Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Looking ahead, there is only one remaining opponent currently in the Football Outsiders Top 10 (Bears) and they're a perfect example of why looking back isn't always a proper guide. Injuries have taken their toll and the Bears have major question marks at quarterback and on defense. While the Bears are currently sitting at No. 6 overall, they're not likely to stay there.
After the Bears, the remaining schedule looks like this: home Eagles (No. 24), at Giants (No. 31), home Vikings (No. 25), at Lions (No. 12), home Falcons (No. 18), at Cowboys (No. 11), home Steelers (No. 16), and at Bears (No. 6).
So the next three games look like the easy part of the schedule before three tough road games with two mediocre teams squeezed in between at Lambeau. As I said above, the Bears are sliding, but Chicago's always a tough venue and I would expect them to drop at least one of those last three road games. They won't win them all, though I'd expect them to. The good news is that none of these games feature a team that is currently ranked ahead of the Packers.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Here's what I wrote about McCown in 2011 back at Acme Packing Company:
In sum, it's his first start in four years, on the road against the top team in the NFL, alongside a lot of backups who he's only know for about a month. There's nothing about this that doesn't sound like a disaster for the Bears...Instead of being a disaster, he wasn't that bad (63.5 QBR for the game) and here's what I wrote afterwards:
This wasn't the best game for the Green Bay Packers defense. However, for all of the yards surrendered in the first half, the Bears were held to only 3 points. The fact that it happened against recently signed QB Josh McCown is a bad sign. But the defense did force two fumbles, grabbed two interceptions, and allowed 11 of 21 points after the Packers went up 35-10. The points still count, but the sense of urgency isn't the same.So while some things seem to stay the same (McCown starts against the Packers) it's amazing how many things have changed since their last match-up. The Packers have the same coaches and a lot of the same players, but that 2011 defense surrendered a ton of yards (411.6 per game) and forced a ton of turnover (31 INTs for the season) while the 2013 defense is much better (331.1 yards allowed per game) but they aren't forcing any turnovers (only 3 INTs this season).
As for the Bears, nearly everything has changed since McCown's last start. Back in 2011, Mike Martz was his offensive coordinator, he had no skill players worth mentioning (RB Matt Forte missed that 2011 game due to injury) and his offensive line couldn't protect him. Now, McCown is working with Marc Trestman, he has Forte, Marshall, and Jeffrey (TE Martellus Bennett is having a good year too), and their offensive line is much better (No. 5 according to Football Outsiders in pass protection). If McCown was good with no help, he might be a lot better with a much improved supporting cast.
Of course, the Bears defense is a complete mess and the Packers are coming off a week when they scored on every offensive possession against the Vikings, so this might not be much of a defensive battle.
Monday, October 28, 2013
While the Packers' defense couldn't stop the Vikings from running in the red zone, the run defense had been great this season before this game, three Viking scoring drives were given a second life by penalties. A stupid personal foul on DE Datone Jones and a late pass interference flag on CB Tramon Williams after the earlier bogus interference call on him were three of six penalties for 120 yards. PackFaninFL expects Williams to move to the nickel, and it looks like it could happen sooner than later. The return of CB Casey Hayward moved Williams outside where he drew those two huge flags, while over the previous few weeks CB Davon House had been looking great outside. A shout out to DT Mike Daniels, who's becoming the inside pass rusher they haven't had since DE Cullen Jenkins in 2010.
As for the offense, there really should be nothing to criticize. I'll mention RT Don Barclay, who again struggled, and I would have liked to have seen QB Aaron Rodgers run less, he took a few shots in this game, especially on his goal line run, but otherwise the offense scored on their first eight possessions which is pretty amazing. They didn't score on their ninth possession, when they got the ball with 1:24 left in the game and took a knee. Also, all of those possessions, except the second to last one when they recovered an onside kick and ran a couple plays before kicking a field goal, went the length of the field. Rodgers was scary accurate (24 for 29) and the running game was humming along. The overall total on the ground (4.3 ypc) look average, but they didn't run the ball well early or late when the Vikings were expecting it. For most of the game, the line was opening up running lanes and RB Eddie Lacy and RB James Starks were making the most of them, when the defense had to respect the run and the pass.
