Packers Vs. Lions - 3 Plays That Make You Go Hmmm

Jersey Al picks out three thought-provoking plays from the Packers' last game.

After re-watching the Packers game, here are three plays that made me go hmmm, for various reasons. In general, I try to focus on a theme, the less obvious, or things I didn't notice watching live. 

Have a Game, Preston -  Yes, Rashon Gary was a beast and he has the stats to prove it. Preston Smith, who can tend to be quiet at times during games while doing a lot of the required dirty work holding the edge, was a consistent force throughout this game in all aspects. Hell, he even dropped in coverage four times with only one completion allowed! Pass-rush wise, he was all over Goff, even though he got beat to the sack a few times. He hit the QB twice and was credited with three additional hurries. He did his usual work against the run, with a bit more force this time. This play is a good example - Preston takes out the pulling tackle, and the tight end, AND makes the tackle on the running back. Chef's kiss! 

 

Ugly Tackling - I like Anthony Johnson as a safety. He's quick, covers a lot of ground, tracks the ball well, etc. But the tackling - oof! Throughout the game, I saw him dropping his head and throwing shoulders at ball carriers' feet. I get he's a 7th round rookie, likely wasn't getting that many practice reps in camp and that you can't have real contact in practice during the season. But next offseason and camp, if the coaching staff can help him improve his tackling, the Packers could have a real find here because the rest of his game is pretty solid. I chose this play as just one example. The missed tackle results in a TD run, although it was called back for a penalty. 

 

Stiffen Up - I highlighted this same thing with Musgrave previously, so sorry if I'm harping too much on this, but it's a small thing that can make a big difference and here is a perfect example. This is a really well-designed play that should have earned the Packers a first down. But Kraft looks back in anticipation of the tackle and seems to accept his fate. He's carrying the ball in his left hand, so why not use your right arm and give the guy a STIFF ARM! Packers TE coaches have to start teaching this! If Kraft sticks his arm out, the defender would not be able to wrap him up so quickly and a few additional yards would be gained. The Packers would have had a first down near the 10 yard line. Instead they have a fourth and one on the next play and proceeded to mess it up with Dillon colliding into Love. Red zone trip wasted. 

__________________________

"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.  Follow Al on twitter at @JerseyalGBP

12 points
 

Comments (40)

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

November 28, 2023 at 05:56 pm

I agree with point 3 to a certain extent.

Kraft does need to run a better route and use a stiff arm. HOWEVER...

Those 2 WRs to the left of the formation are running rubs. They need to do a better job of causing clutter for that Mike.

You do have to admit, that was a good tackle by the LB.

7 points
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murf7777's picture

November 28, 2023 at 07:39 pm

In college Kraft was great after the catch….It will come with playing time.

6 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

November 28, 2023 at 09:24 pm

They probably told him to protect the ball.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 29, 2023 at 01:22 pm

Coaching needs to be teaching this stuff and they obviously have NOT. TE coach played QB, not TE.

A stiffarm on that play would've been PERFECT.

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murf7777's picture

November 30, 2023 at 07:27 am

I think Stiff arming was taught all the way back in HS if not juniors. It’s just instinctive. Watch his college film he certainly used it there.

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jboss's picture

November 28, 2023 at 06:38 pm

Hey Al,

You should just go back to the beach with your tail between your legs after giving up on the season a while back!

Go Pack Go

-4 points
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MainePackFan's picture

November 28, 2023 at 07:30 pm

To be honest, didn't we all give up on the season a while back. Everyone needs to chill just a smidge on our bandwagon jumping. This team is far from a polished product.

That being said, we should all be excited about what we have seen the last few weeks. Progress is a beautiful thing. Especially for such a young team that has been so decimated by injuries.

I will continue with the same philosophy I have maintained all year. Look for growth, keep my expectations low, and hope for the best. Now, if somehow we beat the Chiefs....move over and make room on the bandwagon : )

6 points
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BradHTX's picture

November 28, 2023 at 07:57 pm

“Progress is a beautiful thing.”

Seeing progress is and has been from the beginning the benchmark by which this season is to be measured. Wins matter, but not as much as seeing a progression from month to month.

That said… I have a sneaking suspicion they beat the Chiefs. My Packer fan sister and my Chiefs fan future-niece-in-law will be at the game. She’s too sweet for me to rub it in if the Pack prevail.

6 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

November 29, 2023 at 09:37 am

"my Chiefs fan future-niece-in-law will be at the game."

Say hello to Taylor Swift!

1 points
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Tundraboy's picture

November 28, 2023 at 09:55 pm

That's the spirit! My mantra too.

