With the bye week, there’s plenty to cover. Let’s try and take an organized approach to this week and see if I can follow it, shall we?
- Is the offense fixed?
- Did McCarthy get conservative?
- Am I justified criticizing #12? (my close friends and co-workers are aware)
- What’s wrong with Randall?
- Is Nick Perry really this good?
- Is the BYE coming at a good time?
Ok, let’s tackle these (pun intended)…
(1) Offense – The production certainly increased, especially in the first half v Detroit. They’re not a premier defense, but I believe the Lions’ defense is a good test to see where this offense is at. Let’s take a look at the 1st half play-calling…there were 29 plays run by the Packers: 14 from under-center; 15 from shotgun. There were 21 called pass plays and 8 called rushing plays. If you know me, I’m a big proponent of running the ball and running an offense from under-center. It’s the quickest method to get the QB the ball, and there’s much more you can do from under center with more effectiveness. A play that us Packer fans haven’t seen was the TD to Richard Rodgers (TE), a stretch play-action to the left with Rich Rod (Richard Rodgers) pulling across the formation to open in the flat for an easy TD. That was a sight for sore eyes.
(2) Conservative – The Lions scored a quick TD right before the end of the 1st half to cut the score to 31-10. Then came out in the 2nd half and took the ball down for another TD holding it for about 5 ½ minutes. Looking at the play-calling, one may say the play-calling was conservative, others might say Lacy is in a groove and use and abuse the Lions’ D which should be beat up and tired. Another factor is the Packers’ D had been on the field quite a bit and with all of the injuries (and suspension to Pennel) was in much need of a break. Either way, let’s take a look at it…in the 3rd quarter, Green Bay ran a total of 9 plays with quite a bit of production from Lacy, however had to settle for only 3 points. In the 4th quarter, and the score 34-20, the Packers came out with an under-center, single-back look – went play action to Lacy and tried for a home-run to ice the game, but no one was open. Then it came to a few runs which garnered a couple of 1st downs, but no points. Then the next possession was Green Bay’s last, and with it was a bit predictable, but on 3rd and 7 and 3+ min remaining, Rodgers had Davante Adams open across the middle and either A. didn’t see him or B. wasn’t comfortable making the throw, so he pulled it down and ran for the 1st, essentially icing the game. All in all, I think there was a method to the play-calling, with the factors being: the Defense had been on the field a lot and struggling; Lacy and the offensive line were creating space and producing chunks of yards.
(3) Is the “real” Rodgers back? – He played exceptionally well in the first half, to the level that’s expected of him. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect him to throw for 4 TDs in the 1st half all the time, however, it’s plenty reasonable for him to be 11/14 for 150 yards. My main concern, is him throwing off of his back foot especially with a pocket. It didn’t affect any production or specific throws until the 4th quarter on a key 3rd down with Cobb crossing the middle. Had Aaron stepped into the throw and lead Randall, I believe it would’ve lead to a large gain (15+ yards) and may have catapulted the offense to another score and putting the game away early in the 4th. Overall, he played quite well and let’s hope that play (efficiency from the 1st half) continues next Sunday night v the Giants. If the Packers have sights of raising the Lombardi trophy in early February, they’ll need the rush defense to stay atop or near the top of the NFL, the pass coverage to improve greatly, AND the former MVP QB to play like one in Jan and Feb.
(4) What’s wrong with Damarious Randall? – in week 2 at Minnesota Randall was the primary cover corner on Stefon Diggs, the Vikings’ premier WR was targeted 10 times with 9 receptions for 182 yards and a TD. In the following week v Detroit for the home-opener, Randall was tasked with covering Marvin Jones. The final stat line for the Lions’ 2nd WR???? 6 receptions on 8 targets for 205 yards and 2 TDs!?!?!? From what I saw, re-watching the game, Randall’s great play striping the ball from Eric Ebron (Detroit’s up-and-coming TE) in the 2nd quarter may have led to him getting torched later in the game on the long TD right before the half. Damarious seemed to have jump the under-route (another defender’s target) thus leaving Jones wide open for an easy completion. I’m not sure what happened in Minnesota, however the TD to Diggs was a well-thrown ball on pretty good coverage. I’m still holding out hope that Randall will be good because he’s shown lock-down ability. The sooner that arrives, the better!
(5) Is this the real Nick Perry? – I’ve always liked Perry, but just thought he was an ideal 4-3 Defensive End and it has taken him this long to fully adapt to a 3-4 Outside Linebacker. On top of that, his health has always been an issue, I believe this is the longest stretch of health he’s experienced since being drafted. There was a key play that stood out to me in his first game as a pro that lead me to believe there was potential for the stiff-looking, bulky body of #53. The opening game in 2012, hosting San Francisco, there was a dump-off pass to HB Kendall Hunter in the flat which was a great play design by then Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh, and Perry was able to make the tackle in the open field v a shifty HB. That athleticism combined with his brute strength could make for a very dominant 3-4 OLB, and we’re seeing that play pay off now. It’ll likely result in a hefty payday for Perry and if he continues to stay healthy, could prove to be a key component of a very good defense in the coming years.
(6) Bye timing convenient? – Aaron Rodgers said he hates the early bye, as do most of the other players, but did mention that it might help due to all of the injuries the Packers are experiencing: Sam Shields; Clay Matthews; Morgan Burnett; Letroy Guion; Mike Pennel (suspension, back for Dallas). The key player the Packers need returned is Sam Shields. That slides Randall down to cover the 2nd or 3rd WR with Rollins covering the other. LaDarius Gunter (#36) has played quite well and is showing growth since being a breakout star in 2015’s training camp. A player that got quite a few snaps last week was undrafted free agent rookie Kentrell Brice (#29) from Louisiana Tech. I’ve loved him since camp based on his speed and athleticism. Brice was not invited to the NFL combine this past year, and he wasn’t drafted, however credit Ted Thompson and his staff for finding this player. If developed correctly could be a real player in this league for a long time. He’s arguably the fastest player on the roster with running a 4.38 40-yard dash at his pro day. If he plays sound football and keeps the ball in front of him, allowing him to attack by using his speed, he could be quite the compliment to HaHa Clinton-Dix and present a formidable challenge for opposing offenses.
Well, if you’re still with me, thanks! We’ll preview the Giants next week coming in for Sunday Night Football and we’ll get a good look at them this Monday Night when they head to US Bank Stadium to take on the rolling Vikings.
After correctly picking the Packers v Detroit, I’m 11-10. Stay tuned for next week and thanks for reading!