Packers - Panthers Film Study. 3rd Down Nonsense

So far this season, the Packers are ranked 27th in 3rd down conversion percentage at 34%. Over the last three games, their percentage is a lowly 25.8%. Against the Panthers, it was 21.4%

As I'm sure you know, the Packers were faced with numerous third down situations in Sunday's game against the Panthers, most of which were third and long. The lack of a consistent running game or short passing game and piss-poor pass protection is what puts you in those third and longs, but that's a whole other series of articles.  

What I want to look at here is how tthe Packers chose to attack those third downs and point out a few things that just make no sense.

The Packers first faced a third down situation at the 8:42 mark of the first quarter. After a two yard pass to Richard Rodgers and a one yard loss by Lacy, the Packers faced a third and nine. The Panthers rush six on the play and the Packers have four players run pass patterns. Three of the four run 15 yard routes and as Rodgers tries to get out of trouble, not one receiver makes an effort to come back to him. Rather, they mostly head even deeper. With no linebackers dropping into passing lanes, the middle underside of the field is wide open. yet there is no "hot" receiver whose job it is to see this and run a slant, for example. This is what the flaling Packers offense has looked like over the last few games; receivers running deep isolation routes come hell or high water, regardless of what the defense is giving you.

 

At the 5:02 mark of the first quarter, the Packers faced a 3rd and 12 after a delay of game penalty, and incomplete pass and a Rodgers scramble for three yards. Packers have a trips formation (not a bunch) to the right side. All three receivers run straight at their defenders and just turn around at the first down marker. Very creative. No one is really open, but Rodgers somehow completes an almost impossible pass to Adams who makes a diving catch and gets a good spot for a first down.

 

At the 2:34 mark of the 2nd quarter, the Packers have a 3rd and 8 after two Starks' runs gained a total of two yards. The Panthers bring 7 on the rush, and once again, there is no 'hot" receiver. If you stop the video as Rodgers is about to get sacked, every receiver has their back to Rodgers. Now, the pass protection was awful on the play and having a hot receiver may not have helped in this case, but that doesn't alter the point. We see other teams do this to the Packers all the time where they send a receiver right to the area just vacated by a blitzing linebacker or defensive back. The Packers just run their routes...

 

At the 0:26 mark of the second quarter, with the Packers losing 27-7, we FINALLY see an adjustment by the Packers. On a 3rd and 10, with the Panthers rushing five, Richard Rodgers runs a slant and Cobb runs a dig (square-in) to the middle of the field, which as before, has plenty of open space. Both are available fairly quickly to Rodgers, who hits Cobb in front of the safeties - first down. Shorter routes to the open part of the field - easy 18 yard gain. How about that?

 

The Packers came out with some fire in the second half. A quick TD pass to Cobb made it a two score game again. The defense forced a punt and the Packers were quickly on the move again. However, a 2nd down sack put the Packers in a 3rd and 13 situation. They send four receivers into the pattern and the Panthers safety makes a bad decision which allows Cobb to get open on a short post route. Rodgers seems to be eyeing Cobb just as he is breaking open, but feels pressure and doesn't make the throw (not the first or last time that happened in this game). With no safety there, it would have been an easy TD for Cobb. Instead Rodgers takes a sack, but Carolina is penalized for too many men on the field.

 

Thanks to the penalty, the Packers get another shot with a 3rd and 8. They come out in a bunch formation (Eureka! They really are trying!) and receivers actually get open. In fact, Cobb beats his man on a corner route that again could have been an easy TD. However, there is little protection (another recurring theme) and Rodgers doesn't even look at the bunch side. He is going to Richard Rodgers out wide all the way and there is a miscommunication on the route. the throw is to the sideline, but that's not where Richard Rodgers goes.

 

There was a visible change in the Packers' offense the rest of the way. We saw shorter routes, swing passes, screens even. One could argue they were taking what the Panthers were allowing, but what the heck is wrong withthat? At the 12:30 mark of the 4th quarter with the score 30-14, the Packers found themselves with a 3rd and four situation. They came out with another bunch formation (Oh Glory Be...) and inexplicably did the same crazy thing they did last week (which I wrote about here). They ran a bunch formation and had the receivers run straight downfield - no criss crossing or rub routes near the LOS. That also meant no one was freed up early for Rodgers, who would have liked to unload the ball, but instead was taken down for a sack as Bryan Bulaga whiffed on Kony Ealy. 

