Category Archives: Shawn Slocum

17

December

Packers Coach Mike McCarthy: What Is He Thinking?

Mike McCarthy

Some of McCarthy’s decisions have led to many questions about whether they will help or hurt the Packers from here on out

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has a track record that speaks for itself:

73 wins

37 losses

.664 winning percentage in regular season

5-3 record in playoffs including a Super Bowl Championship

Two appearances in the NFC Championship game

Three NFC North division titles

Not bad, right?  Even by the sky-high standards of the Green Bay Packers and their fans, those numbers exude success.  But McCarthy has become somewhat of an intrigue lately.  As we know, he calls the offensive plays for the Packers during games.  He has done so since his arrival in Green Bay.

At times, especially this season, he has had fans and analysts alike scratching their heads with some of his decision making.  Now, I realize that he gives quarterback Aaron Rodgers some freedom to alter the play at the line if Rodgers sees something he thinks he can take advantage of.  It’s hard to say exactly whether some of these offensive failures were McCarthy calls or Rodgers check-out’s.  Whichever is the case, McCarthy is responsible for all of it as head coach.

Despite having clinched the NFC North division with today’s win over the Chicago Bears, the Packers still have a chance to improve their playoff seeding over the last two weeks of the season.  They return home to face the Tennessee Titans next week which screams (and I mean a blood-curdling scream) “trap game”.  Any lapse in that game and even worse, a loss, will fall squarely on the shoulders of McCarthy and how he prepares the team this week.  In week 17, they will face the Minnesota Vikings in what will surely be a tough game as the Vikings are now in great position to reach the postseason.

Any Packers player or coach who is asked will tell us:  “We believe in coach McCarthy and what we are trying to accomplish”.  And that’s not a bad thing.  I’d rather have that type of team culture than some others that I see (the Philadelphia Eagles come to mind).  At the same time, I think Packers nation is starting to grow anxious as we watch McCarthy baffle everyone from fans to the TV analysts (even Joe Buck and Troy Aikman) with some of his play calling.  And specifically late in games when the Packers have a decent lead and their destiny is in their own hands.

19

November

How to Fix Packers Kicker Mason Crosby

Packers K Mason Crosby

Packers K Mason Crosby needed a hug after Sunday’s game against the Lions (photo from JSOnline.com)

Everyone is yelling and screaming about Packers kicker Mason Crosby and it’s making my head hurt.

Stop yelling and screaming. Ryan Longwell ain’t walking through that door anytime soon.

If a quarterback continually misses passes or a linebacker can’t make a tackle, we can usually point to a reason why these things keep happening. Maybe the quarterback isn’t stepping into his throws or the linebacker can’t get off a block.

When a kicker goes haywire, all we can do is yell and scream at him. Nobody really knows enough about kicking technique to break down the film and say that Crosby’s big toe is angled too far to the left, causing his kicks to sail wide.

And even though most fans think they’re psychologists with a PhD from Harvard with the ability to diagnose what’s giong on in a kicker’s head, most fans arent psychologists wtih a PhD from Harvard and have no clue what’s going on inside a kicker’s head.

So how do you fix Crosby? I don’t know. I just titled this post “How to Fix Packers Kicker Mason Crosby” to get more people to click on it. If I actually had the answer to this question, I wouldn’t be writing on a fan blog. I’d be getting paid to miraculously fix struggling kickers.

Like most Packers fans, I don’t know enough about kicking to breakdown his technique and I don’t know Crosby personally to get in his head and figure out what’s going on.

From my outsider’s perspective, this is how I view the Packers’ options:

  • Cut him. Besides a stretch last season, Crosby has never been a great kicker. The Packers could go ahead and cut him right now. If Ted Thompson felt there was another kicker sitting at home who could consistently drill a 40-yard field goal, Crosby would probably be gone. I think Thompson feels that Crosby is his best option at the moment and cutting him would be counterproductive.
  • Ride it out. Mike McCarthy and other players are treating this rough stretch as a slump. I don’t know if they actually believe that, but it’s what they’re saying. What else are they supposed to say? It wouldn’t do much good to call your kicker a bum and openly wish you had a different one. Perhaps Shawn Sloccum (or whoever knows about kicking form and technique) can continue working with Crosby to make technique corrections and hope this slump passes. I’d have more confidence in the riding it out option if Crosby had a track record as an upper-tier kicker before all of this started happening.
14

November

Packers Midseason Grades: Special Teams

Tim Masthay

Packers P Tim Masthay has been excellent in special team.

