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Monday, October 31, 2005

Still Rebuilding......

by Mark Quarderer


And so we find ourselves now at 1-6 and preparing for next week's game against one of the very strongest teams in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Who could have predicted we'd be 1-7 at the halfway mark? Certainly not me. I thought we'd struggle a little more this year on offense because we'd be facing better defenses with a weaker line and a diminished running attack but I certainly didn't foresee the rash of injuries at WR and RB that have gutted us at the skill positions.

Woulda.....coulda.....shoulda......

Of all the sad words of tongue and pen, these are the saddest: It might have been. I think that was Rudyard Kipling but it certainly applies to the Green Bay Packers.

If only Longwell and Sander had been able to get the ball through the uprights.
If only Carroll OR Thomas could cover and not make critical mistakes.
If only we hadn't had the injuries.
If only we could get solid, consistent quarterbacking.

But that's all water under the bridge now. We're 1-6, headed to 1-7, and very possibly to something like 3-13.


We're Rebuilding

Earlier this year, in training camp, I posted a piece that said that we were clearly rebuilding and surprisingly it actually provoked people who had a dissenting view. From my perspective, I don't see how you can look at this team and not see that it is in a rebuilding mode. You can call it remodeling or a transition year or whatever you want but the bottom line is that the team that takes the field in September of 2006 is going to bear very little resemblence to the one that walked off the field 20 months earlier after the playoff loss to Minnesota.

Although there are still people...solid, thoughtful people....who insist that Sherman's dismissal is not a foregone conclusion, I'd be willing to put a pretty good bet down that he will not be the head coach of this team after this year. As I've mentioned earlier, it would be human nature for TT to not want his predecessor and his cronies driving from the backseat. It would be human nature for Sherman's pride to be hurt after his demotion. It would be human nature for him to want to go elsewhere and prove that he can get the job done.

The offensive line, which got off to kind of a rocky start, is slowly but surely improving. Mike Flanagan is hurt and not the player he once was and in all probability he won't be back next year. Heir apparent Scott Wells is undersized and stumpy but plays with a lot of energy and tenacity and certainly shows signs of being a guy who will grow into a starting NFL center. Waiting in the wings are Junius Coston and Chris White, a guy who looked pretty good in training camp this year. Adrian Klemm is not Mike Wahle but he's not Morty Feinbaum either. His pass blocking has been pretty good and as a straight ahead run blocker he's not bad. He doesn't pull as quickly as Wahle but that doesn't mean he's a loser. Will Whitticker is continuing to look like a rookie at the other guard but you've got to like his size, his smarts, and his work ethic. I don't know if he'll ever be a Pro Bowler but I tend to think he can develop into a solid starting offensive lineman. Clifton and Tauscher are in the prime of their career and one of the best pairs of tackles in the league.

Our TE situation looks better than it has in years. Bubba Franks is signed for several seasons and David Martin and Donald Lee both look like they can fill the backup roles.

At WR, we're decimated by injures but conventional wisdom would say that every one of our injured receivers can make it back from their injuries by next season. I'm not so certain and I wouldn't be surprised if we drafted a WR on the first day as insurance. I also remain unconvinced that Ted Thompson is going to be willing to part with the kind of money that Walker will be seeking and so we may lose him to free agency after the 2006 season......and there's always the possibility of a holdout as well.

The main problem on offense is in the offensive backfield. Henderson certainly looks finished to me and shouldn't be invited back next year. I wouldn't invite Davenport back either. If Green can come back from his injury (and quite frankly, I'm very skeptical about this) he'll never be able to be a guy that you can count on to carry the load of a feature back. Best case scenario for the Packers is that he plays next season as a backup for a backup's salary and plays well. Tony Fisher is a fine 3rd down back but I really think the Packers need to revamp the running back spot by getting a new feature back, a more reliable backup than Davenport (like Green, perhaps), and a #3 RB who can return kicks.

And of course, you have to talk about our quarterback. So far, through seven games, he's had one good game (vs. New Orleans), a good half against Carolina and MInnesota, a good quarter against defenses protecting the lead (Tampa Bay and Cleveland) and he played so poorly against Detroit and Cincinnati that he gave the team very little chance of winning. This is a phenomenon that I've been tracking since 2003 and to put it plainly............you generally aren't going to get four good quarters of quarterbacking out of Favre anymore. He'll be on fire for a quarter or a half but he appears to lose focus during stretches and the offense doesn't end up moving the ball or scoring points.

It very much reminds me of the current Toby Keith hit: "I aint as good as I once was, but for once I'm as good as I ever was." He still shows stretches where he gives us some great quarterbacking......but it just doesn't happen consistently anymore. His lack of weaponry is clearly a factor in that but the interceptions he threw against Cincinnati had a lot less to do with weaponry than they did with judgment. Currently, he leads the league in interceptions and with Culpepper and Bulger both sidelined with injuries that could well be a lead he'll hang onto this season.

Again, I'm wondering why this team would want to rebuild around a 36 year old error-prone guy like Favre who'll be 39 or 40 when the rest of the team peaks. From my perspective, the team would be better off to get Rodgers ready to be our QB next season and take the salary cap savings that Favre's retirement would bring and fill a hole or two in free agency. I know the thought of sitting Favre to play Rodgers is anathema to true Acolytes, but if we don't get Rodgers some time on the field and Favre DOES retire then we're going to regret not having Rodgers make some of his mistakes this year when they don't hurt us. (in fact, they'll probably help us get Reggie Bush.)

Defensively, as I mentioned in my last blog entry, you're only as good as your weakest link and currently our weak links are at the corneback spot opposite Harris and at the nickel back. In other words, Joey Thomas and Ahmad Carroll. Thomas just doens't look like he can cover NFL guys; Carroll clearly can but just makes so many mistakes that it hurts the team. Better play at those two positions would have made the difference in at least two games this year, maybe three.

We continue to stop the run pretty darn well. Currently, we are 4th in the NFL in average yards/rush at 3.4. Next week, we face another one of the best running attacks in the league......probably the stiffest test we'll have all season. Truthfully, I didn't think we'd be this good against the run this year and I have to give all credit to Bates and his assistants for the work they've done with this group. It kind of bolsters my argument that it's not about "playmakers" as much as it's about having solid guys playing together and executing their assignments without making critical mistakes. This group could use a 3 down defensive end to compliment KGB on passing downs and replace him on running downs, thereby strengthening us against the run and pass.


The Long Dry Spell

I remember the Long Dry Spell from 1972 to 1992. If you ask most Packer fans, they'll tell you that we were bad during that stretch but the truth is that we were mediocre for the most part with some bad teams and some good teams that just never realized their promise but teased us into believing that prosperity was just around the corner.

Favre is given a great deal of credit, rightly so, for bringing the Long Dry Spell to an end. We've enjoyed over a decade of pretty good teams that made the playoffs for the most part. We got another Lombardi trophy.

But we're going nowhere now, and we've really been on a treadmill to nowhere for quite a while, having won exactly two playoff games in the last seven years and I don't think we're going to win any this year.

Are we headed for another Long Dry Spell? Some apparently believe so, but I'm not one of them.

How long before we'll be legitimate challengers for the trophy again? I think that depends on how soon the team starts focusing on the future instead of clinging to the past.

Brett Favre, At what point would we sit him and play Rodgers?

by LosAngelis


I'm a little bothered when people cite what Favre has done in the past and that he should never be benched.

I don't think that's right, or fair, or intelligent.



He should remain the starter because of the tangibles and intangibles he brings to the team. Yes, he's struggled at times, and like this past game, some inexplicable mistakes happen. But we've still never been blown out. And this is with massive injuries on both sides of the ball.

He gives us out best chance to win now. Look how beat up he got on Sunday...can you imagine Rodgers and his happy feet trying to evade those rushers? He'd be put on the IR today.

He still gave us our best chance, and gave every last ounce of strength he had to the very end. How many other players give that amount of heart for a losing team?

He provides leadership in a time where players showing leadership and the right way to play the game will become scarcer and scarcer, either because they are injured or are just giving up.

He will know when it is time to go. And I think it will be the end of this season, not because he cant' play, but because its time to move on and for us to begin our 10 years of losing football.

Football 101- Quick Scat Dino U Angle



by Reckless
PackerChatters Staff

This week's play of the week is the TD pass to Chatman during the game at Minnesota. The Packers had the ball at the MIN 4 yard line after gaining a couple of yards on a draw play. “Formationally it’s called spread right B right” (I’m not certain he said “B” but it sounded like it). This play was called using Tiger personnel – 2 TDs, 2 WRs and one back. MIN was playing a 3-4 defense with “quarters” coverage (zone coverage with each DB covering a quarter of the field), which “really equals about 7 across down there in their zone” (Since they are so close to the end zone.)


------S1----------------------------S
CB1-----W---------P-----M-------B--------CB
---------------E1----T-----E
--------86-----O--O--O--O--O-----87
80-------------------O-------------------83

---------------------40

Tony Fisher (40) was the FB on the play. He went in motion by taking a couple of steps forward and then running to the right parallel to the line of scrimmage. That motion caused P and M to move toward 40’s motion to the right. The Plugger, P, blitzed up the middle and the rest of the LBs stayed back in coverage. “Scat” is the protection the Packers were in. It means that the OGs “use inside to outside reads”. The LG blocks P if he is coming on a blitz. If not, he “peeks” or looks outside for W coming on a blitz. The RG does the same thing: He looks to M and blocks him if he’s blitzing. If not, he looks to B to see if he’s coming. On this play, only P blitzed and he was blocked.

