Packing the Stats: 2011 Week 1 Pass Defense

After week 1, every fan has the right to be optimistic.  Fans of winning teams will instantly project the same success to the next 16 weeks, fans of losing teams will console themselves that its only one game and fans of teams that got blown out will delude themselves into thinking that their team is the next 2003 Patriots, who got skunked 31-0 by the Buffalo Bills only to finish 14-2 and win the Super Bowl.

Packers fans can count themselves lucky to be part of the 1st group after a thrilling win against the New Orleans Saints but amidst the victory, questions arose. The Packers game up an astounding 477 total yards with Drew Brees shredding the Packers secondary for 398 yards.  Will this be an issue in games to come or just a result of playing one of best quarterbacks along with one of the most powerful  passing offenses in the NFL?

In my opinion no. Take a look at the statistics

Date Points TY R/A RY RTD
2010 Avg Tm/G 22.00 336.00 27.20 114.50 0.80
2010 Week 1 Avg Team 18.25 311.25 26.31 105.72 0.66
2011 Week 1 Avg Team 23.50 350.30 25.60 105.30 0.70
Difference 5.25 39.05 0.71 0.42 0.04
2010 Week 1 League Total 584.00 9,960.00 842.00 3,383.00 21.00
2011 Week 1 League Total 752.00 11,211.00 818.00 3,369.00 21.00
Difference 168.00 1,251.00 24.00 14.00 0.00


2010 Avg Tm/G 20.50 33.70 221.60 1.50 1.00
2010 Week 1 Avg Team 21.06 34.28 219.94 1.22 0.84
2011 Week 1 Avg Team 21.40 34.90 245.10 1.70 0.80
Difference 0.34 0.62 25.16 0.48 0.04
2010 Week 1 League Total 674.00 1,097.00 7,038.00 39.00 27.00
2011 Week 1 League Total 685.00 1,116.00 7,842.00 54.00 24.00
Difference 11.00 19.00 804.00 15.00 3.00

Abbreviations: TY: total yards, R/A: rushing attempts, RY: rushing yards, RTD: rushing touchdowns, P/C: passes completed, P/A: passes attempted, PY: passing yards, PTD: passing TD, INT: interception



What a New CBA Could Mean for the Green Bay Packers

There has been a wave of cautious optimism about the CBA negotiation over the last few weeks. Oowners met as a group last week to get everyone on the same page as to how the negotiations were going and followed that up with another round of talks with the players.  While both sides are under a court-mandated blackout, reports have trickled out that there wasn’t much resistance from ownership and while the players don’t love the new deal, they will live with it.

Follow that up with reports coming out that another round of talks will be held in Boston/Minnesota and it’s understandable that NFL fans are happy to see significant progress being made.  Amidst all this optimism, some aspects of the new deal have been leaked out.  Will this change the way the Packers do business?

  • Players will earn somewhere around 48% of revenue: Perhaps the biggest roadblock between the owners and the players is how much of the pie everyone gets.
    • Effect on the league: Some teams will definitely be hit harder than other teams; while Jerry Jones and the Cowboys probably won’t be affected that much due to their massive profit margins, small market teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars could feel the financial pressure of keeping up with the rest of the league.
    • Effect on the Packers: As a community owned/non-profit organization, the Packers fiscal responsibilities have always been a little different from the rest of the league.  Other teams have owners who can move profits and assets to other ventures or simply take profits for themselves; for instance there have been reports of the Glazer family using the profits from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to cover for the financially struggling Manchester United, which is great for the Glazer family but terrible for Bucs fans.  The Packers on the other hand by default have to put all their profits back into the team or into charities.
  • The cap floor will be higher: There are rumors that teams will be required to spend somewhere in the 90-95% of their salary cap every year.  Salary Cap calculations are also to be simplified with less “dead money” contributing to the cap.
    • Effect on the league: Several notorious penny-pinching teams such as Carolina Panthers are going to have to open their checkbooks in order to get above the salary cap floor.  Again smaller market teams may feel more financial stress with having to put so much money into player’s salaries.


Will the NFL Lockout Impact the Green Bay Packers Offense?

