Daily Archives: January 18th, 2013

18

January

Packers Drive Rewind: Good-Bye Running Game?

Mason Crosby Packers-49ers

Mason Crosby ties the game at 24-24 when the Green Bay Packers settle for a field goal on a third quarter drive.

Hopefully we’ve let enough time pass to take a look at this game again. The embarrassing effort by the defense shouldn’t overshadow some of the positive things that happened on offense. Though even they let mistakes get in their way at the most inopportune times…

The Situation

It’s the second half of the Divisional Round game, and both teams have started the third quarter with a three-and-out drive each. The Packers are trailing the 49ers by a field goal (21-24) and are looking to gain back the momentum they lost in the first half. They start their drive at their own 11-yard line after Randall Cobb fails to advance the punt.

The Result

Mike McCarthy calls his first drive of the game sans DuJuan Harris. Looking to get something going, he puts his five best receivers on the field for Aaron Rodgers to work with: Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley. They drive down the field in a no-huddle offense, gaining 76 yards and eating up only 3 minutes and 31 seconds on the clock. Their efforts stall in 49ers territory, however, and the Packers are forced to attempt a field goal. Crosby ties the game at 24-24.

Play 1: Rodgers to Jennings for 2 yards

Despite being on their own 11-yard line, the Packers show their hand immediately on this first play. McCarthy has Rodgers alone in the backfield with his five receivers taking off at the snap. They run some short-route concepts here with Cobb an option for a bubble screen. San Francisco is content to keep things in front of them, running (mostly) a zone scheme. Safety Dashon Goldson has his sights set on Cobb, though, forcing Rodgers to hit Jennings on the out route to his right.

If nothing else, this play gets the engine primed for the upcoming drive.

Play 2: Rodgers to Jennings for 30 yards

Give Rodgers a nice clean pocket with time to spare and he’ll make these plays just about every time. Cobb starts out in the backfield, but motions to the left slot. On the right side, Jennings runs a deep fly route to stretch the defense. With the corner playing inside leverage and the safety running deep, Rodgers is able to connect with Jennings on the back shoulder throw. The safety is in position to make the immediate tackle, but it’s not enough to stop a 30-yard gain that really gets the offense’s motor going.

18

January

Two Simple Things That Beat the Packers in San Francisco

Colin Kaepernick 49ers Packers

Colin Kaepernick owns the 2 things that beat the Packers

In the aftermath of the Packers’ loss to the 49ers, there were fingers pointing in every direction. If you were a Packer, there was no escape from the scrutiny, whether it was deserved or not.

Players, coaches, GMs, scouts, everyone except the owners were raked over the coals (we never do anything wrong, right?).

But in reality, and despite the final score, this was a game that midway through the third quarter was still tied. This despite the offense hardly being on the field in the first half.

This also despite the Packers’ gift of two turnovers which resulted in 14 points for the 49ers. You could easily make the case that those were the “two things” I alluded to in the title. But it’s not.

There are, in fact, two reasons the Packers are not travelling to Atlanta for the NFC Championship game. They both happen to be attached to be attached to Colin Kaeprnick’s body: They are his legs.

There is little doubt in my mind that if Alex Smith were quarterbacking the 49ers on Saturday night, we would not be listening to season-ending press conferences this week. We would not be hearing chants of “Fire Capers,” and “Our defense still sucks.”

You hear the term “favorable down and distance” a lot. Mike McCarthy uses it a lot. Any NFL coach will tell you that maintaining favorable down and distance improves your chances of winning dramatically. Especially on third down.

The Packers defense (the one that improved greatly this season but seemingly everyone now thinks is so awful), were able to put the 49ers into unfavorble down and distance on third down a total of eight times in the first half. EIGHT TIMES the 49ers were looking at third down distances of  8 to 12 yards.

Think about that a bit. Does that sound like a “horrible” defense? Any defense would take that performance in a heartbeat, knowing that they would probably get off the field at least six times out of those eight.

Instead, five times Colin Kaepernick’s legs kept the ball in the 49ers hands and kept the Packers’ offense off the field.