I had the opportunity to watch the full All-22 coaches film of last Sunday’s Green Bay Packers win over the New England Patriots. I always enjoy looking for those not-so-obvious things that happen during a game. Here are five:
McCarthy’s game plan: Much has been written and discussed about the quality of Mike McCarthy’s game plan. I though it might be just us Packers fans thinking that, so I asked Patriots fan and draft guru Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com on No Huddle Radio last night. He readily agreed that McCarthy’s game plan was excellent.
But one thing everyone has focused on (and understandably) is the passing game. But wait, there’s more. Watching the film, I can tell you that even just within the running plays themselves, McCarthy kept the Patriots guessing all night. Lacy’s snaps were almost a 50-50 split between zone blocking scheme runs and power run blocking (with heavy use of pulling guards). Throw in Cobb getting a few handoffs to contrast his pass routes out of the backfield, and the Patriots defense were just not able to guess what was coming pre-snap. I’d rate McCarthy’s overall game plan as one of the top five in his career.
Clinton Dix says Ha Ha to Gronkowski: The 7-8 times Ha Ha Clinton-Dix ended up on Gronk one-on-one, he was all over the Terminator. And I’m not just referring to the potential TD pass in the end zone that Clinton Dix stripped from his hands. Gronk never got in the free and clear from Clinton-Dix and caught only a harmless curl route pass with Dix right there to bring him down. Ha Ha ended up on Gronk in the second half when the Patriots started splitting him out wide, and putting Ha Ha on him was a move that worked very well for Dom Capers.
Mike Daniels best game?: It won’t show up in the stats (2 assists, half a sack), but Mike Daniels was big time on the big stage Sunday night. Watching the film, I kept an eye on his every snap, of which there were many (he was in for 50 of 56 defensive snaps). While this is unofficial, I’d estimate Daniels was double-teamed at least 75% of the time, both against the run and the pass. Despite that, he was in the backfield all day, making the pocket uncomfortable for Brady and forcing the Patriots running backs to go elsewhere. When he was left to one blocker (mostly on passing plays), he won his battle time after time. He got in Brady’s face, forcing off-balance throws, got a few after-the-throw hits and eventually, half of that huge sack that probably saved the day for the Packers.
Datone as inside rusher: Jones was in for 16 snaps on passing downs, which is no surprise, as pass rush is what Jones has been best at. What did surprise me, however, was seeing him rushing from the inside a few times, even directly over the center one play. The Packers ran some DL stunts when he was inside, hoping to free him up and use his speed to break through an inside gap. It didn’t particularly work that well. The few times he did get through, Brady was getting the ball out quickly.
Matthews fail in pass coverage: The Packers secondary did a fine job staying on the Patriots receivers. There were no obvious broken coverages and not many uncontested catches were given up to the Patriots. The handful that I did see were actually on Clay Matthews. Brady used Matthews aggressiveness against him (as read option QBs have done in a different way). The Patriots sent an early receiver through his area. Brady looked Matthews onto that receiver before finding another pass catcher who had run into the space Matthews just vacated. The one you’ll probably remember was the pass in the flat to Shane Vereen. Matthews is suckered inside to the shallow post route by Edleman, even though Micah Hyde has good coverage on him. Vereen, who Matthews had started out eyeing and then abandoned, is all alone in the flat and picks up a cool 26 yds.——————
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.