Ryan Pickett had a whale of a game against the Houston Texans. Their Pro Bowler center, the 6’4″ 290lb Chris Meyers, was no match for Pickett. Double teams were no match for Pickett, except when he got chop blocked (more on that later).
The best the Texans were able to do against Pickett was keep him on the line of scrimmage. There was no knocking him back off the line. There was no getting bounced back and forth between two blockers. These are things I’ve witnessed too much from BJ Raji.
Nothing against Raji, but he is not your prototypical nose tackle that is content with eating blockers and stuffing inside running lanes. Perhaps it’s the Packers’ own fault for also playing him at DE and letting him get a taste of pass rushing glory. To my eyes Raji is a lot more interested in trying to get to the QB than doing what a nose tackle’s primary job is. I also think he doesn’t always bring that rabid dog intensity I like from my defensive linemen.
The Packers held Arian Foster (averaging 106 yards per game coming into the Packers contest) to 29 yards in 17 carries – 1.7 ypc average. If you don’t think a big reason for that was Ryan Pickett, you need to go watch the game again. There were no running lanes for Foster between the tackles. He scored two short yardage touchdowns, both by bouncing the play off tackle to avoid a hard charging Ryan Pickett.
Lets look at those two plays:
It didn’t take long for the Texans to realize what they were dealing with in Pickett. After only a quarter of play, the Texans decided to deploy some dirty, but legal tactics: the chop block (or cut block, whichever you prefer).
Wait, aren’t chop blocks illegal, you say? Well take a look and tell me if you think this play should be called a penalty:
When I watched the game a second time and saw this play, I hit the roof. “Why wasn’t this a penalty?” I asked. Well, because it’s a legal cut block.
Now I can hear you asking, “Isn’t that an oxymoron? In the wonderful world of NFL rules, you must pay very close attention. I hadn’t. I just assumed any time a defensive player is engaged with a blocker, you can’t go at his legs.
But you know what happens when you assume. It turns out that if the player making the cut block lines up next to the blocker that is engaged with the defender, cut blocks are legal. Yes, what Texans OG Wade Smith did, going after Ryan Pickett’s knees, is perfectly legal in the wacky world of the NFL rule book. Had Smith been lined up at tackle, it’s then a penalty.
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.