“Dino” means double post. Sherman drew a line from David Martin (87) to the post (the goal post) and said this route is designed to “drive hard inside on the middle post” route. 87 was the primary read on this play. Antonio Chatman’s (83) route involves a “shake and bake” move (he draw a route toward CB with some squiggles to show the “shake and bake” and then drew a straight line on an angle from just in front of where CB lined up going slightly behind where S lined up, parallel to 87’s route. 83 was the second read on this play.

40, “we call him the FB on this play”, continues his route (he was in motion) into the right flat, trying to “displace” or draw B to cover the right flat. On the left side of the formation, “we have three over two” - the Packers have two receivers but there are 3 defenders, “so it’s not a good combination to win with” (it isn’t a favorable match up). 86’s route is a toward S1 and then towards the left corner of the end zone and 80’s route goes toward where P lined up. Sherman, “Brett stayed on the strong side where we had three on three. Because P blitzed and B went to the flat, we were able to get over the top of the S.”

The tape showed how spread out the formation was. Donald Driver (80) was about three yards outside (to the left) of the numbers and 83 was about that far to the right of the numbers on the other side. There was a good five yards between the OTs and the TEs. 87’s route was not as Sherman described it. He went straight to the goal line and once he was in the end zone he just went to the left. S seemed to be really fooled by 40’s route to the right flat. Even as Brett is releasing the ball, S took a false step toward 40. Even so, there was very little room to squeeze the ball between S and B because CB covered 40 and after B took a step or two toward the right flat he then went back into his spot in the zone. It took a great throw to complete the pass.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

What I believe about Defense

by Mark Quarderer


There are some things about defense that I believe are true, regardless of what team or what level you're talking about. Chief among these are:

You must stop the run. If you don't stop the run, nothing else is really going to matter very much. Your pass rush isn't going to be able to help you if teams never pass. Your secondary isn't going to make any plays for you if they keep it on the ground. Your offense isn't going to be able to bail you out if they're on the sideline watching the clock...and the chains....move. You simply have to stop the run; there isn't any alternative.

I'm aware that there are isolated cases of teams that aren't very good against the run who've had some success, most recently Philadelphia, but these are exceptions and not the rule and I always think that an argument that's based on the exception is not as strong as one based on the rule.

In this area, the 2005 Packer defense is doing well. They're yielding a miserly 3.4 yards/rush which is good for a #5 league ranking. This is a pleasant surprise and if the Packers can continue being successful in this area it'll give us something to feel good about during what is going to be an unpleasant off-season.

You are only as strong as your weakest link. If Reggie White is your defensive end, and Bhawoh Jue is your safety, your defense isn't as strong as Reggie White; it's as weak as Bhawoh Jue. If you have three Pro Bowlers in your secondary and Ahmad Carroll, then teams are going to go after Ahmad Carroll and that's how strong your defense is. You improve your defense by upgrading weak links. Last year, we had a number of weak links, particularly in the secondary. We got rid of a number of weak links in the offseason: Sharper, Hunt, Jue, Hawthorne, Lee. And as a result we aren't giving up so many huge plays as we did. But there are still some weak links on this team that are going to need to be addressed. Our linebacking corps doesn't look like they have any playmakers and our nickel and dime backs aren't helping us get off the field. This is an area we'll need to upgrade in order to be a top defense.

Most drives will stop themselves....if you just give them the chance. Seriously, there's a lot of things which will kill a drive: A missed block, a bad throw, a dropped pass, a penalty. And this is without any help from the defense. But if your defense keeps the other team on the field by committing penalties and failing to do the deed on third down then you are just breathing life into your opponent

The Packers are very much average in this regard by permitting opponents to convert 39.2% of their third downs. But only four teams in the league have fewer defensive penalties than the Packers at this point.

Coverage is more important than pressure. For as long as I've been associating with Packer fan boards, people have bitched about our pass rush, even in years when we had a pretty good one. Last year, for example, our 40 sacks put us in 10th place, only 8 sacks behind the league leader. IOW, just a half-sack a game more and we'd have had the best pass rush in the league----statistically. And this despite having a secondary that couldn't cover my grandma.

The reality is that sacks have been declining league-wide in recent years as blocking schemes have become more sophisticated and tackles have become more massive and more skilled. A good offensive tackle can pretty much neutralize those speedy edge rushers, as Packer fans should well know. Clifton and Tauscher routinely neutralize good DEs; KGB routinely disappears against quality tackles.

No, your best hope is to keep people covered long enough for your defensive line to get a good four man push and collapse the pocket. Eventually the QB either has to run or throw it to somebody who is covered.

So far this year, the Packers rank right in the middle of the league with 15 sacks tying them with three other teams. But our coverage is an area that's going to need some improvement. We're allowing opponents to complete over 60% of their passes against us, which is below the league average and we're 25th in the league in yards/attempt average.

There's a lot of places to put the blame for this: Our linebackers haven't been able to contain TEs or cover backs out of the backfield and our nickel and dime backs have looked like weak links. When Collins went out with an injury in the second half our secondary was exposed and shredded. I think the Packers are going to have to upgrade their nickel and dime backs in the offseason because it just doesn't look like the guys that are out there...usually Thomas, sometimes Underwood or Horton....or even Hawkins.....aren't helping us get off the field when we get teams in third and long.

The best defense is a good offense that can control the ball, eat the clock, and put points on the board to put pressure on the opponent. I think we're going to have a lot of trouble this year from here on out in this regard.

Over half the points that have been scored on the Packers so far this year have followed a turnover or a three and out, because both help create short fields for the opponent. When the Packers have had a long field to defend they've done pretty well. Last week, in our collapse against Minnesota, our offense went three and out, missed field goal (which is pretty much the same as a fumble, field position and momentum-wise) and another three and out. And Minnesota scored after every one.

I think the Packer defense is in for a rugged couple of weeks and we'll find ourselves declining in several statistical categories, especially scoring and total defense. But take heart in how we do against the run, and how well we get off the field after third down, because this team needs to establish something it can build on for next year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The "Playing Not To Lose" myth and "The Well-Executed Bad Play"



by Rick
For PackerChatters

The “Playing Not To Lose” myth

I don't buy into the emphasis on the "playing not to lose," weak-kneed mentality that our coaches and players are accused of having. I don't think there is a mindset that says "play scared," or "take your foot off their throat," or "don't play aggressively" that seeps into the hearts and minds of the coaches and players, and then consumes and corrupts them, causing them to do terrible things like whiff tackles, blow assignments, lighten the pressure in the gameplan, or call a run play on 3rd and short. It just doesn't work like that. Instead, I think "playing not to lose" probably doesn't look much different than "playing very badly" or "making a coaching decision that just didn't work out."

When our team plays well, it looks like we're playing aggressively, that we're playing relentlessly, that we're playing with confidence and that we're "taking the bull by the horns." In other words, we're "playing to win." When we play poorly, though, it looks like we lack confidence, that we're hanging back, that we're cowering, that our coaches aren't adjusting or playing to our strengths or exploiting the opposing team's weaknesses. In actuality, though, what may be happening is that we’re simply playing bad football, getting beat by the other team, and making mistakes. Because that’s also what "playing not to lose" looks like.

It’s my contention that there is no need to place so much emphasis on uncovering the mentality behind what we see transpiring on the field. This game is more about Player A beating Player B, Player C making the key play that affects the outcome of the game, or Player D royally screwing up his assignment than it is about the thoughts or mindset of the coaches or players.

The Well-Executed Bad Play

Having said that, it’s difficult not to notice all the angst about the 3rd and 2 call that took place with a minute left in the game. Many here insist that that play call was a bad one, that it was an example of what the “playing not to lose” mentality looks like. Well, for the record, I didn’t like a running play in that situation either, as, even though we had passed the ball 8 times in the previous 9 plays, I thought we should have made it 9 out of 10. If it works, don’t fix it, I’d say.

I’d like to get a little philosophical, though, about whether or not the play itself was indeed a “bad” one. Specifically, I’d like to discuss if anyone here has ever witnessed a well-executed bad play.

Yes, a well-executed, bad play. Is there such an animal?

If a play is called, and it is executed correctly, should that necessarily mean that the play called was a good one? And if a play is called, and it is not executed properly (it doesn’t get the job done), does that necessarily mean the play called was a bad one? See, in my opinion, the play itself is, with rare exception, neutral. That's because a play is designed to do one thing: gain the necessary or hoped-for yardage. And, in my opinion, the called play stays neutral--neither good nor bad---both before and after we witness what happens on the play.

I think it's generally true that only when the execution doesn't happen do we say the play that was called "bad." It's only after the execution does happen that we say the play that was called was "good." I just don’t happen to think those qualifiers should necessarily be used in such an ad hoc fashion.

Put into the context of the notorious 3rd and 2 this past Sunday, had Wells not snapped it early, had Fisher ran behind the prescribed blocking the play called for, and had he gained 4 yards instead of -1, this entire discussion wouldn't exist. We'd all say that the play called was a good one. We wouldn’t even have remembered it. There would be no discussion about the coaches or players “playing not to lose.” And that is the difference that execution makes in framing our perceptions of what happens on the field.

