The Film Gurus - A 2018 Packers Retrospective

NFL and Packers' film guru's Ben Fennell, Dusty Evely, Andy Herman, Ben Clubb, Isaac Skye, and Ross Uglem take a look back at 2018 and exchange film notes from the Packers' 6-9-1 season.

It should go without saying at this point that Packers fans are spoiled by the amount of incredible content that is put out about their team every single day. One aspect of that is the incredible group of people that do a ridiculous amount of film study throughout the season to bring Packers’ fans a ton of unique content and analysis.

This group includes The Athletic’s Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL), one of the best film guru’s on Twitter, Isaac Skye (Eye In The Sky - @The_Green_Gold), Pack to the Future’s Ben Clubb (@PTTF_Ben), and of course CheeseheadTV’s own Ross Uglem (@rossUglem), Dusty Evely (@DustyEvely), and because I’m writing the article I’ll include myself, Andy Herman (@sconniesports).

This incredible group of film analysts finds all different aspects of the film to key in on, and I love seeing the different opinions form from all of us throughout the course of the season. Many of these people I’ve gone to personally when I’ve wanted a second pair of eyes on a play or player. I’ve communicated with them in a variety of different formats, and they are all incredible people and do amazing work.

For my article today, I wanted to get together the six people that review as much or more Packers’ tape than anyone on the planet, and get their take on 10 different Packers’ topics. So without further ado, here are Ben Fennell, Dusty Evely, Ross Uglem, Ben Clubb, Isaac Skye, and myself on 10 questions that we all answered based upon a full year of film review in 2018:

  1. Who were the Packers' offensive and defensive MVP's in 2018?

Andy Herman
This is probably the easiest of the questions to answer. Davante Adams was the unquestionable MVP of the team. He was incredibly consistent and graded in the positive for me in all but one week he played. I know week 17 was a throwaway game in which Aaron Rodgers had to exit, but we got a glimpse of what this offense looks like without Adams and it wasn’t pretty.

On the defensive side it was Kenny Clark. Again, he was consistent, dominant, and you could also see how much of a struggle it was for the defense when he was out. Clark is a blue-chip player and will be a mainstay on this defense for years to come.

Ben Fennell
It’s tough to find team MVP’s when reflecting on a 6-9-1 season. If I’m forced to choose, it’s going to be the most consistent and reliable performers. Offensively that goes to wide receiver Davante Adams. Adams registered career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns – despite the dysfunction throughout the Packers offense. Adams is also proving to be one of the NFL most dangerous weapons in the red zone – leading the NFL with 12 red zone TD catches.

On the defensive side of the ball, I look at third year defensive tackle Kenny Clark. Clark is still only 23 years old and has been improving his game each season. Clark participated in a career high 720 snaps (67%) and in-turn increased his sack and TFL totals. Clark is still seen as an early down, line-of-scrimmage run plugger but there’s hope his game continues to develop and adds a pass rush dimension to his repertoire.

Ben Clubb
Without a question, Davante Adams on offense. He showed again this season that he is one of the most dependable players on the team. He was especially dangerous in the vertical game. He was also a good "go-to" guy on underneath routes such as flats, slants and drags in the red zone.

Defensively I would say Jaire Alexander would have to be the man. Even as a rookie, I felt like he was the most dependable player in the secondary. He transitioned well to the league and was a solid player in man coverave.

Dusty Evely
Offensive: Davante Adams. Zero question.

Defensive: Kenny Clark. It's amazing how good he is and he still has a chance to get even better.

Isaac Skye
Offensive MVP- Aaron Rodgers. The entire Packers season came to a sudden halt when Rodgers was carted off the field in the 2nd quarter of the opening game. If fans want to question Rodgers value just think of how quick the season ends if he’s not on the field. 

Defensive MVP- Kenny Clark. Clark isn’t a star in the making. Kenny Clark IS a star. Clark is an anomaly at DT. Clark is strong enough to combat double teams and nimble enough to offer a pass rush. Clark is not only a great player, but he loves the game of football. Clark is the player you have to fight to not play preseason games. Special player and person. 

Ross Uglem
Offensive MVP - Davante Adams- no matter how well or poorly the quarterback (no matter who it is) has played over the last two seasons Adams has "brought it".  On third down and in the red zone he became even more reliable.  He's been the best player on the offense since the start of the '17 season.

Defensive MVP - Kenny Clark- as hard as it would normally be for me to select an interior defender to be a defense's MVP, Clark was definitely that guy.  He dominated inside as a run defender, which is to be expected, but the pass rush juice is what you always want out of a first round pick.  Not only did Clark post a very respectable six sacks, he led the Packers in hurries with 36.

  1. Who are two players (offense/defense) that Green Bay needs to move on from this off-season?

Andy Herman
Byron Bell and Nick Perry. Bell and Perry were my lowest graded players on a per-snap basis. Both were abysmal this season and hurt the team much more than they helped. Bell is an easy player to move on from since he’s an unrestricted free agent, and Perry should be gone prior to his bonus being due on March 15th.

Ben Fennell
The Packers should be moving on from two high dollar players on each side of the ball. I was skeptical of the Jimmy Graham experiment last spring and the 2018 season validated my concerns. Graham was unable to make an impact in the red zone and struggled to make any impact plays in the pass game. His cap hit - in addition to his poor effort and execution in run blocking – makes him a prime candidate to be cut.