3 points
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JerseyAl's picture

November 28, 2023 at 08:19 pm

Yeah, sorry, but I'm still not worried about wins or losses this year. If a surprise happens, great! If not, I just want to see these young kids develop. We're building for 2025 - any success in the interim is just a pleasant surprise to enjoy.

10 points
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HawkPacker's picture

November 28, 2023 at 10:08 pm

I so agree with you Al and have been saying that for some time.

4 points
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BAMABADGER's picture

November 28, 2023 at 07:27 pm

Al, loved the effort to get down and dirty by Preston Smith. That is sacrificing himself for the team by blowing up the running play. Others got the tackle credit for no gain. It was all a result of Smith. We need this type effort by the D on every play.

Johnson Jr. didn’t even have the chance to lower his head. The pulling o-lineman slapped him down like a little beach. Johnson needed to stay low and get inside to take on the back. He looked like was afraid to make an effort like P Smith.

The wide receivers did a poor job screening off the lbs and DBs. Kraft ran like he was surprised he caught that past. Al makes a great point. A stiff arm would have gotten the first down. One would hope the TE coach firmly lectured him when he got to the sideline. A stiff arm seems like a natural instinct move by a strong TE.

4 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 29, 2023 at 01:26 pm

The TE coach never played TE. Trying to teach when to use a stiff arm is too late after the fact. He's one of the first 3 coaches who needs to go, even ahead of JB.

Preston has been playing GREAT! It's good to see him finally get some recognition :)

-2 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

November 29, 2023 at 03:42 pm

Because on ONE play a stiff arm wasn't used the TE coach needs to be fired. How exactly do you know what is and what isn't being coached?

Maybe let the coaches do their jobs and let the FO decide who needs to be fired.

0 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

November 29, 2023 at 04:33 pm

Sic, I'll just leave this here. It's a short clip, but if you're pressed for time, start at the 2 minute mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1_qGh8i8vg

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JerseyAl's picture

November 29, 2023 at 06:24 pm

Interesting that those highlights show Kraft using a stiff arm quite a bit. Makes it even more surprising he didn't in this case/

1 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

November 29, 2023 at 06:36 pm

Which makes it even more likely he was more concerned with ball safety for some reason? Who knows what was going through his mind at that moment. Players have to make split second decisions all the time.

I'm sorry, I just don't see this as a coaching issue. What I do see is a possible 3rd round steal.

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Grandfathered's picture

November 29, 2023 at 07:11 pm

Kraft reminds me of Jeremy Shockey. If he gets some room and ahead of steam he could run violently.

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LeotisHarris's picture

November 29, 2023 at 07:38 pm

Who knows?

Best stiff arm I've seen from a Packers player this season was Love on Maxx Crosby. Maybe the Packers need to have Tom Clements sit in with the TEs to show 'em how he delivered the ol' chin music back in the day at Notre Dame. :)

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MainePackFan's picture

November 28, 2023 at 07:36 pm

Thanks AL. I love it when you (and Dusty) put up these clips. It helps with understanding the intricacies we may have missed watching it live.

6 points
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JerseyAl's picture

November 28, 2023 at 08:23 pm

Dusty is great with the analysis. I just try to find some little things that may go unnoticed.

7 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 29, 2023 at 01:27 pm

You noticed PRESTON SMITH!! He's been consistently GREAT. The stats others get don't happen without the work he puts in.

0 points
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Since'61's picture

November 28, 2023 at 08:13 pm

Al good clips as usual. The clips of Kraft and Johnson are just further evidence of what we have been discussing for quite a while here at CHTV. Our coaches are not helping their players improve. Someone should be working on tackling with Johnson and someone should be teaching Kraft how to stiff arm. These are matters of technique which the coaches should be covering with the players especially the younger plays.

we may. have a young team but that doesn't mean the coaches can't teach them technique which as you correctly point out can prevent losses and contribute to victories. No excuse for the poor job that the Packer coaches have been doing. These are basic football tactics not sophisticated strategies. Thanks, Since '61

4 points
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Oppy's picture

November 29, 2023 at 06:40 am

In a game where all three phases put on their best performances of the season, it seems an odd choice of timing to lament that the coaching staff isn't helping the players improve.

As to Kraft's lack of stiff arm specifically, I feel the same as Jannes- the lack of stiff arm was likely a decision to protect the ball with both hands- and probably a great decision given the field position and situation.

I was not thrilled with how MLF had this team coming out of the gates earlier this season and the lack of discipline displayed with all of the mental mistakes leading to pre snap penalties, but I think your distaste for "LaCooch" may be clouding your judgement a bit here. I think improvement at all positions has been steady and apparent this season. We'll see what next week looks like, but the Thanksgiving game was rife with evidence that these young players are trending upwards.