And that’s also why “playing not to lose” is just another way of saying that our guys weren’t executing. The 3rd and 2 play wasn’t executed properly: bad snap, bad block, bad run. But just because it wasn’t executed doesn’t mean that it was a bad play.

To summarize, then, “playing not to lose” is more of a physicality (getting beat, making mistakes, etc.) than it is a mentality (playing it safe, playing the clock, etc.). The Vikings quite simply played better than we did in the 2nd half on Sunday. And that’s the main reason why we lost.

State of the Packers

by Mark Quarderer


The Packers are 1-5 right now heading into their game with Cincinnati, and given their record, their injury status, and their schedule I think it's pretty obvious that were looking at not having a very good record this season. I think it was Tomm Mixx, a Packer historian of some note, who said that in the last 50 years the Packers have gotten off to an 0-4 start four different times and every time they've ended up with 4 wins.

That sounds about right to me. Put me down for a 4-12 season and the 4th overall draft pick in the 2006 draft.

Although some people will make claims to the contrary, the fact is that nobody could have really foreseen a collapse of this magnitude. This was the #1 offense in the NFC in 2004 but the injuries to Javon Walker and Ahman Green.....and their backups, Murphy and Davenport.....plus the rapid decline of Flanagan and Henderson, combined with the introduction of two new guards has rendered this offense pretty anemic.

The NFL is a league of injuries, and the injured don't win. Give us a healthy Walker, a healthy Green, a healthy Murphy and Ferguson and this team would have won at least 8 games. But that's all coulda-shoulda-woulda at this point. The reality is that our running game isn't going to be very good for the remainder of the year, we're going to be kind of one dimensional, Driver is going to face constant double teams and our TEs aren't going to be able to pick up much of the slack because teams won't respect the play action.

From here on out, folks, points are going to be hard to come by. Not only do we just not have the horses but we're going to run into some of the better defensive teams in the NFL from here on out: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore, the Bears (twice). The fat stats that we rolled up by crushing the hapless Saints will melt away like pounds on the grapefruit diet and by the end of the season we'll see this offense near the bottom of the conference in quite a few of the important statistical categories.

Defensively, there was some early giddiness about what Mr. Bates has accomplished with threads celebrating our #9 defensive ranking, but wiser heads were urging caution. This defensive unit hadn't played a top flight offense and the best quarterback they'd faced, Jake Delhomme, had put 32 on the board. Last Sunday, Daunte Culpepper put 23 on them in one half.

And now, we've got Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Culpepper again, and Donovan McNabb coming up. These are good quarterbacks that are running solid offenses and I'd be surprised if every one of these teams doesn't go over 20 on us.......maybe even a couple will go over 30.

This is not an indictment of the defense. They've actually played pretty well against the run this year and they've improved in the area of limiting big plays. But we're still getting killed in the area in front of the safeties, our linebackers just aren't making plays, and the guys we put out on the field in the nickel and dime packages just aren't real good and that's part of the reason we're giving up so many third and long conversions.

Additionally, now that the offense is going to have trouble staying on the field and even moving the ball, I'd suspect that we'll start losing time of possession and field position battles. All this will combine to put added stress on a defense that's really only average and will make it appear as though it isn't even as good as that

Our special teams can only be described as disappointing. We've given up long returns, missed field goals, and our blocking on returns is just not very good. I was an early fan of Coach Bonamego but I'm not so certain anymore.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

So that's where we are. Where are we headed and what should be done?

Obviously, we need to develop our young talent. Play Underwood in spots. Play Hawkins in spots. Continue with the Whitticker experiment until it's clear it isn't working. Play Wells instead of Flanagan. Put Rodgers in for a series or two every game to get him used to the speed of the game. It's very possible he'll be our starting QB next year and if he is, we should use this season to try to get him as ready as we can. These people who insist that the best way to develop a rookie QB is to not let him anywhere near a game are just wrong. It's like insisting that the best way to learn how to screw is to watch film and take notes but under no circumstances should you be allowed anywhere near an actual girl. biggrin.gif

Unless we enjoy taking huge beatings, I'd kind of take the air out of the ball a little and try to keep the clock moving. Tell your skill position guys to stay in bounds. Defensively, I'd play the nickel as our base and encourage teams to run instead of passing. I mean, whether you bleed to death slowly or quickly.......you're still bleeding to death. I just don't like to see us losing by 30 points.

I think we're going to have to pass on first down a lot. It's the best down to pass on and it's our best chance of getting a few first downs and maybe scoring a point or two. Since our running game isn't going to be much of a threat to anyone, I'd think we'd go with a lot of empty backfield stuff and dare people to try to get to Favre before he gets rid of the ball to an open guy.

I'm really not expecting much out of this team except that they play hard and with pride. I think that we can be pretty competitive again next year if we get people back healthy, have a good draft, and make a few solid moves in free agency. I also think we need a change at the Head Coach position but that's a subject for another post.

Anyway.....that's the view from the pool..........

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Football 101-Scat Detroit X Shallow



by Reckless
PackerChatters Staff

Scat Detroit X Shallow


--------S1--------------------------S

CB1--------W------------M--------------B-------------CB
-------E1-----T-----T-------E
---------86--O--O--O--O--O--87
89-----------------O-------------------80-------------WR


Because this show occurred after the bye week, this is another TD play vs. the Saints. The Packers had the ball 2nd and 20 at the Saint’s 26 yard line after the phantom holding call on Mark Tauscher. The play is called out of Tiger personnel (2 TEs). “Scat” means “free release by everyone”. The five down linemen have to block the 5 “most dangerous” rushers, none of the receivers have blitz pickup responsibility and this is the first “empty backfield” formation in the plays of the week so far, so no back is available to help the pass blocking. “Detroit” is a term they’ve used to describe a certain concept. Sherman guesses they’ve used it for 5 years and it was probably first used against Detroit, so they called it Detroit. “X Shallow” describes what the X receiver is going to do on the play.

N.O. was in quarters coverage – each DB had zone responsibility for one-quarter of the field. That was the predominate coverage by the Saints in the game.

Robert Ferguson (89) is the X receiver and he ran a shallow “over the middle” route. He ran to about where CB1 lined up and then cut toward where W lined up. He was the #1 read on the play. Sherman, “Ferguson pushed it up (he drew the beginning of 89’s route to the point in front of CB1 before he cut inside) which allowed Donald Lee (86) to get an outside release on a high angle corner route.” Sherman then drew 86’s route which looped outside (to the left) of E1 and then angled directly toward the corner of the end zone at about the midpoint between where CB1 and S1 lined up. Sherman then finished drawing 87’s route toward W. On the other side, David Martin (87) ran a vertical route trying to beat M on a post route. Donald Driver (80) ran a corner route toward the right corner of the end zone and WR ran a “smash” route. Sherman, “A smash route is an angle route run to about 4 to 5 yards from the sideline and it just stops there”. It sounds like what we used to call a “button hook” (run straight ahead a certain distance and stop and turn toward the QB) only run on an angle.

89 was the primary receiver but Favre recognized what the D was doing. CB1 “squatted a little before he got depth” meaning that CB1 hesitated before he went back to cover the deep quarter of the field he was responsible for. S1 took a step to the offense’s right because Favre was looking right at the snap. As a result, CB1 was late getting back and S1 took a step to the right. That left the deep left corner of the field vulnerable and that’s where 86’s route was going.

There was something written on the top right of the board. I believe it was “Solo Rt Empty F…” The entire board was never shown and Sherman didn’t mention it. I assume it referred to the alignment on the right side of the field and “empty” referring to the empty backfield. Sherman also never explicitly said what concept “Detroit” referred to.

The tape showed CB1 hesitated as 89 cut to his inside. 86 had him beat the entire route and CB1 never got closer than about 2 yards to him. S1 backed up a few steps and then took a step to his left (the offense's right). He ended up not covering anyone on the play. WR was wide open on the smash route – the nearest defender was more than 5 yards away when the ball was thrown. 87 just ran a straight route right down the field. Mark Tausher (RT) was beaten on a pass rush to the inside. His man did not hit Favre but was right in his face as the ball was released. Chad Clifton (LT) was beaten to the outside but his man also arrived just late enough for Favre to get the pass off. The pass hit 86 in stride.

Some reflections on the Packers season!

This is NOT the Packers year (DUH!)



by ricky
For PackerChatters

First- this loss really hurt. The dominant first half followed by the dominated second half. Ugh. I took my dogs for a long walk before posting this, so I could clear my head of the rants that threatened to erupt. I'm better now.

1. Injuries are killing the Packers. Obvious, yes. But the loss of first Walker, then Ferguson (on a terrific catch- wrestling it away from the defender!) hurts. Then, the loss of Davenport, then Green gone- good grief. The only thing to do is "hunker down", not claw at other Packer fans in frustration at the team and the games, and hope the young players gain valuable experience for next year.

2. I thought the loss of Rivera and Wahle would be significant. I was roundly chastised, and sometimes even condescended to by others, who claimed that replacing guards is difficult. Tackles? A dime a dozen. Well, maybe not. Still, this offensive line has picked up pass blocking, though the run blocking is sadly lacking. Wahle in particular was known for this skill- the ability to pull and "play in space". Maybe next year...

