24

September

Packers vs. Seahawks: 3 Not-So-Obvious Things to watch

Packers vs. Seahawks on Monday Night Football

Packers vs. Seahawks on Monday Night Football

We’re going to delve into the not-so-obvious aspects of the Packers – Seahawks matchup and give you some very specific things to look for.

Here are three not-so-obvious things to watch in this game:

 

Breno Giacomini vs. ?

The Packers are quite familiar with Breno Giacomini and his positives and negatives. While his size is a big help in the running game, moving that big body quickly enough is a real problem for Giacomini against speed rushers. I expect Erik Walden to get a lot of snaps over Nick Perry, taking advantage of his speed rushing capabilities. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Packers give Clay Matthews a decent number of snaps on Giacomini’s side.  Nick perry will probably get teh snaps in obvious running situations.

Conversely, the Seahawks will certainly be ready for this possibility and have some pass/run options put in for Russel Wilson to call. Given Walden’s issues against the run last year (although he has improved), the Seahawks may see that matchup as a plus for them and try to run right at Walden with the big-bodied Giacomini swallowing him up. That will put the ball in AJ Hawk’s court as the inside linebacker on that side.

It’s destined to become a mini chess match within the bigger Packers defense – Seahawks offense chess match. Keep an eye on how this plays out.

Packers Defensive Backs’ Arms

I can hear you saying, “huh?” What I’m talking about here is the the bane of their existence last season; arm tackling. Although it has been a point of emphasis for the coaches this past camp, and there has been some evidence of improvement in this area, this week is the true test. While Frank Gore and Matt Forte/Michael Bush are hard runners that don’t go down easily, they don’t have the “bounce off” ability that Marshawn Lynch does.  Lynch will give you that dead leg and your block tackle attempt will get nowhere without grabbing that leg with your arms.

And forget about hitting him high without wrapping up. You’ll bounce off  him like you just hit a trampoline. So let’s see if the Packers DBs really get it now. I’m looking at you, Burnett and Shields…

13

September

Packers vs. Bears: Key Matchups in NFL Week 2

Packers vs. Bears: Week 2 key Matchups

After a tough loss at home to open this season, the Packers gladly move on to week 2 to face their long-time rival Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Thursday. The good news is that they have a chance to get the bad taste of a week 1 loss to the 49ers out of their mouth. The not so good news is that they have only 4 days rest and prep time before that game. The Bears also will have just 4 days to prepare and travel to Green Bay to face the Pack. They are riding high after a 41-21 week 1 romp over the Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field.

Both the Packers and Bears have made several changes to their roster during the offseason. The Pack added 6 defenders in addition to free agents Jeff Saturday and former Bear RB Cedric Benson. The Bears traded for standout WR Brandon Marshall, who was a teammate of Jay Cutler’s in Denver. They also added RB Michael Bush and recently acquired D lineman Amobi Okoye. Rookie draft picks Shea McClellin, Alshon Jeffery and Evan Rodriguez have cracked the starting roster and will likely see time against the Packers. Let’s take a look at some of the matchups to watch for in this week’s game.

Brandon Marshall vs. the Packers secondary

When the Bears traded for Marshall, it was clear they were looking to keep pace with their bitter rivals to the North. The Pack have won the last 4 straight contests vs the Bears including playoffs and largely behind the arm of Aaron Rodgers. During the last year, the pass-heavy Pack have put most of their opponents in a quick and deep hole with the potent offensive output and the Bears were sometimes no exception. With the NFC North featuring yet another good QB in Detroit’s Matt Stafford, the mantra is “pass till you die”. Marshall adds a dimension to the Bears’ passing game that has been absent for a while: a big and speedy receiver who can get up and snatch the ball away from defenders or run a solid route and get open downfield for a big play.

9

September

Packers vs. 49ers: 3 Not-So-Obvious Things to watch

Green Bay Packers Center Jeff Saturday

Green Bay Packers Center Jeff Saturday

The Green By Packers and the San Francisco 49ers meet today in a matchup of powerhouse teams with Super Bowl aspirations.

In 2011, the 49ers defense was ranked first in the NFL in rushing defense and fourth overall, while the Packers offense was ranked third in passing offense and third overall.

There are plenty of fairly obvious things to look for in this game, but that not what this post is for.
We’re going to bring to your attention some less than obvious things that could end up being keys to the game. Without further ado:

Jeff Saturday: Being the veteran that he is, Saturday got minimal snaps during the preseason with his new team. While physically he will be an adequate replacement for the departed Scott Wells,  the question in my mind is if he’s been prepared enough to manage the protection calls in this new offense he’s had to learn.

If Saturday is not up to the level of Wells in this department, it could be fatal to the Packers offensive line, who are facing one of the best front sevens in the league and a front four second only to the New York Giants, who the Packers had just a few little problems with last January.

