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Knowing What We Know...And Don't Know

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Knowing What We Know...And Don't Know

After the big play by the Browns Saturday night where Graham Harrell was strip-sacked on third down resulting in a Cleveland touchdown, many fans were instantly up in arms over the lack of protection for the Packers' third string quarterback. I must have received no less than 5 Tweets, instantly after that play, condemning my endorsement of T.J. Lang earlier in camp. (I might remind those folks that I was endorsing Lang as a guard, not as a tackle, which is what he was playing on that play, but I digress...)

Here's the play in question:

Here's what I know.

The original call was a run that was changed to a pass by Harrell at the line.

D.J. Williams blew the protection.

I don't know anything more than that, but I got those two pieces of information from a couple different sources on the team.

It's a good reminder for fans everywhere, including myself, that despite what we think we "know" when watching a game live, there are many factors that remain a mystery to us and more often than not remain so.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (13) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ian's picture

Surprised you got so many comments regarding Lang on that play. Seemed pretty obvious after the initial replay that D.J. Williams got caught inside instead of reading the play and providing help on the edge. Even the CBS announcers made that case before the commercial break.

adroge's picture

If Harrell would have stuck with the run it would have been a big gain. That's a pretty complex blitz to expect a rookie to pick up in preseason with no tape or preperation for it.

Why the browns ran such a blitz with the 3rd stringers is beyond me. It doesn't help anybody evalute their players.

redlights's picture

Uh, it helps evaluate how well defensive personnel can blitz.

Like Chad says below, its preseason.

PackerAaron's picture

"Why the browns ran such a blitz with the 3rd stringers is beyond me. It doesn’t help anybody evalute their players."

Totally disagree - it helps the Browns' staff immensely.

Kim James's picture

It appears to be a botch by both Williams and Lang. Lang bounces too far out and get caught and Williams is forced to take on Langs man leaving no one on the edge. Though Williams makes no move to the edge. It was a royal balls up.

PackerAaron's picture

I've been told, quite reliably, that Lang played it correctly.

LaserSurgeon's picture

As I commented at the time, it seemed pretty obvious that DJ Williams was the one who blew his assignment. But before we nail DJ to the cross, remember this is pre-season, he is a rookie, and he will learn from it. As long as Harrell wasn't injured on the play, no big deal. The tape will be a valuable teaching tool for the coaching staff not only for Williams but for all involved. However, while Graham might need to work on that peripheral vision, no doubt the biggest coaching point for Harrell this week will be ball security. When you are the third team QB, some sacks will be inevitable. But it's up to the QB to keep those from being turnovers as well.

Chad Toporski's picture

Using one single play to either condemn or endorse a player is beyond ridiculous. Like you said, there are a good number of things we don't know when watching a game or even one down.

Not to mention that this is still preseason... It's less about net results and more about individual execution.

MarkinMadison's picture

Aaron asked the other day why I might assume that Lang screwed up. First of all, when I said, "assuming..." I followed it up with saying that I thought Lang was "solid." So, I wasn't so much concerned about making a judgment on the one play - I knew I didn't know, but I also didn't care whether he screwed up that play or not. Second, if you watch Sherrod on this particular play you'll see him do what Lang did - start blocking a D guy, the D guy slides to his right. What he did next was what he did differently on this play - the D guy gets passed to another blocker, and Sherrod turns left for looks for someone else to block. I get that Williams may have screwed up by lowering the hammer on a guy Lang was already blocking pretty well. I just hope that Lang might have been able to slide off and catch one of the two guys coming around his left. Maybe that's not what he's been coached to do, maybe I'm just silly and ignorant, but I think that it would have showed good situational awareness if he had let the block pass to Williams and slid out to protect the left edge.

Mojo's picture

Did anyone notice Browns #49(English) still managed to get thru fairly quickly in what amounted to three blocks on him. Also, had Williams not picked up English I believe he would have beaten Lang inside(Lang was too far out) and maybe would have had a direct route to Harrell.

Regardless, the Pack had four blockers on four rushers on that side and missed blocking two of them completely. If you ask me it was bad blocking all around on that side. Also Harrell has to be more aware when one side of the D-line is stacked up like that.

Spiderpack's picture

So Aaron (or anyone), I've always assumed that ideally the Center (or even the QB in this case because he audibled), is calling protections along with play changes. Is this situation such that DJ's assignment was called out & he didn't hear it correctly? Or is this a case wherein the audible takes place so quickly that players in DJ's situation have to process their assignment on their own?

PackerAaron's picture

Its a good question Spider. Looking at the play, it sure looks like he got the playcall change. He moves in concert with the line - you see him slide to his right rather than take steps forward, which would have indicated he was set to run block. But the other situation you mention - completely missing the audible and having to figure it out on the fly - happens much more than you might think.

Spiderpack's picture

Thanks, I would agree it makes sense that Williams did get the original run call. And I assume what you are also saying is that a large part of being a topflight veteran pass blocker (like our former RB Jackson was), includes an all-inclusive awareness of every defensive player in the box or wide on the line, similar to the awareness the Center & QB must have.

Really Aaron, thanks for the education this site offers and the Tribute to the Packers fan-dom that it is.

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