3. Favre continues to amaze me. A few years ago (when he was having his "down years"- during the time of the broken thumb, and other nagging injuries), I urged "trading him now and getting something of value for him." My goodness- I was totally and completely wrong. The man is still one of the top five QB's in the league. Yes, he can still miss open receivers- but he still has an incredible arm, an amazing ability to elude the rush and the ability to move and throw that no other QB possesses. Amazing.

4. At this point, I don't think the Packers can win this division. Even if they did, considering how many "skill" players they have lost- what would be the point? Many on here have said if the Packers had a chance to draft high- well, this could be the year. They could very well end up with a top-ten pick. Before anyone asks, or charges, no, I'm not "jumping off the band wagon". I jumped on this particular bandwagon approximately 45 years ago, when I was ten. I've never jumped off, and never will. However, reality has to be faced, and hard truths must be admitted.

5. The defense continues to be on the rise. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Vikings were able to make half-time adjustments, and the Packers didn't.

6. IF Green and Ferguson are gone for extended periods of time, the Packers have virtually no chance of winning. Why? The defense will double team Driver, and with Chatman as the only other viable WR, game over. The only chance they'll have is to go to double and triple TE formations- bring in Lee, Franks and Martin (in the slot?) to challenge the shorter, lighter DB's- because I don't believe the linebackers could keep up with them. A ray of hope- but as far as the Packers are concerned, I may get discouraged, but I never give up (an obvious contradiction of what I've posted earlier- but as time passes, I still look for that "silver lining").

So how was this Favre's fault?

My post-game rant!

by LosAngelis

PackerChatters Staff

Well, Favre Haters...we lost again. Somehow or another, Favre must be held accountable for this, right?

I mean, he's the HOF quarterback. He should never lose.

Must be all those intercept....oh, wait. He didn't throw one. Man, that's like only 1 in the last 3 games. Hey The GM/Bob/Other...have you figured out how many interceptions he's projected to throw this season now? How about if we project the last three games over the season?

How about his FUMBLE! Right? The one from Wells that bounced of his own butt and never reached Favre? Rodgers would have caught it, though, right?

Aha! Craig Nall!! Where's ibatiger to tell us how Nall would have thrown for 7 TDs in the second half without the season's starting #1 and #3 receiver, the season's starting #1 and #2 running backs, and without the season's #1 center? Somehow, Favre messed that up, right? Stupid ol' Favre.

Bring it on, FHC. You know who you are, and so do I. Do I need to do a role call and find out why so many of you have lurked over the last three weeks, when you were so vocal the three weeks before that? We can only criticize him when he does poorly? So, we'll wait until the next interception, perhaps 3 weeks from now, and start the accusations anew because now you have "proof"? And all his heroics between interceptions are again, worth nothing, which is why you can't speak anymore.

Perhaps it was the third quarter that did us in. Why didn't Favre manage to throw like he did on the final drive throughout the entire third quarter? Pay no mind to the reversion to "Playing not to lose" attitude, both on offense and defense, rushing only 4 down linemen against the Vikings, which wasn't enough, and allowing Culpepper to completely rediscover his own confidence. Pay no mind that we generated only 50-odd total yards in the third quarter, both rushing and passing. Could it be that we didn't take chances down the field, cradling our wounds from the losses of Ferguson and Green? Or, do you just open it up and find Bubba Franks, Tony Fisher, Donald Driver, and anyone else who is willing to give it up for this team?

It's a pity that Favre went out and stomped on both Ferguson's and Green's knees personally to insure they left the game. I know the cameras didn't show it, but obviously, everything bad that happens comes back to Brett Favre. Right? Somehow, we must prove in any way shape or form, whether it makes sense or not, that Brett is the worst thing for this team, and that he must be let loose like a ballast bag in a hot air balloon. Chucked aside like manure in a cow barn. Ejected like an audio cassette after the advent of CDs.

Is this your case? Somehow, Brett Favre was NOT Tom Brady and could NOT lead us back in the fourth quarter (oh, interesting stat about his 34 4th quarter comebacks in his career, funny how that gets overlooked). Gosh, I wish we had Tom Brady instead of Brett Favre. I wish we had TJ Rubely instead of Brett Favre, right?

Or, will you take the hand-wringing "no mas" approach, saying..."See! I told you if he'd just play mistake free, we'd win! I was right all along!!!"

Except we didn't win. We lost.

He played as mistake-free of a game as I've ever seen him play in recent years. He also MADE PLAYS, and led the team AGAIN when the defense allowed 23 POINTS IN A HALF, and the RUNNING GAME DISAPPEARED, with only TWO EXPERIENCED WR's and ONE EXPERIENCED RB.

And it still came down to a 58 yard field goal made on the same field where OUR beloved kicker, who we MUST sign to some hefty contract extension this offseason, missed TWO field goals of lesser distance earlier.

So, Favre Hate Cult, make your hypotheses. I'm dying to hear them.

Regale me with fairy tales on how Favre lost this game for us today.

The Chatman Effect

by LosAngelis

PackerChatters Staff




Just a theory I was bouncing around in my head last night. I was listening to Chris Havel torching Antonio Chatman on the sport talk radio last night (he makes no bones about how useless he thinks Chatman is), and I started thinking about my "playing not to lose" assertation.

Chatman, in a way, is kind of the lynchpin of this theory. For several seasons, now, we've grown used to having a non-playmaker returning punts. However, we always justify this by saying "at least he doesn't fumble". And we consider this a good thing.

I don't. Well, let me rephrase that...I don't see it as much of a "good thing" as a "not bad thing". In other words, we're rewarding players for NOT making a mistake instead of doing the positive things. We're rewarding playing it safe instead of taking the risks needed to be a playmaker.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that almost any returner over the last 4 years or so is partially handcuffed, because our return blockers just don't do enough to put the returner in position to make plays...but once again, we're content, because we didn't fumble the ball. We fair catch after fair catch.

Obviously, this is a microcosm, and open for debate. My point (trying to be clear on it) is that playing it safe and focusing on NOT making mistakes doesn't equate to winning.

Obviously, any coach will tell you that a team has to minimalize or "stop" making mistakes in order to win. No doubt there. But you also have to make plays. When I look at our team over the first four games, I saw a lot of focusing on NOT making those mistakes. And, I do believe there is a high frustration level that comes along with that. The reward for trying to win is winning. What's the reward for trying not to make the mistake that will lose the game for the team?

Apply that mentality to nearly any other job or profession...focusing on not making mistakes instead of getting the job done. What if police officers focused only on not arresting the wrong person, letting cars get away for fear there might be a car crash, not shooting when needed because they might miss?

The media focuses very hard on when the police make mistakes. The recent problems in New ORleans are examples. But we normal humans take it with a grain of salt and recongize that those men also make many sacrifices, take necessary risks, and do a whole more good than harm. And we encourage them....DON'T let that punk driving at 100 MPH get away, because he'll be free to commit crimes again some other day.

The Chatman Effect personifies my concen with the Packers, and moreover, with people who look to point fingers on every mistake. The people who condemn Carroll and want him to focus on not making mistakes. The people who condemn Green and want him to focus on not fumbling. The people that condemn Favre and want him to focus on not throwing interception.

Carroll is starting to come around. He's realizing he can minimalize his mistakes, but still make one...and allow that to motivate him to make a play to make up for it later. Donald Driver does this very well. David Martin has shown his ability to do this. Brett Favre has done it for years.

PLEASE...don't make this a Favre issue. I'm not trying to make it that. But, I am focusing on the effects of playing NOT to lose instead of playing to win....recognizing that you can't sacrifice the risks you need to make to win games to serve the "no mistake" god. Favre is a part of that discussion, indeed, but you can apply it to this entire team, and how we criticize the team for mistakes, looking to place blame and point fingers at an individual mistake.

When Carroll has 5 penalites in a game and makes no plays of note, then there is a problem.

When Carroll has 1 penalty in a game, even a big one, but makes it up with solid tackles, and maybe an interception or key defensed pass...you have to see those things even out, instead of focusing on the negative.

I've noticed a couple times the improbable...Chatman has geared up to catch the ball and immediately take off, sometimes directly into a defender on punt returns. I've been trying to figure out if the shock I had was because it was so risky, or because its been so long since I've seen Chatman take a risk I was that surprised.

Who the heck wants to watch a non-risk taking, anal-retentive football team, even if they win? Point is, unless they are incredibly talented, head-and shoulders above all others...they won't win.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sherman march-repeat or defeat?

It's fustrating but understandable



by oletimer
For PackerChatters

I think many fans have been premature in proclaiming the Packers are dead after a 1-4 start, but one can also understand the frustration that feeds that thought process. Last season Sherman righted a sinking ship (1-4 start) and went on to win the Division title for the third consecutive year along with a short appearance in the playoffs-not a totally bad effort never-the-less? But can Sherman and company recreate that effort once again? Without question, there is unanswered questions’ remaining that feeds that doubt, but not mine!

First of all, I expect the 2005 season would come with some early struggles, reasoning:

a. Loss of the middle of the OL (Whale, Rivera and for all practical purpose Flanagan as well (injured and playing likewise). Why some fans didn't expect a major impact of such losses, I can only suggest they should have taking a reality test; many other fans realized the problem, but didn't want to accept the reality that such struggles has reasons attached?

