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).