 

To wrap this all up, the one positive was that the Packers did make noticeable changes to their offensive approach at halftime. Why they didn't start the game out like that is a valid question. They had plenty of time to dissect their issues and come out from the first play with a new approach. Instead, they had to be hit over the head with a 20 point deficit before the light bulb went off. And even then, they did silly things like come out in a bunch formation and not even try to confuse the defensive backs with a criss-cross or rub. 

SMH...

 

 

__________________________

"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.  

0 points

Comments (29)

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

November 11, 2015 at 09:26 am

What a great post!

What is really unforgivable is that they didn't learn this from the Denver game. When you play good teams you can't wait to adjust until you are down 20.

This is a coaching issue. The Packers have the players to win as long as Rodgers is healthy. The players on this team have carried the coaches for many years. Now that a few are injured, it shows.

EVERYONE was yelling last year that the special teams play would come back to bite them and it did. So they fired the coach but it was too late.

Players aren't perfect but Packers weaknesses over the last few years has been more coaching than players. How many times are we going to let Capers rush 3 on 3rd an long before it bites us again.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Duke Divine's picture

November 11, 2015 at 11:58 am

3rd and 16. Got them right where they want em and Domfounded calls the 3 man rush, sit back in a zone and let them run around until they get open. We see it never ever works so why does the coaching staff refuse to see it? Even though sending blitzers did not get home it knocked Cam off his spot a few times and he is unable to throw in the run, but Dom still went with the 3 man rush after years of proven failure. That was the turning point as Nagler indicated in his gut reactions. I was hung up and pissed off at that play until....WELL I'M STILL PISSED! And McCarthy's "best O-line he's ever had" should be able to handle a couple of the top front 7s in the league but unfortunately they aren't even in the same league. Sitton, Linsley and the rest of the sieve better get their shit together or the Vikes front 7 will eat them alive like the last 2 games, and the coaches better stop with the rigid bang your head against the wall approach and adjust to the deficiencies up front with more screens and slants etc because the protection is not there. Same the the run game, no holes at all! If the oline doesn't play to the hype but Mashed Potato Mike game plans like they are the Vikes will be salivating at TCF in two weeks. These last two teams are good and the Pack are considered to be good too, unfortunately they don't look like it vs winning teams.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
D Ernesto's picture

November 11, 2015 at 09:48 am

Thanks again Al. I watched the game this week and a saw what your were saying last week the bunched up receivers were almost non existant. Just straight patterns, like these guys can run away from anyone.
In the one view of your a moron can see they are bringing the house. And yet our receivers run the exact 25 yard down the field route and not curl in over the middle for the shorter reception.
This is flat out horrid coaching. I beleive these guys are doing exactly what they were taught and its pathetic football.
Will not be surprised at all if Stafford and Calvin resurrect their careers on Sunday and the Lions pass rush shows up. This is no cakewalk week.
Have a good one Al

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Mojo's picture

November 11, 2015 at 10:39 am

The question I've been asking myself the last three games is, why can the opponent successfully run these type of plays against us, yet we can't against them?

I would think Cobb and and a healthy Montgomery would eat-up defenses over the middle. Same for Adams.

So who's fault is this? I'd have to go with MM since he's the boss. The better question though, is why won't they set up more plays with at least one receiver doing digs, slants or crosses? What do you lose by giving ARod the opportunity for quick hitters. Maybe it will save ARod from taking a beating.

Who's designing these plays and if there are more than what's presented, is A Rod audibling out? Are receivers not breaking off routes and finding the open space, especially on blitzes? And if it's an execution issue - why? Don't the receivers and QB's sit in on some meetings together now? If NE runs a lot of short-crossing routes and are successful at it, then why not emulate them. All they do is win.

I think a couple of things D coordinators tell their troops before the game is one - Rodgers has a tendency to hold the ball longer than most QB's, and two - they don't run as many shorter routes as most teams. Therefore tee-off on the O-line cus there's a good chance for a sack.

Keeping the chains moving and your opponents O on the sidelines gives you a great chance at success. We need to do more of what other teams do to us.

And WTF Linsley with the those low snaps?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
JerseyAl's picture

November 11, 2015 at 02:19 pm

Those are a hell of a lot of good questions. I'd be thrilled to have an answer to just half of them...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Bearmeat's picture

November 11, 2015 at 09:50 am

I hope MM reads this post well done Al.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

November 11, 2015 at 10:32 am

great article.

