Category Archives: Tom Clements

9

January

Is the Packers’ Glass Half Empty Or Half Full?

Beer

Packers and Beer.

Players, coaches, the media and most often the fans like to say “every season that didn’t include a Super Bowl Victory is a failure”.  I get the sentiment, as long as your team wins the Super Bowl, everything is forgiven; it doesn’t matter how many mistakes were made or how many games were lost, as long as your team takes the Lombardi trophy at home, everything else is forgiven.  However, this is really a shortsighted assessment of any team’s season; would anyone argue that the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans had equally failed seasons because neither will win the Super Bowl this year?  Of course not, the Chiefs saw a massive rebound from the worse record in 2012 to one of the best and saw jumps in all analytics to boot.  On the other hand, the Texans were predicted by many pundits to be a Super Bowl contender but lost 15 games in a row and saw their head coach fired mid-season.  Furthermore, fans of the New England Patriots can realistically expect to be in contention for a Super Bowl every year for the foreseeable future, but the same cannot be said for the Oakland Raiders, who are still in the middle of a massive rebuilding process; getting into the playoffs but not the Super Bowl might be considered a failure for the Patriots, but just getting into the playoffs should be considered a successful season for the Raiders.

All that basically points back to the 2013 Packers; should we consider this season a success or a failure?  Or more realistically, do you see the Packers season as a glass half empty or a glass half full?

The Packers were an average team (8-7-1)

Glass half empty: The Packers took a major nose dive this season after posting a 11-5 season in 2012, 15-1 season in 2011 and winning the Super Bowl in 2010.  Especially in the middle of the season it looked like the team was lost and without a goal as they were man handled by the Eagles, Giants and most notably the Lions.  The defense again fell apart and the Packers were forced to learn how to run the ball behind Eddie Lacy, which didn’t happen overnight.  Hell, they couldn’t even truly beat the Minnesota Vikings who threw Christian Ponder back in a quarterback.  Finally, the Packers again proved that they are incapable of beating the 49ers with the 3rd consecutive loss.

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19

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Giants 27, Packers 13

Tramon Williams was making tackles near the line of scrimmage and intercepted a pass in the red zone. It was a big day for No. 38.

Tramon Williams was making tackles near the line of scrimmage and intercepted a pass in the red zone. It was a big day for No. 38.

For the first time in three weeks, the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback (Scott Tolzien) played beyond the game’s first series. So, there’s that.

In his first career start, Tolzien was able to move the Packers offense down the field on his way to three scoring drives. But much like Tolzien’s first outing with the team, his day was clouded with turnovers.

Although he completed 70 percent of his passes en route to a 339-yard day against a good Giants defense, Tolzien’s second interception to Jason Pierre-Paul clinched the game for New York, as JPP picked off the pass and raced into the end zone, extending what was a seven-point lead to 14.

And here we are. The Packers are 5-5 on the season and likely need to win five of their last six to make the playoffs.

With the Vikings next on the schedule, the Packers have a good chance at getting back over .500, despite being without Aaron Rodgers for at least another week. But then again, it’ll more than likely be another ugly slugfest in which the winner is decided by a late score.

The value of Rodgers is undeniable. Not only is he really, really good at throwing the football, eluding pressure and making pre-snap reads, but simply having No. 12 under center completely opens things up for the running game. It’s not exactly rocket science, I know. Eddie Lacy is a great back, but defenses are stacking the box in a way I–having grown up watching Rodgers and Brett Favre–have never seen.

On the sideline, Rodgers has to be looking at these defensive fronts, shaking his head and thinking “If only.” Favre is probably sitting on his recliner in his Wranglers and laughing.

Either way, the Tolzien-led Packers are the Tolzien-led Packers. The Rodgers-led Packers can beat any team in the league, in my opinion. But the Tolzien-led Packers cannot.

This week? I believe the Tolzien-led Packers can beat the Christian Ponder, Matt Cassell or Josh Freeman-led Vikings. But we will see.

Game Balls

Tramon Williams

11

June

Which Packers Assistant is the next to Become a Head Coach?

Could Tom Clements be the next Packers assistant to become a head coach?

Could Tom Clements be the next Packers assistant to become a head coach?

John Schneider to Seattle. Reggie McKenzie to Oakland. John Dorsey to Kansas City.

A lot of talented executives have left the Packers front office for general manager jobs with other teams over the last three years.

Joe Philbin has been the only Packers assistant coach to land a head coaching gig in that time period. Philbin departed as offensive coordinator and took over as Miami’s head coach after the 2012 season.

There’s plenty of talent on the Packers coaching roster. Linebackers coach Winston Moss and safeties coach Darren Perry have been loosely linked to head coach openings in the past. Current offensive coordinator Tom Clements is also highly regarded for his role in the Packers’ offense and the development of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Edgar Bennett has received some publicity lately as a firey up-and-comer. Kevin Greene is also an intense guy that could catch the eye of a general manager who wants a motivator as a head coach.

