Category Archives: 2010 Postseason

4

October

Packers Playbook (Hobbjective Analysis): Week 4 vs. New Orleans Saints

If you don’t listen to “Tuesday’s with Aaron” (hosted by Green and Gold’s Jason Wilde), I highly recommend that you do so (it’s free on itunes to boot).  One thing that always surprises me is how much Aaron Rodgers remembers about each specific play; not only does he remember the blocking assignments and routes, but he also remembers the context, the past tendencies of the defense and historically how’s it’s worked for the Packers in the past.  This week, he detailed the first touchdown play in the game versus the Saints and how James Jones stole a touchdown from Jermicheal Finley.  As it’s often hard to follow Rodgers when he’s describing a play on the radio, I have decided to diagram this play with what Rodgers stated (so presumably this is about as accurate of a play analysis as I can possibly do)

 

The Situation: The score is tied 0-0 in the 1st quarter with 9 minutes left to go.  The Packers are in the red zone with 2nd and 10 after LB Scott Shanle ripping the ball out of TE Jermicheal Finley’s hands on first down wiped out a potential touchdown. So far, both Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees have had their way with the opposing defenses and it’s pretty obvious that the Packers offense is going to take another shot at the endzone.

Pre-snap: The Packers are in a 3-1-1 formation (3WR-1TE-1RB) with WR James Jones (89) aligned out wide to the left and TE Jermicheal Finley (88) inline to LT Marshall Newhouse (I’ve left the numbers off the picture for offensive linemen simply because there isn’t enough space with them all packed together; the line consists of the regular starters of LT Marshall Newhouse, LG TJ Lang, C Jeff Saturday, RG Josh Sitton and RT Byran Bulaga).  WR Greg Jennings (85) is in the slot to the right while WR Jordy Nelson (87) aligns out wide to the right.  QB Aaron Rodgers (12) is set out of the shotgun with RB Cedric Benson (32) to the right of him.

The Saints defense responds with their base 4-3 personnel: 4 defensive linemen (2 DT-2DL), 3 linebackers, 2 cornerback and 2 safeties.  Pre-snap it appears to be a pretty vanilla defense, both corners are about 3 yards in front of the receivers out wide and one safety has aligned on top of WR Jennings (who strangely as the slot receiver is given about 5 yards of open space) No defender motions or moves once set (honestly, I have nothing to write about after the insanity of a Dom Capers defensive formation).  Overall, a very standard personnel and formation.

24

February

Adam Czech’s Green Bay Packers Offseason Blueprint

1) Release LT Chad Clifton, WR Donald Driver and S Charlie Peprah.
Saying goodbye to Clifton and Driver won’t be easy, but it’s time. The Packers save over $10.5 million by releasing the two veterans, money that can be used to resign Scott Wells. Ted Thompson has a good track record when it comes to drafting WRs and I’m confident he can fill Driver’s role quickley. If Clifton was healthy for even two-thirds of last season, I’d say keep him. But with Bryan Bulaga ready to take over at left tackle and Marshall Newhouse (or someone else not yet on the roster) capable of taking over at right tackle, it’s time to move on. One more thing on Driver: I wouldn’t bother asking him to take a pay cut. It’s time to move on and give Randall Cobb a chance to fill Driver’s role. As a diehard Packers fan, I hate myself for writing that, but it’s the correct move.  
 
2.) Let free agents RB Ryan Grant, DL Howard Green, QB Matt Flynn, LB Erik Walden and CB Pat Lee sign elsewhere.
It’d be nice to keep Grant around, but only if he takes a one-year deal at a bargain price. I think someone will offer him more than that and he’ll walk. Flynn earned a chance to start, and I hope a team, preferably a team in the NFC, overpays for his services. I think Flynn has a chance to be a decent QB, but I want an NFC team to overpay him and mess up their salary cap for a few years. Green, Walden and Lee are all replacement level players whose roles can be filled by just about anybody else.
 
Of course, with Finley now signed, the franchise tag is open for Flynn. Continue reading for more of my thoughts on that issue.
 