It saddens me to realize the Nick Perry era may have ended in Green Bay. Perry signed a big contract after his 11-sack season in 2016 but has been a shell of himself ever since. Injuries have plagued Perry and prevented him from consistent playtime. Perry has played in just 21 of 32 games over the last 2 seasons and registered just 8.5 sacks.

Ben Clubb
When it comes to offense, I think Justin McCray is that player. Granted, he's not costing the team a ton of money, but it seems like I've been giving him chances to prove himself at guard only to be disappointed.

Defensively I would say Muhammad Wilkerson. Even though he played 3 games this season, I hated what I saw on film. More often than not, he would stand straight up at the snap of the ball, lock on to an offensive lineman and peek in the backfield. I think he tried to rely too much on his size and not enough on technique.

Dusty Evely
Offense: Jake Kumerow. I don't really have an issue with him, but with the young talent at that position - to go along with the veteran presence of Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison - I'd much rather roll with them than turn to a 27 year old practice squad vet.

Defense: Nick Perry. Can't stay healthy and has been pretty ineffective even when he is. He can still hold an edge, but can't generate much of a pass rush.

Isaac Skye
Offense: Randall Cobb. Leg injuries sapped away the explosiveness Cobb once had. In addition to the loss of explosiveness he’s now injury prone. That’s a poor combination. 

Defense: Clay Matthews: Clay Matthews was so good for so long fans forgot he stopped playing well. Clay is a Packer Hall of Famer, but time is undefeated. It’s about time fans are reminded of what good edge play looks like.

Ross Uglem
On offense- Byron Bell - Bell was a poor man's version of the stopgap technique they used to sign Jahri Evans in 2017.  The Packers either need a free agent that can play at that spot, someone that's worth a two or three year deal or they need to utilize draft capital. Bell was bad.

On defense- Kentrell Brice- It's over. I am one of the number one guys out there that will tell you that you can find "box" safeties. Box safeties grow on trees. Not box safeties that are as reckless as Brice. If he's a special teams’ missile, fine. If he's in your defense you have to upgrade that spot.

  1. Who were two under the radar players that played well but didn't get the recognition they deserved (offense/defense)?

Andy Herman
On offense Bryan Bulaga really didn’t get the credit he deserved. He was an above-average right tackle and he was injured much less than what people tend to think. He played over 72% of the snaps this season on offense which was 7th most overall on that side of the ball. The talk of his demise was simply overblown.

On defense I would go with Tramon Williams. Williams was exactly who Green Bay wanted him to be, he was a solid corner who was coming to fill in because of the depth issues at cornerback. He was a strong veteran presence and even made the switch to safety mid-season. He was the most consistent safety on the team and was mostly reliable, even if unspectacular. I love players who display versatility and Williams did that even at age 35.

Ben Fennell
Not enough credit goes to center Corey Linsley. Linsley hasn’t missed snap in 2 seasons! That’s 2,121 consecutive snaps over 2 years and 32 games – impressive for any position on the field.

Tramon Williams was another player that quietly had a solid season. Williams was a 35-year old free agent depth signing and ended up being the steadiest player on the defense. Williams played a team-high 1,059 snaps on defense and contributed all over the field – CB, NB, FS, SS.

Ben Clubb
I've said all year that I think Corey Linsley was one of, if not the best, centers in the NFL. Whether it was zone blocking, big on big or even pull blocking, he got the job done. Linsley was one player I never had to worry about because I knew he would do his job each and every play.

On defense, I don't know if you'd consider him 'under the radar', but I'd go with Kenny Clark. Each and every game he did a fantastic job controlling his gap, playing with good technique and shutting down the run. He did a standout job from both the 3 and shade tech positions.

Dusty Evely
Offense: Jamaal Williams. Aaron Jones is the sexy running back, but Williams does a lot of great things. His excellence in pass pro is well documented, but he's a better runner/receiver than people give him credit for. Yeah, he's not as quick as Jones, but he's got decent wiggle and can make guys miss in the hole. He's never going to average 6 yards per carry, but he's a useful member of the offense.

Defense: Tyler Lancaster. He didn't start getting many snaps until later in the season, but he looked really good the more he was out there. I had zero idea what to expect, but he looked like he could be a solid piece on the defensive line.

Isaac Skye

Offense: Marquez Valdes-Scantling - MVS went from special teams’ gunner to starting wide receiver. MVS offered the Packers a downfield threat and a reliable perimeter receiver. MVS has already developed a montage of difficult catches for Rodgers. Fans can only hope he and Rodgers develop a rapport to form a dangerous combo. 

Defense: Tramon Williams - Tramon Williams unselfishly played safety when injuries and roster moves occurred. Tramon’s experience was invaluable all season. A secondary that sometimes featured up to three rookies on the same snap. Tramon’s contributions cannot go unnoticed. 

Ross Uglem
Offense - Aaron Jones - just kidding but almost not kidding. - In all seriousness we don't talk about Corey Linsley enough.  He has been so durable over the past two seasons.  His ability to pick up interior stunts/games and have just enough weight in his pants to anchor and not let Rodgers gets smashed in the face is very underrated.

Defense- Dean Lowry - Deano the Machino has been ultimately exactly what you're looking for from a fourth round pick.  Is he ever going to be a star?  It doesn't seem that way.  But he's a versatile piece that Pettine can (and does) use in a multitude of ways and he definitely works as a 35-40 snap-a-game player. It got closer to every snap of the game late in the season, too and Lowry didn't wilt.

