Thursday, September 13, 2012

Watching The Coaches Film From Last Weekend

The NFL has made available, through it's Game Rewind package (free trial through next Monday), the coaches film, otherwise known as All-22 (you can see all 22 players on the field for each play). It's no substitute for watching the game in HD on a regular broadcast (it's a small screen online and the players are small on it), but it's really interesting and skips through all the dead time between plays.

Re-watching the Packers loss to the 49ers, what stood out was how well the 49ers played. Some players had bad days, LT Joe Staley was eaten up by LB Clay Matthews, but he was the only player who obviously struggled. Unfortunately, we can't really discuss the penalty situation for either team because the replacement refs were so bad. QB Alex Smith threw no interceptions with only 6 incomplete passes, and his only real problem with accuracy occurred during their last drive of the first half, when Smith couldn't complete a single pass but K David Akers nailed 63 yard field goal anyway. Even the Packers usually need their opponent to make a turnover or two, and the 49ers didn't turn it over once.

I didn't watch the entire Bears game, only the first quarter, but even then the Bears made more mistakes then the 49ers made through four quarters. The Bears first offensive drive went for minus 11 yards and their second drive was even worse; a pick-six by QB Jay Cutler. The Bears offense showed up thereafter, but even their first touchdown drive was bailed out by a dumb pass interference penalty on Colts CB Justin King. The Bears are going to have to avoid those mistakes, if they can, to beat the Packers.

What can the Packers do to fix the problems last week on offense? The 49ers played their safeties deep and let their front seven take care of the run. Some teams can make you pay for it, but obviously, running the ball isn't the strength of the Packers offense (RB Cedric Benson had 9 carries for 18 yards). If the Bears try to run the same defense, the Packers are going to have to run the ball better.

With the safeties playing deep, it meant that WR Greg Jennings and WR Jordy Nelson were effectively double-covered the entire game. It also explains why the leading receivers were WR James Jones (who was left in single coverage) and WR Randall Cobb (who often was covered by a linebacker). Those are mismatches the offense did exploit, and it could have gone better if Jones could have hauled in (without committing pass interference) one of those long, sideline bombs. TE Jermichael Finley did record three drops, but only one led to a punt. As much as it will help to have a running game, and force the safeties to cheat a little closer to the line of scrimmage, other receivers are going to have to make defenses pay for leaving them in single coverage.

How about the run defense? Though he ended the game with 9 tackles, I was underwhelmed by the performance of LB D.J. Smith. He didn't make a single big play (tackle for a loss, forced fumble, pass defense) and maybe recorded a missed tackle or two. Hopefully he improves with more playing time, but right now, I'm wondering about LB Robert Francois. But Smith doesn't play on the strong side, where LB Nick Perry and DE Ryan Pickett usually line up, and when Pickett wasn't on the field, the 49ers had success running to that side.

As for the pass defense, there seemed to be three main problems. One was that they sometimes left a linebacker cover a wide receiver within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. That usually didn't work, but maybe that's something Dom Capers is willing to concede. The second was the botched coverage of WR Randy Moss on his touchdown reception, which appears to have been addressed. And finally; CB Jarrett Bush. It's already been reported that Bush was a liability, but he played very soft coverage and paid for it. Hopefully, he's already fallen behind CB Sam Shields (who gave up a touchdown of his own, but is still an improvement) and I don't have any other good suggestion until CB Davon House is healthy.

Bottom line; I was a lot more optimistic after re-watching the loss to the 49ers. There are fixes the Packers can make. They can run the ball better and take advantage of Cobb or Jones deep (if teams are going to double Jennings and Nelson). The defense can play tighter in coverage, and they are going to force a turnover or two each week. It's time to show the Bears the adjustments they've made.

1 comment:

PackFaninFl said...

Awesome insights! One guy who had a very quiet game was Charles Woodson. Remember how he had zero tackles, zero EVERYTHING against the Giants? That has me concerned. I want him more active, which means bringing him closer to the LOS.

Secondly, I want more Walden. I saw more from him in preseason than Perry or Moses. You are probably right that he'll only see limited action, but I really want to give him a shot. He was emerging toward the middle of last year (his best game was the Thanksgiving game against Detroit) then shortly after had his "legal problems" and fell off the face of the earth.

The way you beat the cover 2 is with the TE and with the passes out of the backfield in the middle of the spot vacated by the middle linebacker covering deep -- so don't be surprised if Alex Green gets a bit more action. Benson is just terrible out the backfield.

Also more Cobb out of the backfield as well...

I think the Bears are a great team and this is going to be really tough tonight. Go Pack Go with fingers and legs crossed on top.