When the lockout started, many NFL observers thought the Green Bay Packers were built to survive an offseason without OTAs and a shortened preseason. Truth is, nobody knows for sure how a team will react to an entire offseason without contact with coaches and organized workouts.

Speculating which team is built to withstand a lockout is kind of silly, anyway. It’s not like Ted Thompson built the Packers with the idea that they wouldn’t be able to practice one offseason. I don’t think he instructed his scouts to find him players that perform better without the benefit of OTAs and a full training camp.

Thompson built the Packers by acquiring talented players. And talented players should perform with or without the benefit of offseason practices.

Unfortunately, the Packers are not the only team with talented players. Every team has talented players. It’s the teams that get the most out of that talent that ends up winning. OTAs, training camp and exhibition games play some sort of role in determining which players get the most out of their talent.

That said, let’s take a look at the Packers position group by position group and try to determine how the lockout and lack of OTAs (and possibly a shortened training camp and reduced preseason games) might impact them. We will give each position group a rating after some brief thoughts. One means the lockout has minimal negative impact on the position group, 10 means the lockout has a major negative impact on the group.

The offense is up first. We will address the defense later in the week.

The more reps a QB has with his receivers the better, so the lockout definitely isn’t helping Aaron Rodgers. However, Rodgers is a veteran – a veteran with a championship – that should have little problem getting reacquainted with a receiving corps he’s already familiar with.
Impact: 4

Running Back
I’m not that worried about James Starks and Alex Green (and Brandon Jackson if he’s resigned) getting extra carries during offseason workouts and training camp. Actually, taking it easy and reducing wear and tear on running backs in practice is probably a good thing. But it would be nice to get Starks and Green some live looks at different blitz pickup situations. If Jackson leaves, they’re going to have to pick up the blocking slack.
Impact: 7



Packers Offense: Why Tricky Does Not Mean Complex

In a recent article on NBC, Football Outsiders senior writer Mike Tanier wrote a piece on how the lockout might have a detrimental affect NFL offenses.  (Picture taken from National Football Post, props to anyone who can figure out what play this diagram is showing)  The reasoning is pretty simple, with less time to prepare and train players due to the lockout, playbooks and offensive philosophies that are considered “tricky” are going to be harder to execute than “simple” offenses and therefore put “tricky” offenses at a disadvantage.

I respect Tanier’s work and I think Football outsiders is one of the best football websites out there, but this article had me scratching my head a little.  The implicit suggestion of this article is that if a team utilizes a “tricky” offense they should consider dumbing it down to account for the lockout.

To me this seems a little bit ridiculous, teams spend years building an identity and to throw it out the window for one year sounds like a decidedly bad idea.  Should the Packers take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers hands and start calling more running plays?  That’s not who the Packers are and it definitely wouldn’t work for them.  That’s like asking the Tennessee Titans (who Tanier uses for comparison for the Packers), to take the ball away from Chris Johnson and give it to (insert quarterback here).

To me the inherent flaw in this piece is that ”tricky” plays are inherently complex and that complexity is handled the same for each team.

  1. Personnel factor heavily on the play selection: All teams try to maximize the strength of their players while mitigating their weaknesses.  For the Titans, this means running the ball and for the Packers this means throwing the ball.  You can bet that if the Titans had Aaron Rodgers they would throw it more or if the Packers had Chris Johnson they would run it more.  Simply put, the Packers are built to run a more “tricky” offense, but that also means that they are better suited to run “tricky” plays.
    • Above all, the quarterback determines the limit of “trickiness”: The quality of a quarterback can mitigate many positional deficiencies on the offense, but the quality of a quarterback also determines how “tricky” an offense can get.  The Titans are a mess at quarterback at the moment, they’ve announced that former starter Vince Young will no longer be on the team and Kerry Collins is not lock to make it back either.  The team also drafted Jake Locker in the 1st round, who is considered talented but raw at this moment (and is a rookie quarterback to top it off).  It’s pretty obvious that the Titans are going to try to limit the damage of an inexperienced/ineffective quarterback by relying on its running game and defense.  On the other hand, the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who might be the best quarterback in the NFL at the moment, and actually taking away “tricky” plays would likely hurt Rodgers’ production.