Yes, Beightol has worked wonders in the past, therefore, one must assume he can and will do it again this year? While I hope for the same, its never-the-less such effort is not an easy task and would take time (at most, mid-season is a reasonable target that may be achievable-like it or not). Patience has venture and merit here; therefore I wait and remain hopeful. When all is said and done, I honestly believe the OL will be corrected because Beightol likes such challenges, and he is quite capable of finding a solutions from where-ever his magic is found! But even so, having Brett at the helm nothing impossible by years end! Brett is a difference maker, so let patience prevail.

b. Bates factor and the youth movement created allot of hype, which all Packer' fans should relish-watching as Bates and company develops a quality Defense from a group of unknowns? Personally, I always believed the problem wasn't a lack of talent on the Defensive side of the ball that manufactured the problem (a weak Defense effort in 2004 and the question mark going into 2005 season). The real problem was the past DC’s and their respective schemes that did a lousy job utilizing the available talent and preparing the players to get the job done. Bates appears to be making that point obvious for me. That said, the Defense is a work-in-progress and Bates has them guided in the right direction-thanks God! SO from a Defensive view point, fans have been given something that positive to look forward too! It may surprise all Fans alike that the Defense happens to becoming the strength of the team, and not the Offense. A funny bounce of the ball can change many truths! It doesn’t take much to make the elite Offense-normal, the normal Defense being among the elite!

c. If that not enough, add into the formula the fact that Brett’s losses his key weapons in Walker, Davenport, Bubba and Murphy each hit with major injuries, adding to the woes of the OL that must protect Brett already under stress!

What exactly is Sherman and staff to do, but plowing ahead while they try to find answers to all the above? So the Pack got off to a dismal 1-4 record, dishearten to all Packer’ fans no doubt! But remember 3 of the 4 Packer’s loss when down to the wire with the players never given up and fought a brave battle- with the total point difference for those three losses was but a total of 6 points. Sherman, Bates and company have been dealt a tough hand too play, personally I give them credit for keeping the ship heading in the direction in the mist of a major storm!

Can’t wait till Sunday and the Vikings!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Game Preview: Packer (1-4) at Vikings (1-4)




by Thomas Pyc
PackerChatters Staff

Anxious? Most Packers’ fans are ready to see their team take the field again. Especially when it involves playing a controversy-ridden team like the Minnetonka Vikings. The Packers are still 1-4 with plenty of questions surrounding their own franchise but the last time they took the field they posted 52 unanswered points. That’s the first time an offense has done that in 16 years. (Elias Sports Bureau)

The Packers’ Offense vs. The Vikings’ Defense

Green Bay has been experiencing its share of injuries this season. Both TE Bubba Franks and RB Ahman Green being listed as questionable (50% chance of playing) but after the past bye week they are both expected to contribute. Second year center Scott Wells will start in place of Mike Flanagan and despite not having the same experience and athleticism Wells plays with a solid base. Wells knows how to use leverage, that same leverage helped him win the state championship in high school wrestling at the heavyweight class. Who is lining up under center still has not changed this season despite the cries of those who are ready to leave the Favre era. Entering this game No. 4 is second in the NFL in touchdown passes (12) but to be fair he is ranked just as high for his interceptions (8). A big part of Favre’s continued success is the development of tight ends David Martin and Donald Lee. Lee was recently acquired but his Mississippi background and his all-out play has put him and Brett on the same page quickly. With Franks back in the fold the tight end position does not appear nearly as bleak as it did during the offseason.

For eight years Vikings’ safety Darren Sharper faced Brett Favre in practice and definitely got his hands on his fair share of passes. But outside of Sharper’s past history on the Packers practice field the Vikings’ defense is anything but threatening. In fact, up until last week the Vikings were using a 4-3 defensive scheme. In a surprise move after just four games the Vikings used a 3-4 scheme against the Bears last week. Without knowing the move was coming until game time the Bears struggled. One paper the Vikings’ secondary looks good but with cornerback Antoine Winfield underachieving the entire group is struggling. Underachieving youthful talent coupled with some injury has kept this group ranked towards the bottom of the league.

The Vikings’ Offense vs. The Packers’ Defense

The only quarterback in the league with more interceptions than Favre is Viking QB Daunte Culpepper (12). When arguably the best receiver in the league, Rrrrrandy Moss, leaves your team there will be repercussions. But when you also lose your best running back, the offensive coordinator, a Pro Bowl center and an All-Pro guard thing are bound to get ugly. Matt Birk and David Dixon were two of the best at their position and the opposition is exploiting the weakness every week. The Vikings should be getting WR Nate Burleson back after spraining a knee ligament and that will help keep Daunte off his back. Outside of Burleson the biggest threat has been TE Jermaine Wiggins. The running game and the pass protection have hindered Minnesota’s ability to produce points.

Improving the defense was probably the top priority of the Packer organization this offseason. It all started at the top of the unit with the hiring of defense coordinator Jim Bates. After that move, the staff and the roster got some fresh faces and kept on developing the youthful talent. Cornerback Al Harris was named the NFC player of the week for his performance against the Saints. But before this group is dubbed ‘fixed’ they will have to show some consistency in the areas of quarterback pressure and turnovers. Another veteran, besides Harris, who looks to be performing up to par, is DT Grady Jackson. According to Jackson he’s right on schedule to have a solid season since he missed most of training camp. Then again, he will have to have another good performance to prove his last game was not merely an effort to get back at his former team. Grady’s impact improves this entire defense and helps MLB Nick Barnett utilize his speed and add to his total of 69 tackles.

The Bottom Line

Let’s not sugarcoat this matchup, both of these teams are 1-4 and are in serious contention for a top draft pick. The winner of this game will have a chance to salvage their season, especially in the NFC North. The Vikings have no where to go but up and should be fighting like a cornered animal but if the Packers can strike early and keep any big plays from happening they can add to Minnesota’s sorrow.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Football 101- Pass 96 Coun86r Gap Solid Z Runback



by Reckless
PackerChatters Staff

Pass 96 Coun86r Gap Solid Z Runback

This week’s play is the TD pass to Ferguson (89) vs. the Saints, a play Sherman said was a key play in the game. It is run out of “Solo Left” formation using Tiger (2 86s, 2 WRs, 1 RB) personnel. The Packers had the ball at the Saints’ 25 yard line.


------------S1--------------------------S
------------------B-----M------W
CB------------E1----T-----T------E----------CB
80-----------87--O--O--O--O--O--86
-----------------------O--------------------89


-----------------------RB

Sherman made the point that they have run a lot out of Tiger and they changed it up by passing a lot out of Tiger vs. N.O. This play is a “play pass”: It is a fake of the run “96 Coun86r Gap”. The LG pulled to the right and blocked E. Donald Lee (86) ran an “over route”. He ran around E to the outside (right) to run up the field and then cut left behind where the LBs lined up running parallel to the line of scrimmage (LOS). The play action (fake of the run) is designed to get the LBs to take a step toward the LOS and to the right of the offense. Favre faked to the RB who ran toward where E lined up. After the fake, Favre bootlegged to the left. “Solid” in the play call means David Martin (87) blocks E1. On many of the bootlegs to the left, the TE on that side releases into the left flat. But on this play, they want Favre to have time to look for Driver (80) who ran a “run back” route. His route is to run about 25 yards straight down the field and then cut back toward the left sideline at a sharp angle.

The Saints were playing “quarters coverage” on this play – the four DBs each cover a quarter of the field. Ferguson’s (89) route had him run inside the CB, Mike McKenzie, and “over” S and then angle toward the back line along the back of the end zone. Sherman drew the route going up the field to the left of where CB lined up and then continuing to a spot behind where S lined up and then continuing to angle, going deeper, toward the left. CB had “over coverage” and S had “under coverage” on 89. (CB was behind 89 and S was in front of 89). S1 came up to cover 86 on the over route, and that created a void in the coverage and the ball was delivered right on the money.

The tape showed that the LG, Klemm, missed his block on E. Martin (87) sustained his block pretty well but E1 did pressure Favre just as he released the ball. Driver (80) ran a step or two into the end zone and as he was cutting back, the ball was thrown. S had pretty good coverage – Ferguson was behind him but it took a great throw to complete the pass. Sherman didn’t say it but from the name of the play, my guess is Driver was the primary read on the play as he was the “Z” receiver running the “run back”.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The run/pass ratio, Why all the fuss?



by Rick
For PackerChatters

I've been reading some Eagles forums lately and have found an oft-stated theme: Virtually no fans are happy with the offensive play selection (the run/pass ratio). Actually, they're peeved, to put it politely. Here's the breakdown:

Philadelphia Eagles 2005
88 rushes
214 passes
Ratio 29/71


Now, I'm wondering. Why is it that there is so much fuss about having a near 50/50 ratio anyway? Teams that run the ball more are typically teams that can run the ball more, or teams that do it well. The Eagles, at this point, aren't a particularly good running team (they currently rank last in the league in rushing yards and 24th in yards per attempt). On the other hand, they are a good passing team (#1 in the NFL currently with 307 passing yards a game), as they have one of the top QB-WR tandems in the NFL. Also, their little scatback seems to be a better receiver than he is a runner anyway.

Relating this to our own team, I'd like to know why there so much concern about having the Packers establish the the run (and not abandon it) if, when we do try to run, it doesn't work well anyway, and our passing game is working so much better.

