LaFleur Unleashes Trio of RBs at Perfect Time

We waited all year to see the three-headed monster out of the backfield and Matt LaFleur released this trio at the perfect time.

Like the Jordan Love pick, selecting AJ Dillon was a move for the future. With both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams in the final years of their rookie deals, GM Brian Gutekunst was planning for the eventual departure of at least one of his running backs, and possibly both. 
 
However, this move still came under heavy scrutiny as many hoped that the Green Bay Packers would bolster their roster with some immediate help after falling in the NFC Championship Game to San Francisco. Not to mention that with the replaceability of the running back position, spending a second-round pick a year in advance was deemed by many in the draft community a wasted resource.
 
Whether or not the Packers should have selected Dillon in Round 2 has and will continue to be debated. But it gave the Green Bay Packers something that not many other NFL teams have, three legitimate options out of the backfield at running back. 
 
Yet even with the endless possibilities that these three provide in the running and passing game, what we didn't see for much of the season was Jones, Williams, and Dillon being utilized at the same time. 
 
Now, as Matt LaFleur has mentioned, it's not easy working in three running backs, especially when Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback and Davante Adams is your No. 1 receiver. You, of course, want them to have plenty of touches as well. Plus, you don't want to take away touches from Jones either; he's just that good. 
 
So for much of the year, it was primarily Jones and Williams out of the backfield--which I get. Before Dillon was a Packer, this was one of, if not the best running back duo in the NFL. LaFleur was right to give them a majority of the touches, especially with Dillon being an unproven rookie.
 
Then against Tennessee, with Williams out with an injury and Jones getting banged up himself, Dillon became RB1 for a week. And he certainly did not disappoint. The rookie went wild, rushing for 124 yards at nearly six yards per carry with two touchdowns. 
 
This is what everyone had been waiting for; Dillon's coming out party and the three-headed monster out of the backfield to emerge. Except it didn't. The following week against Chicago, Dillon had only one carry, and Williams had just five. This is in part a credit to the Bears, who held the Packers' offense to only 44 total plays, making it even more difficult to spread the ball between three running backs while still not neglecting the passing game either. 
 
But nonetheless, another week had come and gone without this trio being featured out of the backfield. 
 
If there's one thing that we can say about LaFleur, it's that he is flexible. Whether it be with position changes, play-calling, game planning, you name it; he is going to make adjustments from week to week that give this team the best opportunity to win. 
 
While many of us scratched our heads, wondering why we weren't seeing more of Dillon this season along with Jones and Williams, LaFleur was just waiting for the right time. And apparently, that time was in the NFC Divisional Round against the Rams. 
 
Los Angeles had been very good this season against the run, allowing only 3.9 yards per carry during the regular season, the fourth-lowest mark in the NFL. Under defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, the Rams base defense utilizes a light box, relying heavily on their defensive front to stop the run and to get after the quarterback. 
 
LaFleur saw this as something that the Packers' offense could exploit, and boy did they ever. When it was all said and done, the Green Bay trio of running backs would carry the ball 32 times, totaling 191 rushing yards at nearly six yards per carry against the league's top defense. 
 
Jones had 99 of those yards with a long of 60 to start the second half and he also found the end zone. Williams had another 65 yards on 12 carries, and Dillon averaged 4.5 yards per rush on six attempts. The threat of this rushing attack also helped Rodgers exploit this Rams' defense off of play-action. Rodgers finished the game 7/10 for 102 yards with a touchdown and a passer rating of 136.3.
 
Each back brings a different running style to the table, and when a defense has to account for all three backs along with Rodgers and the passing game off play-action, all I have to say is, good luck. 
 
LaFleur and the Green Bay Packers had the luxury of not having to lean on this three-headed monster in the backfield for most of the season. Instead, LaFleur waited for the perfect opportunity, and now the NFL's most productive offense has a new element that defenses have to account for late in the season.
 
I'll say it again, if Jones, Williams, and Dillon are going to get 30 plus touches and be that effective, there isn't a defense out there that is going to stop this Packers' offense. 

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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Comments (47)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
SwedeBayPacker's picture

January 18, 2021 at 06:12 am

So, any update on Dillon's injury? Kind of a weird think-piece if he doesn't play on Saturday, so I assume he's fine?

