Confessions of a Polluted Mindset - Cleveland Rocks! (almost)

The Weekly Packers Brain Drain from Jersey Al.

 

Thank You! - In the spirit of giving, the Browns did the Packers a huge favor by getting away from the run game on their final possession.

Looking good - Mason Crosby and the kick "operation" appear to be 100% back to normal. As in, I'm no longer afraid to watch.

Why oh Why? - To not use DIllon on the two possessions before the final one, especially when you have a 2nd and three and a prime opportunity to run the clock, is downright criminal.

Misguided? - In interviews, LaFleur, Rodgers and Adams all lamented the 4th quarter series when they ran three times in a row, "taking their foot off the gas." For me, after Jones gets seven yards on first down and you have two plays to get three yards, and you're going to run twice, why is AJ Dillon not brought in with two chances to pound out three yards. Seems like a sure bet to me, but to the three aforementioned, their choice would have been to throw the ball. Obviously, I am in direct conflict with their thinking.

Too close - So, the Packers are winning these close games where they let teams stay close or come back to make it close. Are we feeling good because they find a way to win or concerned that they are playing with fire if this theme continues in the playoffs?

Revenge of Pettine - After the defense showed so much promise earlier this season, we find ourselves once again lamenting soft pass coverage and porous run defense. Just like the good old days of 2020.

New faces on special teams - Vernon Scott, Shawn Davis, Innis Gaines are recent adds to the special teams. I noticed them doing some good work on kickoff coverage.

Why so soft? - I totally get the frustration when we see a DB line up behind where the receiver needs to get for a first down. However, blaming the player is in most cases misguided. Players are coached to play within a scheme on any given play. How they are lining up is usually predetermined by the call. A perfect example was that 3rd and 16 play where Stokes was giving a lot of room and the receiver catches a pass for 17 yards and a first down. It's easy to blame Stokes there, but believe it or not, he did exactly what he was supposed to on that play. Our own Aaron Nagler asked LaFleur why Stokes was so soft on that play and coach revealed that they were playing double-coverage and Stokes' job on the play was to funnel the receiver to his help - in this case Darnell Savage. Perhaps the plan was a "sucker" coverage, where they give the receiver an open spot and entice Mayfield with what looks like an easy completion. The plan is for the safety to jump the route and get another INT or at least a PBU. Savage, however, arrives too late and takes a bad angle (have we heard this before?). Not Stokes' fault at all. 

Here's the play:

Here's LaFleur's explanation:

__________________________

"Jersey Al" Bracco is the Editor-In-Chief, part owner and wearer of many hats for CheeseheadTV.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a recovering Mason Crosby truther.  Follow Al on twitter at @JerseyalGBP

10 points

Comments (88)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Gman1976's picture

December 29, 2021 at 06:45 am

Ditto on hating the much documented soft CB coverage and not using Dillon near the end of games to run out the clock. The results speak for themselves. You are singing to the choir AL, but why isn't the head coach?

17 points
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Bearmeat's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:13 am

I believe MMBQ used to advocate for a "Head coach of game and clock management" position. Most teams fail in this seemingly obvious category. I don't, for the life of me, understand why. DON"T PLAY 17 YARDS OFF ON 3RD AND 16! Run your big RB on 2 and 3 late in the game. UGH.

10 points
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Razer's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:37 am

I am glad that Matt Lafleur replaced the staleness of MM. And, I am glad that Aaron Rodgers has worked with the new coaches (Hackett). But Matt Lafleur needs to take the next step and move this team past its tendencies and chronic weaknesses. Being a cheerleader for the crowd needs to go away.

10 points
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Leatherhead's picture

December 29, 2021 at 01:20 pm

Yeah. MM has a real stale offense in Dallas, just like he did in GB.

0 points
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Razer's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:33 pm

Can't argue with Rodgers rebirth. Change can be good.

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 29, 2021 at 07:33 am

MLF is covering for two guys.

Barry - if that was a called coverage he should be excoriated, not protected. 3rd and 16??? even double coverage should bring pressure on the receiver well before yard 17 on the play. That is bullshit

Savage - if he was in double coverage and Stokes was "funnelling" to his help, why in the hell was his "help" 30 yards downfield and only able to come in on coverage on yard 17 of the play? Double coverage should bring pressure on the receiver well before yard 17 on the play. That is bullshit

All this coach-speak is simply lies of both commission and omission. This is a sport, not national defense. We are fans, not children or international terror agents. We can handle the truth concerning plays on a football field. Please call these guys out and hold them accountable to speak with some veracity or please just stop the press conference facilitation.

More and more I am loathing the product the NFL puts out for public consumption. I am reaching my breaking point in how much the game and sport has been ruined by Goodell and the owners overpowering greed with absolutely no respect for the game or the fans that love it.