The Lions pulled a win from the jaws of defeat so they'll keep hanging around at 5-3, but the Packers sit ahead of them at 5-2 and already have a 1-0 head-to-head advantage. They finished October 4-0 and look ahead to a winnable stretch of games in November (Bears and Eagles at home, then at Giants, home against the Vikings) before finishing the month on Thanksgiving in Detroit.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
52 LB Clay Matthews
53 LB Nick Perry
59 LB Brad Jones
82 TE Ryan Taylor
88 TE Jermichael Finley
89 WR James Jones
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
If the Vikings do win on Sunday night, they'll need a return to last December. RB Adrian Peterson had a historic night and rushed for 199 yards (5.9 ypc) which seems unlikely now as he plays through a hamstring injury. The key to stopping the Vikings last season was shutting down their passing game, but instead QB Christian Ponder threw for three touchdowns last December (the only time he's done that in a single game). Of course, since then Ponder's lost his starting job to two different quarterbacks before Josh Freeman's concussion gave Ponder another chance this week.
In general, I put little faith into what happened last season, especially by the time we've reached Week 8.
Here are both teams' current rankings from Football Outsiders:
|Team||Pass Offense||Run Offense||Pass Defense||Run Defense|
As it has been all season, the only problem area for the Packers has been their pass defense. However, thanks in part to a stinker performance from QB Brandon Weeden, the pass defense has slowly improved over the past couple weeks. The return of S Morgan Burnett, and the recent benching of S Jerron McMillian (he only played on 14 snaps last week) are the two reasons for their improvement, and they should continue to get better because CB Casey Hayward is expected back this week.
With CB Tramon Williams having taken over Hayward's role in the slot, and CB Sam Shields and CB Davon House playing outside, I'm not sure how Hayward's going to fit in. My guess is that he'll take away snaps from S Chris Banjo and CB Micah Hyde, but this is a good problem for them to have. No matter how the secondary shapes up this week, they'll have every player available for the first time this season while the Vikings have given no indication that their passing attack is something to fear.
The offense has survived the rash of injuries at receiver, it would be a surprise if WR James Jones returned this week, and now they're without TE Jermichael Finley. Against a better defense, this might be a concern, but the Vikings haven't consistently stopped anyone this season. The biggest concern should be protecting QB Aaron Rodgers, which is why they've been re-evaluating RT Don Barclay this week. I wouldn't be shocked to see Marshall Newhouse starting at right tackle, but he comes with his own limitations.
The Packers have averaged 26 points per game on the road this season, and the Vikings are easily the worst defense they've faced away, so scoring 28 to 35 points should be expected. The last time Ponder started a game at home was against the Browns and they scored 27 points, but 10 of those points came after turnovers. Assuming the Packers avoid turnovers they should have no problem holding the Vikings to under 20 points.
Packers 31, Vikings 17.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The Rams should not be kicking the tires on 44 year old retired quarterbacks. If anything, they should be looking around the league and seeing how the Texans and Bills have managed to stay competitive in recent weeks by taking a chance on a young guy (Case Keenum and Thad Lewis). It's a young man's game, and they'd do better by signing Scott Tolzien off the Packers' practice squad than bringing Favre back to the league. Moving on...
Despite missing two of his top three receivers, Rodgers managed his best game of 2013, and the best game of the week according to Football Outsiders, against a solid Browns defense. It's easy to point out the good (260 yards, 3 TDs, no turnovers, 1 sack) though I was surprised that he actually had 11 incompletions because his accuracy looked perfect last week. I thought I'd take a closer look at those 11 misses.
(14:00) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep left to 11-J.Boykin.
A back shoulder pass to WR Jarrett Boykin (possibly to get him involved early) was perfectly thrown, but he reacted a split-second too late and it hit off his right hand.
(9:33) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep left to 87-J.Nelson [51-B.Mingo].