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 18, 2021 at 09:46 am

It's a thigh contusion. IE, a deep bruise. He was Questionable even during the game. I expect this Sunday he will be available.

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SwedeBayPacker's picture

January 18, 2021 at 11:02 am

Niiiice

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anamiyakaur001's picture

January 18, 2021 at 06:18 am

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Duneslick's picture

January 18, 2021 at 11:52 am

Where is the admin. Get rid of post that are not about football

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NickPerry's picture

January 18, 2021 at 06:20 am

I just hope Dillion is okay and will be okay to play against the Bucs. As much as I wanted to play the Saints, a small part of me wanted the Bucs. The Bucs kicked the Packers butts last time but as Adams has pointed out, playing in Lambeau in January is a whole different animal.

The Packers will need this 3 headed monster on Sunday and MLF needs to utilize them all. Somehow I think this is going to be a even better performance by Jones, Williams, and hopefully AJ Dillion.

The forecast for Sunday... I LOVE it!!

Sun 31 | Day
33°
43%
SW 11 mph
Occasional snow showers. High 33F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 40%. Snow accumulating 1 to 3 inches.

Sun 31 | Night
22°
42%
WNW 9 mph
Occasional snow showers. Low 22F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 40%. Snow accumulations less than one inch.

Unleash the 3-headed monster!!

#8 Quarters!

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murf7777's picture

January 18, 2021 at 10:10 am

NP. I like Dillon a lot but Williams is also a bruiser, excellent blocker and catcher of the football. I think it’s Jones and Williams time. Dillon will be next year. Let’s face it Dillon fumbled in a big game. We don’t want to risk that happening again.

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Mojo's picture

January 18, 2021 at 11:55 am

Love NPs weather forecast. I hope he was standing beside a green-screen in his blazer while pointing at an impending low front coming in.

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NickPerry's picture

January 19, 2021 at 04:57 am

LOL...I almost spit my morning coffee out reading that Mojo...Love the humor!!

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13TimeChamps's picture

January 18, 2021 at 10:06 pm

His name is Dillon, not Dillion.

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NickPerry's picture

January 19, 2021 at 04:59 am

Thanks 13... I'll get it right next time.

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porupack's picture

January 18, 2021 at 06:36 am

>>>>>If there's one thing that we can say about LaFleur, it's that he is flexible. Whether it be with position changes, play-calling, game planning, you name it; he is going to make adjustments from week to week that give this team the best opportunity to win. <<<<

Well said, Paul. The whole season seems to be a huge game for yet a new player, which kind of backs up your point that MLF shifts to a new asset.

I've mentioned this before, what struck me all season is that Gute and MLF has focused on drafting superior blockers rather than just elite athleticism. Lazard, Lewis, Deguara seems to show that. We scratched our heads why Deguara was drafted, what seemed to be a round or two too early. But if we look at his blocking in his early work, it suggests that GB wants superior blockers.
The RBs Williams and Jones over Dexter and Dillon suggests that RBs must prove their blocking prowess before they get on the field, and Dillon just wasn't ready until he was needed to fill in for JWilliams vs Titans.
The WRs MVS and Lazard show above average blocking, and Adams and St Brown also showed very willing blocking despite being elite 'skill players'.
Just watching all 10, especially the skill players' blocking, it seems that this is key focus in 2020 draft and coaching to understand a superior blocking offense can beat pure athleticism-defenses, and while blocking is assumed to be a fundamental element to coaching, I think MLF+Gute decided that they will take blocking to the next level as a priority in drafting, and activating players.
This will be put to the test, to see if blocking can negate Devin White and fellow speed ILBs, and fast defense next week. My theory would bode well for GB vs Bucs if no turnovers.
Am I over thinking this, or making something out of just the normal fundamendals?

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Turophile's picture

January 18, 2021 at 09:10 am

Well said porupack. That bit about the Packers drafting superior blockers was absolutely on point.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 18, 2021 at 09:49 am

"he is flexible"

Isn't that nice?

