10

January

How the Packers Should NOT Guard Randy Moss on Saturday

Randy Moss

There’s no reason to treat 2013 Randy Moss like 1998 Randy Moss

When the Packers play the 49ers on Saturday night in the NFC divisional playoffs, they need to remember that it’s 2013, not 1998, and treat Randy Moss accordingly.

Here’s video from the Packers vs. 49ers from week one. That’s Moss at the top of the screen. That’s Jarrett Bush lined up across from Moss, waaaaaaaayyyyyyy across from Moss.

In 1998, Moss’s rookie season — the season where he torched the Packers and altered Green Bay’s future draft strategies — Bush was 14 years old. He very likely has little or no memory of Moss’s dominance over the Packers from 1998, but you would never know that based on how Bush treats Moss on this play.

Bush lines up 10 yards off the now 35-year-old Moss, and starts back-pedaling as soon as the ball is snapped. It’s like Bush thought Moss must have taken a bath in the fountain of youth before the game.

Alex Smith connects with Moss for an easy 20-yard gain.

I know it’s Jarrett Bush, the same Jarrett Bush who will not be playing any coverage (hopefully) on Saturday night. But I don’t care who it is: There’s no reason to be scared of 2013 Randy Moss. Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Sam Shields. Hell, even Charles Woodson if it comes to that. Regardless of who guards Moss, they need to get on him and not worry about getting beat over the top. No 10-yard cushions and immediate back-pedaling.

Moss is old. He’s still serviceable, but he’s no longer scary. There is no reason to poop your pants when matched one-on-one with Moss.

Dom Capers has said before that he gives his corners the option of playing press or playing off whomever they’re guarding. There’s a chance that the Packers’ corners are still buying the myth of Moss as a big, bad, scary deep threat, and don’t want to be embarrassed by getting torched deep on national TV.

That is nonsense, and Capers needs to make sure his corners know that this week. If any of them talks about giving Moss a big cushion, Capers needs to hit the offender with a stick.

I don’t expect Moss to be a major factor on Saturday. Hopefully the Packers don’t turn him into a factor by being scared of him.

21

December

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 15 at Chicago Bears

So special teams is one of those things that no fan knows about but we all love to gripe about.  For instance, other than the kicker, punter, long snapper and gunner, do you know the name of any other position?  I sure don’t but I will yell at the screen when the guy misses a block.  This is essentially what happened during the “punt, pass and puke” play as quoted by Drew Olsen on Green and Gold Today.  We all know it was a terrible play, and head coach Mike McCarthy and special teams coach Shawn Slocum both got plenty of heat for the call.  But why call the play in the first place?

 

 

 

The Situation: The score is Green Bay 21, Chicago 10 with 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter.  The Packers are sitting pretty well at the moment, the Bears offense hasn’t been able to move the ball (i.e. failing to convert a single 3rd down) while the Packers have had success both on the ground as well as in the air and look to burn some time with a two score lead.

Snap: The Packers come out with two players matching each gunner.  This is typically done to give the punt returner some more space on the edges but they give up any real chance of blocking the punt as well as being overmatched in the middle

The Kick: This picture was taking immediately after the kick, as you can see the Packers didn’t get anywhere close to blocking P Adam Podlesh’s punt (the closest Packers is 5 yards away and has already turned for pursuit).  I’ve circled WR Jeremy Ross (10) so keep an eye out for him as the play progresses.

Fielding The Punt: You can now see PR Randall Cobb (18) relative to WR Ross, also notice at this point, Ross still appears to be blocking the gunner.

Beginning of Trick Play: At this point WR Ross begins to peel away from the action and get ready for the lateral.  Also notice at this point no Bear has noticed that WR Ross is doing something other than blocking the gunner

The Lateral: This is just before PR Cobb makes the lateral pass.  Notice the vast majority of Bears players are still heading towards PR Cobb.

24

November

Packers Young Secondary Can Erase Bad Memories of Playoff Hail Mary

Casey Hayward

Packers rookie CB is leading a younger and more aggressive secondary.

I know your belly is still full of Thanksgiving turkey and you’re probably all excited that you managed to outlast the middled-aged lady next to you for that discounted Xbox at Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

If you can overcome your full stomach and pause your Xbox euphoria, take a minute and watch the video of the Packers allowing a Hail Mary touchdown to the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks before halftime in last season’s playoff loss.

Makes your full tummy feel more like the stomach flu, right?

Now, take another look at the play. Notice the four players around the ball when Nicks comes down with it? Not one of them will be on the field for this Sunday night’s rematch.