  1. Two overrated players that received more credit than they deserved (offense/defense).

Andy Herman
This may seem like an odd answer, but I’m going to go with Marcedes Lewis on offense. At $2 million plus on a 1-year deal he was really expected to come in and contribute as a primary run blocker. Now the offense did him no favors, but he was never a threat in the passing game and was massively inconsistent as a blocker. There were times he would clear defenders down the line, but he missed a lot of blocks, too. I would have easily went Aaron Rodgers here if I knew how much of his injury was really affecting him.

On defense, I’ll go with Blake Martinez. Blake usually makes the plays that are there but doesn’t do much beyond that. He’s not a playmaker and he’s very passive, even if by design. You can win with Blake if he’s your 9th or 10th best defender, but asking him to be much more than that is a mistake.

Ben Fennell
Aaron Rodgers is a Super Bowl winning QB and a consensus top-tier QB in the NFL (arguable the most talented QB) – but he didn’t play like it in 2018. Rodgers gets a tremendous amount of credit for offensive successes but doesn’t seem to garner the same criticism when things go wrong. Aaron Rodgers was a major part of the offensive issues in 2018. All I heard was complaints about McCarthy’s offensive scheme and a praise of Rodgers low interception rate.

Kyler Fackrell’s 10.5 sacks were a career high, led the team, and got the fan base excited for his potential – but I still wasn’t impressed with his overall play. It’s always a red flag when a majority of the sacks occur in chunks and that’s what happened to Fackrell in 2018. Fackrell had 3 sacks vs rookie QB Josh Allen and another 3 sacks against the Seattle Seahawks. I felt Fackrell got to the quarterback against some of the weaker offensive tackles in the NFL.

Ben Clubb
I may catch some heat for this one, but Rodgers really was a player who got too much credit. He had a good season, don't get me wrong, but was hyped up from outsiders that didn't watch a lot of Packers film.

Defensively I would say Blake Martinez. He is a reliable inside backer but several times I saw him out of position and making the wrong read or filling a gap too slowly. I think Martinez is a decent player who should get a little relief when there are two solid inside backers both in the game.

Dusty Evely
Offense: Didn't all Packers fan think every player on offense was terrible this season? The only offensive players I can think of that were loved throughout the season were Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley, and I don't really have anything bad to say about those guys. 

Defense: Kyler Fackrell. Fackrell can set the edge and showed some solid pass rush moves this season, but I think that's his ceiling. He's not the "young" pass rusher waiting to break out. He had a solid season and I don't want to take that away from him, but he hasn't suddenly become a demon off the edge.

Isaac Skye
Offense: Corey Linsley. Linsley gets a lot of attention for his durability. Linsley doesn’t get a lot of attention for his pass blocking flaws and inability to sustain blocks on the second level. Linsley is probably the best center in the last 20 years at getting across a shaded DT. However, plays like the one that injured Aaron’s knee (Week 1) are commonplace for Linsley. 

Defense: Blake Martinez. Martinez played in a lot of 3-3-5 last season. Martinez was the beneficiary of a scheme that protects the MLB exclusively. The Packers hovered in the bottom 1/3 of NFL defenses versus the run. The issue of the run defense wasn’t based a on a lack of D-line talent. 

Ross Uglem
Jamaal Williams and Robert Tonyan - Williams, as much as I love his attitude and his ability to stone guys in pass pro is, in my opinion, as ordinary as tailbacks get with the ball in his hands.  I don't see him do things that CJ Anderson can't do, or Damien Williams can't do, or any other number of cast-off backs can't do. As far as Tonyan, he's fine for an undrafted guy and made a cool catch off the great throw in Seattle but I think he has a little too much great white hope syndrome from the fans. They're ready to give him a job he's not ready for.

Antonio Morrison and Tony Brown - Morrison gets a lot of love because he hits like a psychopath but he's literally a one down player and that down better not be play action because if it is you're in a lot of trouble unless he's blitzing.  Tony Brown I think profiles as the CB 4/5 you're kinda looking for but there was a lot of bad with the good and it needs to get cleaned up.

  1. What, if anything, was wrong with Aaron Rodgers in 2018, and is it fixable?

Andy Herman
Maybe a lot, maybe nothing… we will know a lot more after the first few games of 2019. It’s tough to tell how much his injury really affected him. At the risk of sounding too simple, his biggest issue was his fundamentals, and this wasn’t a new phenomenon. He’s played with poor fundamentals for some time and was able to get away with it for a while. This year he couldn’t. He needs to be better with his footwork and trust the personnel around him.

Most importantly he needs to play within the offense as the rule, and go big play hunting only when necessary. I’ve said for some time now that he should be looking to play within the offense through the majority of the game. On 3rd or 4th and long, or if he’s down big in the 4th quarter, go crazy, but stay within the offense until hero Aaron Rodgers is needed.

Ben Fennell
Nothing is ‘wrong’ with Aaron Rodgers. This is the style that has graced us with explosive highlight plays and a consistently competitive offense for nearly a decade.

But suddenly without the scramble drill improvisation and without the free play inducing hard counts – we are witnessing an inefficient offense on a down-to-down, drive-to-drive basis with arguably the most talented thrower of the football in the NFL. It’s also frustrating to watch Rodgers make miraculous awkward arm throws but then misfire on simple 5 yard out routes.

It’s fixable – and Aaron Rodgers knows that.

Rodgers need to play more proficiently from the pocket first and foremost. He needs to clean up mechanics and ‘trust progressions’ like he said in back in November. Aaron Rodgers is 35-years old – his style of play needs to change. He can’t escape like he used to. He can’t drop his eyes and immediately play off the rush with his mobility like he used to. Rodgers needs to transition back to a pocket-passing assassin and don’t make escapability a primary aspect of his play. Quarterbacks that are successful into their late 30s play from the pocket and are distributors to the play makers in the offense.

