Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 6 at Texans

I think it’s time to do a Hobbjective Analysis on a group that has always been overlooked: linemen.  I’m guilty of it myself; line play is very complicated and nuanced and I will be the first to admit that I don’t know very much about it; if you want to see what sort of technicians and athletes these guys truly are, I highly recommend you check out the “Word of Muth” column over at Football Outsiders (one of my favorite columns by the way).  Nevertheless, I personally think that while Aaron Rodgers throwing 6 touchdowns probably was a big factor as to why the Packers were able to clobber the Houston Texans, I think the defensive line deserves even more credit than Rodgers in winning the game for the Packers.

The Situation: It’s 11:44 in the second quarter with the Packers taking the early lead in with a 14-0 advantage.  Early in the game the Texans had curiously attempted to get their offense started with a pass-heavy strategy but ended up with quarterback Matt Schaub running for his life.  By the time the second quarter rolls around, it appears as if the Texans have abandoned this idea and go back to their bread and butter strategy of getting good down and distance situations with All-Pro RB Arian Foster, and setting up the play action pass with QB Matt Schaub and All-Pro WR Andre Johnson.



The formation: The Texans come out in a 2-1-2 formation (2WR-1TE-2RB) with WR Johnson aligned out wide to the left and WR Kevin Walter aligned in the slot to the right.  TE Owen Daniels lines up inline along side the right tackle while RB Foster is 7 yards directly behind QB Schaub with FB James Casey forming a offset I formation.  The Packers respond with their base 3-4 alignment.  The Packers come out with their standard linebacking core of ROLB Clay Matthews, ILB AJ Hawk, ILB DJ Smith and LOLB Erik Walden.  With NT BJ Raji out of the game due to an injury sustained versus the Colts, DE Ryan Pickett takes his place and lines up as the 0-technique (to the open side shoulder of the center), while DE CJ Wilson aligns to the right of Pickett and plays the 4-technique (between the guard and tackle), while DE Jerel Worthy aligns to Pickett’s left and plays the 3-technique (directly infront of the guard; I admit it’s rather hard to judge the defensive line’s alignment due to the camera angle, traditionally the NT plays the 0 technique while the DEs play the 5 technique).    I’ve excluded labeling the secondary as their are extraneous in this play, especially with SS Charles Woodson outside the box.



2012 NFL Regular Season Week 6: Packers vs Texans Preview

RB Arian Foster

Will Texans RB Arian Foster run all over the Packers on national television?

Their backs are against the wall and they go up against an undefeated Houston Texans team at Reliant Stadium.

It’s not exactly the script Mike McCarthy drew up for the 2012 Green Bay Packers

Joking aside, after a stunning 30-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts many people have begun to write off the Packers for this season.  Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers has had accuracy issues and the Packers defense actually looks even worse than the horrible unit of a year ago.  With the Packers at 2-3 and staring 2-4 in the face with the mighty Texans with the league’s best defense up next, there is very little reason for optimism in Titletown, right?

Hold your horses, folks.  Look back two seasons ago in the game before the Packers started their magical run to Super Bowl XLV. The team was 8-5 and would eventually fall to 8-6, but in that game against the New England Patriots with a still unproven Matt Flynn at quarterback the Packers fought hard and had the Patriots on the ropes until losing on the final play.

The Packers face a similar situation Sunday night at Reliant Stadium.  The Texans are 5-0 and have the best defense in the league to go along with an incredibly potent offense.  It almost like the Packers are looking into a mirror of what they should be but are not.

Don’t count the Packers out, however.  McCarthy did a masterful job in that stretch run in 2010 and is at his best when his team’s back is against the wall. Not many people, including Packer fans, are giving McCarthy’s team much of a chance in this one.

The Packers might have the Texans just where they want them.

Scouting the Texans

On offense, it starts with quarterback Matt Schaub but by no means does it end with him.

Schaub is a smart quarterback.  He’s as smart as Rodgers in the sense that he takes care of the ball and doesn’t force interceptions.  This season, he has eight touchdowns against just two interceptions and has thrown for 1,162 yards.  He has been sacked 18 times however and while that’s not as bad as the Packers who have given up 21 sacks, it shows the offensive line in pass protection is a weak spot for Houston in particular on the right side.