On a designed roll to his left, he was looking for Nelson deep along the left sidelines, but he was covered and Rodgers threw the ball out of bounds.
(6:06) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to 81-A.Quarless.
RT Don Barclay was badly beaten by Paul Kruger, who flushed Rodgers out to his right. He threw the ball on the run at Quarless's feet. While he often makes something out of these busted plays, Quarless was running back to the play and neither one of them knew exactly where the other was going.
(1:59) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep left to 23-J.Franklin.
Oof! He'd like that pass back. RB Johnathan Franklin had slipped uncovered into the end zone and Rodgers overthrew him. The Packers settled for a field goal on this drive.
(:16) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short left to 19-M.White (39-T.Gipson).
This pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
(:14) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right.
Another busted play. Rodgers scrambled to his right, no one was open, and he threw it away.
(11:43) (No Huddle) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to 27-E.Lacy.
The coverage was great and while a defender was draped over his back, Rodgers threw it short on a little dump off pass to RB Eddie Lacy that would have gone for a loss if he'd caught it. It was better that Lacy didn't catch it.
(7:35) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right [98-P.Taylor].
Once again, Barclay was beaten and Rodgers scrambled to his right to avoid the sack in the end zone. He just threw it away.
(4:02) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short left to 27-E.Lacy.
The coverage held up and Rodgers dumped it off to Lacy. He threw it a foot in front of him, it looked like he was expecting Lacy to start moving upfield, but Lacy was flat footed and it fell right in front of him.
(2:15) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep left to 11-J.Boykin.
The pocket was collapsing and there was no where to run. Boykin wasn't open but Rodgers threw it deep, several feet in front of the receiver and the defender. He threw it into the field where it hypothetically could have been caught, but no receiver or defender was close and the play was busted by the defense.
(1:36) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep right.
This play's mislabeled, Rodgers threw it about seven yards on a busted 3rd and long play. He was scrambling to his right and no one was open, so he threw it out of bounds.
In total, 11 incompletions and only the pass to Franklin in the end zone was a real miss. Otherwise, 2 drops, 1 pass knocked down at the line, and 7 busted plays when he threw it away or had to get rid of it. His completion percentage was an impressive 69.4% for the game anyway, but he was actually almost perfect.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Josh Freeman has concussion, Ponder to start: Quarterback injured http://t.co/YUt9raCCKnActually this isn't great news, though QB Christian Ponder has been awful this season, because his last good game came on December 30, 2012 when the Vikings beat the Packers in Minneapolis. He probably gives the Vikings their best chance to win. I'm still not expecting the Vikings to win but he's better than Freeman.
— NationalFootballPost (@FootballPost) October 23, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Finley to be released from hospital within 24 hours; will seek specialist advice on whether or not he should continue his career
Freeman's passing last night: FIFTEEN overthrown passes! pic.twitter.com/YyBVWr31acYou can blame some of his problems on the offensive line and his receivers, but all teams have protection breakdown, injuries (LT Matt Kalil did what he could last night with a bad back), and dropped passes. But accuracy is on the QB and all he did last night was prove his horrific completion percentage with the Buccaneers was no fluke.
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) October 22, 2013
And I was serious about Vince Young. At least Young will run occasionally for a big play which surprisingly Freeman never tried to do. QB Christian Ponder can run too for that matter. Ponder isn't the future in Minnesota, but he probably gives them the best chance to win right now. I could be talked into believing Cassel's better than Ponder, but really it doesn't make that much of a difference; at their best, they're both only league average QBs.
As for WR Greg Jennings, he led the Vikings in targets and receptions last night (4 for 41 yards) and he was also the victim of one of Freeman's overthrown passes. On one incompletion over the middle, Jennings had to reach up for the overthrown pass and it left him exposed for a big hit while his arms were up in the air. He wasn't taken out of the game, but he did have to leave the field for at least a play.
However, the Vikings have made this big leap with Freeman and I don't expect they'll be going back. Sometimes a team can quickly admit their mistakes; the Raiders started QB Matt Flynn for one game, they realized it wasn't going to work out, and released him two weeks later. I don't see the Vikings acting the same way with Freeman.