Ben Clubb
The thing I felt game after game that was wrong with Rodgers was he was really quick with his reads. He was going through his progression too quickly and if the play wasn't there he would get flushed from the pocket. Rodgers didn't fare well outside of the pocket this season and it showed. Rodgers isn't usually a guy who breaks the pocket early but he was this season. Some of this may be attributed to McCarthy's poor play calling.

Dusty Evely
The easy answer is that his knee never fully recovered. That was an issue, but it went deeper than that. I believe he lost faith in McCarthy and the gameplan, and also didn't trust the young guys manning the receiver position. In addition to that, he sat out most of preseason and missed a good chunk of last year. Combine that with the effect of "seeing ghosts" that generally happens when a QB is playing with - or recovering from - a knee injury, and you have a recipe for some rough patches. A bad knee, lack of trust and good old-fashioned rust all played factors.

And yes. I absolutely believe it's fixable. Some parts of his game need to be tightened up, but I trust this coaching staff will be able to get the best out of him.

Isaac Skye
Give Aaron better Guard play and two downfield threats and watch the offense explode. 

Ross Uglem
There is/was less wrong with Rodgers than even people on this panel will tell you.  The problem with Rodgers is we have elevated the bar for him so highly that we've forgotten what an average, 16th best quarterback in the NFL even looks like.  Rodgers needs to play in a system that doesn't require him to be the GOAT that rather helps him be the GOAT.  Scheme a few guys open, get him to believe they'll be open and the ball will start coming out on time.  

  1. Which player is most likely to breakout in a major way in 2019?

Andy Herman
Jaire Alexander. He has so much natural ability it’s crazy. He has the best pure coverage ability of any corner in my almost 30 years as a Packer fan. He’s nowhere near as good as prime Al Harris, Charles Woodson or even Tramon Williams or Sam Shields yet, and he’s very unlikely to ever sniff the ceiling of a Charles Woodson overall, but from a pure coverage standpoint, he can be one of the best—he just needs to continue to work on his craft and stay consistent on a play-to-play basis.

Ben Fennell
Aaron Jones is destined for a breakout year in 2019. I think even the most untrained eyes saw the explosive, play-making ability of Jones any time he touched the ball. Now – feed him the ball! Aaron Rodgers career could be preserved through a rushing attack and a dynamic play-maker out of the backfield.

Ben Clubb
I'm really looking for Aaron Jones to have a big season. He showed what he was capable of the past two seasons but I'm just looking for him to progress even further. He was an explosive player on zone concepts and downhill runs. He became the work horse after Montgomery was traded away and now Jones will be the leader of that group.

Dusty Evely

Marquez Valdes-Scantling. We saw flashes this past year, but with a refreshed Rodgers and a new offensive coaching staff, I think we're going to see very good things.

Isaac Skye
Jaire Alexander: Alexander has the most natural talent on the defense. Alexander has a chance to match his athleticism with his instincts in 2019.

Ross Uglem
This time I will actually say Aaron Jones.  Jones is an incredibly talented back and LaFleur knows what to do with tailbacks, even ones that aren't quite as talented as ShowTyme.  If Jones can stay healthy for a full slate of games LaFleur is not going to mismanage his workload the way the previous administration did. The third year is always a big one for guys, and I don't think that'll change here.

  1. What position is in most need of an upgrade this off-season?

Andy Herman
It has to be edge. My three lowest graded players on defense were Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Reggie Gilbert. Fackrell is solid but ideally he’s a #3 edge guy. This is a position in a major need of an upgrade as soon as possible. I would absolutely love Trey Flowers in free agency (however unlikely that it is) and Jachai Polite in the draft. With Fackrell at three you have the makings of an elite edge position and a very quick turnaround off the edge.

The best part is that improving the edge rusher position also makes two of your best players on defense better—as it allows Clark and Daniels to collapse the pocket from inside while finally having some help on the outside to funnel the quarterback back into the arms of Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels.

Ben Fennell
EDGE. I have concerns about getting to the quarterback without manufacturing pressure with schemes and blitz packages. You need players to threaten the pocket through 1-on-1 opportunities and I don’t know if we have that player on the roster. Clay Matthews is still an active and relentless player – but winning 1-on-1 battles was never the highlight of his game. Fackrell had struggled mightily before 2018 and we aren’t sure what type of player Nick Perry has become with all the injuries. I could see the Packers addressing this with one of their two 1st round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.

And I believe as you get more edge pressure from the perimeter of the pocket – that will force more QBs into the lap of defensive tackles like Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark.

Ben Clubb
The edge position will be in desperate need of an upgrade. Matthews isn't getting any younger and Perry has shown that he isn't very reliable. The draft will be littered with good talent at this position. The Packers have been looking to find a solution at that position for years and I think the team needs to address the problem this year in the draft. In Pettine's scheme, these players are important for forcing every play inside. If an offense reaches the edge then the play is a bust, so this position is vital to the success of his defense.

Dusty Evely
Safety.

Isaac Skye
Edge Rushers. Relying on Contract Year Perry and Fackrell is a recipe for a disaster. No defensive coordinator should have to scheme as much as Pettine did last season. 

Offensive Guard play is a close second. 

Ross Uglem
Edge Rusher - I think that's hard to disagree with. Clay Matthews just can't get it done as a pass rusher anymore and that's fine. Nick Perry looks, as Andy so eloquently put it, out of ideas. Fackrell might be a mirage and Donnerson isn't ready yet. Gilbert was exposed as a preseason dandy. They have to bring in a vet or two and a draft pick or two.

