30

August

Packers vs. Colts: Film Study – B.J. Raji (Preseason 2010)

In this installment of Film Study, I decided to focus on one player I get asked about quite a bit – B.J. Raji.  So I went back and watched all of his snaps in the Green Bay Packers – Indianapolis Colts preseason game and here are my observations:

From a personality standpoint,  Raji  hasn’t shown much of a mean streak, and that was my only real concern when the Packers first selected him. From observing Raji, and speaking to people here in NJ that knew him during his high school  years, he’s a “good boy.” Polite, kind, soft-spoken: the type of kid you’d want your daughter to marry.

Of course, that doesn’t translate well to the battlefield known as the NFL. Not to say they are mutually exclusive. There have been plenty of “good guys” who would rip your heart out on the field if needed. Bart Starr, the ultimate gentleman, has been described as such by many teammates. Raji hasn’t shown me that killer instinct, yet.

In the last two preseason games, however, Raji has been starting to show some signs. He has made steady progress in each game, and against some very good Colts offensive linemen, had a positive impact on  roughly 70% of his snaps.

There is one thing he still needs to work on – and that is keeping his head up and eyes on the ball while fighting off blocks. During this preseason, I have observed Raji getting turned around or playing with his head down way too often. In many cases, the ball carrier ran right by him and Raji never saw him until it was too late.

An excellent example of this was the long run by Joseph Addai. (Before we get to Raji, I just want to mention what a great cut by Addai after he clears the line of scrimmage). With one move he faked both Nick Collins and Morgan Burnett to the ground. Watch for it and watch for Charles Woodson getting held right behind them. I need to figure out how to post these in slow motion for you all… )

Getting back to Raji, he gets completely turned around on the play (and then gets mugged and pulled to the ground, but after Addai was past him).

27

August

Packers 59 Colts 24 – First Impressions… Preseason 2010

First Impressions from the Green Bay Packers’ preseason game vs. the Indianapolis Colts:

Everyone’s was talking about the D, but I was looking at this as just as big a test for the OL. Can they really protect Rodgers? Evidently, they can.

Sam Shields: Overall, he held his own. As I said last week, he’s already a better corner than Bush. Always near the receiver, always aware of where the ball is and will never get outrun deep.  Welcome to the roster.

Dom Capers mixed in just a smidge of other flavors tonight.

As I mentioned the other night on Cheesehead Radio, Raji continues to get turned around and lost sight of the running back on Addai’s long run. Saw it on other plays, too This is going to be a problem if it’s not corrected.

Rodgers passes to Jones often seem to be a bit off target.  I think Jones surprises him sometimes.

Does anyone make more one-handed catches than Donald Driver?

The agility training Ryan Grant did in the offseason seems to have really payed off. Grant looks more athletic – leaner, stronger, quicker.

Zombo played well as a starter. Very active and involved. Got some good pressures, even before the strip. He’s made this team.

As usual, Rodgers was a bit too strong early on – hung some receivers out to dry.

MM should have challenged that catch in the early 2nd 1/4. Ball obviously hit the ground.

Would love to see MM call something different on 4th and one. At least show it to keep defenses a bit more honest…

Mike Neal was a force. Doing it strictly on strength. When he learns proper technique, Packers have themselves what they hoped Justin Harrell would be.

Packers defense is one of the best at sniffing out screens. Even the defensive linemen see it, stop, and wheel outside very quickly. Nice coaching job, there.

Somebody needs to come up with a catchy nickname for Jermichael Finley…

Safe to say, the Packers passed their only real test of the preseason.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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.

22

August

Packers 27, Seahawks 24 – First Impressions… Preseason 2010

First Impressions from the Packers preseason game vs. the Seattle Seahawks.

This thought scares me: Breno Giacomini has looked good against one defense so far – the Packer’s own.

Mason Crosby: Do it when it means something and I’ll lead the “Mason Crosby no longer sucks” parade.

Fo those just getting on the Jermichael Finley “go-to guy” bandwagon (like Pete Dougherty writes about ).  A reminder where you folks heard it first

Sam Shields will be a better corner than Jarret Bush. He will need time (at least a year) to develop and learn his assignments, but from a talent perspective, Shields is better.

Matt Flynn can be effective if he’s kept to the types of passes he can throw. Just not enough arm strength. I will say, he has shown some toughness and leadership abilities the last 2 games…

Jarret Bush is always the first one down the field on kickoffs and punts, and the first one to do nothing while he’s there.

Dom Capers will have to devise a hell of a lot of stunts to get Poppinga or Chillar to the QB because they can’t do it by beating blockers one-on-one.

Why has Charles Dillon, who has turned some heads in camp, not been given a shot at returning kickoffs? In college, he returned 30 kickoffs for a very good 28.3 yd. average.

Before everyone gets too down on Underwood, remember, he is a dime back once Al Harris returns. He will continue to develop, but he’s not exactly ready to step into Woodson’s shoes, as he was asked to in this game.

I’m hoping Chris Bryan wins the punting competition. Mathsay takes too long to get a kick off  and I worry about mental toughness with him. No such worries with the Aussie football playing Bryan.

Bryan Bulaga had a tougher test this week, and I believe he passed. More on this after I re-watch the game…

Nick Collins beat again for a back of end zone TD, but how much can you ask of your DBs when the QB has 6 seconds to hold the ball. (BTW, I’m just guessing at the time. Will confirm when I study the film)

Chastin West is not a speed burner, but he has some moves and catches what’s thrown to him. I think he’s a good practice squad candidate.