Category Archives: Ryan Grant

28

December

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 16 vs. Tennessee Titans

My, where should we go for Hobbjective analysis this week?  I mean the entire game was essentially a highlight reel for the Packers, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how accurate much of the second half is in terms of execution because it’s pretty obvious that the Titans have stopped trying at some point and just want to go home.

One play that I think hasn’t gotten as much attention as perhaps is warranted is Ryan Grant’s first TD in the 4th quarter.  The reason why I say this is because it’s one occasion where the Titans should be 90% sure that it’s going to be a run but they still manage to get blocked out of the play.

The Situation: The blowout is almost over at 41 to 0 and the Packers just need to burn 12 minutes as the Titans stopped trying back in the 2nd quarter.  To make matters worse, WR Jeremy Ross (he of the “punt, pass and puke” play from last week) rips off a 58 yard return subbing in for an injured Randall Cobb.  The Packers start the play off at the 7 yard line.

The Formation: The Packers are in a “jumbo” 1-2-2 formation (1WR-2TE-2RB) where OG Greg Van Roten (64) is eligible and has lined up as a tight end inline with the right tackle.  Offset to the right of OB Van Roten is TE DJ Williams (84), one of their better run blocking tight ends.  RB Ryan Grant (25) is lined up 7 yards behind QB Graham Harrell (6) with FB John Kuhn (30) lined up directly behind the right tackle.  WR James Jones (89) is the lone receiver split out wide left and isn’t in the screen cap, and for all intents and purposes for this play is irrelevant.  On the offensive line, a further permutation has emerged with LT Marshall Newhouse (74), LG TJ Lang (70), Evan Dietrich-Smith (62), RG Josh Sitton (71) and RT Don Barclay (67) going from left to right.

27

December

Which Packers RB Will Have the “Hot Hand” the Rest of the Season?


 

Ryan Grant

Could Ryan Grant be the hot hand Mike McCarthy talks about?

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said during his Wednesday news conference that he will continue to stick with the “hot hand” at running back.

Usually when a coach says something like that it means he has a number of options at the position, which often means he has no options because he has a bunch of guys that don’t stand out and aren’t very good.

 

I don’t think that’s necessarily the case with the Packers running backs. Each guys brings a little something to the table, even if they aren’t a full meal.

 

With Alex Green returning from a concussion, McCarthy has another option as he experiments early in games to try and find somebody with that hot hand.

None of these guys will ever be confused with Adrian Peterson, but there are at least some viable options now. Whoever gets the nod will be running behind an offensive line that appears to be more aggressive thanks to the addition of Evan Dietrich-Smith at center and Don Barclay at right tackle.

Ryan Grant
Can Grant really keep this up? He actually looks like he’s got a little something left. Grant is usually good when the thermometer starts plummeting, but what he’s done so far has come out of nowhere. When he fumbled against the Bears, I thought he might wind up back on his couch. But McCarthy put him back out there and that confidence has paid off.

Alex Green
My money is on Green being the hot guy. I like what he brings as a receiver and if he’s patient enough, he can hit holes with authority. There’s some newfound power on the offensive line with Dietrich-Smith and Barclay. Let’s see what Green can do with 10-15 carries behind those big guys.

DuJuan Harris
This guy cracks me up. He takes the handoff, ducks his already short frame behind his linemen, then explodes out of nowhere through a crack up front. Patience and explosiveness, two of the most important traits a running back can have, appear to be no problem for Harris.

James Starks
Should we even include Starks as an option? If Grant, Green or Harris catch fire, should McCarthy even bother giving Starks another shot? If he does get another shot, how many carries can we expect before he’s back on the trainer’s table? So many questions…

23

December

Keys to the Game: Green Bay Packers vs. Tennessee Titans

Chris Johnson and Tramon Williams

The Packers need to bear down on Johnson this Sunday and keep him from running free

I’m going to depart a bit from the usual Key Matchups format because the Tennessee Titans are an unfamiliar opponent of the Green Bay Packers and also due to the injuries on both sides.

We will return to our regularly scheduled “Key Matchups” next week when the Packers visit the Minnesota Vikings to round out the 2012 regular season.  For this week, it’s more of a “What to Watch For”.