  1. Did the Packers make the correct move trading away HaHa Clinton-Dix?

Andy Herman
You probably know me well enough to know the answer to this by now. Unequivocally yes. The Packers upgraded by moving on from HaHa. Getting a 4th round pick was flat out robbery. Let’s not forget that Green Bay wasn’t going to retain HaHa this offseason, and they are going to sign too many free agents this to reap a compensatory pick. I believe Gutekunst saw the writing on the wall when he traded HaHa and picked up a fourth round pick for a player that was no longer part of the solution.

Ben Fennell
The Packers made the correct move. HaHa Clinton-Dix was a contagious liability of tackling, effort, and attitude. You cannot have one of the leaders of the defense being the most unreliable performer. HHCD brought in a turnover from time to time which heavily inflated his grades but was wildly inconsistent in a position (safety) that makes or breaks big plays.

Ben Clubb
Yes. Clinton-Dix progressively got worse over the course of the past couple of seasons. More often than not he would be playing too deep and trail receivers after the catch. He started to give up too many big plays and something had to be done about it.

Dusty Evely
Absolutely. I love that Gutekunst did it. Not having a "true" free safety on the roster didn't stop him from moving on from a player who wasn't going to be around next season, anyway. They made do with what they had and now look to the future.

Isaac Skye
No. The Packers didn’t have a contingency plan after HHCD. Creating holes without a plan is how you get Jimmy Graham, but never replace Jordy Nelson. 

Ross Uglem
Oh absolutely. Despite actually competing pretty well on the road with both Super Bowl competitors this team was by no miracle going to win the championship. Trading HHCD opened up opportunities for young corners by bumping Tramon back to safety and it brought real value (a 4th round pick) back to the Packers. Washington did absolutely nothing with the addition, in fact he might have made them worse.

  1. Lightning round, no long answers needed… which of these players would you want back in 2019: Jimmy Graham, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Nick Perry, Bashaud Breeland, Tramon Williams. 

Andy Herman: Just Tramon.

Ben Fennell: Clay Matthews. Randall Cobb. Bashaud Breeland.

Ben Clubb: Matthews (call me crazy), Cobb, and Breeland.

Dusty Evely: Randall Cobb, Jimmy Graham, Bashaud Breeland, Tramon Williams.

Isaac Skye: Tramon Williams. No hesitation. 

Ross Uglem: Clay Matthews and Bashaud Breeland (depending on price).

  1. The floor is yours, give me one final statement on the Packers from 2018 that you noticed on tape that you'd like to share with the world.

Andy Herman
It goes without saying that this is a massive offseason for Green Bay. We’ve been spending a ton of time, rightfully, on the coaching staff, but the next three months will change the face of this franchise. With three top 50 picks and money to spend in free agency, this is an incredibly important time period.

At this time, Green Bay doesn’t have the high end talent to compete at a championship level. They have four great players: Rodgers, D. Adams, Clark, Bakhtiari, and four really good players: A. Jones, Daniels, Jaire, and Linsley. Simply put, that’s not good enough. In the next month Green Bay has to upgrade the upper echelon of talent on the team.

That includes via trades, free agency, the draft, and most importantly Green Bay needs players already on the team to perform up to the level that’s expected of them. That starts with Aaron Rodgers. I’m not as concerned at what positions the Packers address in the next couple months as much as I am with finding elite level talent and integrating them into this team.

It’s time for Green Bay to find the next Sam Shields as an undrafted free agent, develop a player like Kabeer, or Aaron Kampman at the edge, revitalize a player like McCarthy did with Favre, make the defense over like they did when drafting Raji and Clay, or find a true gem in free agency like Charles Woodson. A lot needs to come together for this to work, and the next three months could go a long way in setting the foundation for future success.

Ben Fennell
There are two major concerns on the offensive side of the ball.

Philosophically – the Packers need to commit more to the run game. 32.5% overall run was the least in the NFL. It’s tough to disguise an offense when you drop back and pass every play. It’s also tough to slow down an opposing pass rush when they can pin their ear back and rush upfield every play. There is no deception to the Packers offense and we saw how stale it became without the wizardry of Aaron Rodgers’ right arm.

Statistically – the sacks are concerning. The Packers allowed the most 3rd down sacks (28) for the third time in 4 years. It’s also a head scratcher when the Packers offensive line routinely gets graded as one of the best pass blocking units – yet gives up tons of sacks. In 2018, 45 of the 53 sacks were OVER 2.5 seconds. That’s telling me the quarterback is holding onto the ball too long rather than offensive linemen losing quickly to pass rushers.

I hope the Packers look at the model from the 2018 Indianapolis Colts. The Colts brought in a new head coach (Frank Reich) to pair with their franchise QB (Andrew Luck) and looked to bolster the offensive line (drafted OL in round 1and round 2 in 2018 NFL Draft) and implement a balanced offensive scheme. Suddenly the Colts went from worst to first in sacks and look to be a contender for the next 8-10 years.

Ben Clubb
The one thing I took away from the film this season was how much the defense has improved. I loved what Pettine has done as defensive coordinator. He mixed up a ton of different looks up front and has kept the offensive line guessing every drive. He has a great mixture of blitzes with what he does in coverage. I think Pettine is the master motivator who gets the best out of each of his players. This is a bright spot on the team that I think will only get better.

