Category Archives: Offensive Coaches

14

December

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 14 vs. Detroit Lions

If they did that thing they do ESPN where they track how many yards that you actually run, and the speed…I hope they wouldn’t put the speed up on there but maybe the distance that I ran; had to be close to 50 yards, that’s a long sprint, I haven’t been doing a lot of those lately. – Aaron Rodgers, Tuesday’s with Aaron 2012/11/12

Challenge accepted! But first the hobbjective analysis.

The Situation: The Packers are trailing the Lions 14 to 10 with 12 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  The Packers offense has been a little off, while Rodgers and company have managed to move the ball fairly well against the Lions, they haven’t had many opportunities, several 3 and outs, a fumble and some clock-killing drives from the Lions means that the offense hasn’t had much of a chance of getting settled.

The Formation: The Packers come out in a 3-1-1 formation (3WR-1TE-1RB) with WR James Jones (89) split out wide left followed by WR Randall Cobb (18) in the left slot.  WR Greg Jennings (85) is split out wide right while TE Jermicheal Finley (88) is about a yard outside of the offensive line to the right tackle. Finally, QB Aaron Rodgers (12) is in the shotgun with FB John Kuhn (30) to the right of him.  The offensive line is composed of LT Marshall Newhouse (74), LG Evan Dietrich-Smith (62), C Jeff Saturday (63), RG Josh Sitton (71) and RT Don Barclay (67).  In response the Lions come out with a 4-3 cover-2 defense that everyone has been playing against the Packers offense.  Take a notice of how far back the Lions safeties are set, a good 20 yards away from the line of scrimmage.  In this case, it looks like the mike linebacker is going to rush through A gap instead of dropping into coverage.

The Snap: Things don’t go smoothly for the Packers.  Needing only 4 yards for a 1st down, QB Rodgers first read is probably TE Finley who is running a flat pattern (1), but either trips or gets caught up with the defender which causes the play to fall apart.  Both DEs manage to get great penetration into the backfield and at this point, Rodgers is getting ready to take a hit.  Take note of what the secondary is doing, no one has left their man and the safeties are still covering their halves.

7

December

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 13 vs. Minnesota Vikings

We all knew it was going to happen; with Randall Cobb the Packers got a swiss army knife, he returns kicks, he catches passes, he runs the ball, he slices, dices and even juliennes!  At some point, you knew that “Wild Cobb” was going to show up somewhere and the Packers were going to get him to lob the ball (I know they did this last year, but that was more of an option pass).  Well apparently the Vikings were the team to get the first shot at some Cobb trickeration and the results were pretty comical at best, but what exactly happened and what went wrong?

The Situation: It’s the 3rd quarter with 6:19 left on the clock and the Vikings are desperately holding onto a 1 point lead.  It’s second and five after a five yard Alex Green run and the Packers need to get a touchdown or get into field goal range (though who knows what qualifies for field goal range for Mason Crosby at the moment) in order to keep the game the game close.

The Formation: The Packers come out in a 2-2-1 formation (2WR-2TE-1RB) with WR Greg Jennings (85) split right and WR James Jones (89) in the left slot, TE Tom Crabtree (83) and TE DJ Williams (84) are also aligned in the left slot forming a trips bunch look with WR Jones.  On the offensive line, with TJ Lang out, undrafted rookie Don Barclay (67) is out at right tackle, followed by RG Josh Sitton (71), C Jeff Saturday (63), LG Evan Dietrich-Smith (62) and LT Marshall Newhouse (74).

Pre-Snap: TE Williams motions from the trips bunch into the backfield and becomes the fullback, making it an offset I formation, in essence making it look like a run play.

Snap: QB Aaron Rodgers (12) pitches it to RB Cobb, who initially appears to be running a sweep behind TE Williams.

The Lateral: RB Cobb throws a lateral back to QB Rodgers, who catches the ball, but already has DE Everson Griffin bearing down on him.  Luckily RT Barclay manages to get enough of Griffin that it gives QB Rodgers time to shuffle to his right before throwing a bomb to WR Jennings.

30

November

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 11 at New York Giants

So in an effort to forget about the Packers dismal showing against the Giants, I instead decided to analyze something completely different, namely the first and only pass that one Graham Harrell has thrown in the National Football League.  Some of you might know but Harrell was the only backup quarterback in the NFL who had never thrown a pass in a game (though it has to be said that Saint’s backup quarterback Chase Daniel had one pass under his name).  Also throw in Harrell’s disastrous first outing where he fumbled a handoff to running back Cedric Benson in the red zone that resulted in a touchdown for ironically the Saints as well.