Charlie Peprah is off the team. Charles Woodson is injured. Sam Shields is injured. And Jarrett Bush mainly plays special teams (I suppose it’s conceiveable that Bush could end up out there, but hopefully not).

If Eli Manning launches another Hail Mary on Sunday, the players around the ball will likely be a combination of Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Davon House, Morgan Burnett, Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings.

That group is a lot more aggressive than the group that stood there with their thumbs up their butts while Nix caught the ball in the playoffs.

Hell, Jennings has already intercepted a Hail Mary pass this season, even though it counted as a touchdown for the other team.

Sunday night is a big test for the new faces in this secondary. They’ve held their own agaisnt the likes of Sam Bradford, Blaine Gabbert, John Skelton and Matthew Stafford. But Manning, Nicks and Victor Cruz are on a completely different level that what this secondary has seen over the last six weeks.

If Hayward continues getting his hands on passes, House keeps using his size to his advantage, Burnett, McMillian and Jennings keep developing their nose for the ball and Tramon just does what Tramon does, I think this group will hold its own.

If all of that happens (and it’s a big if), and the Packers claw out another road win in November, the sky is the limit for this team.

At the very least, it’d be another step in erasing the image of Peprah, Woodson, Shields and Bush looking helpless on the playoff Hail Mary.

21

November

Packers’ Victory over Lions had Plenty of Style

Ryan Pickett

Packers DL Ryan Pickett made some stylish plays on Sunday against the Lions.

Kevin Seifert had the following headline on his ESPN NFC North Blog post following the Packers 24-20 win over the Lions on Sunday: “Packers: Substance of 2012 > Style of 2011.”

Kevin went on to write how the Packers grind-it-out victories over the last five weeks might be more impressive and have them better prepared for the postseason than the string of blowout wins they had en route to a 15-1 finish in 2011.

For the record, I agree with Kevin. His post was spot-on. I just didn’t care for the headline.

The Packers had plenty of substance in 2011. You don’t go 15-1 on style alone.

And the Packers have had plenty of style so far in 2012. It’s just a different style than what we saw last season.

To casual football fans, style means long passes, beautiful catches, ankle-breaking runs and exciting punt/kick returns. Those are the plays that make Sports Center and go viral on the Internet.

The more hardcore football fans appreciate those types of plays as well, but also find plenty of style in other areas of the game.

To me, this third-and-goal play from Sunday highlights the type of style that hardcore fans appreciate and the type of stylish play that the Packers have been coming up with over the last five games.

A touchdown there gives the Lions a 7-0 lead and the Packers young and beat-up defense probably hangs its head a bit. Who knows where the game goes from there.

Instead, Ryan Pickett — who is in there in case the Lions run it — busts through the line and chases Matthew Stafford right to Morgan Burnett for the sack.

The defense holds the Lions to a field goal and the defense’s confidence goes way up. That’s style, in my opinion.

Here’s another one:

Tim Masthay is punting from midfield in the first quarter and drops a perfect corner kick that gets downed by Jarrett Bush on the Lions’ 2.

Now, that seems like a simple enough play, right? Three years ago, that ball probably flys into the end zone and the Lions would get the ball at the 20. Not this year.

1

November

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 7 vs Jacksonville Jaguars

So I’m going to do something a little bit unusual from the usual Packers Playbook series; first off I’m going to breakdown a special teams play, namely Davon House’s blocked punt which turned into a special teams touchdown, but ru because I want to hear your rationale for running this play because frankly I don’t really understand it.

The Situation: The score is 7 to 3 in Green Bay’s favor and the Packers defense has just forced a 4th down.  The Jaguars have stayed in the game longer than most people had predicted but it’s probably more because the Packers seem to be off rather than any offensive firepower displayed by the Jaguars.

The Formation: To be honest I wasn’t able to find any of the position names for any of the positions, so I will be using my best approximations.  Naturally first off is KR Randall Cobb (18), who for obvious reasons is not in the picture and since this is a blocked punt play, is irrelevant to the play.  In the gunner/jammer positions are CB Davon House (31) aligning to the top of the screen and CB Jarrett Bush (24) and CB Casey Hayward (29) aligned to the bottom of the screen.  In terms of linemen (are they called linemen?), at RDE is ILB Jamari Lattimore (57) and at LDE is OLB Dezman Moses.  In the “middle” at DT is ILB Robert Francois (49) and TE Ryan Taylor (82).  In the “backfield” are SS Sean Richardson (28) and FS MD Jennings (43).