Dusty Evely
I liked what I saw from the Packers' use of Graham this past season. His stats weren't great and his drops got worse as the season went on - a product of a broken thumb - but they used him over the middle to open up action underneath. It worked best when Cobb was healthy, but it worked after that as well. He was used as a decoy a lot; his big body shielding the people behind him out of stack looks.

Also, I firmly believe that the "McCarthy doesn't know how to scheme guys open" and "his scheme is stuck in the past" talk was incorrect. His scheme was fine. It was actually pretty good. When he said they took stuff from the Rams? That's absolutely true.

My issue with him is that he ran some pretty cool stuff, but didn't use the correct personnel and made no attempt to make anything work. The Rams do great things with pre-snap motion, play-action and misdirection. I don't have numbers on pre-snap motion or misdirection, but Green Bay was 25th in the league in play action (per Football Outsiders). The Rams were 1st. McCarthy was closer than people would like to believe, but further than he thought.

Isaac Skye
The offensive line play was borderline putrid. David Bakhtiari was the only stalwart on the line. The inconsistencies have to be rectified in 2019 or Aaron Rodgers won’t last 16 games. 

Ross Uglem
It's not an untalented team.  The advanced numbers like ESPN's FPI still love Green Bay. They ranked them 7th in the NFL. This team reminds me a bit of the '08 and '09 teams that were just kinda getting it together. The advanced numbers loved them, too. The Packers couldn't move forward with McCarthy's offense and Pettine's defense just ran out of horses. Pettine had to scheme up so much pressure just to get the job done that very, very young corners were left without much help. They've have at least $40 million in cap room and six picks in the first four rounds so let's see what gets done.

I hope you enjoyed the insights from some of the best film guru’s on the web. This was a really fun article to be a part of. Please, please, please go out and follow this group on Twitter if you do not already: @benfennell_nfl - @dustyevely - @the_green_gold - @pttf_ben - @rossuglem. They all do phenomenal work. Please also take the time to thank them for participating in this piece today. It’s been a true joy of mine to follow their work and learn from them as well. Hopefully you enjoyed this retrospective on the 2018 season. Now… onto 2019!

__________________________

Andy is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh and owns & operates the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Andy has taken multiple courses in NFL scouting and appears weekly on 107.5 The Fan in Green Bay to breakdown film. This past season he was an analyst on Green Bay Nation on WFRV TV in Green Bay. Andy grew up in Green Bay and is a lifelong season ticket holder; follow him on Twitter at @sconniesports.

NFL Categories: 
12 points

Comments (34)

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

February 01, 2019 at 09:42 am

Great stuff guys. Thanks!

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Tingham's picture

February 01, 2019 at 09:50 am

This was a high quality read. Thanks to all for their insights and hard work.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 01, 2019 at 10:32 am

Tremendous article from a bevy of analysts-film gurus I have followed for a while now. I sure gave a thumbs up for the article itself.

Now I am going to read it again.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
The TKstinator's picture

February 03, 2019 at 10:25 am

Hear, hear!

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
ShanghaiKid's picture

February 01, 2019 at 10:41 am

Great insight guys! Thank you for all the hard work week in week out reviewing film for us fans!

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Guam's picture

February 01, 2019 at 10:56 am

Thanks guys - great work!

+ REPLY
3 points
4
1
kevgk's picture

February 01, 2019 at 11:35 am

I like this segment. Good read, I agree with a lot posted.
I think the Packers should avoid any high price FAs on the edge. Trust Pettines system to produce with a draft pick and some depth. ILB is a big deal now. It lost some value when teams adopted 4 or 5 wide offenses, but its coming back with how zone rushing, spread offense, and multiple TE or RB sets used in the passing game. I would love to see a FA ILB brought in.
Another concern is LaFleur's offense uses play action to help with designated targets and specific progressions. Rodgers can't change everything at the line every play. I think MM allowed him to do it too much and it led to inefficiency and inconsistency. I rather chunk yards all day and wait for big plays instead of force them and need plays on 3rd down to keep drives alive. Rodgers needs to buy in day 1.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
Handsback's picture

February 01, 2019 at 01:07 pm

Nice Job!!!

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Lphill's picture

February 01, 2019 at 01:53 pm

Tony Brown is going to be a solid player for the Packers ,he will contribute more next season he is raw but has the tools.

+ REPLY
2 points
4
2
JohnnyLogan's picture

February 01, 2019 at 01:57 pm

Didn't read a single thing we all didn't already know. Rodgers was a problem... Adams and Clark and Bak and Jaire are good... we need influx of talent... Clay and Cobb aren't as good as they once were... Perry is done... McCarthy didn't always play the best talent (Jones)... where exactly is all the insight? Personally I think Rodgers is having shoulder problems. He didn't throw like the GOAT. He's also gun shy. Last in 3rd down sacks he just won't make the contested throws. All those damn throwaways were embarrassing. Yes, we need edge... Ol... better LB's... two safeties... a faster and better blocking TE... better Special Teams play... another RB... and a quick slot receiver ala Edelman. Any of this new?...

+ REPLY
-10 points
1
11
Jonathan Spader's picture

February 01, 2019 at 03:57 pm

Is any of what you're saying new or insightful JL? Seems pretty hypocritical to say you wanted new and insightful and offer nothing yourself. If you come back with well your not a writer well these guys are bloggers. The article was a look back at the 2018 season it wasn't designed to be insightful it was designed to be reflective.