Here is a start...
Fix the goddam officials for Christs sake! The striped stooges running around like the keystone cops throwing flags simply to keep games close for TV viewership numbers and contract negotiation leverage is criminal. The fact that they are part-time lackeys for the owners/league office is a travesty and now with gambling moved into the NFL house it has moved past the situation-fixing TV negotiation phase into point manipulation and game fixing territory. the money is way too big for this level of manipulation to continue unabated. It has reached the obvious and embarrassing AND CRIMINAL stage for the league.

Here is another area...
Fix the rulebook and stop with the constant competition committee worthless rule additions. There needs to be a complete overhaul of the existing rule book and a much better procedure put in place for any changes to the modified rules. Let's get back to playing FOOTBALL and not basketball on grass. Build in protections for player safety beginning with equipment mandates-helmet/facemask modifications- of course, but how about the targeting rule that college had the guts to implement? Why should the pro game be less safe for its players? One more example - pass interference is not and should not be "receiver contact". Contact alone does not constitute pass interference and slow motion of touching should not be used to evaluate plays for actual interference with the receivers ability to catch the ball. Receiver initiated contact should certainly not constitute pass interference on the defensive player either.

OK, enough for today...

10 points
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marpag1's picture

December 29, 2021 at 11:44 am

You're free to have your opinions, JB, but as for me, I will be very sorely disappointed if the NFL adopts the college "targeting" rule in its current form. Personally, when I think about complete BS calls in college officiating, not many score higher on my BS meter than some kid getting EJECTED from the game simply because his helmet made contact with another player's helmet during a play in which the two players are SUPPOSED to be running at each other full speed and trying to hit/tackle each other. I'm not saying it shouldn't be a penalty, but under most circumstances I think an ejection is absurd.

People dislike NFL DPI rules because getting a FIFTY YARD penalty for ticky tack contact is a ridiculously harsh penalty, when something like taking a guy out at the knees and risking his career will only net you 15 yards. But even a 50 yard penalty may not be nearly as harsh as the ejection of a starter. Even the NCAA seems to admit that they can't find clear agreement and uniform application for targeting rules.

5 points
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Swisch's picture

December 29, 2021 at 11:13 am

In that huge college game, as the grand finale of the regular season, between the Badgers and Gophers, we had a top defensive back ejected from the game after the first play.
What a huge letdown for the player and the team right from the start, plus the loss of a key guy for the whole game!
Sometimes both the runner and the tackler have their helmets meet in the same place at the same time. If the tackler has to keep his helmet up, then so should the runner -- but I'm not so sure this is reasonably possible all the time.
Unless there is clear intent to use the helmet as a weapon, there should be no ejection. A penalty perhaps, ejection no. However, that means runners can't put their helmets down, either.
Surely using the expertise of guys who have actually played the game -- and with the study of real plays from the past -- some reasonable rules could be drawn up.

5 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 29, 2021 at 03:50 pm

That is what the rule is supposed to be. If the defender leaves their feet and "launches", it is targeting. If that rule existed in the NFL pretty much Atari Bigby hit would have gotten him ejected. However as you point out, the scope has broadened, and in the NCAA, hits the NFL has come to recognize cannot be reasonably be pinned against a defender (like when a WR or RB bends over to brace for contact) are getting flagged, even if the defender isn't leaving their feet, because their head is hitting head when it should be shoulder to ribs, etc.

Having said that, targeting exists in NCAA football almost solely because DPI is a yardage foul and not spot foul.

1 points
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jurp's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:31 pm

On that play, the offensive player DUCKED INTO THE TACKLE, causing the helmet to shoulder (he hit the shoulder first) contact. This was not and should not have been called targeting. And because this was a starter, it quite possibly cost the Badgers the game. A ridiculous call.

1 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:40 pm

Never said it was called correctly. In fact I implied it wasn't. I could very well be wrong but, strictly speaking, I thought targeting required the defender to leave their feet (launching themselves in a willfully uncontrolled fashion).

Like most aspects of football officiating at all levels I generally agree with their intent, but non with their application (or strategic non application).

1 points
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jurp's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:49 pm

Didn't mean to imply that you were wrong - the uppercase was a mistake, I see now. There's no way that was called correctly.

1 points
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Slim11's picture

December 30, 2021 at 12:04 pm

I'm going to add a slightly different twist to these comments.

marpag1 said "... the two players are SUPPOSED to be running at each other full speed and trying to hit/tackle each other."

I have seen players on defense AND STs called for unncecessary roughness/personal fouls in this scenario multiple times. A player with the ball is running along the sideline while still in the field of play. A defender, or ST player, hits the ball carrier while both are on the field of play knocking that player out of bounds. This should not be unnecessary roughness as both players are in the field of play when contact is initiated.

At a HS game several years ago, A KICKER was penalized under this exact scenario. The HC screamed at the official who threw the flag "what does he (the kicker) have to do...ask the KR for permission to make the tackle?" Now another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct on the coach.