Bottom line to me is the coaches need to do a better job in their game plan, game management, and play calling.

They need to do a better job of putting their players into position to succeed.
I don't get their reluctance to do different things to get players open. In the bunch formation, run crossing patterns off of that like you pointed out. It makes no sense.

They seem to do a lot of head scratching stuff, such as trying to have WR's running long distance routes, with not many check down options or options underneath. Did they forget that sometimes a 2 yard passing play can turn into 10?
And this still bothers me, is in their play designs. I saw a few times they line up Perillo out wide. Ok, they may trust him to do the right thing, but what kind of threat is he out there? And then they put Janis into motion and have him line up just behind the RT and have him blocking d-linemen, and that was on a passing play. I would like to know how many teams bring in a 4th WR to block d-linemen? I don't care who the WR is, that play should be scrapped.

Hopefully they figured some stuff out in the 4th quarter this week.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Tarynfor12's picture

November 11, 2015 at 11:05 am

You do know that this comment of yours will simply bring the wrath of the...."The coaches know better than you" crowd and even stronger ire for mentioning Janis being used as a WR at all because the coaches know better.
Even though,like in this article,it's clear on multiple plays,both sides of the ball,they are looking like kindergarten coaches and the WR's knowing even less. :)

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

November 11, 2015 at 12:04 pm

lol, yeah, I'm getting used to it.

And for the record, I do know the coaches know more then me. I'm not trying to say I know more then them. I just see things that I think they can do better at. I'm not the only one that sees it. Just like Al shows in the article.

With the Janis plays, I only saw that play done with him. If it was Cobb, Jones or Adams doing it, I would have still hated it. I just think its a poorly designed play.

I think its pretty telling though that there have been issues with the coaching as they are now making changes with the coaches. Moving Van Pelt to the sidelines to take some off the plate of Clements. It to me is saying that the coaches haven't done a good enough job.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
egbertsouse's picture

November 11, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Between this great article and the one by Doug Farrar in SI.com, I'm becoming convinced that MM is running a very simplistic, almost stone-age, passing offense that completely relies on deep throws with WRs winning one-on-one battles and AR being Superman on every play. Time to bring in a new offensive mind.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
JerseyAl's picture

November 11, 2015 at 04:56 pm

Thanks for the heads up on the SI article. Here's the link - worthwhile read:

http://www.si.com/nfl/2015/11/10/all-22-aaron-rodgers-packers-mike-mccarthy

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

November 11, 2015 at 12:59 pm

This is excellent Al! you could another complete post on 1st down stupidity as well. There is almost no plan to get into 2nd and short from 1st and 10 in the passing game. 2nd and short is when you can do real damage, especially with play action and bootlegs since teams have to honor the run. It's almost like they don't know how to use their own concepts.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
TommyG's picture

November 11, 2015 at 01:05 pm

According to a recent ESPN article:

"The combined average 40 time of receivers Randall Cobb (4.55), Davante Adams (4.56), James Jones (4.6) plus tight end Richard Rodgers (4.87) ranks as a league-worst 4.65 seconds. And at age 31, Jones probably couldn’t match his original time."

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 11, 2015 at 06:37 pm

Except Cobb ran a 4.46. Still.....

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
porupack's picture

November 11, 2015 at 01:14 pm

Coaches are busted, evidence submitted and jury hereby renders its verdict. No witnesses presented the contrary. Coaches are red-ass chumps.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Since'61's picture

November 11, 2015 at 03:18 pm

Al - excellent job on this article! Thank you. I was thinking the exact same thing when I watched the game the second time. Jones and even Adams now, have enough experience to break off those routes and get into the middle of the field. It is very frustrating and I can't figure out why this is happening. Also, I don't know what Rodgers is seeing that is preventing him from hitting open receivers. Something is off, way off. Execution is obviously poor, but poor execution is usually the result of poor preparation, especially with level of talent this team allegedly has on offense. As I have said in an earlier post, I hope that the Packers finally return from their bye for the game against the Lions. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

November 11, 2015 at 03:29 pm

Since 61, I asked this before, but nobody answered. The Browns are looking to trade Joe Thomas. Don't you think GB should at least look at him, & what they want in a Draft Choice or Trade? LVT

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Since'61's picture

November 11, 2015 at 06:07 pm

LVT - I'm not usually crazy about making trades but right now I would agree with a move for Joe Thomas if the Browns are reasonable about what they expect in return. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Tundraboy's picture