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 18, 2021 at 07:50 pm

Deguara was not drafted to be a Blocker. Review his career for the Bearcats, he is another Chris Cooley type H-back. Not as big as Kelce, but from the same system. Dafney will lay the lumber at the Edge to help control Devon White and David.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

January 18, 2021 at 07:05 am

It is interesting that the same people who were crushing Mr. Gutekunst for drafting AJ are now clamoring for AJ to play.

It is true that a few folks have been willing to admit that their criticism was misplaced. However, there are still many would be GMs who are more than happy to now hypocritically salivate over AJ without acknowledging the absurdity of their original opinion.

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Bure9620's picture

January 18, 2021 at 07:25 am

Not me, I want him to play and loved the pick maybe my favorite pick

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

January 18, 2021 at 07:58 am

You are always a reasonable commenter Bure, so I would not have expected it from you.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 18, 2021 at 08:09 pm

Once again for the revisionists, we clamored for a power running game all of 2019 and especially after the beat-downs by the 49rs. I have been an advocate for Dillon since 2018. The draft mockery of 2020 had many scenarios with his name near the top. Deguara for the mult-tool HB. La Fleur recognized the need for a FB driven running attack and the need for ball control given Pettine's desire to ignore the run stop. Dillon was a dominate running back his entire career at B.C. , not a flash in the pan. Fire up, let' s get ready to rumble.

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PeteK's picture

January 18, 2021 at 05:09 pm

Drifter,I loved Dillon, was surprised we took him at 2nd, but was happy. Let's be reasonable, a draft for the future will naturally bring out some criticism. Especially since our rushing D was trampled in the championship game. If you weren't even mildly surprised by that draft , "All your troubles though you choose, You must be drifting into darkness".

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dobber's picture

January 18, 2021 at 07:37 am

I would argue that against teams like TB and the Rams, with dominant defensive fronts, you're looking for quicker, decisive backs to garner most of your carries. There aren't going to be lanes, but creases...and these guys need to find them. Even if you look at some of the longer runs the Packers broke off on Saturday, they weren't running through gaping holes.

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Coldworld's picture

January 18, 2021 at 07:59 am

I’d say that you might be missing the set up. Running hard at this light fast D has been a recipe to overcome their speed at ILB. That has opened doors in the air and on the ground for other teams.

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Bearmeat's picture

January 18, 2021 at 08:11 am

I agree wirth you CW. Unfortunately, MLF has shown us in the LAC, SFx2, @ CHI in 19 and @ TB games that he insists on running wide against fast front 7s. To absolutely no good effect...

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murf7777's picture

January 18, 2021 at 10:14 am

And what did he show you against the Rams excellent D? Run right up the middle.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 18, 2021 at 09:42 am

Something else you have to do is get the fast ILB's take take false steps. So the misdirection type of stuff needs to happen more.
The combination of Jones and Dillon create some really nice ability's to create different looks and create options. That is one way to get the ILB's eyes moving different areas.

Also against the Bucs in the first game we didn't have Ervin or Austin. We didn't have that jet sweep motion. Running more plays like that to get their eyes moving can create the hesitation long enough to get a blocker on them.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 18, 2021 at 12:58 pm

Meaning MLF has his full set of options from his play book. Sometimes he has had to juggle for most of the season. (Flacky rule no.1. If you have one F-back get two. Your football team will never have enough F-backs... :-)

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greengold's picture

January 18, 2021 at 01:45 pm

Have to also take into account during our first meeting with TB, the Packers probably thought it was a high possibility we would be facing them in the playoffs, and didn't want to show too much.

A guess... and for good reason. Here we are.

LOVE the high number of dedicated rushing plays, and I hope we keep pounding the rock, ALL THE WAY!!!

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PatrickGB's picture

January 18, 2021 at 02:56 pm

RC, you wrote “ Also against the Bucs in the first game we didn't have Ervin or Austin. We didn't have that jet sweep”. I not sure that we have that anymore. Ervin is out, Austin has not shown much and the other WR’s have not shown the ability to pull one off for a big one. Yet you may still have a great point if we can pull it back out with the players that we have currently.

