Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers are committed to doing whatever possible to keep QB1 un-sacked and upright. In just his limited preseason action, Rodgers has already shown the ability to more quickly recognized his checkdowns and not hold onto the ball too long. McCarthy, for his part, seems committed to giving the offensive line more pass protection help when needed, something I felt was lacking last season.
On Aaron Rodgers’ first play, 56 yard completion to Greg Jennings, Donald Lee was used in pass protection, and seemingly left to Rodgers to decide how. As you watch the play, you’ll see Rodgers look at Lee, who is lined up on the left side. He then glances to the right and sees the Seahawks have overloaded that side. He looks back at Lee, and most likely calls a protection change. Lee goes into motion and lines up on the right side, where he can help in the protection.
It works beautifully, as the Packers now have four players to Seattle’s three, the play action gets Seattle moving left, and Rodgers has plenty of time to roll right and complete the pass.
Bryan Bulaga, who was a film study subject last week for kicking out to pickup a blitzing DB on the edge, again showed some great awareness for a rookie, this time on the sack allowed by Allen Barbre. Although he ultimately wasn’t able to get back in time to help Barbre, it was for the right reasons. It’s hard to see this from the angle this video was taken from. On the NFL Network feed, which I have on DVR, but can’t transfer to my computer (arghh!), you can see exactly what Bulaga is looking at.
As the play starts, Bulaga’s primary responsibility is the linebacker in front of him. Bulaga keeps his eye on him until he sees that he’s going to drop back in coverage. With no one to block, Bulaga next looks over to Barbre. At that moment, Barbre is squared with the rusher, and appears to have it under control. So Bulaga then looks to his right to help inside, but there’s nothing for him to do there. He looks back at Barbre, but Barbre in a flash has inexplicably let a rookie 7th round draft pick blow by him like he’s the second coming of LT. Too late for Bulaga to get there, but again, he did all the right things.
Multiple tight end formations: When the Packers drafted Andrew Quarless, I envisioned a future (not this year) goal line offense with two, big, pass-catching tight ends for Aaron Rodgers to throw to. I hadn’t really considered what we saw the other night on the John Kuhn TD pass (of course, I’m not the offensive genius, Mike McCarthy is).
What I didn’t notice until re-watching the game, was that the Packers has three tight ends in on that play. As they come to the line of scrimmage, Quarless is lined up tight on the right side, and Donald Lee is tight on the left side. Kuhn and Grant are in the I formation, and Jermichael Finley lines up behind Quarless, then goes into motion and lines up on the left side behind and outside of Lee.
The Seattle defense starts to favor that side, and must be thinking two things; either the Packers are running the ball that way, or they will try to hit Finley on a curl or a corner route. Imagine their surprise when the Packers go the opposite way and throw a pass to the apparent blocking back.
Now, in this case, all three tight ends were a decoy. But I’m sure McCarthy has a lot of other ideas on how to exploit his wealth of tight ends. With Spencer Havner being so valuable on special teams, I am more than ever convinced that barring a trade, the Packers will keep four tight ends on their 53-man roster.——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.