Monday, October 21, 2013
QB Aaron Rodgers. This was probably his game of the season. The stats don't show it with 16 incompletions (56.8%), but he often was throwing it away and he looked as accurate as I've seen him all season. The protection was good, though RT Don Barclay struggled, and he did a great job of avoiding the rush when it got to him.
WR Jarrett Boykin. I was really down on him after a lousy first half against the Ravens, he wasn't that great this preseason either, so his big game was a relief (8 catches, 103 yards, 1 TD). He can be an effective receiver and he got himself ridiculously wide open on a couple of occasions.
LB Jamari Lattimore. He's been hanging around the roster for a couple years, first at outside LB than inside, and I wasn't exactly sure why. I don't know if the coaches ever expected a lot from him but he's looked great as an injury replacement over the past two weeks. He's flying all over the field.
CB Davon House. A poor first preseason game dropped him down the depth chart and he's spent the past several weeks working his way back up it. The duo of House and CB Sam Shields have been taking away big plays down the sidelines for the past few weeks now.
I'm excluding a few other players. When you win 31-13, there's a lot of good to go around.
QB Brandon Weeden. He's really that bad. The pass defense has been a sore spot for the Packers this season and Weeden did nothing (3.5 yards per attempt, QBR 10.0) against it. It's too bad because the Browns have a good overall team and they'd have threatened the Packers if they had an average QB.
P Tim Masthay. It was not his best game (30 yard average on punts). I'm not sure how much to blame the coverage or Masthay's kickoffs, but two separate return men had big returns against them and they both led to points. KR Travis Benjamin is really good and this hadn't been a problem area, so hopefully it was just one bad game.
LB Andy Mulumba. I like LB Nate Palmer, though he didn't bring much as a pass rusher, and LB Mike Neal would have played better if his shoulder felt all right, but I saw nothing from Mulumba in what should have been a big opportunity for him. He's their 5th option so it's not like a lot should be expected but LB Clay Matthews can't get back soon enough.
TE Jermichael Finley. The early news was decidedly mixed; he's spent the night in the hospital but it's just precautionary. Hopefully he comes out of this just fine.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
However, their winning streak has been a team effort (and coincided with the return of WR Josh Gordon from suspension) and their defense has not been flawless. The Vikings and Lions both scored big against them in recent weeks. While injuries have left the Packers with no depth at wide receiver and linebacker, no injury might be bigger than QB Brian Hoyer's torn ACL. Here are the team rankings from Football Outsiders:
|Team||Pass Offense||Run Offense||Pass Defense||Run Defense|
The pass defense is still a disaster, but they have the pieces to turn it around and the possible return of CB Casey Hayward could help them against TE Jordan Cameron and Gordon (who was the best receiver in the league last week). The run defense continues to improve and they total sucked the life out of RB Ray Rice last week. Without OLBs Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Mike Neal, they'll need to be creative with their pass rush but hopefully the fact that they recorded five sacks last week is proof that they can manage.
The Packers also are currently on a ten game winning streak at Lambeau (including playoffs) and they are clearly playing better at home. The Packers have been settling for a lot of field goals over their last two games so they won't score a lot but I'm not sure how the Browns can score over 10 points without a big special teams play or a defensive touchdown.
Packers 23, Browns 10
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Linebacker: Without Neal (bruised shoulder) and Jones, the Packers might be down to five healthy linebackers. Rookie LBs Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer would start outside and LB Jamari Lattimore would start inside with A.J. Hawk. The only backup is rookie ILB Sam Barrington. We all know what Hawk brings (or doesn't bring) to the field. Lattimore looked good as Jones's replacement against the Ravens. While I wouldn't expect much from either Mulumba or Palmer, neither would be a disaster. Lattimore used to play outside, so he could move there if necessary. What they could do is spend more time in the nickel, the Browns' run offense is ranked 25th overall and they're getting little from RB Willis McGahee, so going small probably wouldn't hurt them. The game plan might need to be adjusted, but I think they can manage.