Right now we have two guards who haven't been run blocking especially well. Our C position is occupied by either an apparently declining player or a 2nd year player (who's better). We have a gimpy #1 RB who may or may not play in a week against Minnesota. We have lost our #2 running back for the season. Our #3 back has averaged 2 yards per carry (8 carries for 9 yards and one 9-yard run) and is playing poorly this year. And our "starting" fullback has to come out on running plays in favor of a guy who didn't make the final cut (but who's probably a better blocker). On the other hand, we have two really good pass blockers at T, a Hall of Fame QB who can routinely get rid of the ball in 1.5 seconds, and respectable receivers. Given those contextual factors, I'd much rather hang my hat on the passing game than the running game.

Of course, if you can run the ball, you have more options in the passing game. More roll-outs. More play-action. Brett's really good when he's on the move. But if we try to establish the run early in the game and can't, we've then limited our chances of having our passing game work well too. Maybe we should worry less about establishing the run in our gameplanning, and concentrate more on getting our passing game going, as the odds now are that we're going to be more successful passing than running anway.

So, what would be so wrong about coming out throwing the heck out of the ball these next several games? What do we have to lose?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hindsight is great but just does not equate honestly.



by Patty
PackerChatters Staff

I for one cannot understand the audacity of those in the media who lie and portray their thoughts to the negative.

When the draft was going on almost all the major media types were saying the Packers had better serve up a QB. They insisted that the Packers mike Sherman had been foolish in not selecting a QB in round 1 or 2 the last couple of years. Many seem to think the Packers should select either Jason Campbell or Charlie Frye.

Now of course since Brett Favre is playing well the tone has turned caustic and the blame game is out in full force. Now it sells papers to criticize Green Bay for not getting Brett more help. Yeah right! Just what kind of help would Brett need that was there at 24 that would ignite the fire to pass on the best player available at pick 24? Please anyone tell me right now just who that miracle player was.

There are some out there who claim the Packers were idiots for not getting another defensive player. OKAY, I agree a defensive player was a need but of all the players still on the board who would be better selection right now. Mike Patterson statistically the best going right now but please tell me would Patterson be playing ahead of Grady Jackson or Cullen Jenkins right now? Jenkins has played better than Patterson so far this season with better stats and more big plays.

Some are saying a DB but when you really take an honest and open look at the DB play for the Packers no one that was on the board would be playing right now. Mark Roman has had 4 really solid games and the other game was 3 and ½ quarters solid. Nick Collins is playing well but we selected him at 51. Can you imagine the reach hollering that would have resulted if we had selected him at 24!!!!! – The truth people is that the safety play has not been bad this year.

Maybe an OL should have been the selection? Seriously thinking needs to be ushered in right about now. Very few OL taken in a class where OL were not considered the strength of the draft usually do not make difference makers. Maybe Spencer or Mankins or Baas are going to be solid but they are struggling just as mightily as Adrian Klemm and Will WHittiker right now.

As many who know my posting about the draft, Aaron Rodgers is not my ideal of a QB. I like a QB like Phillip Rivers and wanted the Packers to move up for him in the 2004 draft. Can you imagine the Sherman hating that would have ensued if Sherman would have done just that (traded up for Rivers) – But, Aaron Rodgers represents a quality promising QB with a winning attitude and solid skills. He is not your golden arm slinger but he is the type that will slice and dice a team to pieces. He is a winner. Sort of the mold of a Bob Griese and somewhat a Bart Starr. Do not be fooled though as Rodgers does have a better than average arm and can throw the deep out.

I am not going to get into the love relationship of Brett Favre and fall prey to no one can replace Brett syndrome that seems to have taken over some on this board. When you objectively look at what Rodgers is about you can not get past the talent and skills he possesses. He represented total value. A serious reasoning suggests that Rodgers was more than just value. Green Bay was one of the teams that had a cause to look at QB during the draft. I cannot find a single writer or reporter who did not say so before the draft. It is convenient and unethical that they are now saying it was a foolish selection.

To criticize Ted Thompson for selection of Aaron Rodgers holds very little credence when you honestly look at every angle. I believe this selection was as close to a no-brainer as there possibly can be with a draft selection. Again I say to anyone, name me a player who was still on the board between pick 25 and 51 any better and who would be making a difference right now?????

Now if you want to throw out any criticism there is some room for what happened in round 3 for maybe some criticism. Maybe Thompson got a little trade happy and wanted more selections be it lower round selections. But, was there anyone (player) that is making a huge difference right now? Marviel Underwood is not my kind of player but he does represent speed. And we did get other selections with other trades using what he got from the original 3rd round trade.

But it still comes back to the premium selection at 24. Was selecting Aaron Rodgers a waste?

1) he is a top QB prospect and fell for no reason other than most of the teams selecting ahead of Green Bay had no QB needs
2) he represents very good value
3) Rodgers is a winner and has ability (he is no stiff)
4) Rodgers has mobility and is the kind of QB the Packers need in 2007 and beyond

And I keep coming back to one simple thought. Who was on the board at the time that would have represented being a difference maker for the Packers right now? A LB, a DT, a DE or a DB. I look hard and long and cannot find such player. Sure there are some nice prospects like Barrett Ruud, Mike Patterson, Logan Mankins and Shaun Cody but none of them I believe would be a major force for the Packers right now. Mike Patterson has a couple of sacks but has made errors for the Eagles as well, but again I point to Cullen Jenkins who is playing better.

As most GM’s will explain their objective in every round is to get quality and value. Sometimes that value is represented not current but for future. The question is this. Would Green Bay before this season ever thought they would be in position to get a top 5 player that low in the drafting order? Sure it is easier now that Green Bay sits 1-4 in the standings to say “see there Green Bay should have selected Marling Jackson or Mike Patterson and waited till this year to get their QB”. THAT IS JUST NOT A FAIR WAY TO LOOK AT IT!!! Hindsight is great but just does not equate honestly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Are 'Stats' garbage?



by Rick
For PackerChatters

Hrm, I did not mean to call all stats 'garbage' but to call passer rating a 'garbage stat.'

First of all, just about every stat can be dismissed as garbage because sometimes they (stats) don't reflect what happens on the field adequately. But my two primary responses to that criticism of the passer rating stat in particular are: 1) What other measurements do we have (or can we create) that are better? 2) Most of the time, the passer rating actually does reflect on-the-field performance; there is a great deal of validity between the number and the perception of a passer's performance, especially when measured over the course of an entire season.

What measurements do we have that are better?

Back in the 1930s, our own Arnie Herber was widely considered the best passer in the game, and the NFL needed a number to cement it. He could throw nearly the length of the field and he had a cannon on him. But he only completed about a third of his passes, and he threw plenty of interceptions with his high risk bombs. No matter. Arnie won 3 passing titles in the 1930s because, back then, all one needed to do was add up a guy’s passing yards to win the passing title. Throw enough passes, and you win.

Then the pinpoint accurate Sammy Baugh came along in the late ‘30s, and many thought he was the best. So, suddenly the short pass and completion percentage was in. From 1938 to 1940, the passing title was given to the quarterback with the best completion percentage. (Baugh completed 70 percent of his passes one year.)

Then, in the ‘40s, the NFL chose to rate passers by ranking them against each other (the best in a category gets a 1, the second best gets a 2, etc.). They did away with completion percentage as the only measure, and instead used completions, passing yards, touchdowns, and interceptions as categories.

That was scrapped in the 1950s, when the NFL went with the yards gained per attempt as its measure of who won a passing title. Problem with that was, there were plenty of role players or running backs who threw occasionally (like Paul Hornung), but who typically had high yards per attempt percentages, and they won the passing titles. Bobby Layne never won any passing titles in the ‘50s, but he was considered the best passer back then (until Unitas came into prominence in the late ‘50s). Something had to change.

Then, in the early ‘60s, they put a minimum number of attempts in there, and they changed to the current 4 categories and weighed them equally: completion percentage, yards per attempt, total touchdowns (it didn’t become a percentage until the ‘70s), and interception percentage. That seemed to more accurately reflect what happened on the field, as the Unitas’ and Starr’s and Tittle’s and Jurgenson’s could now win or come close to winning passing titles, and those passers were indeed considered among the best in the game.

There are plenty of people who criticize the passer rating system, especially because the decision to weight the 4 categories equally is far from perfect, and it's unfair to passers from different eras. But it's an evolving science, and there hasn't been anything better that has been able to come along and stick better than the current system we have. If something better is out there, it probably won't be long before we'll start using it.

Besides, a passer rating is just one number among many other ones that are probably far more important when considering the greatness of a player. Tom Brady now has led 19 4th quarter comebacks in a little over 4 seasons, and he has thrown thrown just 3 total interceptions in 9 playoff games. Johnny Unitas threw a TD pass in 47 straight games. Brett Favre has started 200-and-some straight games. Dan Marino threw for 5,000 passing yards and 48 TD passes in 1984. Joe Montana threw 45 TD passes in the playoffs and won 4 Super Bowls. Those are stats that are going to be remembered when pondering the greatness of those quarterbacks. Few people care what John Elway's career passer rating was just 79.9. He's still considered by many to be one of the top 5 to ever play the game. That's because it's understood that passer rating, while helpful, doesn't come close to giving us all the information we need to decide how good a quarterback is. And it shouldn't be expected to either.

Most of the time, passer rating does reflect the perception of on-the-field performance.

Last year, for example, which passers were recognized as having the best statistical seasons if you were just looking at their TDs, INTs, passing yards, or completion percentages, but never looked at their passer ratings? Peyton Manning. Daunte Culpepper. Donovan McNabb. Drew Brees. Ben Roethlisberger. Tom Brady. Brett Favre. Interestingly, all 7 of those quarterbacks had passer ratings in the top 10 in the league. Very rarely you’ll get some exceptions.