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stockholder's picture

January 18, 2021 at 07:54 am

The Trio will now face the #1 run defense in the NFL. Remember how everybody wanted White? Remember Suh stepping on packers? And you can't forget about Tom Brady! As Strahan pointed out. The packers got beat -up. So why would we want to face them? Regardless how Awesome we have been. Tampa Bay must be beat. And like most championship games; They will be given every opportunity to play without being called for penalties. We've faced bullies before. But taking a beating twice should be un- thinkable. So lets not Sugar -coat it. The packers must not turn-over the ball. Bust their balls. And give Rodgers the Time he needs. Because this game is going to be won in the air, and not the run.

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Turophile's picture

January 18, 2021 at 09:30 am

It's all about a fans mentality. Those that believe the Packers are, at this time, the best team in the NFC, are looking for some payback against the Bucs.

For those that worry a lot about the last meeting, they are fearful that the Packers get whopped again.

So, it comes down to whether you are a glass half full type........or a glass half empty.

I disagree that this game "will be won in the air". Sure that is a part of it, but if the ground game works decently, THAT is what sets up the pass to succeed, as the defenders have to try and decide what is coming......... and hesitation is huge in big games like this. All phases will play their part.

Personally, I think this is a somewhat different game than the first for these reasons.

1) La Fleur micro-examines EVERYTHING when it comes to game plans. He has a ton of tape from the first matchup to construct something better and he is flexible enough to change it up.
2) Neither the Packers or the Bucs are where they were in week 6. Both teams are playing well, but it SHOULD be a different kind of game. The Bucs got excellent early momentum in the first game, but given the random quirks of fate and bounces of the ball, this could change a lot.
3) The game is at Lambeau in January......that makes it a different game all on its own.
4) When a proud and successful team gets it's butt kicked, expect them to be amped up for a rematch, especially when the winner goes to the Superbowl.

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stockholder's picture

January 18, 2021 at 11:19 am

Good points. The won in the air is about," all Gas and No Brakes". Stretching the field. Strahan believed the packers "FEAR" the Buccaneers. IMO; THE " Butt Kicking" was Trash Talk. And the Packers are better then; a easy schedule, good Fortune, and climate. This team doesn't need to "Fear" anyone. Rodgers no longer is alone. We have the better team.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 18, 2021 at 08:15 pm

Another recipe for power ball and get in the 70 reps. Suh and Pierre-Paul are not spring chicks move them around. Devon White has to be accounted for at all times. Get him 1:1 with A.Jones in the passing game.

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CoachDino's picture

January 18, 2021 at 07:08 pm

True dat - But EVERY GAME needs to be 100%. It starts with the first day of that weeks practice through to the end of the game. When players/teams start thinking anything less it's not going to be 100%. The competition is too good to turn it on and off. Often in the end it will come down to execution, that is established in practice. Tampa won IMO due too poor play by NO more than great play by them. The Packers offense executes ata very high level and now the defense is as well.

The other point is the Packers have put in the work to now execute against blitz's at a much higher level. If Tampa can't find another weakness and the Packers execute on offense they will out score Tampa.

I'm not praying for bad weather, as much as just uncomfortable weather. We don't need snow showers and 0) to 10 degree temps. Most certainly don't want wind. 20 degrees with limited wind is just fine. We have a great team we don't need to chance the weather hurting the packers as well. Yes, I know they should play better in it but lets not get carried away. Brady and Gronk will thrive in it and they have the running game to pound it out as well.

Lets Go Pack

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Bearmeat's picture

January 18, 2021 at 07:57 am

I'm not going to lie, I think TB is the hardest team left in the dance vs this Packers team. And yes, I'm including the AFC contenders in that mix. I did not want this game, and if it did come, I wanted it earlier in the playoffs.

Nothing is ever easy. So be it.

Let's not forget, Dillon fumbled on his last carry. Injury aside, this team turned the ball over only 11 times, leading the NFL. And TB does not score at all if not for those Cook fumbles and Brees softballs. Ball security will be at a premium on Sunday.

As much as I think the offense needs to play smash mouth and run right at those fast LBs, I don't think Dillon plays on Sunday.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 18, 2021 at 09:14 am

I think all 3 teams left are winnable. All 3 present different challenges. But I will take Rodgers and our team over any of them.

