Category Archives: Donald Lee

13

January

Packing the Stats: Packers Tight Ends Forgotten with Finley Gone

In each of the past three games, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offense have done something they have only done once since Week 5: thrown a touchdown pass to a tight end. Donald Lee accounts for two of those touchdowns, and we just saw Tom Crabtree score his first NFL touchdown in Sunday’s NFC Wild Card game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

All of the touchdown passes came from near the goal line, and both of the scoring tight ends had fewer than 10 total yards of production in each game.

After the final regulation game against the Chicago Bears, frequent commenter “Ron LC” made an interesting note about Mike McCarthy’s use of the tight end this season. He wrote: “Lee’s TD last week has identified an area where MM seems to have given up. The TE as a key player in getting the 1st down and controlling the ball.”

In response to this, I decided to do some research to see if it was an accurate assessment. What I found was interesting, but not totally surprising.

The following chart and graphs present the data I uncovered (click on the chart for full resolution):

KEY

TARG% = TE Targets / Total Pass Attempts
YDS% = TE Yards / Total Pass Yards

TD% = TE Touchdowns / Total Passing Touchdowns
First Down TE% = TE First Downs / Passing First Downs


LOSING FINLEY HURT PRODUCTION . . .

Without even realizing it, I made one big assumption before even starting to collect the data: the injury to Jermichael Finley in Week 5 against the Washington Redskins was responsible for the decrease in production from the tight ends.

And I was right.

If you will notice in the chart, I separated the data into three sections. The first section encompasses the four weeks in which Finley was healthy and active. Though limited in sample size, this gives us a baseline to work with when analyzing the rest of the season.

The second section is only one game – the one in which Finley was injured. I separated this from the others, because I felt it was unique to the situation. Finley practically didn’t play at all in that game, since he was injured early and was never targeted. But Mike McCarthy had still made the game plans with him in mind, which means he still intended to utilize the tight end a significant amount. In fact, rookie Andrew Quarless pretty much replaced Finley in that game, as he accounted for 4 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.

19

December

How Did We Get Here? 5 Plays Responsible for the Green Bay Packers’ 2010 Playoffs Predicament

Having now lost five games this season (all by four points or fewer), the Green Bay Packers  now find themselves in serious danger of missing the playoffs.

How did it come to this for the Packers? Of course we all know about the injuries, but that’s not an excuse. Plenty of playoff-bound teams, like the Patriots for example,  have their share of players on IR.

When you lose close games, you can often target a few key plays or decisions throughout the season that highlight why you are in the position you are in.

1. James Jones’ fumble against the Bears
Even though the Packers were racking up a record number of penalty yards and finding new ways to shoot themselves in the foot, Aaron Rodgers appeared poised to lead a fourth-quarter comeback victory against a hated division rival.

Then James Jones reminded us that he’s, well, still James Jones.

You can’t fault Jones for trying to make a play, but where would this season be if he just went out of bounds?

2. Rodgers chooses not to slide and gets a concussion
Some people pin last week’s loss to the Lions on Aaron Rodgers. They say his decision to not slide was selfish and he is now a “concussion prone player.”

Rodgers should have slid, no doubt. But his ill-advised decision does not mean he’s selfish and does not make him more concussion prone than any other player.

Rodgers is playing without arguably his top receiving target, his 1,200-yard rusher and his veteran right tackle. He also lost his starting guard early against the Lions. In order for the Packers to score points, Rodgers has to make plays.

Rodgers chose not to slide because he was trying to make a play. It was not a good decision, but it had nothing to do with acting like a tough guy, proving a point or being selfish.

3. Going for it on 4th and goal against the Redskins
If I was an NFL coach, I would probably be much more conservative than most fans could handle. However, if I coached the Packers, my conservatism would have resulted in an extra win this season.

Thanks to the benefit of hindsight, we realize that Mike McCarthy should have kicked the field goal when faced with a 4th and goal from the Redskins 1-yard line early in the second quarter. Those extra three points likely would have changed the game’s outcome and given the Packers another conference win over an opponent that ended up beating the Bears a few weeks later.