The situation: The Packers aren’t doing too well, down 38 to 10 with only a couple minutes left in the game.  Head coach Mike McCarthy has already thrown in the towel by pulling out starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and has inserted his back up Graham Harrell.  After a slew of running plays, McCarthy finally gives Harrell the green light to chuck the ball.

The formation: The Packers are in a 2-1-2 personel (2WR-1TE-2RB) in a classic I-formation with WR James Jones (89) split out wide to the left, WR Jordy Nelson (87)  split out to the right and TE Tom Crabtree (83) inline with the right tackle.  In the backfield, FB John Kuhn (30) is lined 5 yards directly behind the ball with RB James Starks (44) directly behind FB Kuhn.  Under center is QB Graham Harrell (6), while the offensive line is composed of LT Marshall Newhouse (74), LG Evan Dietrich-Smith (62), C Jeff Saturday (63), RG Josh Sitton (71) and RT TJ Lang (70).

The Snap: QB Harrell play fakes the handoff to Starks while FB Kuhn initially goes behind the right tackle.  After the fake, Starks shifts to his left to help out the LT while FB Kuhn goes to help out the right tackle and TE Crabtree, who has stayed behind to block.  Both WR Jones and WR Nelson both run fade routes.

First read: QB Harrell’s first read immediately after the play fake is to WR Jones to his left.

Second read: QB Harrell decides against throwing to WR Jones resets, and shifts over to his right, looking at WR Nelson.

8

November

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 9 versus Arizona Cardinals

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Packers win over the Arizona Cardinals was that they run the ball effectively.  I’m pretty sure Packers fans were as surprised by me, but the Packers really ran the ball well and actually committed to giving their backs enough reps to feel comfortable with the offense.  The final stat line: Alex Green (11 rushes for 53 yards, 4.8YPC), James Starks (17 rushes for 61 yards, 3.6YPC), is a stark contrast from last weeks game against the Jacksonville Jaguars where Alex Green gained one more yard, but took him double the amount of carries to get there (22 caries for 54 yards, 2.5 YPC).  So the question becomes, why were the Packers so terrible at running the ball against the Jaguars, who have one of the worst defenses in the league at the moment but so dominant against the Arizona Cardinals, whose defense might be the only reason why they’ve even won four games?


The situation: The score is tied at 7 a piece in the beginning of the 2nd quarter.  After a costly fumble/interception by Randall Cobb, one long pass to Andre Roberts and one failed goal line stance (though the defense read the play right), means that the Packers offense wants to respond quickly to the turnover and quick touchdown, and in this instance the Packers elect to slow the pace down and wear the Cardinals defense a little bit, which means pound the rock. The very first play is a designed run by Randall Cobb and this is the second play in the drive.

The formation: The Packers are aligned in a 3-1-1 formation (3WR-1TE-1RB), with WR James Jones (80) at the top of the screen out wide, WR Randall Cobb (18)  in the slot at the bottom of the screen and WR Donald Driver (80) out wide at the bottom of the screen.  In this instance TE DJ Williams is operating as a fullback because regular FB John Juhn is out of the game with an injury.  Finally, 7 yards behind QB Aaron Rodgers (12) is RB James Starks (44).  Overall this is not an exotic package by any means, defenses know that the Packers (and most teams at this point) use multiple receiver looks all the time and even go with running plays out of these looks.

11

September

Meet the Packers Newest Running Back: Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb

Could we see Packers KR/WR Randall Cobb on the reverse in 2012?

Despite losing to the 49ers last weekend, several things jumped out at me about the Packers; their offense can be as powerful as it was last year but look like they are going to need some time to get “tuned up”, the defense isn’t as bad as it was last year, but it’s still the weakness of the team, and the Packers might have finally figured out their problems at running back.  Their solution: second year man Randall Cobb.

The Packers have taken a page from the Minnesota Vikings and have positioned Cobb in a very similar manner as Percy Harvin, another player who perhaps doesn’t have the traditional skill set of a wide receiver but makes up for it in diversity of ability.

During week 7 of the 2010 season, the Vikings and Harvin fooled the Packers with a deceptively simple formation, with a twist:

 

The Vikings start in a 311 formation (3 WR, 1TE, 1RB) on 1st and 10 with Randy Moss at the bottom of the screen split wide, Harvin in the slot next to Moss and Bernard Berrian at the top of the screen split wide.  Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe is inline outside the right tackle while fullback/tight end Jeff Dugan lines up offset on the strong set (much like where a fullback would be in the I-formation).  The Packers, seeing 4 receivers and a fullback in a position to block naturally suspect the pass and counter with their nickel package, with Tramon Williams lining up against Moss and Sam Shields lining up against Berrian.  Charles Woodson lines up in the slot and naturally is covering Harvin, who again is also in the slot.