November 11, 2015 at 03:34 pm

Impressed you watched game a second time. I could not bring myself to do that!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
JerseyAl's picture

November 11, 2015 at 05:04 pm

I had to shower twice afterwords...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Since'61's picture

November 11, 2015 at 06:04 pm

Thanks Tundra. I watched it again in a futile attempt to try to figure out "What the hell is going on out there?!" I still don't know. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 11, 2015 at 07:02 pm

Trade deadline has passed. Thomas would have made quite a bit of sense. Great LT. Age 30. Offensive linemen routinely play at a high level into their early thirties - saw an article that suggested decline begins around 33 or so for OLine. Thomas has started 16 games every year since he was drafted. Thomas is signed through 2018 (Bakh is signed only through 2016). Thomas has zero guaranteed money. We would not have to give any help to the left sided, allowing us to help Bulaga and Linsley until they get it figured out. It is really hard to help both the left and right tackle. Easier to help one or the other. Downside is that Thomas makes $8 to $9 million per year. [OTOH, Bakh will get a big raise if his play reverts to even last yearś level so the differential will decrease.] Reports indicate that Cleveland turned down a 1st and 4th. Not sure what it would take. Maybe a 1st and Bakh? IDK. We would have been able to run left, that is almost certain. Cohesiveness would have been an issue, but Thomas and Sitton are veteran guys so I suspect that by playoff time things would get ironed out. Since I do not know what it would have taken, I do not blame TT for not reaching out for help with Thomas at least.

One downside of draft and develop is that rookies in general are not much good as rookies. There is a delay. Linsley (and Lacy - but running backs have a much lower learning curve other than pass pro and often receiving) is one of the few plug and play (at a high level) rookies GB has had. Other than top 10 picks, and RBs, rookies playing really well just does not happen often - it is rare. No, Randall does not qualify.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Chad Toporski's picture

November 11, 2015 at 03:20 pm

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And man does it taste sour.

Thanks for turning this issue from speculation into fact, however tough it is to swallow.

(How am I doing on the analogies, Taryn?)

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Tundraboy's picture

November 11, 2015 at 03:29 pm

God help us if Coaches don't see the writing on the wall. Hope they read this post.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
DrealynWilliams's picture

November 11, 2015 at 03:41 pm

This is tiring. Do I have to take on all of you now? Lol.

"With no linebackers dropping into passing lanes, the middle underside of the field is wide open. yet there is no "hot" receiver whose job it is to see this and run a slant, for example."

If we had 3 Jeff Janis (experienced) type players out there you all would be KILLING them about not knowing the playbook and this and that. We aren't connecting on back-shoulder passes and WRs aren't adjusting their routes (according to coverage/blitz), but somehow this is a coaching problem. HOW? {insert Kanye West meme}

On that last clip, whoever that inside receiver was, why didn't he bend that route inside? He was free at the release and there was NOBODY in the middle? That's probably what Rodgers waited for.

**Drops mic**

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
DrealynWilliams's picture

November 11, 2015 at 03:46 pm

2nd to last clip:

Better snap, better blocking and ...

Who is that running free up top???

But let's point the finger at Coach MM...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Icebowler's picture

November 11, 2015 at 09:38 pm

I wish we had played these last two games before our bye week. Packers players got a whole week off, even though they didn't play that well against the Rams and Chargers. It seems that they could have used a few more practices during the bye week considering what was coming up.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
WKUPackFan's picture

November 12, 2015 at 05:30 am

Mr. Al, I will put aside our personal animosity long enough to say excellent research. However, stop or curl routes from the trips side should be effective against a D expecting the "usual" longer routes. Also, the Packers practice the "scramble" for when the protection breaks down. Either AR, MM, or TC must have wanted everyone to stay long on that play. The reason is unknown.

To the bigger picture (and the SI article): It's simply ludicrous, as some have suggested, to say MM has no plan week to week for the offense. GB values consistentcy, they are not going to abandon their core concepts because of a couple of down games. However, when we see Cobb in the backfield on the second possession I think we're seeing variety.

Now you can tell me how wrong I am.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
White92's picture

November 12, 2015 at 11:06 am

Great job Al. Rodgers really just seems off. This still really points it out along with the final 4th and goal. I've never really questioned Rodgers holding the ball too long if nothing is there, but lately it seems as if he's missing stuff that is there.

https://twitter.com/Cianaf/status/664552089176133632

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.