3) Re-sign C Scott Wells (3 years, $19 million), Re-sign CB Jarrett Bush (2 years, $3 million) and franchise TE Jermichael Finley (approximately 1 year, $5.5 million).
If I had to guess, I’d guess that the only reason Wells didn’t sign an extension during the season is because Thompson totally low-balled him, going below the typical “Packers-friendly deal.”  Thompson probably thinks there won’t be much interest in giving a huge contract to a 31-year-old center once he hits the open market, thus shifting the leverage in the Packers’ favor. I don’t think Thompson is completely off-base in that assumption, but I don’t think he’s totally right, either. Three years and $19 million sounds fair for both sides. The yearly salary is comparable to other top centers in the NFL and the three-year deal doesn’t tie the Packers to a player who is already on the wrong side of 30.
 
(On the flip side, perhaps Wells refused to sign an extension because he knows the Packers don’t have a replacement center on the current roster and he’s using that as major leverage. Or he’s got a major chip on his shoulder because of how the Packers have treated him during his career. Or he just wants a boatload of money. Probably some combination of everything.)
 
Signing Bush for two years would have sounded asinine a few years ago, but he’s earned a little security. Bush has been a major boost to the Packers special teams and his play in the secondary, while not stellar, has improved. I don’t see any reason why Bush can’t fill Charlie Peprah’s role as the emergency safety.
 
About Finley: I originally wrote this blueprint on Feb. 7, and the Packers signed Finley to a 2-year deal on Feb. 22. Finley’s signing opens the franchise tag for Flynn or Wells, which forced me to amend my blueprint.
 
3a) Re-sign Wells (3 years, $19 million), re-sign Bush (2 years, $3 million) and franchise Flynn only if there’s a trade already worked out.
 
Not much changes here. I still think Wells at 3 years and $19 million is good for the Packers. Ditto for Bush. It doesn’t make any sense for the Packers to franchise Flynn unless there’s a trade worked out. I really don’t think franchising Flynn now gives the Packers much additional leverage in trade talks.
 
4) Keep Charles Woodson at CB and leave him alone if he doesn’t want to re-structure his contract.
All this talk about moving to Woodson to safety needs to stop. Woodson’s best position is cornerback and that’s where he needs to stay. Woodson is a high-risk, high-reward type of player. He excels when he has a safety behind him and is able to take a few more chances that a corner probably should. Can you imagine Woodson being the last line of defense at safety? I’m not saying it would be a disaster — Woodson is an all-time great, I’m sure he’d be competent — but I wouldn’t be comfortable with a guy in his mid-30s playing safety for the first time and taking the sort of risks Woodson does.
 
On a separate issue, if Thompson approaches Woodson about re-structuring his contract and Woodson tells him to get lost, Thompson should get lost. Yes, Woodson showed his age a bit last season, but he’s still an important member of the defense. He’s always around the ball and his instincts for playmaking remain strong. Also, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields showed no sign of being able to handle the top two corner positions last season. The Packers need Woodson.
 
5) Sign free agent DE Red Bryant (4 years, $16 million)
This is the part of the blueprint where readers laugh hysterically at the author. Free agency?! The Packers?! It’ll never happen! The readers are probably right, but in case they aren’t, Bryant is a realistic option for the Packers to pursue (sorry folks, guys like Mario Williams and Brandon Carr won’t be wearing green and gold any time soon).
 
Bryant has battled injuries most of his career, but was healthy all of last season and became a force. At 6-4, 323 pounds, Bryant would fit right in at DE in Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme. Plus he’s only 27 years old, making him more than a one-season stopgap. I don’t see Thompson signing an older guy just to plug a hole for one season, which makes signing Bryant sound even more realistic. Bryant isn’t the dynamic pass rusher that the Packers (and just about every other team in the league) could use, but I’ll remind everyone again: Mario Willaims is not walking through the door at Lambeau Field any time soon.
 