It’s impossible to predict which way the wind will blow on the assistant coach open market. One season an assistant might be the next big thing and a cinch to become a head coach. Then his team falters, he doesn’t get offered a head coaching job, and we never hear from him again.

Even Dom Capers was whispered to be on some team’s head coach lists after the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Can you imagine anyone offering Capers a head coaching job now? Doubtful, but if the Packers make a drastic turnaround on defense, you never know.

I consider myself an obsessive NFL fan — not just a Packers fan — and even I never heard of Mike McCarthy when the Packers hired him. Now, he’s one of the most successful head coaches in franchise history.

If I had to guess, I’d guess that Tom Clements gets a shot at being a head coach before any other assistant. Guys that understand offense and the quarterback position will always have an advantage in today’s NFL. Based on what little I know about Clements, he also seems to have the demeanor to be a strategic and level-headed coach.

13

January

Green Bay Packers: The Loss to San Francisco and Now What?

Unfortunately the next time we see Rodgers, he will be in a red practice jersey. He has a few months to get fired up about another embarrassing playoff loss

Well, the Green Bay Packers 2012 season is in the books after the Divisional round playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.  It’s time for my thoughts on tonight’s game and ask the burning question:  Now what?

The Playoff Loss at San Francisco

The Packers knew what was coming at them in this Divisional playoff game.  They knew it and still let it beat them.  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, a new NFL playoff record.

Minus the early-game interception that was returned for a touchdown, Kaepernick was near flawless the rest of the way and absolutely torched the Packers defense.  There were concerns about the Packers ability to contain the mobile Kaepernick.  Others questioned whether Kapernick would be able to handle the pressure of a playoff game, his first.  He clearly was.

The signs were all there early on that this one wasn’t going to go the Green & Gold’s way.  Immediately after Sam Shields ran an errant Kaepernick pass in for a pick six, Kaepernick literally ran his team down the field and scored on a 20 yard run that was poorly defensed by the Packers.

It seemed like the key was going to be making Kaepernick beat the Packers by having to throw it.  He ended the game 17/31 for 256 yards and two touchdowns.  Not a bad day, but not great.  The problem was, he didn’t need to be great.  He just had to be efficient.  The 323 rushing yards the Green Bay defense gave up that kept them on the field made that possible.

It was this game that finally made me realize that the Packers just did not have the guys on the field that they needed to win this one.  They were hit hard by injuries this season and it caught up with them on Saturday night.  The loss of Desmond Bishop, Bryan Bulaga, Nick Perry and DJ Smith were apparent as the Packers had to turn to Brad Jones, Erik Walden for a full game (too many snaps) and Don Barclay to fill the gaps.

7

December

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 13 vs. Minnesota Vikings

We all knew it was going to happen; with Randall Cobb the Packers got a swiss army knife, he returns kicks, he catches passes, he runs the ball, he slices, dices and even juliennes!  At some point, you knew that “Wild Cobb” was going to show up somewhere and the Packers were going to get him to lob the ball (I know they did this last year, but that was more of an option pass).  Well apparently the Vikings were the team to get the first shot at some Cobb trickeration and the results were pretty comical at best, but what exactly happened and what went wrong?

The Situation: It’s the 3rd quarter with 6:19 left on the clock and the Vikings are desperately holding onto a 1 point lead.  It’s second and five after a five yard Alex Green run and the Packers need to get a touchdown or get into field goal range (though who knows what qualifies for field goal range for Mason Crosby at the moment) in order to keep the game the game close.

The Formation: The Packers come out in a 2-2-1 formation (2WR-2TE-1RB) with WR Greg Jennings (85) split right and WR James Jones (89) in the left slot, TE Tom Crabtree (83) and TE DJ Williams (84) are also aligned in the left slot forming a trips bunch look with WR Jones.  On the offensive line, with TJ Lang out, undrafted rookie Don Barclay (67) is out at right tackle, followed by RG Josh Sitton (71), C Jeff Saturday (63), LG Evan Dietrich-Smith (62) and LT Marshall Newhouse (74).

Pre-Snap: TE Williams motions from the trips bunch into the backfield and becomes the fullback, making it an offset I formation, in essence making it look like a run play.

Snap: QB Aaron Rodgers (12) pitches it to RB Cobb, who initially appears to be running a sweep behind TE Williams.

The Lateral: RB Cobb throws a lateral back to QB Rodgers, who catches the ball, but already has DE Everson Griffin bearing down on him.  Luckily RT Barclay manages to get enough of Griffin that it gives QB Rodgers time to shuffle to his right before throwing a bomb to WR Jennings.