It’s kinda like the Pro Bowl. Every once in a while a guy will get selected who doesn’t deserve it, and another guy who does deserve selection will get overlooked. It’s a popularity contest, they say. Well, of course it’s a popularity contest. The guys who are popular do indeed get selected for the Pro Bowl. But how do they become popular? Because they’re good. The better a player you are, the more likely you are to get noticed. Similarly, there’s a heavy correlation between a passer’s stats and the perception of how good he is. The passer rating puts a stamp of numerical approval on the perception that Peyton Manning was 2004’s best quarterback, for example, and that Mark Brunell was one of the worst. And, not surprisingly, Manning had a 121.1 passer rating, and Brunell had a 63.9 in 2004.

Now, that’s not to say that the passer rating statistic hasn’t become outdated considering the changes in the passing philosophies across eras. Back in the ‘60s, for example, having a 5.5% interception percentage (11 interceptions every 200 attempts) was considered dead average when the current passer rating system was created. That would mean that a quarterback who today throws the typical 500 times a season could throw 28 interceptions before he’d have sunk below the average mark in the ‘60s. In 2002, by comparison, the average interception percentage across the entire NFL was 3.05%, which would mean that the average quarterback threw just 15 interceptions every 500 pass attempts that season. Also, with today’s emphasis on short, safe passes over higher risk bombs, today’s passers are given undue credit for being superior than their predecessors (i.e., of the 20 quarterbacks with the best passer ratings, 13 are currently playing, including Jeff Garcia at #9, Brian Griese at #15, and Brad Johnson at #17). But comparisons between eras is another discussion. I could go on and on about that, so I’ll just leave it here.

That means it takes a bunch of things and mixes them all together without trying to weight them properly. Kinda like if I took singles, doubles, triples and homeruns and rated each of them on a scale and then considered them of equal value. I think that's foolish--homeruns are obviously of greater value than singles.

I don’t think that having a high TD percentage is far superior to avoiding interceptions in nearly the same way as homeruns are far superior to singles. TDs and INT avoidance are much closer to equal in their value, in my opinion. Now, I do agree if you are suggesting that completion percentage is given too much weight. It’s essentially given double weight because the yards per attempt percentage is very similar to completion percentage. If they de-emphasized completion percentage and just measured yards per attempt with TD and INT percentage, I think that would be a fairer system. Otherwise you’re heaping rewards on the weak-armed dinkers and punishing the strong-armed bombers. Other than that, I think the weighting system isn’t nearly as inequitable as saying homeruns are the same as singles in their value.


I think that TDs are generally a better indication of a QB's performance, because TDs matter most and they tell you two important things: how many points a QB can put on the board, and whether he's trusted enough to throw the ball regularily in the red zone.


Well, then what about a QB like Troy Aikman? Or Bart Starr? Neither QB ever threw many TD passes. And it had nothing to do with whether or not their coaches trusted them. Heck, Bart called his own plays. It’s just that when those QBs got inside the 10 yard line, they typically just handed the ball off several times because they had Hall of Fame runners who could get the job done too. Had 2 of the goal line plays been shovel passes to Fisher rather than handoffs to Davenport this past Sunday, Brett could have had 5 TD passes and an extra 15 points added to his passer rating. Do you think that shovel passes are that much more superior to handoffs that Brett deserves that much more credit for making the play?

The bottom line in my view is there's very little that is truly individual about a QB's 'statistics' they are a record of the offense's performance and all the other players out there as well as the gameplan and playcalling impact on it, and trying to seperate such things is very difficult, if not nigh impossible, and consolidating everything down to a number that mushes things of varying importance together (that will often by extremely affected by conditions of era) to get a single number isn't very helpful, though I must admit it can be convienant.

I think the baseball pitcher comparison is apt here. Yes, in order for Bob Gibson to have compiled a 1.12 ERA with 13 shutouts and 22 wins in 1968, he had to have fielders who could record outs for him and as well as drive in some runs to give him a lead. Like a quarterback has to rely on his line and his receivers (and his running back and the defense) to compile the passing statistics he does, Bob Gibson did have to rely on the other 8 players on the field to experience his individual statistical success. But does that mean that Bob Gibson’s on-field performance wasn’t the most important, most critical factor in whether or not the Cardinals won the game when he pitched?

Finally, I tend to think about a passer rating as something like an IQ score. An IQ test consists of several subtests involving content areas like processing skills, memory skills, experiential knowledge, and reasoning skills. These subtests are standardized are weighted equally and then the scaled scores are combined and divided to produce a number, our IQ. Our intelligence probably does involve much more than what these tests measure, and maybe our reasoning skills should be weighted much more than our recall skills when figuring our IQ score rather than equally. An IQ test isn't going to be close to perfect. But an IQ score probably does tell us something about how intelligent a person is. It isn't just a motley assortment of numbers that are derived from unrelated sources. It's not a reality, but it's a good guide, anyway. I think similarly about a passer rating. It's a score. A grade. And right now, it's probably the most convenient statistic we have to compare one passer to another. And convenience is good.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The weeding out process



by Bamapackerfan
For PackerChatters

Here are some random thoughts on this issue;

Diggs stays only if he takes a very big cut. He is scheduled to make something like $2.9M next year, including a pretty substantial roster bonus. He is hurt too often and not worth the money. Does he fit this defense, assuming we still have the same system next year, and that is something I don't assume any more. Any way, I think he's gone.

We are going to need to find so many starters, that we truely can draft the BPA in every round, because that player will almost certainly be a need. Having said that, we still need DBs: the best CB we can find and another young S. We just have to improve the defensive backfield. The other spot that could be high impact is at RB. We are going to need at least two new RBs and a new FB. The third area of importance, although not nececessarily in that order is the interior of the DL. We might be able to find a decent LB or two in FA, along with a S, and maybe a more solid OL. If walker and Murphy come back we could have a very decent receiving corps.

The way Kampman is playing, I'm not so sure we don't have two legitimate starters at DE now. What we need is solid play in the interior, and for the back 7 to be something other than vulnerable.

On the OL, we might be pretty decent with Clifton, Wells, Whittiker and Tauscher. We need to find a LG. I could see Klemm sticking for the second year of his contract providing solid depth at LG and LT, and maybe starting. I don't know if Costin might become a contributor, but this kind White is intriguing if he can fill out. We need a young guy or two and a solid if not pricey veteran. I don't know what to make of Barry. He doesn't appear to be starting material. So do you sign him for the veteran's minimum or look for a younger player with upside?

If Favre returns, which is oh so iffy, we will be fine at QB, but assuming he doesn't, which is what I assume, we are going to need a young one to develop and a veteran in case Rodgers isn't ready.

We need an impact running back and to strenthen the DB and interior of the DL. If we can do that, we are going to start to improve. If Rodgers starts, and has a solid OL, a good RB, and the current crop of WRs healed up, we might just surprise a few people next year.

How did we win? We played not to lose.



by LosAngelis
PackerChatters Staff

We've gotten whupped many times. Conservative playcalling, predictable formations, into the "Favre can save us at the end" mindset again.

It all started with 4th and 1 vs. Philadelphia two years ago. We had that game and the Eagles by their talons. Then, instead of going for the win, we trusted our punter and shaky defense to win it for us.

If you want to win in this league, you go for the jugular. You don't use your punter as a "weapon". Losing teams use their punter as a weapon. Winning teams use the best all-around RB in the league running bechind the best OLine package in the league.

We played not to lose. And we lost.

We've seen this through a lot of 2004 and the first part of 2005. Thinking too much about not holding, not throwing interceptions, not missing tackles, not fumbling...not making mistakes.

Then, 4th quarter Carolina, the team said "screw it" and played to win. They did the same thing today. Mixed it up. Hit them from every angle. Didn't throw a ball into the endzone hoping someone might make a play in coverage, but throwing it confidently to a confident receiver who didn't try to make a play....he MADE a play.

One writer said the Packers should have benched Favre earlier and not demoralized the Saints so much.

I feel bad for what they've gone through, but that's tough. No one cuts us any breaks, and no one cuts anyone any breaks.

If we want to continue to win ball games, we have to continue to play to win. If we make a mistake, just come back like David Martin did last week and make up for it. Twice.

Quit carping and micromanaging every little error. Repeated errors that don't get made up for should be dealt with. But this team is finally starting to believe in itself and each other. They're playing and having fun, which is what the game was originally about.

Winning is risk. Unless you have the #1 offense (we don't) and the #1 defense (we don't). We can't methodically run the ball every play and make safe, 1 yard passes to win games.

I don't know if this is Sherman or if this is the players picking up the ball and making the plays. Whomever it is, they need to keep it up, keep the faith, believe in themselves, and mostly, worry about putting points and the board and stopping the other team from doing it, instead of worrying about how many interceptions they have or how many missed tackles they have.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Football 101- Hound2 Y Choice



by Reckless
PackerChatters Staff

This weeks play of the week was the Packer’s 3rd TD in the game against Carolina. The Packers had the ball at the Carolina 16 yard line, first and ten. The play is “Green right slot (formation) U (personnel – 2 TEs and 2 RBs) Short, Hound2 Y Choice”.