Titans Running Back Chris Johnson

Johnson gets hidden, sometimes even forgotten, in Tennessee because they are one of the smaller markets.  And let’s be honest, the Titans have been very forgettable the past four seasons.  But 1,200 yards and five touchdowns is nothing to overlook this week for the Packers.

Johnson had a 94 yard touchdown run in Tennessee’s Monday night’s dismantling of the New York Jets.  With that run, Johnson set a new NFL record with six career touchdown runs over 80 yards.

He’s still a very good running back and clearly has the ability to break a long run at any time.  Green Bay struggled to contain another great running back three weeks ago when Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a long scoring run and ran wild all day.

It’s asking a lot of any defense to contain a top back, but Green Bay has had recent success defending the run and can again this week.  It comes down to the one-one-one matchups at the line, specifically with Ryan Pickett and BJ Raji.  Each played very well last week against Chicago and Matt Forte.

Tennessee’s offensive line grades out better than does the Bears’ but with top wide receiver Kendall Wright out this week, the Titans won’t have as many options in the passing game. Green Bay may be able to focus more on loading up the box, as they say.

If all else fails, just tackle.  The Packers have had more than their fair share of tackling issues over the past two seasons and it cost them in the Vikings game.  Fortunately it didn’t cost them the game, but in a close contest, a missed tackle can be the one play that prevents them from getting the “W”.

17

December

While We Scratch our Heads, the Packers Win Games

James Jones

James Jones and the Packers are NFC North champs. (Photo from the Associated Press.)

What was your favorite head-scratching moment from Sunday’s Packers win over the Bears? Here are your options:

  • Dropped passes from Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley on the first drive. Tough catches, yes, but catchable.
  • Aaron Rodgers getting sacked three times in the first half.
  • Cobb dropping a touchdown pass in the second quarter. The pass was slightly off, but it was catchable.
  • Mason Crosby whiffing on two more field goals.
  • Mike McCarthy going for it on fourth and 6 in the third, then trying a field goal on fourth and 1 in the fourth. Why not go for it both times?
  • McCarthy calling a throwback on a punt return up 11 points in the fourth that resulted in a turnover. Ugh.
  • Rodgers launching a bomb to Greg Jennings on third and 3 late in the fourth when a simple first down would have been fine.
  • Ryan Grant’s fumble.

That’s a lot of head-scratching moments to choose from. Oh, and by the way, the Packers won 21-13 and are NFC North champions.

The Packers have made me scratch my head a lot this season, but they keep winning. Through all the injuries, all the missed field goals, all the stalled drives and all the weird playcalling, the Packers are NFC North champions.

It’s amazing what this team has been able to accomplish so far.

Of course, there is still a lot more to accomplish. All of the perseverance and fortitude shown by the Packers will be for not if they blow their first playoff game.

How many head-scratching moments can the Packers afford in the playoffs? It’s one thing to have those moments against the Arizona Cardinals or Jay Cutler. It’s another to have them against the San Francisco 49ers or Eli Manning.

Clawing out victories and digging yourself out of holes shows that your team has mettle. Mistakes like the ones made by the Packers may also burn you big time against a good team in the playoffs.

We’ll see how this season turns out. For now, I’m going to stop scratching my head and enjoy another NFC North title.

——————

Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

——————

16

December

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears Key Matchups

Brandon Marshall

Well, here we are.  It’s Bears week and the Green Bay Packers have a chance to clinch another NFC North divisional title with a win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.  These are the types of matchups that the schedule makers and NFL hope for this late in the season.

When earlier this year it seemed that the Packers would be facing seemingly insurmountable odds to surpass the Bears in the North, all of the chips have started to fall into place.  The Bears have lost four of their last five games and are staring at a good possibility that their playoff chances will be reduced to a wild card chase.

Should the Bears lose Sunday, the Packers could clinch the division win and that is the only way Chicago can get into the postseason.  Should the Bears win, the Packers can still control their own destiny and win the division by simply winning their last two games.

There has been some jarring in the media between both teams with some subtle and some not-so-subtle barbs.  Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall acted like he didn’t know how to pronounce Packers cornerback Tramon Williams’ name and said that none of the Green Bay defenders should take any credit for severely limiting him in the teams’ first matchup.  Packers tight end Jermichael Finley commented that the Bears defense may be better off without the “slow” and future Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, who is out with a hamstring injury.