Tight End: TE Ryan Taylor surprised everyone by needing a surgery on his knee and he'll be out a few weeks. The Packers signed TE Jake Stoneburner off the practice squad to replace him, but maybe TE Brandon Bostick will get the first shot at replacing Taylor on special teams and as an extra blocker on offense. Unfortunately, to open a spot for Stoneburner, the Packers had to place backup OL Greg Van Roten on IR and end his season. Now I have no idea who would play center if something happened to C Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Receiver: At first I wanted them to sign practice squad WR Charles Johnson to the 53-man roster, but the Browns signed him last Saturday. However, he wouldn't have been available anyway because he actually has a torn ACL. Plan B was rookie WR Tavarres King but the Broncos made a roster move to keep him on their 53-man roster. Onto Plan C; sign rookie WR Myles White from the practice squad.
There really isn't much else they can do at this point. The good news is that White's been with the team on-and-off since originally signing with the Packers after the draft back in May, so he knows the offense and he's worked with QB Aaron Rodgers this offseason. The bad news is that he dropped a few too many passes this preseason, which is why he ended up on the practice squad in the first place. The exact same can be said for rookie WR Tyrone Walker, who was signed to the practice squad to replace White. Walker was released a couple of bad preseason games, but earlier this summer he was one of the stars of training camp.
Still, this is not a good situation, but it's probably the best they can do. The list of veteran free agents is not impressive and a few of those guys have already signed elsewhere. Any three receiver sets would have to involve White (if Jones can't play) and WR Jarrett Boykin is already enough of a question mark. They could go bigger and see if TE Jermichael Finley can create a mismatch against a smaller corner while giving TE Andrew Quarless more playing time. I wouldn't be surprised to see them do a little of both.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
More awful Packers news came out today as WR Randall Cobb, who injured his knee in Baltimore, has been placed on the team's injured reserve, ending his season. Taking his spot on the roster will be practice squad WR Myles White.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
Blog update: #Packers WR Randall Cobb will be sidelined for "multiple weeks" with knee injury: http://t.co/vRmvfs7H8QWhen I saw the injury, I thought Cobb's season was over, so any possible return this season is great news. However he's still going to be out for a while.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) October 14, 2013
It's still early in the week, so this is subject to change, but WR James Jones might be back next week. I wasn't expecting any good news from him either. His injury happened on one of those plays where his knee gave out although it wasn't hit, and often those turn out to be season ending.
They need to add another wide receiver anyway because Jones only gets them back to three. The guy I wish they could sign was former 7th round WR Charles Johnson, but in a case of terrible timing, he was just signed off the practice squad by the Browns. Now it looks like the Packers will raid someone else's practice squad to find a replacement:
Ijust asked Tavarres King if he was going to Green Bay. "How do you know that?" Then he ducked into the bathroom. So, we'll see.King was the Broncos' 5th round draft choice and one of their final cuts before the season. He was a big playmaker in his final college season at Georgia (42 catches, 950 yards, 22.6 average, 9 TDs). His work out results were solid (4.40 40 time) but he's not a big guy (6-0, 189 lbs.) so I can see why he didn't make the 53-man roster. His hands are inconsistent and he's going to have to improve on that if he wants to have an NFL future.
— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) October 14, 2013
His only known competition is WR Myles White, who's currently on the practice squad. I like him, but he dropped a few too many passes last preseason.
On offense, they did manage four scoring drives (I'm not counting the one FG after a strip sack) but early pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers killed a couple early drives, and then WR Jarrett Boykin killed a couple on his own by dropping passes and running poor routes. Boykin was so bad it seemed like he was playing for the Ravens in the first half. It got better in the second half and RB Eddie Lacy had room to run all day. They have been settling for a lot of field goals in their last two games, however it's not like they're settling for a lot of chip shot field goals and at least they're driving into field goal range in the first place. Still, it's something to keep an eye on.