For astute readers out there will have noticed that this only adds up to 10 players, which is probably another reason why the Jaguars aren’t probably winning many games.

Pre-snap: SS Richardson approaches the line and looks to blitz while CB Hayward motions from the jammer position to the outside shoulder of LDE Moses.  After that CB House motions to the outside shoulder of RDE Lattimore.  Essentially at this point there are 8 players in the box, which is even with the 8 players the Jaguars have to block.

The Snap: CB Hayward bails out of the blitz to cover WR Kevin Elliot (87) who is the gunner that CB House was originally covering.

“OT” SS Chris Harris (43) blocks DT Francois leaving one of the upbacks, #35 to deal with RDE Moses.

4

September

The Cast and Characters of the 2012 Packers Secondary

Packers safety M.D. Jennings

Packers S M.D. Jennings is one of the new characters in the Packers secondary.

We’ve all sat through a terrible movie before. I’m not talking about a movie where it’s so bad, it’s good. I’m talking about a movie that is just plain bad, even painful.

Watching the Green Bay Packers allow almost 5,000 passing yards last season was like watching a bad movie, for a whopping 17 weeks.

If a director makes a terrible movies, he’ll probably try and make some serious changes so his next movie isn’t as bad. Maybe he’ll bring on actors with more experience or a production staff that has a several good movies under their resume.

Not if the director is Ted Thompson.

The Packers GM looked at his flop of a defense and said, “I’m going to get some guys that have even less experience and are more unproven than they players we had last season.”

Nowhere is that more evident than in the secondary.

Who are these guys?

The Packers first regular season game is only a few days away, but we have little idea what the secondary will look like. We know Tramon Williams will be at corner and Charles Woodson will be at safety in base and slot corner in sub packages. We also know Morgan Burnett will be at safety.

But that’s about all we know. We don’t know who the No. 2 corner will be in base and we have little clue what the sub packages will look like.

The defensive front features high-profile draft picks like Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy to try and save the day. The defensive backfield features a rookie safety from Maine, unproven cornerbacks and, gulp, Jarrett Bush.

In my opinion, who starts in the secondary doesn’t really matter. A lot of who we see on the field on Sunday will depend on matchups.

Nonetheless, it’s nice to know more about the cast and characters that are trying to rescue the Packers secondary. We know about the stars — Woodson, Williams and Burnett have been around for a while.

What about the supporting cast? How might they fit? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Here’s a quick primer on the Packers who will be battling for time in the defensive backfield, both on Sunday and throughout the season.

5

July

All Signs Point to Improvement for Packers’ Defense

Clay Matthews aims to lead an improved Packers' defense in 2012.

“The first step is admitting you have a problem.”

The Packers have taken that step with regard to their pitiful defensive performance during the 2011 season. Many Packers have expressed their dissatisfaction with how the team played on that side of the ball, the latest of them Tramon Williams.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Williams voiced his thoughts on the 2011 campaign.

“But at the end of the day, (did) we have a terrible defense? Yeah, we did, but we were productive out there. We did what we’ve always done. We turned the ball over. We have some things to build off now. We have some more pieces to the puzzle and we’re excited about it, and just ready to get back out there now.”

Williams joins Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews, who each criticized the team’s defense down the stretch of last season. All three acknowledged that the defense just wasn’t good enough and gave up too many yards and points. The saving grace throughout much of the year was the defense’s ability to create turnovers, as mentioned by Williams. The amount of turnovers created likely masked the depth of Packers’ defensive issues.

While the players have publicly spoken out regarding the defensives issues, the Packers front office acknowledged those issues in a different way. Ted Thompson used the first six selections in the NFL Draft to add defensive talent. In an unprecedented move, Thompson also traded up multiple times to grab significant talent after doing so just a few times in years prior. In addition to the draft, the Packers also signed multiple defensive linemen in hopes that somebody will step up.

With the Packers’ players individually acknowledging their issues defensively and the overhaul of defensive talent, it would seem that the Packers will be a better defense team in 2012. Getting better on paper is that just that, though.

The Packers have plenty of work to do during training camp and preseason, but the important thing to note is that signs are pointing to a much improved defense.

On the defensive line, the Packers added Daniel Muir and Anthony Hargrove through free agency. Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels were both added through the draft. The influx of defensive linemen should bring about competition not only for the newcomers, but another chance for Mike Neal, Jarius Wynn, C.J. Wilson and Lawrence Guy.