But all of that is nothing but entertainment leading up to another huge game between these long-time rivals.  Let’s hone in on the key matchups that will play a big role in the outcome.

Bears Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall vs. Packers Secondary

As was the case in the first matchup, this is probably the most key matchup in the game.  Marshall is, by far, Chicago’s biggest offensive threat and he is currently the second leading receiver in the NFL in terms of yardage.  He’s a big body who is a tough tackle and can pick up some yards after the catch.  He has the speed to stretch out the defense and run the deep route too.

12

December

Packers Drive Rewind: 7 Straight Runs Give Packers the Lead

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers Drive Rewind is a new weekly post I hope to do for the rest of the season. That’s the goal, anyway. With the holidays coming up, I might not have time, or I just might forget. You never know.

Anyway, I want to take one key drive from each game and break it down with some film and my own thoughts. I’m not doing this to lecture everyone or prove how much I know about X’s and O’s. I just want to talk football. I did something similar last week.

If you think my observations are off the mark, or you have additional insight to add, please do so in the comments section. We have a lot of very knowledgeable readers on this site and I always enjoy their perspective on some of the more nuanced aspects of the game.

(Note: It’s hard to see numbers on some of the Lions players. My apologies if I mix up a few players.)

Here we go:

The Situation
Fourth quarter. Packers 17, Lions 17. Packers ball on their own 41 with 14:49 to play.

The Result
The Packers run the ball seven consecutive times, capped by a 14-yard touchdown from DuJuan Harris. The powerful drive appeared to demoralize the Lions and the Packers won 27-20. Packers fans tear off their shirts and start posing like Hulk Hogan.

Play 1: Alex Green runs left for 6 yards

Alex Green says, “Give me the ball and let’s get this party started.” Kyle Vanden Bosch slants in, but gets taken out by his own momentum and Marshall Newhouse pushing him down the line. Nice job by Green to recognize this and burst through the hole after John Kuhn got in DeAndre Levy’s way. We’ve seen Green fall over himself or not see similar cuts this season. Watching him burst through a hole is a good sign of progress. Jeff Saturday and Evan Dietrich-Smith manhandle Nick Fairley. I wonder if Saturday was supposed to get off the block and try to pick up Stephen Tulloch (who eventually made the tackle)?

Play 2: Green runs right for 2 yards

9

December

Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Key Matchups

 

Aaron Rodgers and Ndomukong Suh

The Packers are hoping Suh won’t get this close to Rodgers on Sunday

We’re back to the Detroit Lions already?  It seems like just three weeks ago I was breaking down the key matchups between these same Lions and the Green Bay Packers.  That’s because I was.  Due to the fate of the 2012 scheduling, the Green Bay Packers ended up with five divisional games in their final seven and didn’t see either the Lions nor the Vikings for the first time until week 11.  That means there will be a short time in between each matchup.  In the case of this rivalry, it was a mere 21 days.

With not many changes in the game’s key matchups, I’m going to drill down on the top three and spend more time on them.

Packers Offensive Line vs. Lions Defensive Line

No, not an earth shattering proclamation and yes, it’s a repeat from the first matchup.  But alas, it’s still a key in this game.  Since the last matchup, the Packers are dealing with yet more injuries on the line.  Starting guard/tackle T.J. Lang did not participate in practice on Wednesday and Packers head coach Mike McCarthy did not seem too optimistic with his progress early on this week.  I don’t expect Lang to play on Sunday which clears the path for rookie undrafted free agent Don Barclay to make his first NFL start at right tackle.

Barclay will be matched up against Lions left defensive end Cliff Avril.  Avril has had another solid year for the Lions and has 8.5 sacks on the season.  His quick initial burst will immediately test Barclay’s footwork and I expect the Packers offensive game plan to slide some help to that right side.  In a one-on-one matchup, I would expect Barclay to struggle.  For the football junkies out there, keep an eye on this matchup throughout the game as there will surely be a few mano-a-mano opportunities.  This will tell us a lot about what the Packers have in Barclay.

One source that may provide that much-needed assistance to the right side is newly acquired veteran running back Ryan Grant.  Grant was signed after it was determined the James Starks would miss quite some time with a knee injury.  While not the fleetest of foot, Grant is solid in his pass protection and should provide a boost there.  He knows the offense and should be able to step in and contribute right away.