The main things that I took away were none of the film gurus appreciated Bahktiari he wasn't mentioned once. Same with ESB. What was new was the praise for Linsley who I view as the most underappreciated Packer. Praise for Lancaster and Lowry to a smaller degree. The conclusion of the article seemed to be well that sucked.

+ REPLY
0 points
2
2
stockholder's picture

February 03, 2019 at 07:37 am

I agree with you Jon. Why didn't Arron Rodgers get the ball out like a 2 minute drill? He just hung unto it to long. Why bring back any Free Agent? Two years of losing sucks. The praise for the defensive line is hilarious. The only guy that did he job was Clark! People speak so highly of wanting a edge rusher. Yet we had CM3 and Perry for years. We need better in the trenches first. Wilkerson sucks. It's time the packers take a good look at the Rams roster. Production is what we need. Not retreads or upside.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
The TKstinator's picture

February 03, 2019 at 10:34 am

@JL: cornflakes, meet urine. Also, there’s a blue light special on poopy flavored lollipops in aisle 6.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
stockholder's picture

February 03, 2019 at 01:29 pm

Every player has good tape /bad tape. Good seasons, bad seasons. Lack of vision in one eye, can be the cause of head Trauma. The stench of a losing season leaves me unimpressed. This team hasn't been able to cut it for two years. It has no heart on defense. Rodgers effort was nothing special.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
jannes bjornson's picture

February 01, 2019 at 01:57 pm

Nice job, validates what many Fans were seeing and saying all season. It starts in the trenches. Need Guards and an OT backup, hoping Bulaga can maintain one more year. No faith in Spriggs. Two Edge guys is mandatory from the Free agent route and draft two more. ILB is also a high priority. The Martinez expose' is valid as he seemed to become more timid as the season progressed.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
paxbak's picture

February 01, 2019 at 04:22 pm

Great content and lots of food for thought.

One item I didn't hear about was a move to MLB for Clay. While he can't quite get around the edge anymore, I think he is still capable of playing inside. He would be an upgrade over Martinez and can still hit a gap pretty quickly.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Lare's picture

February 01, 2019 at 04:59 pm

Good analysis, a fair amount of agreement on some things but also a fair amount of differing viewpoints.

That said, it's really hard to objective when reviewing film. I think we all kind of form an opinion on someone/something and from that point on we pretty much see what we want to see to validate our opinions.

The one thing we all know for sure is that there's going to be a lot of changes between now and this time next year.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
BoCallahan's picture

February 01, 2019 at 05:06 pm

CHTV is wrecking my life!
Now, when I talk to my friends (who are non CHTV readers) about the Packers I get bored. They are SO uninformed. They make statements without being able to anchor their conclusions on anything other than emotion. Their conversations seem to be about 1 week behind. Uuuggggg! Maybe I should delay reading these articles for a week so that I can be just as uninformed as them. Maybe Not!

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
JerseyAl's picture

February 01, 2019 at 08:23 pm

Show them where they need to be hanging out.

+ REPLY
7 points
7
0
JerseyAl's picture

February 01, 2019 at 08:24 pm

Tremendous stuff - thanks for putting this together, Andy.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
LeotisHarris's picture

February 01, 2019 at 08:54 pm

Well done, guys! I really enjoyed reading this piece. Almost makes me want to go back on Twitter.

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
The TKstinator's picture

February 03, 2019 at 10:30 am

Sentence one: agree!
Sentence two: ditto!
Sentence three: Say it isn’t so! Step away from the Tweeter!

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
BoCallahan's picture

February 02, 2019 at 12:18 am

As a former HS Basketball coach, I know what it is to be consumed with watching tape. Watching every play multiple times, every player, every move, offense and defense. It got to the point where I would see plays in my dreams - and I loved it. The tape doesn’t lie.
So, I appreciate the work these guys do and I respect their opinions which are based on hours of evaluation. My understanding of Packer football has benefited from their labor.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
Nick Perry's picture

February 02, 2019 at 06:22 am

I love the work and ALL the guys do here...Excellent read.

Off subject kinda...I heard an interesting stat yesterday morning while listening to a Packers podcast. When you look at Jimmy Grahams stats he caught 55 passes for 636 yards for an average of 11.6 YPC and a cate rate of 61.8%. The biggest problem I heard from most was he only had 2 TD's.

WHAT I heard on the podcast was Graham was only thrown the balls 9 times in the Red Zone...NINE!

Maybe Thompson didn't do the best job getting a Finley replacement, but I'm thinking McCarthy didn't know how the hell to use of after 2011 either. Ted did try to address it but maybe he knew what others seemed to finally figure out. McCarthy's offense didn't utilize a great TE very well. Even a very good one.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Oppy's picture

February 02, 2019 at 09:32 am

I've got a great article with great data for you, Nick, but I can't get it to post!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

February 02, 2019 at 09:45 am

If you chop off everything up through "...www.", you should be able to get it to go.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Oppy's picture

February 02, 2019 at 12:52 pm

Not specific to TEs, but take a look at this Red Zone Targets chart and get a feel for some trends, specifically how red zone receiving targets have distributed. First, look at 2018 as a whole, then look at it as the season progressed. Now take a look at how overall seasons have trended over the last ten to twelve years.

I see some things. Maybe you do, too. Let me know what you think.
This should be enough to copy and paste and get where you need to go.

subscribers.footballguys.com/teams/teampage-gnb-3.php

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 03, 2019 at 04:43 am

I see that Graham got 8 of his 10 looks in the first nine weeks. He broke his hand week 11. Both of Graham's TDs came off of those 8 looks he got in weeks 1-9. Graham caught 4 of 10 attempts, with 2 TDs and a 1st down. Graham played 795 snaps.