 

Now here’s where the trickery comes in, right before the snap Favre motions Harvin from the slot to Farve’s right and then proceeds to execute a draw play.  The Packers defensive linemen and linebackers abandon their run gap assignments as they play the pass and are completely caught off guard by the draw. Harvin stutters at the line, which only causes more confusion with the Packers pass rush as they don’t immediately see that its a run play.

 

22

May

Packers Coaches Campen, Slocum Out of the Fire?

James Campen

Is James Campen finally off the hook in the eyes of Packers fans?

There’s been something missing this offseason, and I’ve finally figured out what it is: the annual tirade of Packers fans against special teams coach Shawn Slocum and offensive line coach James Campen. What once was a common occurrence has quietly but certainly escaped from our foremost thoughts. They have only been mentioned in mere passing in recent news stories, and even the most rabid of fans have barely even whispered their names.

All of this, evidently, must be a good thing.

Just about 11 months ago, our own Zach Kruse wrote a post detailing five areas in which the Packers could improve in 2011, despite having won a Super Bowl title the previous year. Three of those areas were Kick and Punt Returning, Kick and Punt Coverage, and Pass Protection. In revisiting those now, we’ve seen some noteworthy improvements.

In first looking at Special Teams, the addition of Randall Cobb as a punt and kick returner was huge. Not only did he win the NFL Honors Play of the Year for his 108-yard kickoff return against the New Orleans Saints, but he made a significant mark on the statistics sheets. In yards per punt return, Cobb ranked third in the NFL (13.4), and he ranked seventh in yards per kickoff return (27.6).

While a lot of this is due to the athletic talent and vision that Cobb possesses, these plays would not have been possible without the blocking of the special teams units. And for that, we have to give credit to Slocum. If we are going to blame him for the failures, then it would only be right to praise him for the successes.

In fact, if you go by the advanced statistical measurements of Football Outsiders (FO), the Packers special teams unit ranked 8th in DVOA (3.5%) across the league in 2011. Last year they ranked 26th (1.6%).

Now how about that offensive line?

Well, to look at it statistically, they actually slid back a little bit. Their 41 sacks allowed last year numbered three more than the year of their Super Bowl run, and according to FO, their Adjusted Sack Rate rose from 7.2% to 7.4%. But if this is the case, why haven’t we heard the rallying cry against Campen lately?

25

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Chris Rainey, RB/WR, Florida

NFL Draft Profile: Florida RB/WR Chris Rainey

Florida RB/WR Chris Rainey

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Florida RB/WR Chris Rainey

Player information:

  • Chris Rainey, RB/WR, Florida
  • 5-foot-8, 180 lbs.
  • A world-class track athlete who can do far more on a football field than just run.

NFL Combine:

  • 4.45 40-yard dash*
  • 3.93 20-yard shuttle*
  • 11.06 60-yard shuttle*
  • 6.50 3-cone drill*
  • 120″ broad jump
  • 36.5″ vertical jump
  • 16 bench press reps

* =Top performer

News & Notes:

Won two straight USA Today high school National Championships while at Lakeland (Fl.) High School…Played in four games his freshman season but received a medical hardship waiver after hurting his shoulder…Ran for 682 yards and four scores during his redshirt-freshman year, earning SEC All-Freshman honors…Finished his college career with 2,393 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, plus 66 catches for 764 yards and six more scores…Returned 25 punts and 18 kickoffs…Lost seven fumbles during his four years…Was charged with aggravated stalking in 2010 after sending his ex-girlfriend a threatening text message, later suspended by the school…Those charges were dropped when he completed a program of community service and anger management…Has experience playing running back, receiver and special teams…He’s been one of the nation’s most productive punt blockers over the last four years, as his six blocked punts set a SEC record…Struggles blocking out of the backfield but has a solid, compact frame…Most compare him to Percy Harvin, his former teammate at Florida and current Minnesota Viking…If used right at the next level, could have Darren Sproles like impact…Given his versatility and rare athleticism, the Packers could realistically afford to use a roster spot on him as another Swiss Army knife type player.

What they’re saying about him:

CBS Sports: ”Perhaps the most explosive cutting ability and straight-line speed of any athlete in the 2012 draft. Can make defenders look silly due to his lateral agility and sudden acceleration. Versatile. Saw time as a running back, receiver, punt returner and kick returner for the Gators … Looks natural catching the ball out of the backfield and has shown the ability to track the ball over his shoulder and snatch passes outside of his frame …”