Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 9 versus Arizona Cardinals

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Packers win over the Arizona Cardinals was that they run the ball effectively.  I’m pretty sure Packers fans were as surprised by me, but the Packers really ran the ball well and actually committed to giving their backs enough reps to feel comfortable with the offense.  The final stat line: Alex Green (11 rushes for 53 yards, 4.8YPC), James Starks (17 rushes for 61 yards, 3.6YPC), is a stark contrast from last weeks game against the Jacksonville Jaguars where Alex Green gained one more yard, but took him double the amount of carries to get there (22 caries for 54 yards, 2.5 YPC).  So the question becomes, why were the Packers so terrible at running the ball against the Jaguars, who have one of the worst defenses in the league at the moment but so dominant against the Arizona Cardinals, whose defense might be the only reason why they’ve even won four games?

The situation: The score is tied at 7 a piece in the beginning of the 2nd quarter.  After a costly fumble/interception by Randall Cobb, one long pass to Andre Roberts and one failed goal line stance (though the defense read the play right), means that the Packers offense wants to respond quickly to the turnover and quick touchdown, and in this instance the Packers elect to slow the pace down and wear the Cardinals defense a little bit, which means pound the rock. The very first play is a designed run by Randall Cobb and this is the second play in the drive.

The formation: The Packers are aligned in a 3-1-1 formation (3WR-1TE-1RB), with WR James Jones (80) at the top of the screen out wide, WR Randall Cobb (18)  in the slot at the bottom of the screen and WR Donald Driver (80) out wide at the bottom of the screen.  In this instance TE DJ Williams is operating as a fullback because regular FB John Juhn is out of the game with an injury.  Finally, 7 yards behind QB Aaron Rodgers (12) is RB James Starks (44).  Overall this is not an exotic package by any means, defenses know that the Packers (and most teams at this point) use multiple receiver looks all the time and even go with running plays out of these looks.



2011 NFL Preseason Week 2: Packers – Cardinals Preview: The Champs Are Back Home

It’s hard to believe, but going back to last season the Green Bay Packers have played five consecutive games away from the hallowed ground of Lambeau Field.  The last time the Packers played in front of the home crowd was the week 17 win over the Chicago Bears that catapulted the Packers into the playoffs and on the track to football immortality.

Today, the champions return home.

The Green Bay Packers tonight play their second exhibition game against the Arizona Cardinals.  Who cares that it is a preseason game?  For the first time, the Packers take the field at Lambeau as defending world champions.  It will indeed be a special moment even if the game truly doesn’t count

That said, enough with the nostalgia. Let’s talk some football.

With a very deep roster, the Packers enter the game hoping to further mold their depth chart for the season opener against the New Orleans.  The starters currently locked into the lineup (Rodgers, Finley, Jennings et al) should see more action than they did in Cleveland so I would not be surprised to see them finish out the first quarter, if not less.  The last thing the Packers need is more injuries.

The Cardinals on the other hand are in a different situation.  They are still kicking the tires on newly acquired starting quarterback Kevin Kolb as well as different players on the defensive side of the ball.

Let’s look at the Red Birds.

Breaking down the Cardinals.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Kolb is a mixed of terrified and energized going into this game.  This is the same defense that concussed him in Week 1 of 2010 and opened the door for Michael Vick’s resurgence while slamming shut Kolb’s chances at being “the guy” in Philadelphia.  Revenge could very well be on the quarterback’s mind tonight.

The big weapon in the Cardinals offense remains wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.  Since he is entering the final year of his contract, Fitzgerald has a lot on the line this season.  He quickly needs to develop chemistry with Kolb for the offense to have any kind of explosive ability.

Also noteworthy is the return of former Packers offensive lineman Daryn Colledge to Lambeau.  Colledge made headlines this week with his remarks about not being invited along with the rest of the Packers during their visit last week to the White House to meet President Obama.