If the 49ers are able to get consistent pressure on Rodgers rushing four and keeping seven in coverage, they’ll be able to mimic the Giants’ game plan to a T, while doing it with better personnel at linebacker and in the secondary. (The 49ers return all eleven starters from 2011, when they had four players named to the Pro Bowl and four others as alternates. Throw in Aldon Smith, the dynamic rookie that should have made it but didn’t and that’s nine Pro Bowl caliber players on that defense).

Jeff, I hope you are ready…

49ers Red Zone Offense: The 49ers were 30th in the league last year in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. They’ve attempted to address that deficiency by bringing in Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs to provide much needed depth.

With the 49ers power running game and new targets for Alex Smith to throw to, I expect them to chew up yards and visit the red zone area  several few times this game. Whether it turns into three points or seven will go a long way towards deciding the outcome.

8

September

Packers vs. 49ers: Key Matchups in Week 1

Let’s cut to the chase and examine some of the key matchups that will play a big role in who wins this Sunday’s showdown of 2 NFC elites at Lambeau Field as the Packers host the San Francisco 49ers.

Marshall Newhouse vs the Smith’s

Unfortunately for Newhouse, I’m  not talking about the band The Smiths.  That would be far preferable than the daunting task of having to keep 12-year vet Justin Smith and 2nd-year man Aldon Smith out of the backfield and near QB Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.  Together last season, the Smith’s combined for 21.5 sacks during the regular season and another 4 during the 2011 postseason.  With the deep talent the 9ers have on defense, D Coordinator Vic Fangio can often have his linemen pin their ears back and get after the QB.  This is a tough task for the top LT in the league, let alone Newhouse, who is entering just his 2nd season as a starting tackle and who has had his share of struggles to contain top D linemen.

The Pack will likely have no choice but to slide help to the left side as the 9ers overload and stunt to the Pack’s weakness.  Hopefully Newhouse isn’t suffering any ill-effects from that concussion he suffered in training camp and his “happy feet” are with him on Sunday.  This will be a big test as to how solidified the Green Bay O line is on the left side.  Behind Newhouse, the Pack would likely have to shuffle their current line to cover the LT and LG spots.  Let’s hope this doesn’t become a need and that Newhouse can hold his own against a very potent attack.

Cedric Benson vs 9ers front 7

If the Pack can establish any sort of run and sustain long drives on offense, they can hope to wear down the 9ers’ front 7.  There are few defensive fronts better than whatSan Franciscoenters this game with and they are likely to bring it all day long.  But the Pack can take advantage of any increased pressure by utilizing Benson to run some draws and screens to keep the 9er’s D honest.  With a very smart QB in Aaron Rodgers who is mobile and able to dissect a defensive scheme well, hopefully that means getting the ball to Benson and taking what the defense gives them.

30

August

Packers vs. Chiefs: 3 Not-So-Obvious Things to Watch

Packers Cornerback Sam Shields

Packers Cornerback Sam Shields

Seems like every writer, blogger and fan forum has a “5 things to watch” or “3 things to look for” post to preview an upcoming game. Usually, the items are fairly general and rather obvious; things like, “the offensive line needs to pass protect better  and the defense needs to create turnovers.” For many football fans, that’s good enough.

But you’re not just any NFL fan are you? No, you’re a Packers fan. And if you’re a repeat visitor to this web site, there’s a good chance you’re a rather rabid Packers fan that knows a thing or two about the game of football. From what you readers tell me, you like to read about Xs and Os, break down plays on film and discuss the more subtle aspects of the game of football.

I’m a firm believer in “give the people what they want,” so our “3 things” post will strive to be a little different. We’re going to delve into the not-so-obvious aspects of the upcoming games and give you some very specific things to look for.

Here are three players to watch in this game:

1) Sam Shields #37 - Shields regressed last season, partially because of increased responsibilities in coverage and run defense, according to CB coach Joe Whitt. Shields started slow in camp, then missed two games with an injury. Many Packers fans quickly soured on Shields, still irked from his disappointing play at the ending of last season.

Lately, however, his play is on the rise and the Packers are hopeful it continues. Shields has the one thing you can’t teach, the speed to make up for mistakes in coverage. With Davon House to be affected all season by a shoulder injury, Casey Hayward just too inexperienced and Jarret bush too valuable as a versatile fill-in, the Packers would much prefer to see Shields as the starter this season. What the Packers will be looking for this game is how Shields tackles a running back in the open field. You should watch for it too.

2) Jerron McMillian #22 – McMillian is in a two-man battle with MD Jennings to win the nickle safety position (when Charles Woodson will be moving to slot CB). But that’s not all – according to Dom Capers, the Packers have used him a bit at the dime cornerback spot (something I hadn’t noticed) and like what they’ve seen. I’ll be watching for #22 this game and how the Packers use him. This could open up a lot of possibilities in the Packers’ secondary.