4

October

Packers Playbook (Hobbjective Analysis): Week 4 vs. New Orleans Saints

If you don’t listen to “Tuesday’s with Aaron” (hosted by Green and Gold’s Jason Wilde), I highly recommend that you do so (it’s free on itunes to boot).  One thing that always surprises me is how much Aaron Rodgers remembers about each specific play; not only does he remember the blocking assignments and routes, but he also remembers the context, the past tendencies of the defense and historically how’s it’s worked for the Packers in the past.  This week, he detailed the first touchdown play in the game versus the Saints and how James Jones stole a touchdown from Jermicheal Finley.  As it’s often hard to follow Rodgers when he’s describing a play on the radio, I have decided to diagram this play with what Rodgers stated (so presumably this is about as accurate of a play analysis as I can possibly do)

 

The Situation: The score is tied 0-0 in the 1st quarter with 9 minutes left to go.  The Packers are in the red zone with 2nd and 10 after LB Scott Shanle ripping the ball out of TE Jermicheal Finley’s hands on first down wiped out a potential touchdown. So far, both Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees have had their way with the opposing defenses and it’s pretty obvious that the Packers offense is going to take another shot at the endzone.

Pre-snap: The Packers are in a 3-1-1 formation (3WR-1TE-1RB) with WR James Jones (89) aligned out wide to the left and TE Jermicheal Finley (88) inline to LT Marshall Newhouse (I’ve left the numbers off the picture for offensive linemen simply because there isn’t enough space with them all packed together; the line consists of the regular starters of LT Marshall Newhouse, LG TJ Lang, C Jeff Saturday, RG Josh Sitton and RT Byran Bulaga).  WR Greg Jennings (85) is in the slot to the right while WR Jordy Nelson (87) aligns out wide to the right.  QB Aaron Rodgers (12) is set out of the shotgun with RB Cedric Benson (32) to the right of him.

The Saints defense responds with their base 4-3 personnel: 4 defensive linemen (2 DT-2DL), 3 linebackers, 2 cornerback and 2 safeties.  Pre-snap it appears to be a pretty vanilla defense, both corners are about 3 yards in front of the receivers out wide and one safety has aligned on top of WR Jennings (who strangely as the slot receiver is given about 5 yards of open space) No defender motions or moves once set (honestly, I have nothing to write about after the insanity of a Dom Capers defensive formation).  Overall, a very standard personnel and formation.

30

September

New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers: Key Matchups

Clay Matthews vs Saints

Clay Matthews helps take down Saints QB Drew Brees

One of the better games in week 4 is tomorrow’s game featuring the New Orleans Saints, who are still looking for their first win, and the Green Bay Packers, who look to get back on track at Lambeau Field.  The game is FOX’s nationally televised game and will kick off at 3:25pm CDT.  Let’s take a look at some of the key matchups in this contest.

On paper, this one looks to be a shootout between 2  teams that feature very good QB’s.  Drew Brees threw 46 TD passes last season and had nearly 5,500 yards passing.  Those gaudy numbers will be tough to duplicate this season, but he’s still Drew Brees.  So far, he has 7 TD passes to 5 INT’s in the Saints 3 losses.  It’s hard to digest the Saints being winless at this point but don’t be fooled.  This team can still light it up and likely will before long.

Aaron Rodgers also had an incredible 2011 season with 45 TD’s in just 15 games and over 4,600 total yards passing.  This year, Rodgers has just 3 TD’s to 2 INT’s through 3 games.  He has faced San Francisco’s, Chicago’s and Seattle’s defenses who are both solid against the pass.  In overall defense, San Fran is ranked 11th, Chicago is ranked 6th and Seattle is 4th, just behind the Packers.  By contrast, Brees has faced Washington, Carolina and Kansas City.  KC leads those 3 in defensive ranking but is 16th.

Here are what I see as the key matchups to keep an eye on tomorrow:

Aaron Rodgers vs. the Saints defense

As Aaron Rodgers goes, so do the Packers.  Despite the team’s “resurgence” in the run game, the Packer offense starts and finishes on the arm of Rodgers.  His stats indicate that he has struggled of late and they surely are down, but the Packers have been in every game they have played.  Some, ok mostly everyone would argue that they should be 2-1.  He has played well enough to win.

The reigning league MVP will face the league’s 32nd (last) ranked defense tomorrow.  Now, keep in mind that the NFL’s defensive ranking is solely based on total yards surrendered.  There is much more to a defense’s makeup than yards.  Last year, the Packers were last in total defense but were also one of the top defense’s in terms of taking the ball away.  The Saints will likely do what they can to get after the ball and mask some of the issues they have stopping teams from moving the ball.

9

July

Monday Morning View: Roger Goodell Has Ethical Responsibility in Bounty Suspensions

Roger Goodell

As NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell has a responsibility to act ethically in bounty scandal suspensions.

We’ve all been following this New Orleans Saints bounty scandal for a while now, and although NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell recently upheld the four player suspensions in their appeal, the fight is far from over. The NFLPA has now filed a lawsuit on behalf of Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove, and Scott Fujita claiming that Goodell violated the labor agreement in the “investigation and arbitration process.” Jonathan Vilma is currently involved in a separate lawsuit against the NFL.

But I want to back up a little bit. When the news was released that Goodell denied the players’ appeals, he wrote a “public” letter to the players involved that outlined the foundations of his decision. Here is some of the text in case you’ve missed it:

Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions. Instead, you elected not to participate meaningfully in the appeal process . . .

Although you claimed to have been ‘wrongfully accused with insufficient evidence,’ your lawyers elected not to ask a single question of the principal investigators, both of whom were present at the hearing (as your lawyers had requested); you elected not to testify or to make any substantive statement, written or oral, in support of your appeal; you elected not to call a single witness to support your appeal; and you elected not to introduce a single exhibit addressing the merits of your appeal. Instead, your lawyers raised a series of jurisdictional and procedural objections that generally ignore the CBA, in particular its provisions governing ‘conduct detrimental’ determinations . . .

In sum, I did not make my determinations here lightly. At every stage, I took seriously my responsibilities under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I determined the discipline for each of you

(1) only after a long, detailed and professional investigation by NFL Security’s experienced investigators;

(2) only after the results of that investigation were carefully reviewed by an independent expert, former United States Attorney Mary Jo White;

(3) only after I heard the appeals of the Saints’ coaches and staff regarding discipline for their roles in the program;