------------S1---------------S
CB1---CB--------W------M
------------E1--T-----T---E---B
------80-----O--O--O--O--O--86
87-----------------O

-------------------O

-------------------O

(Sherman drew four “check marks” where CB1, CB, S1 and S lined up.) David Martin (87) lined up wide left, which is a “unique position for a big TE”. “We got quarters coverage which is kind of a four deep coverage.” 87 went in short motion to his right, parallel to the line of scrimmage (LOS), to about where Donald Driver (80) lined up. At the snap he went back to the left and angles toward where CB1 lined up. 80 runs a “smash route” which is similar to a “go route” only toward the left corner of the end zone. The read on this side of the field is the “flat coverage guy”, CB1, who went back in coverage as CB covered 87 in the left flat. S1 “covered 80” on his route.

The play is a “play pass” (includes a run fake) : The FB goes to the right flat and the RB runs a route between where W and M lined up and stops there. Brett faked a handoff to the RB. Donald Lee (86) ran a “choice route” – his route depends upon the “leverage” of S. He ran a skinny post route (runs straight and then angles toward the goal post) but would have run a corner route (toward the right corner of the end zone) if S applied “inside leverage”, or didn’t allow 86 to get to the inside. B covered the FB in the right flat and M was influenced that way too. W covered the RB.

The tape showed a pretty good run fake. The FB was open in the right flat, he was at about the LOS when the ball was thrown and B was at least five yards off him. 80’s route started up the field but to the left a little and did end up near the left corner of the end zone. M covered 86 about 7-8 yards beyond the LOS. 86 got inside S but S1 did not cover 80, CB1 did. S1 didn’t really cover anyone but he was influenced toward 80 until it was too late. He was the player who delivered a hard hit on 86 right after he caught the ball. The protection was pretty good with the exception of RG Will Whitticker, who allowed the DT to get penetration on a bull rush and hit Favre after he released the ball.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Game Review: Panthers 32 Packers 29



by Mark Lawrence
PackerChatters Staff

The 0-3 Packers traveled to the 1-2 Panthers for a repeat of last season's MNF game. Last year, the Packers exposed the Carolina offensive line as unable to handle blitzes, and Carolina receiver Steve Smith was knocked out of the game and out of the season. This year it was the Panther's turn.

As has become all too typical this year, Green Bay left their running game somewhere in the '04 season. Ahman Green ran 14 times for 36 yards for a completely uninspiring 2.6 yard average, with a long run of 10 yards. He was knocked out of the game in the 3rd quarter with a bruised knee. His replacement, Najeh Davenport, was equally unimpressive with 10 yards on 4 carries.

The Packers found themselves deep in a whole for most of the game - a 19 point hole, to be precise. Of course this plus the absence of anything approximating a running game turned them completely one dimensional. What was needed, clearly, was superb pass protection and an incredible performance by the Packers wide receivers.

Bubba Franks, the Packers superlative blocking TE, missed his first game as a Packer ever. About halfway through the 1st quarter left tackle Chad Clifton and center Mike Flannigan were injured and removed from the game on successive plays. This lead to a completely makeshift left side of the line, with Klemm moving over the tackle, Ruegamer coming in at guard, and Wells taking over at center. The new guys did a really poor job for the rest of the first half as they settled in. However, by the 4th quarter, their performance seemed to me to be substantially better than the starters. While I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it would appear to the casual observer that the Packers would be best served by keeping Wells at center, and possibly by keeping Ruegamer at left guard. Klemm did a perfectly creditable job at left tackle, but I see no indication that he was an improvement over Clifton.

Just before halftime rookie WR Terrance Murphy was taken off the field on a back board due to a severe helmet to helmet hit and numbness in his hands and legs. It seemed at the time that there were almost no wide receivers left in Green. #2 Robert Ferguson had a really quite distressing play where Favre put the ball right into his hands, only to watch a Carolina DB wrestle it out and cause a turnover. It has become abundantly clear that Ferguson simply doesn't get the idea of fighting for the ball. It seemed the Packers were down to two functional WRs, the undersized Donald Driver and the positively diminutive Antonio Chatman. Down 19 points, makeshift OL, no running game, and more or less no WRs. It was getting difficult to see how things could become worse.

Meanwhile, the Packers defense allowed 16 unanswered points in three Carolina possessions. There was absolutely no pass rush, and the coverage seemed to consist almost entirely of making certain that anyone would be allowed to catch the ball except for Steve Smith.

However, Favre is fond of saying that in times like these other players simply have to step up, and some did. To my personal astonishment, KGB caused a game-changing turnover which Favre converted into 8 points in two plays taking about 1 minute of real time. Suddenly the Packers seemed to be awakening from the dead.

Previously the Packers backup TEs have been noteworthy mostly for their poor practice sessions and complete absence from game day. On this day, David Martin finally showed up and caught 5 passes for 53 yards and a TD. He actually caught what was thrown at him and looked like a legitimate starter in the NFL, clearly for the first time in his career. 3rd string TE Lee even caught a pass for a TD.

Bret Favre, who has not been very good at comebacks this millennium, managed to get the Packers to the Carolina 48 yard line with 1:39 on the clock and needing 3 points to tie up the game. Things were getting positively exciting. He promptly threw two incompletions and a short completion, leaving the Packers at 4th and 3 with the game on the line and 1:04 remaining. Inexplicitly he chose to run a no-huddle play, and in the confusion Driver was unable to beat his coverage to convert the first down. Inexplicable because it's axiomatic in the NFL that when on the road you play for the tie and overtime, and the Packers had over a minute to make about 20 yards to get into solid field goal range.

The Packers are not playing like a particularly good football team, and yet they have lost their last three games by 2, 1, and 3 points. It would not be rational to think this team is a couple good breaks away from being a contender for the championship, but it is certainly true that this team is very close to being competitive.

Packers fans can take several good points away from this game. Favre seems to be consciously taking better care of the ball, taking fewer risks and making fewer interceptions. The backup OL and TEs seem to have stepped up their games, and look to me to be ready to give this team some new options. The Packers defense continues to be pretty good against the run.

Unfortunately Packers fans must temper this with some more negative observations. There continues to be an almost complete lack of pass rush, and the Packers DBs are not very successful in providing solid shut-down coverage. The Packers continue to have almost no running game, and it's becoming clear that this is substantially due to Ahman Green losing half a step and his backups not being able to provide a suitable replacement.

Next up is the very inconsistent New Orleans Saints coming to Lambeau field. In any other year out of Favre's career I would consider this a relatively easy game. This year, it's simply impossible to count on much of anything from the Packers.

Football 101: Two Jet Aggie



by Reckless
PackerChatters Staff


This weeks play of the week is the Packer’s second TD from the Tampa Bay game. After a penalty, the Packers had the ball on the Buc’s 20 yard line, 2nd and goal. (Sherman didn’t identify the personnel package or the protection.)


--------S1---------------------S

CB----W------------M----------B------C
------------E1--T1----T---E
89-----------O--O--O--O--O-----------85
-----83------------O----------80

-------------------30

The Tampa Bay defense was playing a cover two in which the safeties stay back and “get a lot of width”. Sherman drew arrows showing them going deeper and toward their respective sidelines at about a 45 degree angle. He made the point that it was really a three deep zone as their “fast mike linebacker” (M) drops back to the deep middle. So even though it’s called a “Tampa two” (cover two) it may end up being a three deep zone with four underneath (CB, W, B, & C). And on this play, they dropped T1 into coverage to about where M lined up, so the defense on this play was a three deep zone with five underneath. Also on this particular play, M “really cheated” to the wide side of the field toward the offense’s right (the ball was close to the left hash mark) and got a lot of depth. In other words, instead of dropping straight back, M dropped toward where S lined up. Only three defensive linemen rushed the passer on this play

Sherman: “Our receivers have landmarks on this play”. Against zone coverage we want 89 (Ferguson) lining up about four yards from the sideline. Fergy pressed to get outside (to CB’s left), couldn’t get there and came inside and then was able to get back outside. That was critical because they want to hold S1 so he stays to the outside on 89. 85 (Murphy) does the same thing on the other side – his job is to get outside to hold S. Sherman draws 80 and 83's routes: “We’re up in the seam right here”. 80’s (Driver) landmark is the edge of the numbers (yard lines - 10, 20, etc. - drawn on the field and Sherman draws a route that looks like a go route. 83's (Chatman) route looks the same and he, too, uses the edge of the numbers as a landmark. The idea is to stretch the field vertically and horizontally. The RB is a key player on the play. Sherman shows him taking a couple of steps to his right and then running toward where M lined up. His job is to run an option route against M but since M is really playing safety and T1 has taken his place, 30 (Green) runs a route right where M lined up (but where T1 is when he gets there) and then cuts to his right. “If we don’t have it vertically, we have a check down to Ahman Green running away from a defensive tackle”. 83 gets a “great get off” and Favre does a wonderful job of looking off M – that's the reason M “cheats” - goes toward the right of the offense - because Brett "looked him off" in that direction.

On the play, S1 is going to the left and deep, M who ordinarily would be in the deep middle is going deep to the right which, as Larry says on the radio call, “you talk about finding a seam in the Buccaneer zone defense, that seam was about a half a mile wide”. Chatman got behind W on what looked like a “skinny post” route (not a go route) for an easy TD. W, who should have had safety help on the play, made a futile attempt to knock the pass down.

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