On defense, I know the Ravens had been struggling in pass protection, but the Packers really got after QB Joe Flacco and shut down their running game. The knee injury to LB Nick Perry is a big concern because he's picked up his game the past couple weeks. The secondary looked bad at the end, but the biggest concern was S Jerron McMillian. He should have been on probation after his sloppy Week 1 game against the 49ers. Against the Ravens, he blew his coverage on their 4th and 21 conversion and then he surrendered a touchdown pass to TE Dallas Clark. They have to make a change, whether it means S Chris Banjo plays more or maybe McMillian is taken out of the backfield rotation once CB Casey Hayward returns (CB Micah Hyde could play a hybrid safety/CB role).
The special teams were a disaster, someone should show FB John Kuhn the famous Leon Lett video as a reminder, until Hyde had a couple of good returns mid-game and then they were pretty solid.
The big problem going forward will be dealing with all the injuries. And the fact that most of the injuries are piling up at two positions; linebacker and wide receiver. Shockingly, the early word on WR Randall Cobb is positive, but there's no word yet on WR James Jones or LB Nick Perry. All three of them are key players, though Cobb is the most important of them. In the short term, they might be able to juggle at linebacker next week but they'll have to make a roster move to add another receiver. As for the rest of the season, I have some ideas about both positions, but I'll leave that until there's official word on them later this week.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
No team has scored over 10 points against the Ravens at home this season, but the only two quarterbacks that they've hosted so far have been Brandon Weeden and Matt Schaub. They had the misfortune of playing against QB Peyton Manning in week 1, but since then they've played against no QB better than E.J. Manuel. The Ravens' pass defense is listed as average, and that's probably accurate, which means QB Aaron Rodgers should have a good game though it will be extremely important to keep LB Terrell Suggs blocked. On the other hand, the Ravens' run defense looks solid so I'm not expecting another 100 yard rusher this week.
The Ravens' offense has looked like a mess the last two weeks. QB Joe Flacco threw for 5 INTs two weeks ago (8 for the season) and RB Ray Rice is struggling with a hip injury. They recently traded for LT Eugene Monroe, and he'll make his Ravens debut against the Packers which should help their beleaguered offensive line, but nothing's for sure about that one. They'll also have the benefit of playing against a struggling Packer pass defense that's still without CB Casey Hayward and will also be without Matthews and LB Brad Jones.
I'm not expecting they'll win by a big margin, but the defense should be sturdy enough to keep the Ravens' offense in check, while the Packers' offense continues to average 28 points on the road.
Packers 28, Ravens 21.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
This headline is a head scratcher: Packers offense not firing on all cylinders. QB Aaron Rodgers isn't playing like it's 2011, but this is a powerhouse offense. They're the number two offense according to Football Outsiders, which is basically the best any team can hope for this season when QB Peyton Manning is on pace for 64 TDs and 3 INTs. Rodgers isn't having his best season statistically, but otherwise the offense has made two major improvements to areas that had been holding them back.
After watching Rodgers take hit after hit for the past few seasons, he's only been sacked 11 times this season, which is tied for 8th best. Also, the offensive line has helped two different backs go over 100 yards rushing in a game (Franklin and Starks) and Lacy just missed the mark with 99 yards against the Lions. That's even more impressive considering there have only been eighteen 100 yard rushing games in the entire league so far this season.
The additions of Franklin and Lacy have obviously helped, but I've also been impressed with the run blocking of LT David Bakhtiari. Another key promotion has been C Evan Dietrich-Smith, who's been much better at taking out the inside linebacker against the run than C Jeff Saturday was. The pass offense is still outstanding, ranked behind only Denver and San Diego according to Football Outsiders, but now the running attack is a top 3 unit, behind only Philadelphia and Indianapolis.
As for the injuries, the return of S Morgan Burnett last week was great to see. Hopefully CB Casey Hayward can end his season long absence and return soon. RB James Starks is hurting, but that was inevitable. LB Brad Jones is a big loss, he's good at every aspect of the game, but he might only miss one week (with another hamstring injury?). There's no player more important to the defense than LB Clay Matthews, but they actually have no idea when he might be back (in a good way). His thumb won't heal but he can play with a cast and he might return sooner than we originally believed. Matthews could also use the time off; he looked a bit slow during the Lions game and his hamstring might still be bothering him. There will be some problems on defense next week, against a Ravens team that has a lot of problems on offense, but the defense should be getting all their starters back shortly.