7 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 29, 2023 at 01:36 pm

Oppy,

improvement is now evident, with the Lions game being the best evidence to date. We're all basking in the glow, and two wins in a row for the first time this season of course helps. 3 out of 4, even better.

That doesn't change the fact that footwork on the O line wasn't taught. That doesn't change the fact that Vrable hasn't had everyone in the WR room practicing just catching for at least two hours every day since the first OTA.

That doesn't change the fact that the strength and conditioning staff has been bad for years.

MLF has called some brilliant plays. I've never doubted his ability to draw up good plays. That doesn't change the fact that he's failed to adjust when plan A doesn't work. Nor does it mean he's even reasonably competent with the O line.

The pass rush played out of their minds. JB called for more than two down linemen on almost half the plays, which of course helped. That doesn't change the fact that this defense has underperformed as a whole all season compared to their talent level.

All those things still need to be corrected, and all of that is bad coaching.

-3 points
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Oppy's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:52 am

"That doesn't change the fact that footwork on the O line wasn't taught. That doesn't change the fact that Vrable hasn't had everyone in the WR room practicing just catching for at least two hours every day since the first OTA."

That's all unfounded hogwash, though. You have no idea what is being taught, and what isn't. Facts are facts, and none of this is verifiable fact. Its just what you choose to believe.

1 points
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PeteK's picture

November 29, 2023 at 10:02 am

Basic tactics should have been learned in the college, after years of playing. Trying to teach complicated NFL schemes along with basics takes time. So blame it on the colleges coaches and give credit to ours for getting bench players to play solid football.

0 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 29, 2023 at 01:40 pm

That's very much the approach this coaching staff is taking. That's not how winning teams do it. That's not how good teams do it. In an organization where "draft and develop" is the mantra, it doesn't do to ignore individual player development. There's staff specifically for that. Every team pays people to do exactly this.

This is the single biggest weakness of the team.

-1 points
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Boneman's picture

November 29, 2023 at 07:16 am

For goodness sake. Picking on two rookies technique and perpetuating the 'bad coaching' narrative is kinda low. Do you really think that these things go unremarked in film sessions? What do we want the coaches to do? Berate their players and nit pick them after every play? There is no faster way to lose a locker room. Time and place!

-1 points
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JerseyAl's picture

November 29, 2023 at 07:41 am

For goodness sake, you don't think coaches identify areas where players need to improve and tell them about it? Have you ever been in a football game review film session? That's the entire purpose. And I'm not picking on anyone, just pointing out some random little things I see, which is the entire point of these posts.

8 points
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T7Steve's picture

November 29, 2023 at 08:21 am

I really must have missed where you were picking on the coaching, Al.

Maybe he had some leftover turkey indigestion.

2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

November 29, 2023 at 09:45 am

When 11 men have to play together, even little things whether good or ill can add up on a given play.

Missed tackles has been an issue for the Defense. Great tackling D is not how anyone would describe Joe Barry's D. Tackling is technique and it can be taught, drilled, and become a habit. I don't think the Packers invest in this most basic of football skills.

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PeteK's picture

November 29, 2023 at 10:08 am

I see that as a league wide issue. Most players go for the highlight hit instead of aiming for mid section and the all important wrapping up.

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 29, 2023 at 10:33 am

I agree.

There are a few teams that are perennial thumpers on D...Ravens, Niners, Seabirds.

And this year, under Flores, the Vikings are bringing the wood whereas last year under Donatell they were a timid bunch. Coaching emphasis matters.

So it can be taught and become a valuable skill. But what you do not practice does not become a skill and a habit.

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PeteK's picture

November 29, 2023 at 12:03 pm

--Some teams also draft for that and slightly devalue speed.
--True, the Vikes and Bears were laying the wood.

0 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 29, 2023 at 01:46 pm

Jonathan Owens tackles very well. Maybe even great? He's not always where he needs to be. AJJ doesn't tackle as well but maybe is where he needs to be. We have some DBs that are very good at getting to the ball, but not so good at stopping a ball carrier.

Hopefully the best of everybody rubs off on each and they progress as a position group. They haven't outright lost a whole game by themselves yet, and considering the sheer number of players missing that's downright amazing, especially considering how everyone said S was a hole in the roster after TC.

As of now I'd like to see it a priority in the draft, but still hope for more development here. KC might be the team to expose the weakness? Pass rush is their best friend ...

-1 points
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Boneman's picture

November 30, 2023 at 08:02 am

Sorry JA, just frustrated with some of the narrative I keep seeing. Big fan and always look forward to your articles!

0 points
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Tundraboy's picture

November 29, 2023 at 08:50 am

You don't see many stiff arms on our team, yet. They are a work in progress.

2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

November 29, 2023 at 10:36 am

Badgers' Braylon Allen has gained a few hundred yards for the team post stiff arms.

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