Special teams wraps up our midseason Packers grades report.

I feel like parent-teacher conferences are now over and it’s time for the student (the Packers) to try and find a way to get an ‘A’ on the final report card while the parents (Packers fans) keep nagging the kids to get their homework done and turn off the video games.

If you missed it, here are our grades for the offense and defense.

Kickoffs: A-
When the Packers are kicking off, it’s usually a good time to grab a snack or refill your beverage.

Out of Mason Crosby’s 47 kickoffs, 26 have went for touchbacks, ranking the Packers 10th in touchback percentage. When opponents do return it, they don’t go far, averaging only 24.4 yards with a long of 38.

This unit also forced a fumble that should’ve ended the game against New Orleans, but the refs botched the call.

It appeared that Crosby had at least one angle kickoff against the Cardinals where he tried to use the sideline to pin the returner inside his own 20. It worked and I wonder if we might see more of that down the stretch. You can afford to take some risks like that when you’re coverage has been excellent.

There’s always the chance that Mike McCarthy could call for an onside kick like he did against St. Louis. Crosby is excellent at onside kicks and the Packers recovered his only onside attempt.

On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t leave the couch when the Packers are kicking.

Punts: A-
We’ve see too much of him this season, but it’s nice to know that when Tim Masthay trots on the field, the odds are good that the other team will be stuck with less-than-desireable field position.

Out of 44 Masthay punts, 19 have been fair caught, which is tied for the league lead. When opponents do get a chance to return one, they don’t go far. The Packers only allow 6.3 yards per return, sixth best in the NFL.

Masthay (or, ”Ging,” as Aaron Rodgers calls him), averages 44.5 yards per punt and has dropped 24 punts inside the 20.

Masthay and the punting unit turned things around late in 2010 and were a major reason why the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC championship. They haven’t slowed down since.

1

November

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 7 vs Jacksonville Jaguars

So I’m going to do something a little bit unusual from the usual Packers Playbook series; first off I’m going to breakdown a special teams play, namely Davon House’s blocked punt which turned into a special teams touchdown, but ru because I want to hear your rationale for running this play because frankly I don’t really understand it.

The Situation: The score is 7 to 3 in Green Bay’s favor and the Packers defense has just forced a 4th down.  The Jaguars have stayed in the game longer than most people had predicted but it’s probably more because the Packers seem to be off rather than any offensive firepower displayed by the Jaguars.

The Formation: To be honest I wasn’t able to find any of the position names for any of the positions, so I will be using my best approximations.  Naturally first off is KR Randall Cobb (18), who for obvious reasons is not in the picture and since this is a blocked punt play, is irrelevant to the play.  In the gunner/jammer positions are CB Davon House (31) aligning to the top of the screen and CB Jarrett Bush (24) and CB Casey Hayward (29) aligned to the bottom of the screen.  In terms of linemen (are they called linemen?), at RDE is ILB Jamari Lattimore (57) and at LDE is OLB Dezman Moses.  In the “middle” at DT is ILB Robert Francois (49) and TE Ryan Taylor (82).  In the “backfield” are SS Sean Richardson (28) and FS MD Jennings (43).

For astute readers out there will have noticed that this only adds up to 10 players, which is probably another reason why the Jaguars aren’t probably winning many games.

Pre-snap: SS Richardson approaches the line and looks to blitz while CB Hayward motions from the jammer position to the outside shoulder of LDE Moses.  After that CB House motions to the outside shoulder of RDE Lattimore.  Essentially at this point there are 8 players in the box, which is even with the 8 players the Jaguars have to block.

