Category Archives: Tramon Williams

16

June

Don’t Forget About Safety Sean Richardson

Safety Sean Richardson. Photo credit: Royalbroil (Wikimedia Commons)

No one will argue that the safety position was a major deficiency for the Green Bay Packers during the 2013-14 season. They didn’t generate a single interception and they frequently looked lost in coverage. Now, as we enter the 2014-15 campaign, it’s poised to be a position of strength.

For starters, gone is M.D. Jennings, who is now competing for a roster spot in Chicago. Entering is first-round draft selection Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who, according to many, fell as a gift to the Packers at the 21st spot.

Also garnering headlines is versatile defensive back Micah Hyde. Last year, he played mainly in the nickel substitution packages or covering the slot receiver. However, during the most recent OTAs, he took first-team reps at safety alongside Morgan Burnett.

With the combination of Clinton-Dix and Hyde competing for playing time next to Burnett, it appears the Packers are set at the starting safety tandem.

Third-year player Sean Richardson would beg to differ. His career almost never got started when he sustained a serious neck injury during his 2012 rookie campaign, but now that he’s fully healed, he’s poised to make some noise in the defensive secondary as he enters another season in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ system.

It’s easy to forget about Richardson because he went undrafted in 2012 and then free missed extensive time during the most crucial first two years of a young player’s developmental window.

However, his measurables cannot be ignored. When compared to Clinton-Dix, he is bigger (6’2″ and 216 lbs. to 6’1″ and 208 lbs.), faster (4.52 secs to 4.58 secs in the 40-yard dash), stronger (22 reps to 11 reps at the bench press), more explosive (38.5″ to 33.0″ inches in the vertical jump and 128″ to 119″ in the broad jump), and more agile (7.01 secs to 7.16 secs) in the 3-cone drill).

These aren’t knocks against Clinton-Dix at all because he is considered a first-round talent and should make an immediate impact.

It simply means we can’t forget about Richardson because he is a rare combination of size, strength, and speed.

Richardson has elite measurables, but he simply needs time to develop his game. He went undrafted because scouts thought his coverage skills fell short of what his athleticism should dictate.

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9

June

Xs and Os: The Three-Deep Zone Defense (Cover 3)

The cover 3 pass defense has the cornerbacks and free safety splitting the deep half into thirds.

The cover 3 pass defense has the cornerbacks and free safety splitting the deep half into thirds.

Continuing with our series of defensive coverage shells, this week we’ll take a closer look at the three-deep zone defense, which is more commonly known as the cover 3.

Previously, we looked at the cover 1 and cover 2 defenses.

Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers predominantly prefers the single-high safety look, but he has deployed the cover 2 shell frequently over the years.

However, the Packers don’t use the cover 3 all that often, but it’s a defense that every NFL team must have in their arsenal because what it brings to the table.

Of course, this article comes with my standard disclaimer that this is an oversimplification for illustrative purposes only.

Cover 3 Defense Defined

When defending the field, the defense usually divides the area vertically into “halves.” The underneath half typically extends 7 yards from the line of scrimmage and the deep half usually extends 15-20 from the line of scrimmage.

In the three-deep zone defense (cover 3), the free safety and both cornerbacks play zone defense and each guard a third of the deep half. They must cover any receiver entering their respective third of the field and drive towards to the ball once it is in the air. Additionally, they must carry the receivers vertically all the way to the goal line.

The GIF below highlights the assignments.

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Strengths of Cover 3

There is no perfect defense in football. If the defense sells out to stop the run, they are extremely vulnerable to the pass. Likewise, setting up a strong back end to guard the pass makes them susceptible to the pass.

The cover 3 is a compromise defense of sorts. Because the deep third is covered by the free safety and both cornerbacks, the strong safety is free to align in the box.

This means the defense can play eight in the box to stop the run. The front seven (defensive line and linebackers) are in the box in addition to the strong safety.

In a nutshell, the cover 3 allows the defense the flexibility. It can be considered a “jack of all trades” defense. It is a very popular run defense, with pass flex, in the NFL because it allows the defense to pack eight in the box and still drop seven into zone pass coverage.

27

May

How much Playing Time will Packers CB Micah Hyde get in 2014?

Micah Hyde vs 49ers

Packers DB Micah Hyde has his work cut out for him this training camp.

If you can somehow block out his dropped pick-six that would have beaten the 49ers in the playoff, Packers defensive back Micah Hyde exceeded expectations in his rookie season.

So we should all prepare for Hyde to take the next step and be even better in 2014, right? Not so fast.

