Category Archives: 2014 – 2015 Season

21

July

Packers Xs and Os: What We Might See From McCarthy’s Up-Tempo Offense (Part 1)

Will Aaron Rodgers be leading an up-tempo or no huddle offense in 2014? (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today).

Will Aaron Rodgers be leading an up-tempo or no huddle offense in 2014? (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today).

This off season, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned two philosophical adjustments he would like to see his offense implement this year: 1) run a faster up-tempo game plan with 75 plays per game, and 2) have three-down players on the field to limit the number of substitutions, which will speed up the game tempo.

These are pretty lofty goals, but the Packers do have the offensive personnel to execute it, particularly because their top three running backs (Eddie Lacy, James Starks, and DuJuan Harris) are three-down backs. The biggest question mark will be if their starting tight end is up to the task of multiple formations and assignments.

In order to execute those two offensive objectives, it’s more than just snapping the ball with plenty of time left on the play clock; it’s an elaborate implementation of situation football.

As my standard disclaimer, I’ve never seen McCarthy’s playbook and none of us will know how he will go about carrying out these plans until the week one opening game against the Seattle Seahawks. But, I will speculate about some things I expect us to see while the Packers are in their up-tempo game.

When to Go Up-Tempo

The offense should only go up-tempo when the score is close or they are behind. If they are sitting on a large lead, it makes sense to slow down the plays to bleed the clock. But, there’s also down and distance rules, as well as clock management strategies, that should be considered.

  • 1st and 2nd downs at almost any distance to gain are acceptable for up-tempo and no huddle.
  • 3rd down and 7 yards or less are also acceptable for up-tempo and no huddle. Longer 3rd downs often necessitate a huddle to ensure the best play call and allow the offense to slow down and gain composure. That is, unless, the offense is in a two-minute drill.
  • Re-huddle after clock stoppages (penalties, out of bounds, incomplete passes, change of possession, instant replay review, etc).

Three-Down 11 Personnel 

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20

July

2014 Packers ILB Position – Last Year’s Safety?

Brad Jones and AJ Hawk

Brad Jones and AJ Hawk

Won’t be long now! We can stop speculating on all things Packers in a few long days from now.  This offseason has been very good, talent has been added in Peppers and Guion for Defensive line.

There is a ton of talent heading into their second year. Baktiari, Boyd, Lacy, Jones, Hyde, Barrington, Palmer, Mulumba and White all earned playing time last year.  Every NFL coach and GM will tell you the biggest jump is going into that second year.

You add the players returning from injury in Bulaga, Sherrod, Matthews, Tretter, Worthy and getting players that were just banged up for most of the year like the Jones, both Datone and Brad were hampered with injuries, Perry played on a broken foot. These returning players account for five first round picks a second and a 4th. Not having those players on the field hurt the Packers in 2013 and will add a big boost for 2014.

You add another draft class to increase competition and this camp will be fun to watch.

I have heard more about the Packers not drafting an Inside Linebacker then about getting the best all around safety in the draft. From a lot of comments through out the Packer world, many think the defense is doomed because of not getting an ILB.  I am not one of those.

Safety was a bigger need, Changing the lineup of the Defensive line was a bigger need, Wide Receiver was a bigger need. When you are one injury away from Miles White being your #3 WR, it is a big need.

The situation at ILB is far from bad or will even be a hindrance to the 2014 defense. I have never understood the crap piled on Hawk for his eight years with the team. In 2013 Hawk became the Packers All Time Leading Tackler. When you look at the history of the Packers that is no small feat. That record stood for 24 years and that player took 11 years to do it.  He again lead the team in tackles last year, had 5 sacks and one Int with 5 passes defensed. He has missed 2 games in 8 years and yet so many just plain hate him.

20

July

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football

As training camp approaches, I feel really good about the Packers cornerbacks this season.

It’s a deep group, and the depth includes a nice mix of players. There are proven players (Tramon Williams), good players still on the upswing (Sam Shields) and talented players who have yet to establish themselves, but have still achieved some type of success in their short careers (Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde).

There’s also players like Davon House and Demetri Goodson who could come out of nowhere and exceed expectations.

I wish I could say the same about the rest of the defense. No, I’m not predicting another season of doom and gloom when the other team has the ball, but the depth mix isn’t there with the other defensive position groups like it is at cornerback.

I realize that every position group can’t be stacked, especially with the salary cap. And I get that there will be questions in many spots when you’re a team like the Packers who rely so heavily on young talent. I just wish the depth mix was different at linebacker, safety and defensive line.

If you look at the offensive side of the ball, every position group (except maybe for tight end) has a good depth mix of proven veterans, players who are already good but could be great, and youngsters with potential.

