The following are my observations on the Packers – Browns game after re-watching the game with the benefit of rewind and slow-motion:
Bryan Bulaga is an NFL starting lineman. Right now. Bulaga won his one-on-one battles while at guard and at tackle. He also looked noticeably better than Daryn Colledge. Bulaga was a little unsure of himself at guard on a few plays, which is to be expected. But once he found his mark an locked on to someone, they did not get away. I also saw Bulaga do something I haven’t seen from a Packers guard in some time. This was one of my pet peeves last season. In pass coverage, with Wells on the tackle and Clifton taking a blitzing linebacker, as Cleveland sent a defensive back on the edge outside of Clifton, Bulaga quickly slid over behind Clifton to meet the blitzing DB and stop his rush. Simple, effective, and something I just never saw as I would watch the game films last season. I don’t know if we credit Bulaga or the coaches for that, but either way, it’s a very good thing.
Bryan Bulaga at Left Guard:
In general, the Packers did a very good job in picking up the blitzes, especially the running backs. I observed Jackson, Lumpkin and Porter each make nice pickups, with Lumpkin having the most impressive play, coming all the way from being lined up on the right side to pick up a blitzing linebacker coming off the edge on the opposite side. I now believe Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett when he says protecting the quarterback is the primary concern for his running backs, even over effective running of the ball. Read more...(1287 words + 3 images, estimated 5:09 mins reading time)
The 2008 Packers season has been categorized in many ways. “Special” was not one of them. It was the start of a new Favre-less era, the year the defense became an absolute horror show, Aaron Rodgers showing he can put up top-10 quarterback numbers, the purging of the defensive coaching staff, etc., etc.
While the defensive struggles have been talked about ad-nauseum, I don’t believe the Packers’ special teams struggles have been emphasized enough. In the interest of fairness, lets take a look at what happened and what’s being done about it.
First, a few fun facts about 2008 to paint a picture:
The Packers were 32nd in the NFL in Kickoff return yardage.
The Packers were 20th in the NFL in Kickoff coverage.
The Packers were 26th in the NFL in field goal percentage
The Packers were 27th in the NFL in average punting yardage
However you picture “awful”, that’s what you should be seeing in your mind’s eye right now.
So how does this get fixed? Well, if you’re Mike McCarthy, you start by encouraging Mike Stock, your 69-year old special teams coordinator to “retire” (just days after he told Green Bay beat reporters how he planned to be back for another year).
“Should I be looking over my shoulder? Do you know something I don’t know?” Stock kiddingly asked following the team’s Christmas Day practice. “It all depends on one thing and one thing only: How long does he (McCarthy) want me to stay? That’s what it depends on.” Read more...(1050 words + 3 images, estimated 4:12 mins reading time)