I know we’re a long way from training camp, but who is Hyde going to beat out for consistent playing time?

Tramon Williams? No way, especially if we get the Tramon from the second half of last season.

Sam Shields? I hope not. If that happens, it means the Packers just  wasted a whole bunch of money on Shields.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix? Hyde hasn’t truly played at safety in the NFL so it’s hard to envision Hyde beating out the team’s No. 1 draft pick.

Morgan Burnett? It’s possible, but again, Hyde hasn’t played safety in the NFL. I can’t see him beating Burnett, who is entering his fifth season and second year of a new contract.

Casey Hayward? Only if Hayward isn’t the same player he was during his rookie season following an injury-wrecked sophomore season.

As of now, and “now” is a looooooong ways away from training camp, exhibition games and real football being played, Hyde is the Packers dime back and nothing more. Hyde will have to have himself a helluva training camp to earn more playing time beyond that.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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21

May

Packing The Stats: What Makes a Returner?

Packing the StatsWith the selection of Jared Abbrederis by the Packers in the 5th round, fans all over Wisconsin gushed that one of their own was finally picked by the Packers.  Fans were quick to heap praise on Abbreferis’ try hard attitude, underdog story and “little engine that could” mentality.  Others however questioned the logic, Abbrederis was going into a loaded position and doesn’t have the physical tools to really contribute right away.  How about as a returner?

Lacks elusiveness and is a straight line athlete. He will catch the ball and get some yards (what its blocked for) but he won’t be a good returner that can make plays, just a guy that won’t make mistakes. If your ok w/ that from a return man that’s up to you. I prefer a little more.  - Stroh 2014/05/10 17:51

Challenge accepted!  I think the question before addressing whether Abbrederis could be a good returner for the Packers is first to look at what kind of players the Packers typically like.  I would argue that the Packers do not seem to be very fond of speed/jitter-bug returners that are currently in vogue like Dexter McCluster, Quintin Demps, Trindon Holliday, Tavon Austin etc (interestingly not many of these types of players did all that well in returning last year).  Randall Cobb might be the closest player to that mold, but I would argue that Cobb had a much better and diverse skill set than any of the players I just listed.  What I decided to compare combine/pro day results of notable Packers returners from 2008-2013 to the top ranked returners from the 2013 season based on ProFootballFocus metrics (I excluded some players who had incomplete combine/pro day numbers to make analysis a little more straight forward).

The combine/pro day drills I chose to look at were the 40 yard days, which measures straight line speed, the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone, which measures agility/flexibility and finally the broad and vertical jumps, which measure acceleration.  I didn’t analyze bench press for instance because I felt it was largely irrelevant to being a good returner, who typically don’t block or tackle anyone.

Workbook1

 

Data 1

Data 2

28

April

Xs and Os: Phases of Man-to-Man Coverage

Cornerback Sam Shields excels at man-to-man coverage.

Cornerback Sam Shields excels at man-to-man coverage.

Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers became famous while implementing the zone blitz defense. However, while in Green Bay, he has let his talented cornerbacks, mainly Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, play a lot of man-to-man coverage.

This article looks at some of the basics of man-to-man pass coverage. While it’s popular to simplify it as “you go wherever he goes no matter what,” there’s definitely more to it than that.

While the above tenet is true about going everywhere your man goes, there is the importance of alignment and body position. Also, the overall strategy of defending the pass differs depending on how the defender is covering the receiver.

During man-to-man coverage, the defender usually turns his back to the quarterback. Based on his position with respect to the receiver, he has two options:

1) Play the ball

2) Play the man

For simplicity’s sake, let’s only look at how a cornerback covers a wide receiver in true man-to-man coverage. Assume there is no double coverage or other creative forms of bracketing.

When aligning the cornerback to the receiver, the alignment usually has the cornerback inside of the receiver with reference to the ball.

The reason behind this is because it puts the defender in between the ball and receiver and also allows the cornerback to use the sideline as an extra defender. If the ball is caught out of bounds, it’s an incompletion.

The most basic form of man-to-man coverage is called in phase “even”. The cornerback is running even with the receiver and their shoulders are almost touching.

In phase "even"

In phase “even”

While in phase “even”, the cornerback is instructed to play the ball, essentially becoming a receiver on the play. In this position, the quarterback’s throw must go through the cornerback.

Similarly, cornerbacks often trail the receiver by playing “in their back pocket”. As long as the cornerback is not in front of the receiver, he’s still in phase. If trailing, he’s in phase “hip”. 

