Monday, October 07, 2013

The Packers Beat The Lions: A Little Love For The Coaches

I've been keeping very busy at work and I haven't been able to write a proper review of the Green Bay Packers win over the Lions. The game did end on an odd note with a weird story involving the marching band. As for the game, it's always great to win one in the division, and I did want to give the coaches some credit.

I've been down on the Packers' coaching staff so far this season. Mike McCarthy didn't look good when he got into an argument with QB Aaron Rodgers during the Bengals game, and there may have been some legitimate criticism of the play calling to that point. Back in week 1, defensive coordinator Dom Capers tried to stop QB Colin Kaepernick's running ability by installing a zone coverage scheme that led to Kaepernick's best passing game by far of the season.

However, the absence of WR Calvin Johnson gave Capers the chance to show what he can do. Without Johnson, Capers switched from their usual two high safety coverage to a different look designed to stop RB Reggie Bush (which it did) and showed the Lions something they hadn't seen on film:
Instead, Johnson sat with a knee injury, and that allowed Green Bay to cover receivers one-on-one with primarily just one safety behind them.
The same thing can be said of McCarthy. The offense sputtered in the first half as the Lions were playing two deep safeties to stop the passing game. RB Eddie Lacy had a nice game, but he wasn't enough of a threat to force the Lions to commit their safeties to the run. In the second half, McCarthy mixed it up by putting WR Randall Cobb in the backfield, who used his speed to make a big play against a spread out defense:
Through trial and error since 2009, Cunningham has found the best way to play the Packers was two-high safeties, soft corners and a furious four-man rush...
It was Cobb's first snap at running back since Sept. 15. At the same time, McCarthy flanked James Jones wide left with two tight ends and Jordy Nelson to the right...
A jarring hitter all day, Delmas was accustomed to Lacy's moderate speed from his first 15 carries. As Cobb flew toward him, Delmas took a too-flat angle and had no choice but to make a desperate dive at Cobb's legs 9 yards downfield.
All of this led to a 67 yard run that gave them a huge momentum boost. The players made the plays, including a great downfield block by C Evan Dietrich-Smith to bust Cobb loose, but McCarthy found the right play at the right time to put his players in a position to make a big play.

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