough credit for is his ability to recognize sub-packages coming into the game and stepping out of the huddle in order to avoid 'too many men breaking the huddle' penalty. Go back and watch the film, Rodgers was very aware at all times when sub-packages were coming and he avoided the penalty.

Childress took the heat against the Saints for a similar penalty, but that was on Brent. He was too emotional and failed to do what Rodgers did all year, step back from the huddle and avoid the critical penalty.

Bravo, Aaron, bravo...

packeraaron's picture

Totally agree. He is excellent about this.

andrew's picture

you would be shocked at how hard it is for lineman and wide recievers at lower levels to handle snap counts.. and when coaches have players jumping early (clifton) it makes it hard to mix up the snap counts.. as you would rather stick to whats safe than risk gettin a penalty.. and with our line being pretty much the same this season.. and having depth at the position i feel like our line will not be an issue this year.. the real problem imo is ryan grant.. he cant take all the snaps.. i dunno if i trust any runningback to share the snaps with him.. i dont trust ryan grant to take all the snaps. so.. hopefully someone will come off the bench and impress in the preseason because our offense relies on having a solid running game to fall back on.. green had to be brought in in order to give our running game more options. hopefully it wont be an issue this season

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