8

October

Packers Collapse? Blame Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers

McCarthy & Rodgers talk it over

I can’t really fault those who want to blame Dom Capers and the Packers defense for this loss. They did allow rookie QB Andrew Luck to repeatedly find veteran WR Reggie Wayne, for back-breaking receptions despite a secondary flooded with defensive backs.

But the real blame for the Packers’ loss to the Colts lies at the feet of Mike McCarthy and/or Aaron Rodgers. Our own Adam Czech specifically points the finger at the Packers last drive of the first half, but let me take it a little bit further.

After the Packers went up 21-3 in the second quarter, suddenly the offense changed. To see how, let’s look at their next three posessions:

2nd Quarter: Green Bay Packers at 1:17
1-10-GB 43 (1:17) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass short right to J.Kuhn pushed ob at GB 49 for 6 yards (J.Freeman).
2-4-GB 49 (1:12) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to J.Nelson.
3-4-GB 49 (1:07) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to J.Finley (S.Brown).
4-4-GB 49 (1:04) T.Masthay punts 36 yards to IND 15, Center-B.Goode, fair catch by T.Hilton.

 

3rd Quarter: Green Bay Packers at 15:00
1-10-GB 20 (15:00) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short left.
(PENALTY on GB-T.Crabtree, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at GB 20 – No Play.)
1-20-GB 10 (14:51) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers scrambles up the middle to GB 22 for 12 yards (T.Zbikowski).
2-8-GB 22 (14:11) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass short right to J.Finley to GB 28 for 6 yards (J.Powers).
3-2-GB 28 (13:24) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass short right intended for Ja.Jones INTERCEPTED by J.Powers at GB 39.

 

3rd Quarter: Green Bay Packers at 11:06
1-10-GB 20 (11:06) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short left to Ja.Jones.
2-10-GB 20 (11:03) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers sacked at GB 15 for -5 yards (C.Redding).
3-15-GB 15 (10:28) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers scrambles left end to GB 17 for 2 yards. A.Rodgers pass incomplete short left to J.Finley.
(PENALTY on GB-A.Rodgers, Illegal Forward Pass, 5 yards, enforced at GB 17.)
4-18-GB 12 (10:16) T.Masthay punts 58 yards to IND 30, Center-B.Goode, fair catch by T.Hilton

Notice something missing from all three of these possessions? Yes, a running play.

Up until that point, (and not counting an Aaron Rodgers scramble), the Packers had run the ball 12 times in the first half and passed 14 times. For the Packers, that’s about as balanced as it gets. And guess what, it was working.  The Packers scored three touchdowns using this approach.

22

August

Packers Running Backs: Cedric Benson in the 4th Quarter

Cedric Benson

Fourth-quarter fumbles can turn the Packers low-risk signing of Cedric Benson into a disaster.

For a team that doesn’t run the ball much, the Packers sure like to talk about the importance of running the ball.

Yes, a good running game is nice to have, but it’s not necessary, especially with a QB like Aaron Rodgers and the Packers talented WRs.

It would be nice to see the Packers get more production in the run game during the fourth quarter, though, especially when preserving a lead and killing the clock. That’s one of the reaons Ted Thompson plucked Cedric Benson off his couch and brought him to Green Bay.

Thompson probably had visions of Benson crashing up the middle late in games, moving the pile forward as the lead built on the arm of Aaron Rodgers became more insurmountable and precious seconds ticked off the clock.

That’s a cool vision and all, but how close is it to reality?

Benson in crunch time
Last season with the Bengals, Benson had 67 carries for 289 yards in the fourth quarter. That’s an average of 4.31 yards per carry.

Not bad.

When the Bengals were ahead in the fourth, Benson had 24 carries for 110 yards and a 4.6 average.

Again, not bad.

The first of those run-the-clock-with-a-lead carries was a 39-yard TD in the season opener against the Browns to ice the game. If you take away that long run, Benson’s average drops to 3.1 per carry.

Ball security was an issue with Benson when trying to preserve late leads. He fumbled three times with his team ahead in the fourth and lost two of them (on consecutive runs against the Cardinals in week 16).

With the game tied in the fourth, Benson had 14 carries for 41 yards, a 2.9 average.

When the Bengals were behind in the final quarter, Benson had 29 carries for 138 yards, a 4.6 yard average.

If you take away Benson’s 39-yard scamper, his overall fourth quarter numbers fall to 66 carries for 250 yards, a 3.8 average.

Final thoughts

  • These numbers should not be used to make a final judgement on how Benson will perform in the fourth quarter this season. I’m simply presenting this information for discussion. Put Benson behind the Packers’ offensive line in Mike McCarthy’s offense and maybe he’ll explode into a fourth-quarter juggernaut. Or maybe he’ll be so bad that the Packers cut him. We’ll see.