In phase "hip"

In phase “hip”

While in phase “hip”, the cornerback also plays the ball.

Conversely, the cornerback may, at times, play in front of the receiver. This is called out of phase.

Out of phase

Out of phase

25

January

Tramon Williams 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers CB Tramon Williams

Packers CB Tramon Williams

1) Introduction: For running backs, perhaps the most demanding position in football, hitting age 30 can be the death blow to a player’s career. But for Tramon Williams, a cornerback in his age-30 season, the veteran remained relatively consistent before a late-season surge that now may have the Packers rethinking their stance on the cornerback this offseason. Prior to the season, it looked as if this past year may be Williams’ last in Green Bay, but he was undoubtedly one of the team’s best defenders late in the season. Along with the uncertain future of Sam Shields, the Packers face several question marks at what may be one of their deepest positions.

2) Profile: Tramon Williams

  • Age: 30
  • Born: 3/16/83 in Houma, LA
  • Height: 5’11″
  • Weight: 191
  • College: Louisiana Tech
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Experience: 8 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Williams was a big question mark for the Packers coming into the 2013-14 season. Since his breakout season in 2010, Williams was up-and-down through the subsequent two seasons as he battled a shoulder injury. With a crowded group of cornerbacks (Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Davon House and Micah Hyde) geared up for the season, it was unknown how Williams’ playing time would be affected. If at all.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: While not the All-Pro caliber player he was in 2010, Williams may have been the Packers’ best defensive player in the late-season stretch run that landed them in the playoffs as the NFC North champions. Against the Dallas Cowboys, Williams intercepted Tony Romo on the Cowboys’ final possession to clinch the Packers’ one-point victory, setting up a division-deciding game against the Chicago Bears. After beating the Bears, Williams intercepted San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, proving that No. 7 in red was, in fact, human. The first half of the season was different for Williams, as he wasn’t a reliable tackler and struggled to handle slot duties in Hayward’s absence.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: There have been plenty of knocks on Williams for his post-2010 play, but nobody can question is durability. Not even you. Since becoming a member of the Packers’ 53-man roster in 2007, Williams has missed one game. One. So while the injury bug bit the position, Williams was a crutch for the Packers to lean on. Was this his best season? No, but he showed significant improvement this year from his previous two seasons and was on the field every Sunday. And he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 39th-best cornerback, which was up from No. 61 in 2012.

19

January

Packers, Capers really missed Casey Hayward in 2013

Casey Hayward wasn't the Packers' only missing link in 2013, but he was certainly missed. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Casey Hayward wasn’t the Packers’ only missing link in 2013, but he was certainly missed. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

As a rookie in 2012, Packers cornerback Casey Hayward was one of three finalists for the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best cornerback–the second-round pick trailed only established veterans Antoine Winfield, Richard Sherman and Charles Tillman.

After Hayward intercepted a team-best six passes and holding opposing passers to an abysmal 31.1 passer rating, the Packers had high hopes for Hayward, as they cut ties with their veteran leader and turnover-creator Charles Woodson following the 2012 season.

But Hayward’s encore was disrupted by a recurring hamstring issue, limiting him to appearing in just three games. He played 88 snaps.

With Woodson playing in Oakland and Hayward on the sideline, the Packers were left searching for a solution in the slot early last season. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams had fine seasons, but both are better suited for the perimeter. Micah Hyde didn’t play like a rookie, as he took over as the primary punt returner while proving to be a reliable run defender and a versatile cover man.

All things considered, the Packers’ cornerbacks fared well, but they were seriously lacking in one area.

For as long as Dom Capers has served as defensive coordinator in Green Bay, the Packers defense has relied heavily on takeaways. Woodson intercepted 19 passes and forced 11 fumbles during Capers’ tenure, which began in 2009. When Capers served as defensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992-1994, he had another Woodson (Rod), who intercepted 16 passes in three seasons with Capers.

But for the first time since taking over in Green Bay, Capers was without his X-Factor in 2013. He didn’t have a play-maker. He certainly didn’t have a Woodson.

For a defense that had grown accustomed to bending but not breaking, losing its turnover-creating wild card would be like throwing Capers in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean without a raft. Hayward’s 88 snaps were a makeshift life vest, but Capers and the defense remained stranded and searching for answers.

It would be foolish to assume Hayward’s career will unfold like Woodson’s, but you don’t let go of your high-school sweetheart without a winner on deck. The Packers had a plan for Life After Woodson, but that plan (Hayward) fell by the wayside thanks to the injury bug.