Category Archives: John Trgovac

14

January

So You Want To Fire Dom Capers?

A lot of fans have been clamoring for the head of Dom Capers, the perceived problem to all of the Packers woes.  Some have argued that Dom Capers is getting too old to be coaching, his defensive philosophy and schemes too outdated and too complex for players to handle and perhaps most puzzling his lack of coaching causing injuries, missed assignments and miscommunication between the defensive unit.  However, before you start cleaning out his office, you have to have a plan B; namely if the Packers did fire Dom Capers, who would be the new 3-4 defensive coordinator?  Before all of you shout “I don’t care, anyone would be better than Dom Capers”, you and I are “anyone” and we all know that anyone that comments on this site would make a terrible defensive coordinator (let’s not even pretend).  With that in mind, I’ve created a list of the some of the potential coaching candidates that could replace Dom Capers

In House Options:

  1. Mike Trgovac: Trgovac has the most experience among the assistant coaches and is the only one with previous defensive coordinator experience having been the DC for the Carolina Panthers from 2003-2008. However in Carolina the Panthers ran a 4-3 alignment so it’s unclear how much experience he has with the 3-4 defense as a whole.  Furthermore, Trgovac turned down a 2-year contract extension with Carolina in order to take the Packers defensive line coaching position, which is interesting in itself considering Trgovac essentially took a pay cut and dropped down a rung on the coaching ladder to work for the Packers, which might be an indication that he doesn’t have an interest in being a defensive coordinator any more.  Of the in house choices, Trgovac probably has the best chance of being promoted to defensive coordinator; while he has turned down several coordinator interviews over the last couple years stating that he doesn’t want to move his family, obviously becoming the defensive coordinator for the Packers would not have this issue.  Furthermore, 3-4 defensive line production is largely a stat less critique, which would likely help Trgovac hide some of the poor performances the defensive line has had over the years.
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25

April

My One and Only 2013 Packers Mock Draft

2013 NFL Draft

2013 NFL Draft

As the Packers draft analyst for DraftTek.com, I’ve been involved with at least 20 mock drafts leading up to today. They’re not entirely mine, however, as the actual picks are made by computer.  I get to input needs information, and can try to “grab” certain players (if they are available at that spot) or “lockout” players from contention.

Analysts for the other 31 teams all do the same thing. What results is the closest thing to a real draft simulation (they don’t call it a mock) I’ve seen anywhere. It ‘s quite unique and if you are not familiar with it, you really should check them out.

What’s even cooler is that on draft day, the “simulation” is updated within minutes of when each pick is selected. So, as the Packers are up at #26, it will re-run the simulation within minutes, eliminating the 25 other players already picked from contention for the Packers pick. So at any point in the draft, you can get a quick view at what the landscape looks like for the rest of the draft. Isn’t that rather amazing? It’s a great thing to be checking as you watch the draft unfold…

Here’s how today’s  today’s final DrafTek  NFL Draft simulation ended up:

  1. Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
  2. Jonathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
  3. Stedman Bailey, WR , West Virginia
  4. JJ Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern
  5. Michael Mauti, ILB, Penn State / 5B: Nicholas Williams, DE Samford
  6. David Bass, OLB, Missouri Western
  7. Zach Sudfeld, TE, Nevada

Every one of these were guys I put in as “grabs” except for Michael Mauti. While Mauti has talent and a world of heart, he’s been a one-man M.A.S.H. unit, and would be an unlikely Packers Pick.

So that was my attempt at picking the BPA under the conditions of that particular draft simulation. Overall, I’m rather pleased with how it worked out.

However, when it comes to the real draft tonight, I don’t believe that Stedman Bailey and JJ Wilcox will last till the Packers’ picks in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. So, here’s my attempt at a mock draft, factoring in my thoughts on who might be available.

8

March

Packers B.J. Raji in 2012: Warrior or Shrinking Violet?

B.J. Raji 2012

B.J. Raji

From the time BJ Raji was drafted in 2009, I’ve taken a special interest in this player. Maybe because he’s from a local town here in NJ, maybe because I was hoping he would be one of the linchpins for Dom Caper’s new 3-4 defense – the next “Gravedigger.”

I wrote a profile on Raji back in May of 2009, and later talked to some people who saw him in his HS playing days. “Really nice kid from a nice family,” I heard repeatedly, followed by, not sure if he has enough “mean” in his personality to thrive in the trenches in the NFL.

I discounted those comments for the most part. Surely the Packers wouldn’t have spent a top-10 draft choice on him if the Packers didn’t think he was a potential star.

B.J. Raji made the Pro Bowl in 2011, probably based on the rep earned by his 8 sacks and strong sophomore season  in 2010 (film study here).  Ironically, though, he just wasn’t that good in 2011.

Raji’s 2012 season for the Packers was noticeably better than 2011, but one major thing was missing; consistency.  It seemed to these non-expert eyes that as the season unfolded, Raji had some very strong performances, and some downright awful ones.

