Packers Film Study: Can Alex Green Pass Protect?
When Alex Green was drafted by the Packers, I have to admit, I knew little about him. My draft research at that time was focused on the Packers’ positions of primary need; outside linebacker and offensive tackle. So when the Packers selected Green in the third round, two things popped into my head.
First, if ted Thompson used a third round pick on a running back, he must really like the kid.
Second, I better go find tape and see what this kid is all about.
Soon after, I fell in love… you know, from a rabid Packer fan’s perspective. Here was a big back (220lbs.) with excellent leg drive that could make tacklers miss, had a good burst and was a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. I also did a quick check of the official NFL Scouting report on Green, which suggested he may be one of the more underrated ball carriers in the nation. Here are some excerpts from that report:
Green is an excellent downhill runner, a pounder who runs with a low pad level and shows good leg drive and short area burst past the line of scrimmage.
The thing that you notice on film is his ability to generate in-stride quickness when adjusting and changing direction. He has that short area burst, along with the ability to take a side to avoid low blocks.
He is a pure power runner with above average downhill ability. He does a good job of lowering his shoulder and driving through initial tackles.
He does a good job of looking the ball in with his hands and can gain yardage after the catch.
As a third down back, he is capable of getting to the flares, arrows and comebacks, as his route regimen is not limited like most college backs.
Green is a good cut blocker and is alert to blitzes and stunts, showing the ability to face up, but he needs to sustain his blocks longer.
That last line floored me when I went back to that report. It’s so on the money with what I’ve seen from Green, you might think it was written this week. Lets take a look at a few videos to show you what I mean:
In the video above, Green spots the blitzing linebacker right away. He steps into the blitzer’s hole, chips another player while waiting and then meets the linebacker head on. Rodgers has already unloaded a touchdown pass, so Green’s play really didn’t contribute much, but it demonstrates his understanding of what his responsibility is on that play. Let’s look at another:
In this video, you see Rodgers calling out protections. He says something to Green, who acknowledges with a hand wave as if to say, “I know.” The Browns are trying to disguise what they are planning to do and the linebacker closest to Green fakes a blitz in an attempt to freeze Green. Green has none of it, keeping his eyes focused on the real blitzers and sidestepping to the right where his is in position to pick up the blitzer on the other side. he turns out not to have to do anything, thanks to a fine play by Bryan Bulaga, who lays off the inside rusher to Sitton and then kicks out to pick up the blitzer. The point is, of course, that Green made the right read and was right where he needed to be. Now lets look at video # 3 to see what Green needs to do better.
In this video, this is like a straight one-on-one pass blocking drill. Nothing fancy required here other than squaring up, setting your feet and making solid contact. Instead, Green lunges a bit, and the linebacker uses Green’s movement against him, doing a quick side step. Green doesn’t sustain his block, making only glancing contact and Aaron Rodgers is forced to scramble, taking a solid hit in the process. This, of course, is a major no-no.
So what is my answer to the question asked in the title of this post? It’s YES, with some more work on technique. Green has all the ability needed to do the job, he just needs more reps to develop that skill, much like Brandon Jackson did after a year of practicing.
Looking back again at that scouting report description of his pass-blocking:
…is alert to blitzes and stunts, showing the ability to face up, but he needs to sustain his blocks longer.
How on the money was that assessment?
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.