Another note on Bryant: Most reports indicate that the Seahawks will do everything they can to keep him. Even if Thompson is interested in Bryant, I don’t think he’d engage in a major bidding war for his services. Bryant is significant part of my offseason blueprint, but he’s probably buried somewhere toward the end of Thompson’s offseason blueprint.
 
I’d also look for Thompson to shop for a bargain basement cornerback or pilfer a corner off another team’s practice squad.
 
6) Follow the best-player-available method in the draft.
Between now and when the draft finally starts in April, you’ll hear analysts and fans screaming about the Packers need to load up on pass rushers and other defensive players in the draft. Let those people scream. Thompson will draft the best player available regardless of position or perceived need. And he’s absolutely right in doing so.
 
Reaching for picks that are lower on your draft board based on need is always a dangerous proposition. The odds of that player coming in and immediately filling that need aren’t always that good. Every team has needs. Every team has areas that need fixing. The Packers are no exception. As long as Thompson continues to draft the best player available on his board, the number of areas where the Packers need fixing will remain low.
 
7) Move Bryan Bulaga to left tackle.
Bulaga has improved just about every game since starting at right tackle halfway through the 2010 season. According to Bob Mcginn of the Milwauke Journal Sentinel, Bulaga allowed only 1 1/2 sacks and had a team-low six bad run blocks. There’s something to be said for continuity on the offensive line, but in this case, I think moving Bulaga to the left side would improve the line’s continuity. The last position you want to take a chance with is left tackle. The line, and the offense as a whole, can’t function like it should if Aaron Rodgers has to constantly worry about his blindside. With Bulaga over there, I don’t think he’d have to worry so much.
 
8) After a stock sale that netted millions, the Packers should not raise ticket prices.
Guess I’m a little late on this one.
 
That wraps up my offseason blueprint. To close, here is how the Packers opening day starting lineup will look if my blueprint is followed:
 
Offense
QB Aaron Rodgers
RB James Starks*
FB John Kuhn
WR Greg Jennings
WR Jordy Nelson
TE Jermichael Finley
LT Bryan Bulaga
LG TJ Lang
C Scott Wells
RG Josh Sitton
RT Marshall Newhouse*
 
Defense
NT Ryan Pickett
DE BJ Raji
DE Red Bryant
OLB Clay Matthews
ILB Desmond Bishop
ILB AJ Hawk
OLB Brad Jones*
CB Charles Woodson
CB Tramon Williams
FS Nick Collins
SS Morgan Burnett
 
Special Teams
K Mason Crosby
P Tim Masthay
KR/PR Randall Cobb
LS Brett Good
 
*Denotes players most vulnerable to losing starting job to a yet-to-be drafted rookie.
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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.

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22

February

Packers Stock Report: 2011 End of Season Full Roster Edition

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers stock fell a bit during the playoff loss to the Giants, but it remains high heading into next season.

The Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl and there will be no more meaningful football games for the next six months. That’s six months to reflect on how a team that lost twice to the Redskins during the regular season could go on to knock off the mighty Packers in the playoffs and keep rolling all the way to the Lombardi Trophy.

Depressing.

It’s hard to find a silver lining, but if you’re searching for one, take a few minutes and look over the Packers roster. It’s pretty good. Go ahead and cross off some of the players you think won’t be around next season, and it’s still pretty good. This team is going to contend again next season, and probably for the next couple of seasons after that. At least Packers fans have something to look forward to.

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks at AllGBP.com evaluating and grading every player on the Packers roster. Those report cards are done now, and it’s time to put this season in the rearview mirror.

To get started, I put together a full roster stock report based on each player’s status heading into next season. To categorize each player, I used my own opinion mixed with how I think the Packers view that player.

For example, Donald Driver played well in the playoff loss. If the Packers beat the Giants and hosted the NFC Championship, I’d probably list Driver as rising in that week’s stock report. But since the Packers season is over, and I don’t think Ted Thompson brings Driver back, I put Driver in the falling category.