If A.J. Hawk gets hurt or Brad Jones flounders again, there’s not much to be excited about beyond Jamari Lattimore. If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t pan out, we’re looking at another season of crossing our fingers that Morgan Burnett turns into a player. If Julius Peppers is past his prime, we have to hope that Nick Perry stays healthy or some other player we’ve never heard of breaks out. If B.J. Raji is useless again, who’s going to anchor the middle in the base package?

Hopefully players like Datone Jones, Sam Barrington, Sean Richardson, Josh Boyd and Carl Bradford shine in the preseason and put some of these concerns rest. Back in 2010, I thought the cornerback group would struggle with depth. Then a guy named Sam Shields emerged and helped the Packers win the Super Bowl.

Here’s hoping something like that happens again.

Packers News, Notes and Links

19

July

Cory’s Corner: The NFL is killing its familial identity

DirecTV will stream its popular Sunday Ticket package to people that don't need a satellite subscription. This will turn the wheels for the NFL to start charging for more and more of its televised product.

DirecTV will stream its popular Sunday Ticket package to people that don’t need a satellite subscription. This will turn the wheels for the NFL to start charging for more and more of its televised product.

I noticed a lot of people were happy about the news that DirecTV would offer streaming options for Sunday Ticket without a satellite subscription.

But this is just the beginning of the end folks.

Televising football games has come long way since Pat Summerall and John Madden started calling games on CBS in 1981. With the dawn of the NFL Network in 2003, and Thursday Night Football three years later, fans would be forced to pay for a higher cable tier just to see a mediocre night of football.

The NFL is taking in nearly $10 billion in yearly revenue right now, which is an astronomical number if you’re name isn’t Warren Buffet. But the NFL suits want to make more. The NFL has a goal of making $25 billion in revenue by 2027.

Of course, they’re not going to make all that by selling its most prized possession for television viewers as a stand-alone product. People living in urban areas paying approximately $20 per week to stream games at home instead of going to sports bars may be a small step, but it’s a step toward something bigger.

It won’t take long before the NFL puts the clamps on a full Sunday Ticket streaming package and forces fans to only pay for an a la carte package. Meaning, you would only pay for the games you want to see. That is music to a lot of fan’s ears because why in the world would a Packers fan care about the Cardinals?

A few years after the NFL institutes the a la carte package, the NFL will want to go all-in with a pay-per-view package. Obviously, the broadcast networks will balk at this. The networks hemorrhage money each year on non-football programming, but the NFL is a cash cow for them and changing the current model would be terrifying.

But no matter how much resistance the broadcast networks put up, the NFL will want pay-per-view. The current TV deals with CBS, Fox and NBC are worth $27 billion and the agreement expires after the 2022 season. I doubt that pay-per-view will be in play when the next contract is signed, but it will be discussed.

18

July

Three Questions Heading Into Packers Training Camp

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Clinton-Dix is vying for a starting spot at safety after being the Packers’ top draft pick in 2014

With the Green Bay Packers opening their 2014 training camp in less than a week, I took to Twitter to find out what our followers’ and readers’ top questions were about this year’s team.  Thank you to those who submitted theirs and I’ll certainly be doing this again throughout camp and the regular season.

1.  What does Micah Hyde bring to the table that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t and vice versa?

There has already been a lot of discussion about the safety position in Green Bay this offseason.  For the first time in over 60 years, Packers safeties recorded zero interceptions in a full season in 2013.

Perhaps the fans in Green Bay have become spoiled after seeing the likes of Leroy Butler, Darren Sharper and Nick Collins grace the gridiron in green and gold.  Still, it’s hard to argue that the production at safety since Collins was forced to retire in 2011 has been subpar.

Heading into this season and before the draft, the team let incumbent starter M.D. Jennings depart in free agency and there was much talk that they would give Hyde a look at safety along side Morgan Burnett.  Sure enough, Hyde took most of the first team reps during OTA’s and mini camp.

The Packers drafted Clinton-Dix with their first pick in this year’s draft and more questions swirled about whether he would become the immediate starter or if he would have to compete for his role.

Clinton-Dix worked almost exclusively with the second team during the spring sessions but the Packers will give him every chance to earn a starting position throughout the preseason.  Not all first rounders start right away, but the Packers were addressing a need with the first rounder and likely can’t afford to have him sitting on the bench this season.

When Casey Hayward was injured last season, Hyde emerged as a serviceable fill-in at slot corner.  With as much nickel as the Packers tend to deploy, that will certainly be a position of great need and importance in 2014.  Hayward expects to be back, but we won’t know where the Packers stand at slot corner until camp gets underway.