Raji terrorized the Bears (film study here) late in the season and a few weeks later was bounced around like a pinball machine by the 49ers offensive line. With those two offensive lines being on opposite ends of the talent scale, a thought crossed my mind; were’s Raji’s “good” performances all against “bad” offensive lines and vica versa?

While a film study would be the optimal way to examine this hypothesis, that kind of free time eludes me, especially with all our NFL Draft prep going on. So, I decided to go to the folks that examine every player on every play over the course of an entire season; Pro Football Focus.

For a little background, lets first take a look at how Raji has graded out over his first four seasons in the NFL.

Year OVERALL Pass Rush Run Defense
       
2009 -4.8 -5.5 1.8
2010 15.1 12.7 -4.3
2011 -20.8 -2.4 -21.2
2012 6.5 2.8 5.9
7

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Margus Hunt, DE Southern Methodist

Margus Hunt

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: DE Margus Hunt

Player Information:

Margus Hunt, DE Southern Methodist

6-8, 277 pounds
Hometown: Karksi-Nuia, Estonia

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 yard: 4.66

Bench Press: 38

Vertical: 34.5″

Broad: 121.0″

3 Cone: 7.07″

Shuttle: 4.51

News and Notes:

One of the more interesting stories of the 2013 NFL draft, the 25-year old native of Estonia started out in track and field in high school and ended up winning gold medals in both shot put and discuss in the 2006 World Junior Track and Field Championships in Beijing.  Wanting to attend college in the United States, Hunt travelled to SMU in hopes of resurrecting the men’s track team under legendary coach Dave Wollman.  Unfortunately, neither Hunt nor Wollman were able to find funding for a track team so in order to stay in the United States Hunt turned to the football field.  Now 4 years later, Hunt approaches the NFL draft as one of the most intriguing prospects.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: “Naturally powerful defender who can simply bull-rush his opponent deep into the pocket. Big, strong and reasonably active hands to fight through blockers’ attempts at grasping a hold of him. Good hand-eye coordination and times his leaps well to aid in his kick-blocking prowess. Has emerged as a player the offense must account for on virtually every snap and yet remains a better athlete than football player, which speaks to his exciting upside.”
  • NFL.com: “ Tall, thick but athletic lineman with loads of potential. Much quicker than you’d expect off the snap given his size, and his long first step helps him pressure the outside shoulder of tackles when outside and win the gap at three-technique. Shows the ability to anchor from both the 3-tech and 5-tech spots. Has the speed to run the arm and beat tackles off the edge. Fast and strong hands stun his man, extends his arms to keep leverage. Uses his length very well to keep blockers off his body. Plays contain well on the edge, pops off his block and swallows backs with his strong upper body. Long strides eat a lot of grass when closing to the quarterback. Good closing speed. Will chase plays downfield. Height and length allow him to affect quarterbacks’ vision when unable to reach him; they also make him an ideal interior player on the field goal block team. Flashes the ability to come off the ball hard and low in short-yardage situations despite his height. Good natural strength – can anchor and shed even when he loses the leverage battle. Varies the tempo of his pass rush well once the offensive line overplays his speed rush.”
14

February

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Defensive Line

Next up in the AllGreenBayPackers.com’s positional group analysis is the defensive line, who while showed some improvement from their disastrous 2011 season was still probably the reason behind their playoff collapse this year.

Where Are We Now

Here are the current suspects;

  • BJ Raji (1st round, 2009)
  • Ryan Pickett (1st round, 2001)
  • Mike Neal (2nd round, 2010)
  • CJ Wilson (7th round, 2010)
  • Jerel Worthy (2nd round, 2012)
  • Mike Daniels (4th round, 2012)
  • Philip Merling (2nd round, 2008, cut week 4)

So that’s where we are.  Thompson has made quite an effort to shore up his defensive line, with three 1st or 2nd rounders in the last four years.  However, despite Thompson’s focus on the defensive line, not much good has happened.  BJ Raji hasn’t been as dominant a force as he was in the 2010 Superbowl season, Mike Neal is essentially starting his sophomore campaign with all the injuries he suffered and rookie Jerel Worthy looked like a raw rookie before suffering an ACL injury.