In the first matchup, our offense was shaky but started out to a 10-0 lead. Then 2 turnovers on the next 2 throws completely changed the game and gave them the momentum.
The one thing that stuck out to me was how many outside runs and toss plays they tried running. Which allowed their speed to chase down the plays. They did have success running right at them. Other teams have had success doing that as well. I would expect more runs up the middle this time around.
That game was not a great play calling day for LaFleur. I would expect a much better game this time around.

Lets not forget that the last time we played the Bucs that was 3 months ago. Our team is completely different now. We are much better then we were then. Our offense is better, our defense is better. Rodgers is playing at an all time high.

You are correct that ball security will be at a premium. Brees had 3 interceptions which ruined the game for them. Also Points will be at a premium. We do not want any lulls in the game giving Brady a chance. We can't have any dropped TD's in this game.
We could say that we dominated the Rams. Who did have the number 1 defense. Even though we dominated them, we still left points out there. First drive they missed a TD. Extra point missed. 2 point conversion missed. Another 2 chances at a TD later.
These are plays that easily could have been made.

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PhantomII's picture

January 18, 2021 at 09:48 pm

Dillon would work great as a FB in the game if he's healthy.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 18, 2021 at 08:11 am

FIrst, I have not seen or heard how Dillon is. Does anyone know about him?

Going into this game I had a feeling we would see more the Dillon and Jones together. Its a look that is not easy to defend. Every down they have 2 running options and receiving options as well. Also with Rodgers he has the ability to run or pass depending on what look the defense gives.

Hopefully Dillon will be able to go and we can continue to see this look.

If Dillon can't go, we will be ok. Jones is simply a stud. His ability to create a long run on any play. He is a great receiver and runs with power. Williams has really found his niche as a power runner, a really good pass blocker and receiver. He is a good short yardage guy. We are still really good with the RB's we have. Dillon does give us another look. He has size that teams don't want to have to try and tackle down after down.

If Dillon can go, it only improves our backfield.

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murf7777's picture

January 18, 2021 at 10:19 am

I think we are selling Williams short for our brand new penny. I believe Williams showed his worth last game and will again with Jones this game.

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Packers0808's picture

January 18, 2021 at 08:14 am

What can you say but up to now mostly all has been clicking for the greater part of the season team wise except for ST! Keep it going and I hope a REAL BIG BEAT DOWN on the Bucs! We win by 3 scores or more would be great!

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Packer_Fan's picture

January 18, 2021 at 08:41 am

I like seeing the two running back set. You don't know if they will run or pass. I like also when one of the running backs motions out to the flat. I just think that an outlet pass after a run fake should be open. In my humble opinion.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 18, 2021 at 08:19 pm

The Pro set won many a championship for Vince's group.

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Lphill's picture

January 18, 2021 at 08:42 am

Brees was awful yesterday that last interception to white was a gift , no zip on his ball , no deep throws , if Hill was available he probably would have been very active , the Buc's got away with a lot of holding and hitting after the whistle , even Brady got away with shoving a Saints player , the refs were a little too liberal.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 18, 2021 at 09:16 am

Lets be honest. Brees was pretty easy to defend. He can't throw the ball 30+ yards so the defense can play tight coverage the entire time. There wasn't a threat deep.

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murf7777's picture

January 18, 2021 at 10:22 am

Wry true RC and why I wanted to face them. But, now is time to exorcise the demons and kicking Tommy’s ass!

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

January 18, 2021 at 09:19 am

Good to see Lphill, that you have moved on from your obsession with Harrison only playing three snaps that you commented on multiple times yesterday. Looking forward to more of your illuminating analysis of the Buccaneers/Saints game.

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stockholder's picture

January 18, 2021 at 11:28 am

The refs were a little too liberal. Expect it again this game. We have the better players to win this FIGHT.

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dobber's picture

January 18, 2021 at 12:48 pm

It's the playoffs. Nobody wants whistle-happy refs calling their playoff game...but at the same time, the refs need to be in the same ballpark as the games they called during the regular season.

Part of what I dislike about the NCAA tournament and college hoops is that the tourney games are reffed in a completely different way. The game these teams graduate to play in March isn't the same one they've been playing from November 'til February to get there.

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