The Snap: CB Hayward bails out of the blitz to cover WR Kevin Elliot (87) who is the gunner that CB House was originally covering.

“OT” SS Chris Harris (43) blocks DT Francois leaving one of the upbacks, #35 to deal with RDE Moses.

30

October

Packers Stock Report: An Ugly Win Counts the Same as a Pretty Win Edition

Brad Jones

Packers LB Brad Jones was sharp against the Jaguars.

As I’m writing this week’s Packers stock report, I’m watching the Cardinals play the 49ers on Monday Night Football. The Cardinals look horrendous. Absolutely atrocious. They can’t do anything right.

Does this mean anything for Sunday’s Packers vs. Cardinals matchup? Who knows.

So far this season the Packers have been good and bad, lucky and unlucky, hot and cold, hurt and healthy, explosive and stagnant, emotional and dead, and everything in-between.

The same can be said about the Cardinals and just about every other team in the NFL.

There’s no use projecting what might happen week-to-week, so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the games the rest of the way.

Rising

James Jones
When the Packers offense needed a lift in the second half on Sunday, James Jones came to life. He caught a 11-yard pass and drew a roughing penalty. He also caught a 31-yard pass that set up Donald Driver’s touchdown. No. 89 was feisty in the second half. Perhaps that aggression led to the Jacksonville defender getting a little annoyed and throwing him down on the roughing call. Too bad some of that aggression didn’t wear off on the rest of the offense.

Brad Jones
The latest next man up is Jones and he’s answered the bell so far. Playing inside linebacker for the first time, Jones hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been more than adequate. A sack on an inside blitz and a forced fumble deep in Packers territory were big plays on Sunday. As long as Jones makes the routine tackles and a big play every now and then, he’ll be fine plugging the gaping hole left by Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith.

Morgan Burnett
Someone needed to step up with Charles Woodson out and Burnett was the guy on Sunday. The third-year safety has been decent all season but really showed a nose for making plays and played with emotion against the Jags. The main thing the Packers will miss with Woodson out is his attitude. The veteran might not have the raw skills to do what he used to do, but he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there and try to make a tackle or take on a bigger offensive lineman. Burnett demonstrated the same will against Jacksonville, and made a few impact plays doing so.

6

August

Packers Family Night Faux Pas: Messing with Mason Crosby

Packers Kicker Mason Crosby

Why?

Packers kicker Mason Crosby was having a near-perfect camp. Everything was going swimmingly. I haven’t had to write about him or even so much as mention his name the past week. (Which is the way I like it).

Then the Packers decided to mess with a good thing on Family Night.

Under the guise of “getting used to the new stadium” (with the new south end zone construction), the Packers took the risk of overworking Crosby and messing up his mechanics with way too many 60 yard field goal attempts (four in a row at the end).

Crosby attempted eight straight field goals at the end of practice. here’s how they went:

37yds.   miss

37yds.   miss

53yds.   miss

56yds.   make

60yds.   miss

60yds.   make

62yds.   miss

65yds.   miss

My first question is why? Everyone (coaches, players and fans alike) knows that Crosby has more than enough leg to make long field goals. That has never been brought into question, even by this former critic of Crosby. Accuracy is another matter, of course. Over the course of his career, Crosby has hit 50% of field goal attempts over 50 yards. That’s not awful, nor is it great, but I’m not here to talk about that.

My purpose here is to ask why would the Packers risk Crosby getting hurt or messing up his mechanics by “showing off” in front of the home crowd? Having Crosby expend the extra energy needed to take those long kicks at a meaningless scrimmage is just dumb.   Once he made that 60 yard kick, wouldn’t it have made sense to end his night right then and there? Not to mention allowing Crosby to finish the night on a positive note, a night when he missed way too many kicks after being Mr. Automatic in camp.

My last question is, who’s idea was this? Was this something McCarthy or Slocum had planned? Was it something Crosby did spontaneously and no one stepped up to stop him? Either way, I didn’t like it at all and I don’t think it was a smart thing to do. The Packers need to protect an important asset like <cough> Mason Crosby <cough>.

Anyone else feel the same way?

 

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?