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
I was pretty vocal late last year that they had to make a change from Crosby because it looked like his confidence was shot. However, I was a bit cautious about releasing him for the sake of releasing him this offseason, unless they happened to sign a kicker who was obviously better (they didn't). You never know when a kicker is going to bounce back.
Right now, Crosby is one of eight kickers who are perfect on field goal attempts. While the perfection is appreciated, it's more surprising how accurate his kicks have been. Usually he's been hitting them right down the middle, which is a major change from some of his 2012 shanks that weren't within 10 yards of the uprights.
Maybe his confidence never left him, which is why the Packers were so patient with him. Or maybe they knew that kickers are unpredictable and if they gave him some time, he'd work out of the problem with his technique.
They had some reason to believe that 2012 was a fluke and Crosby could easily bounce back in 2013. Aaron Schatz wrote a great article a few years ago about just how inconsistent kickers are at making field goals. So what's happened to Crosby isn't unusual.
At some point this season, he'll finally miss his first field goal of the season, and it will be briefly mentioned on TV that he was awful last season. I'm not sure how accurate he will be this season, he's proven to be an unpredictable kicker, but right now he looks great and I hope he maintains his confidence and technique for as long as he can.
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
But something that stood out for me was how much of a field position battle that game was. The Lions started seven of their first nine drives exactly on the 20 yard line after a touchback. They had to work all the way down the field for everything, and QB Matthew Stafford couldn't do it without a big play option and a collection backup receivers.
The Packers were a similar story and their three time consuming drives in the first half only led to two field goals. They too had to work all the way down the field on every possession, and they started inside their own 30 yard line on every drive until they recovered an onside kick at the end. There were no turnovers by either team to create field position, and no big plays on offense until WR Randall Cobb had his big run on one drive and WR James Jones had an 83 yard touchdown reception on the next.
There's no lesson to be learned here, other than to reinforce the idea that it's hard to score when every play goes for a short gain and your field position is lousy. Still, moving down the field for six scoring drives should be enough to win the game, and it worked last Sunday.
Monday, October 07, 2013
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.
Sunday, October 06, 2013
Green Bay Packers
29 CB Casey Hayward
44 RB James Starks
51 LB Nate Palmer
64 G/C Greg Van Roten
86 TE Brandon Bostick
93 DE Josh Boyd
98 DE C.J. Wilson
13 WR Nate Burleson
17 QB Kellen Moore
25 RB Mikel Leshoure
36 CB Jonte Green
64 G Leroy Harris
66 T LaAdrian Waddle
81 WR Calvin Johnson
Kickoff for this one will be at noon CT. You can see it in certain areas on FOX. Enjoy it.
Saturday, October 05, 2013
Friday, October 04, 2013
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
However, the rest of the NFC North teams did move after their games. With their loss, the Bears moved down to No. 11 so the Packers are the best divisional team in terms of advanced stats, though obviously the record doesn't reflect it. They've got to actually win these close games.
The defense continues to deserve much of the blame, as the unit slipped to No. 31 overall after adjusting for the fact that they got torched by the average offensive units of the Bengals and 49ers. Only the Chargers are worse on defense than the Packers.
Ironically, QB Philip Rivers's amazing comeback season has vaulted the Chargers into the No. 2 spot on offense, one ahead of the Packers. Both teams have near average special teams rankings. The Packers are slightly ahead at No. 9 overall, while the Chargers are No. 12, but otherwise the two teams have been almost identical with great offenses and awful defenses. They also had the same record (1-2) after three games, though the Chargers are now 2-2 after beating the Cowboys last Sunday. So are the Packers an NFC version of the Chargers or are the Chargers an AFC version of the Packers?
The Packers face the Lions next Sunday, who are coming off a solid win over the Bears, and while the Lions are almost as highly ranked (No. 13 overall) as the Packers, the Lions still have to get over the fact that they haven't won at Lambeau since the dawn of time.