You get the idea, so without further delay, here we go:

Rising

QB Aaron Rodgers
Finding motivation is never a problem for Rodgers, but the Packers early playoff exit should give the MVP even more incentive to come out fired up in 2012.

LB Desmond Bishop
Watching Bishop motor his way through games was one of the few enjoyable aspects of this season’s defense.

T Bryan Bulaga
Bulaga took a step forward in 2011 and might take a giant step sideways to play left tackle next season.

WR/KR Randall Cobb
Thanks to Cobb, kick and punt returns became fun again.

11

February

Charlie Peprah: 2011 Green Bay Packers Player Evaluation and Report Card

Packers Safety Charlie Peprah

Charlie Peprah

1) Introduction: Peprah’s journey-man career finally found some footing during his second stint with the Packers. After rookie Morgan Burnett was lost for the year in Week 4 of the 2010 season, Peprah stepped in and started 11 of the final 12 regular season games and each of the Packers’ four postseason wins. A hard-working, tough backup, Peprah was re-signed on a two-year, $2.5 million deal after the season.

2) Profile:

Charlie Yaw Peprah

Position: S
Height: 5-11
Weight: 203 lbs.
AGE: 28

Career Stats:

 

3) Expectations coming into the season: Despite filling in admirably during the Packers’ Super Bowl run, the consensus was that Peprah would fall back into a backup role in 2011. Burnett’s knee was healthy and Nick Collins’ name was written in permanent marker atop the Packers’ depth chart.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: For all his gaffes during the 2011 season, Peprah also made a fair number of big plays. Peprah’s five interceptions ranked him second on the team to Charles Woodson. The two most important turnovers came in San Diego, where Peprah returned an interception for a touchdown in the first half then sealed the win by picking off Philip Rivers late in the fourth quarter. However, there were simply too many mental and physical mistakes. Peprah allowed over 500 yards receiving on just 54 targets covered, plus five touchdowns and eight plays over 20 yards.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: The interceptions, especially in San Diego, were big plays in Packers wins. But there’s no need to sugar coat it: Peprah was a liability throughout the 2011-12 season. He’s a smart player, but the athletic limitations were too much to overcome over a full season, as offensive coordinators routinely found ways to get Peprah out of place and in mismatches against receivers. The mistakes weren’t as profound in 2010 with an experienced player in Nick Collins alongside Peprah. But teaming with Morgan Burnett, who more or less was a rookie in 2011, wasn’t a good combination. Bad safety play was a reason for the Packers’ collapse defensively.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Peprah played a role in both of the Giants’ big plays in the first half. On Eli Manning’s 66-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, Peprah failed to wrap up Hakeem Nicks, instead attempting to de-cleat a receiver that is taller and outweighs Peprah. Right before the half, Peprah was unable to knock down Manning’s Hail Mary heave. A portion of the blame for both Giants’ touchdowns fell on Peprah’s shoulders.

23

January

Howard Green: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Howard Green

Howard Green

1) Introduction: One of the many memorable plays from Super Bowl XLV was Howard Green’s bull rush that forced a Ben Roethlisberger interception and resulted in a pick-six for Nick Collins. Green filled the space-eater role for the Packers in 2010, but never returned to form in 2011. Don’t expect him to return in 2012.

2) Profile:

Howard Green Jr.

Position: NT
Height: 6-2
Weight: 340 lbs.
AGE: 33

Career Stats

3) Expectations coming into the season: Immovable object. Nobody has ever mistaken Green for a quick and nimble pass rusher. The Packers claimed him off waivers from the Jets midway through last season to occupy space and stuff the run. They wanted him to do the same this season, but like most of his teammates on the D-line, Green didn’t make many plays and was just sort of there.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Move along folks, no highlights to see here. Green played in all 16 regular season games and managed just 11 tackles. Lowlights include a terrible game against the Bears on Christmas and never adequately filling in when Ryan Pickett was hurt.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Even though there were no memorable plays like the Super Bowl bull rush, other teams can’t ignore a guy who weighs 340 pounds. Green might have been blown off the ball more often than a 340-pound guy should have been, but teams at least had to work a little bit to move him around.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Green was a healthy scratch in the playoffs.