24

August

Packers vs. Seahawks: Film Study Observations (Preseason 2010)

In this next installment of Film Study, I select a few plays from the Packers – Seahawks preseason game that show something interesting upon review that might have been missed on first watch.

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers are committed to doing whatever possible to keep QB1 un-sacked and upright. In just his limited preseason action, Rodgers has already shown the ability to more quickly recognized his checkdowns and not hold onto the ball too long. McCarthy, for his part, seems committed to giving the offensive line more pass protection help when needed, something I felt was lacking last season.

On Aaron Rodgers’ first play, 56 yard completion to Greg Jennings, Donald Lee was used in pass protection, and seemingly left to Rodgers to decide how. As you watch the play, you’ll see Rodgers look at Lee, who is lined up on the left side. He then glances to the right and sees the Seahawks have overloaded that side. He looks back at Lee, and most likely calls a protection change. Lee goes into motion and lines up on the right side, where he can help in the protection.

It works beautifully, as the Packers now have four players to Seattle’s three, the play action gets Seattle moving left, and Rodgers has plenty of time to roll right and complete the pass.

Bryan Bulaga, who was a film study subject last week for kicking out to pickup a blitzing DB on the edge, again showed some great awareness for a rookie, this time on the sack allowed by Allen Barbre. Although he ultimately wasn’t able to get back in time to help Barbre, it was for the right reasons. It’s hard to see this from the angle this video was taken from. On the NFL Network feed, which I have on DVR, but can’t transfer to my computer (arghh!), you can see exactly what Bulaga is looking at.

As the play starts, Bulaga’s primary responsibility is the linebacker in front of him. Bulaga keeps his eye on him until he sees that he’s going to drop back in coverage. With no one to block, Bulaga next looks over to Barbre. At that moment, Barbre is squared with the rusher, and appears to have it under control. So Bulaga then looks to his right to help inside, but there’s nothing for him to do there. He looks back at Barbre, but Barbre in a flash has inexplicably let a rookie 7th round draft pick blow by him like he’s the second coming of LT. Too late for Bulaga to get there, but again, he did all the right things.

2

August

Green Bay Packers 2010 Roster Overcrowding: Is Tight End the New Fullback?

Just about any Packers fan knows (and laments about) how Green Bay kept 3 fullbacks on the 2009 roster. Could tight end be the position for roster overcrowding in 2010? As I mentioned on Cheesehead Radio last week, I think there’s a decent chance. Let me expand on that thought…

In 2009, the Packers selected Quinn Johnson in the 5th round of the NFL draft. Johnson had a hot and cold college career, but was unquestionably looked at as a physical specimen with athletic ability and raw talent that will require some time to develop.

In 2010, the Packers selected Andrew Quarless in the 5th round of the NFL draft. Quarless had a hot and cold college career, but was unquestionably looked at as an immature kid with athletic ability and raw talent that will require some time to develop.

Sound familiar?

In 2009, the Packers did not want to lose Quinn Johnson, by taking a chance on putting him on the practice squad. Certainly, a team like Carolina, who signed Tyrell Sutton and then later had to use him at fullback, would have taken Johnson in a heartbeat. If Johnson can learn to use his skills wisely and improve his pass blocking, the Packers will be very pleased with this pick in a few years.

In 2010, they have drafted a tight end that has a similar skill set as Jermichael Finley, and fits the mold of the modern-day NFL tight end. Putting Quarless on the practice squad is probably not an option. Let me tell you, as a Penn State fan that has seen him play in person several times, the kid has talent. If he can grow up and focus on his job, the Packers will be very happy with this pick in a few years.

Sound familiar?

In 2009, the Packers were supposedly putting an emphasis on special teams (not to say that it worked, though). Not being very deep at talent in the running back position, rather than keep a 4th RB that would never see the field, they kept 3 fullbacks, holding on to Hall and Kuhn, special teams contributors.

In 2010, the Packers are putting a major emphasis on special teams again (no. really! Mike McCarthy said so!). This year, with the drafting of James Starks and signing of Quinn Porter, keeping 4 running backs and two fullbacks is a more logical possibility. That means they probably lose a special teams contributor (Kuhn or Hall) at FB, but can gain one somewhere else – the logical choice would be at tight end.