15

July

NFL MVP odds – Packers Rodgers Behind only One Other Player, Lacy Makes List

Aaron Rodgers - NFL MVP

Aaron Rodgers – NFL MVP

As I’ve written previously, I’m always intrigued by NFL “Future” or “prop” bets.”  Last time around, we took a look at Super Bowl odds for all the NFL teams. (If you need more info on Super Bowl betting, be sure to check out SuperBowlBets.com).

This time around, let’s take a look at the current odds for the player who will win the NFL MVP award in the 2014-2015 season (odds are provided by Bovada.lv, formerly Bodog).

ODDS TO WIN NFL MVP

 

Peyton Manning 3/1
Aaron Rodgers 6/1
Drew Brees 7/1
Tom Brady 9/1
Andrew Luck 16/1
Jay Cutler 20/1
Matthew Stafford 20/1
Colin Kaepernick 22/1
Adrian Peterson 25/1
Calvin Johnson 25/1
Robert Griffin III 25/1
Russell Wilson 25/1
LeSean McCoy 28/1
Nick Foles 28/1
Cam Newton 33/1
Matt Ryan 33/1
Philip Rivers 40/1
Tony Romo 40/1
Ben Roethlisberger 50/1
Marshawn Lynch 50/1
Eli Manning 66/1
Jamaal Charles 66/1
Jimmy Graham 66/1
Julio Jones 66/1
Matt Forte 66/1
Brandon Marshall 75/1
Demaryius Thomas 75/1
Dez Bryant 75/1
Andy Dalton 100/1
Arian Foster 100/1
Chris Johnson 100/1
Rob Gronkowski 100/1
Alex Smith 150/1
Alfred Morris 150/1
Antonio Brown 150/1
Demarco Murray 150/1
Eddie Lacy 150/1
Joe Flacco 150/1
C.J. Spiller 200/1
Frank Gore 200/1
Johnny Manziel 200/1
Eric Decker 300/1
Geno Smith 300/1

Interesting stuff:

Only three running backs crack the top 20; Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch.  AP & McCoy certainly deserve to be in there. Both play on teams without an established QB and are more likely to be the star on their team. As much as I like Marshawn Lynch (if only Ted had traded for … oh, never mind), he is unlikely to be MVP in a Russell Wilson-led offense and should probably be in the 100-1 range.  Much like Eddie Lacy will never be “the guy” in a Rodgers-led offense.

Only one wide receiver makes the top 20, Megatron at 25-1. Next closest receiver is Julio Jones at 66-1.  Same odds as tight end (or wide receiver or whatever) Jimmy Graham.

Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford are both higher than Colin Kaepernick, Russel Wilson, RGIII and Cam Newton. Oh come on… Really? Is marijuana legal in Vegas now too? I suppose it should be – would probably make as much sense there as anywhere.

Eric Decker makes the list? Vegas does know his QB is no longer Peyton Manning, right?

15

July

If Packers fans had to pick a Packers Pepper to Perform

Julius Peppers

Julius Peppers

Tyler Dunne and Justin Felder asked an interesting question on the last Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packers podcast: If Packers fans had to choose, would they pick pass rusher Julius Peppers or trainer Pepper Burruss to have a great season in 2014?

The duo never really answered the question, so let’s answer it here. First, some context:

If Julius Peppers has a great season, it probably means he had 10-plus sacks and finally provided the Packers defense with a legitimate edge pass-rushing threat to complement, and enhance, everything Clay Matthews already does.

The Packers have tried first-round draft picks, undrafted rookie free agents, random dudes off the street and converted defensive tackles at the outside linebacker slot opposite Matthews. Nothing has worked out.

The situation was so desperate, general manager Ted Thompson took the rare step of signing Peppers, a free agent, to try and get Matthews some help.

Peppers’ snaps will probably be limited, but if he reaches double digits in sacks and forces teams to divert attention from Matthews over to him, it will provide a tremendous boost to the Packers beleaguered defense.

If Pepper Burruss has a great season, it means the Packers injury luck has finally turned around. I know one trainer isn’t responsible for the health of the team, but work with me on this one.

Since 2010, every single position group on the Packers has been hit by a major injury to an important player.

Two players — a pro-bowl safety and a running back picked in the fourth round — have suffered career-ending neck injuries. One of the best tight ends in team history likely won’t play again after a neck injury. Ditto for Johnny Jolly, one of the best comeback stories from last season.

Pepper Burruss

Pepper Burruss

Mike McCarthy says he’s had two healthy teams in his eight years in Green Bay: 2007 and 2011. In 2007, the Packers went to the NFC title game. In 2011, they went 15-1.

Whether you think McCarthy’s exaggerating or not doesn’t matter. It’s a fact that the Packers have been one of the most beat up teams in the NFL since 2010.

So let’s say Burruss comes up with a magical solution to the Packers injury woes and devises a way for the Packers to not be injury free, but at least finish in the top 5 for fewest games lost due to injury in 2014.