Season Report Card:

(D) Level of expectations met during the season
(D) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(F) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: D-

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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.

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18

January

Analyzing Dom Capers. A Track Record of Success and Regression

Dom Capers

Dom Capers has a lot of cleaning up to do in 2012.

One of the issues discussed on Twitter immediately after the Packers took a dump against the Giants was the track record of defenses coached by Dom Capers. The Twitter chatter focused on the fact that Capers’ defenses generally decline in years two and/or three.

Actually this topic came up before Sunday but now that us Packers bloggers have some extra time on our hands, we can actually look up the numbers and discuss the issue using more than the 140 characters allowed on Twitter.

In the chart below, the numbers represent where the team finished in respect to the rest of the 31 teams.

Let’s take a look:

 

Defense Rushing Def Passing Def
Year Tm Yds Pts TkA Att Yds TD Y/A FR Att Yds TD Int nY/A
1992 PIT 13 2 1 12 17 4 23 1 14 8 6 7 10
1993 PIT 3 8 3 4 3 1 2 11 17 15 7 2 11
1994 PIT 2 2 13 7 7 1 4 7 12 3 1 13 2
1995 CAR 7 8 5 18 10 26 4 8 23 14 4 6 6
1996 CAR 10 2 5 2 8 4 26 4 22 12 6 7 5
1997 CAR 15 13 26 25 22 12 17 21 5 9 8 27 14
1998 CAR 30 27 7 24 26 23 25 7 12 28 30 10 29
1999 JAX 4 1 17 3 7 2 14 18 10 3 6 12 4
2000 JAX 12 16 14 17 11 20 8 3 1 14 17 25 23
2002 HOU 16 20 30 32 28 11 14 17 6 10 18 26 11
2003 HOU 31 27 25 30 31 23 22 27 11 31 21 20 32
2004 HOU 23 15 13 7 13 1 23 28 24 24 30 5 24
2005 HOU 31 32 32 28 32 29 30 27 4 24 26 31 31
2006 MIA 4 5 18 20 8 2 5 2 7 5 20 31 8
2007 MIA 23 30 28 32 32 30 30 27 1 4 28 23 31
12

January

McCarthy Shouldn’t Alter Early-Season RB Strategy Against Giants

Green Bay Packers Running Back James Starks

If healthy, James Starks should get an opportunity in the playoffs.

With James Starks out, Ryan Grant has come to life late this season.

There’s no question that Grant has the hot hand heading into the playoffs. He’s got plenty of momentum, if you believe in that sort of thing. But as great as Grant has been down the stretch, Packers coach Mike McCarthy should give both Grant and Starks an opportunity in the playoffs.

Before Starks became hobbled by various injuries, McCarthy gave both Starks and Grant carries early in games. With the exception of the Bears game, Starks usually performed better and ended up getting the majority of the work.

Assuming Starks returns to 100 percent, there’s no reason to alter that strategy in the playoffs. Give each RB some opportunities early and go with the hot hand later in the game.

I know it’s easy to write-off guys that seem injury prone or don’t live up to high early-season expectations. But lets not forget that Starks ran for over 100 yards against the Eagles last season in the wild-card round and was the go-to RB on a Super Bowl winning team. He’s not the veteran that Grant is, but he’s been through the postseason before. I don’t want to hear about how he’s unreliable, unproven or inexperienced.

Any praise for Starks should not be taken as as a dismissal of Grant. Grant has made those that dismissed him this season look silly, and he might continue doing that in the playoffs.

However, neither of these RBs will ever be confused with Adrian Peterson. Both backs bring different skills to the table and fit nicely into the “pass to set up the run” McCarthy offense. Unless Starks is still hurt, there’s no reason for McCarthy to suddenly put all of his eggs into either the Grant basket or the Starks basket.

Give them both a shot, see who’s hitting the holes hardest, and go from there. Just like early in the season.

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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.

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