  • Raji: Raji spent considerably more time as a defensive end this year than as a nose tackle (536 snaps at DE vs. 123 at NT) and overall as I’ve written in my previous articles this is probably the best move for the Packers as defensive ends are much more important to a 3-4 defense than nose tackles.  While Raji definitely had a better season than his lackluster 2011 campaign, it still pales in comparison to his 2010 season where he earned the nickname “the freezer”.  One distinct possibility is that Raji is starting to wear down due to all the snaps that he’s had to take since there were no other viable DL around, but the addition of Worthy, Neal and Daniels will hopefully allow the Packers to have a decent DL rotation.
  • Pickett: Pickett again was a consistent performer in the middle, while he’s never going to really get the sacks or tackles to make fans notice, he does hold up double teams and do the dirty work for the rest of the defensive linemen and linebackers.  However at 33 Pickett is certainly in the twilight of his career but surprisingly is playing more snaps ever year since 2009; this obviously can’t continue to happen for a guy at his age and size so chances are good with Raji perhaps spending the majority of time at DE, we could see the Packers look for a replacement at nose tackle.
18

October

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 6 at Texans

I think it’s time to do a Hobbjective Analysis on a group that has always been overlooked: linemen.  I’m guilty of it myself; line play is very complicated and nuanced and I will be the first to admit that I don’t know very much about it; if you want to see what sort of technicians and athletes these guys truly are, I highly recommend you check out the “Word of Muth” column over at Football Outsiders (one of my favorite columns by the way).  Nevertheless, I personally think that while Aaron Rodgers throwing 6 touchdowns probably was a big factor as to why the Packers were able to clobber the Houston Texans, I think the defensive line deserves even more credit than Rodgers in winning the game for the Packers.

The Situation: It’s 11:44 in the second quarter with the Packers taking the early lead in with a 14-0 advantage.  Early in the game the Texans had curiously attempted to get their offense started with a pass-heavy strategy but ended up with quarterback Matt Schaub running for his life.  By the time the second quarter rolls around, it appears as if the Texans have abandoned this idea and go back to their bread and butter strategy of getting good down and distance situations with All-Pro RB Arian Foster, and setting up the play action pass with QB Matt Schaub and All-Pro WR Andre Johnson.

 

 

The formation: The Texans come out in a 2-1-2 formation (2WR-1TE-2RB) with WR Johnson aligned out wide to the left and WR Kevin Walter aligned in the slot to the right.  TE Owen Daniels lines up inline along side the right tackle while RB Foster is 7 yards directly behind QB Schaub with FB James Casey forming a offset I formation.  The Packers respond with their base 3-4 alignment.  The Packers come out with their standard linebacking core of ROLB Clay Matthews, ILB AJ Hawk, ILB DJ Smith and LOLB Erik Walden.  With NT BJ Raji out of the game due to an injury sustained versus the Colts, DE Ryan Pickett takes his place and lines up as the 0-technique (to the open side shoulder of the center), while DE CJ Wilson aligns to the right of Pickett and plays the 4-technique (between the guard and tackle), while DE Jerel Worthy aligns to Pickett’s left and plays the 3-technique (directly infront of the guard; I admit it’s rather hard to judge the defensive line’s alignment due to the camera angle, traditionally the NT plays the 0 technique while the DEs play the 5 technique).    I’ve excluded labeling the secondary as their are extraneous in this play, especially with SS Charles Woodson outside the box.

30

August

Packers vs. Chiefs: 3 Not-So-Obvious Things to Watch

Packers Cornerback Sam Shields

Packers Cornerback Sam Shields

Seems like every writer, blogger and fan forum has a “5 things to watch” or “3 things to look for” post to preview an upcoming game. Usually, the items are fairly general and rather obvious; things like, “the offensive line needs to pass protect better  and the defense needs to create turnovers.” For many football fans, that’s good enough.

But you’re not just any NFL fan are you? No, you’re a Packers fan. And if you’re a repeat visitor to this web site, there’s a good chance you’re a rather rabid Packers fan that knows a thing or two about the game of football. From what you readers tell me, you like to read about Xs and Os, break down plays on film and discuss the more subtle aspects of the game of football.

I’m a firm believer in “give the people what they want,” so our “3 things” post will strive to be a little different. We’re going to delve into the not-so-obvious aspects of the upcoming games and give you some very specific things to look for.

Here are three players to watch in this game:

1) Sam Shields #37 - Shields regressed last season, partially because of increased responsibilities in coverage and run defense, according to CB coach Joe Whitt. Shields started slow in camp, then missed two games with an injury. Many Packers fans quickly soured on Shields, still irked from his disappointing play at the ending of last season.

Lately, however, his play is on the rise and the Packers are hopeful it continues. Shields has the one thing you can’t teach, the speed to make up for mistakes in coverage. With Davon House to be affected all season by a shoulder injury, Casey Hayward just too inexperienced and Jarret bush too valuable as a versatile fill-in, the Packers would much prefer to see Shields as the starter this season. What the Packers will be looking for this game is how Shields tackles a running back in the open field. You should watch for it too.

2) Jerron McMillian #22 – McMillian is in a two-man battle with MD Jennings to win the nickle safety position (when Charles Woodson will be moving to slot CB). But that’s not all – according to Dom Capers, the Packers have used him a bit at the dime cornerback spot (something I hadn’t noticed) and like what they’ve seen. I’ll be watching for #22 this game and how the Packers use him. This could open up a lot of possibilities in the Packers’ secondary.