Adams caught 16 of 32 looks for 13 TDs and 2 first downs and a gain of 7 on a first and 10.

Cook got 10 looks in 329 snaps. However, he was 5 of 10, 1 TD, 2 first downs, and he caught another for 8 yards on first and 10. In the playoffs he was caught 2 on 4 red zone looks with 2 TDs, though one TD came late against Atlanta in garbage time. IDK, I find it hard to suggest that Cook was that much more productive than Graham.

Jermichael Finley got 3 looks as a rookie in 08, then 17, 2, 17, 11, and 5. Finley played 252 offensive snaps in 2013 (5 looks) and 680 snaps in 2012 when he got 11 looks. Graham was roughly on pace to equal Finley before he broke his hand. In 2009, Finley caught 12 of the 17 looks for 4 TDs, 3 first downs, and he gained 14 yards on 3rd and 15 from the 15, setting up a 4th and one. In 2011, Finley caught 11 of 17 looks for 8 TDs two other nice gains on early downs. That makes Finley a pretty good threat in those two years. 1 of 2 with a TD in 2010. 9 of 15 with 5 TDs in 2012 and 2013. Pretty productive player in the red zone.

Another thing I noticed is that RBs got far more looks in most years than WRs, but McCarthy had far fewer looks for the RBs than LAR, NO, and KC, except in the two good Lacy years, two of the Ryan Grant years, and one of the Ahman Green years. Sherman gave a lot more looks to the RBs, but had Green. Note that rushing attempts count as looks for RBs.

Finally, TEs don't generally get all that many looks in GB's offense. 22, 12, 21, and 24 under the 4 Sherman years. McCarthy offenses had 17, 16, 13, 27 (17 for Finley), 14, 23, 12, 15, 23, 16, 15, 8, 14.

If one looks at NE, the RBs get simply massive amounts of looks. The tights ends resemble GB in some years, but if NE has Gronk are around the upper twenties to thirty. The year with Gronk and Aaron Hernandez totaled 52 TE looks. The TE numbers overall are definitely higher than GB, but not exponentially like the RBs numbers are.

LAR: since McVay, the RB numbers are huge. TEs on a par with GB.

KC: RB numbers aren't that large (save for a year here or there with Jamall Charles), and the TE numbers are the same until Kelce blossomed a few years ago. KC recently has about 30 TE looks per year.

NO: Very large RB numbers. TE numbers for 2017 and 2018 are just 12 and 10 looks (because they don't have much at TE with Watson being ancient) and 23 in 2016 with Fleeney putting up 19 looks. TE numbers were around 30 when NO had Graham in his prime, or Shockley, and a year or two of Ben Watson before he became ancient. It looks like Payton uses his TEs when he has a good one.

So, I will now worry less about just 10 looks for Graham. I'd like more productivity off of them but the raw numbers aren't inconsistent with other #1 TE other than the good years from the great ones like Gronk, prime Graham, Antonio Gates, Ertz and Kelce.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Oppy's picture

February 03, 2019 at 01:07 pm

TGR, great insight into the numbers, as always. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to actually dig and see if data matches the observations.

On a broad scale that is not position specific, one thing I noticed about red zone targets as it pertains to the passing game, is that over the long term (decade or so), the distribution of red zone targets has slowly narrowed.

That is, it looks like ten years ago, the ball was being spread around to more players somewhat more evenly, and has been slowly but consistently trending down to fewer and fewer players getting targeted in the red zone. This is visually striking when scrolling down the page because of how the data has been laid out.

It also looks like there was notable constriction in distribution that separates 2018 in two halves.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 03, 2019 at 01:39 am

Results on keeping players:

4 of 6: Bashaud Breeland
3 of 6: CM3, Cobb, Tramon
2 of 6: N/A
1 of 6: Jimmy Graham
No votes: Perry.

Wilkerson, Campbell, Ryan, Kendricks, Marcedes, Bell, House, Vitale and Pleasant were not options in the questions.

Under players to move on from (one choice only from offense and one from defense), Perry got three downvotes, Bell two, and with one, Graham, CM3, Cobb, Wilkerson, McCray, Brice, and Kumerow (just to make room for the other young WRs).

Reggie Gilbert got no love. He was mentioned once in a negative light and omitted otherwise from discussions.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

February 03, 2019 at 07:56 am

Graham gets my vote. People are wishing with the rest. Wilkerson, Campbell, Ryan, Kendricks, Marcedes, Bell, House, Vitale and Pleasant were not options in the questions. (Why do we NEED THEM? ) I really would let Nick Perry go. The packers should honor contracts. But when a guy makes his living on the IR. it's time to send a message, and to others wanting to play for the packers. Free loading is not allowed. Bet = I bet Gute lets him play-out his contract. Why? Comp pick! By passing a edge rusher in the draft.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PatrickGB's picture

February 03, 2019 at 12:40 pm

This article was without a doubt the best and most comprehensive article I have ever read on any GBP web site. Good work guys!!!
I need to find a way to keep this article and reread it during the off-season and use it for reference often.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 04, 2019 at 01:38 am

When I find articles I like and/or think can be a reference, I copy the URL and paste it in a google docs file I call Packer Stuff with a note of explanation. That way I can find it even at work, at home of course, or if I am using my son's gaming computer or someone else's computer.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
lucky953's picture

February 03, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Adding my thanks. This was a great idea, a terrific summary of the season, and a solid, provocative preview of a massive off-season for the franchise. Really well done.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
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.