I see several examples of this at all levels. This is a fix the rules committee should make but won't.

1 points
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Guam's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:23 am

I would prefer to go back to the old rule that DBs can have contact with receivers anywhere on the field as long as the ball is not in the air. That would eliminate most of this incidental contact crap and give the DBs a chance. Officials could still call defensive holding if the DB actually grabs a receiver.

8 points
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marpag1's picture

December 29, 2021 at 10:41 am

You seem to be talking about a return to rules that have been out of the game for almost fifty years - prior to 1975. Before 1975, CBs would basically treat the WR like the gunner on a punt, with predictable results. In 1975 (or thereabouts) the rule was made that the CB could contact the WR only once. Already in the late 70s the rule was added that this one contact had to occur within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. And as soon as the rule changed it was Dan Fouts and " Air Coryell" and passing yardage totals up to twice as high as before. But even into the 1980s a lot of NFL play was still "three yards and a cloud of dust."

Maybe some of us older dudes have fond memories of days gone by, but do we really want to return to Vince Lombardi's passing game? I get super frustrated with ticky-tack PI calls too. But if the PI rule is, as you say, "that DBs can have contact with receivers anywhere on the field as long as the ball is not in the air," then we are going all the way back to the early 70s or before, and that would pretty much be the death of the forward pass as we know it.

5 points
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Guam's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:24 pm

Almost marpag1, but with one difference. In the 70's, refs almost never called defensive holding, so DBs were allowed to nearly mug wide receivers by grabbing them. What I would prefer is preventing DBs from grabbing WRs (i.e. defensive holding), but nonetheless allowing contact as they are running in the secondary. This would eliminate all the incidental PI calls (which are spot fouls) and only give the offense 5 yards for defensive holding as well as a new set of downs.

Would this reduce passing? I expect it would because it would likely screw up all the "timing" routes" as DBs could "shoulder " WRs and knock them off their routes as long as the pass hadn't already been thrown. Would it return us to '60's, I don't think so. Enforcement of defensive holding would prevent DBs from grabbing WRs. My aim is just to bring more balance to the league. I don't want a return to "three yards and a cloud of dust", but I am tired of the current aerial circus. I would like to see equal use of the run and the pass.

1 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:16 pm

From what I see the problem isn't the rules, but their application. There is a TON of offensive holding, illegal contact, etc. that could and should be called on WRs, but it doesn't because it occurs as both players are moving forward vs. moving toward each other.

Every time you hear "that was a good non-call" on TV ... it wasn't. It just means the NFL doesn't want to call offsetting illegal contact or holding calls on every pass play of 10+ yards because 60 Minutes and The Simpsons are going to start on time come hell or high water.

0 points
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jurp's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:35 pm

"Death of the forward pass as we know it"? Thanks for the laugh. In case you don't know it, GB marched down the field at the end of the Ice Bowl via the (short) pass, not the run. And those passes went forward, not backward. Also, Dallas took the lead in the game via a trick pass play - a halfback option for at least 40 yards.

3 points
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marpag1's picture

December 29, 2021 at 05:46 pm

I assumed people would understand that the words "as we know it" imply rather clearly that the forward pass would obviously still exist, albeit in a significantly different form than we generally see today. Clearly, I misjudged.

-1 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 29, 2021 at 12:11 pm

Your last point explains the first one. In today's NFL the only way to defend a pass without getting a DPI flag is to have the defender facing the QB so they're considered making a play on the ball. Otherwise any contact in the route or on the catch attempt is going to be flagged as often as it isn't.

Nobody agrees. Nobody likes it. But starting dropped back and torching to the ball is the right choice when it is more (or equally) likely to end in a PBU or interception vs. a contentious DPI or phantom illegal contact/defensive holding call.

1 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 31, 2021 at 04:03 am

Agree—all.

0 points
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HarryHodag's picture

December 29, 2021 at 07:37 am

To me what's happening defensively is teams have had time to look for weak spots in the defense. Gary and Smith often go all out in a rush, leaving the outside wide open. After a runner gets to the line of scrimmage there's plenty of space to go. The 3-4 is a variation on the old 5-2 defense. The outside guys are responsible for the outside, duh. But QB's are also noticing if they can get outside it's wide open. Tough call for Gary and Smith, but they do have to protect the edge. The d-linemen can also help but I don't see much of that.

The cornerbacks can't give that much space. Corner is the second toughest job. If you're too close one step by the receiver and he's gone past you. But if you give too much space it allows them to operate underneath.

The Vikings will severely test this defense again. I hope Aaron is ready to score some points because as the defense is playing now it's going to be a score of42-40.

11 points
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mrtundra's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:32 am

Hate to think of it, but yes the vikings will give the packers a game on Sunday. We should be playing at peak form, heading into the play offs, but seem to settle for letting the opposition stay close, score wise. ST's is a weak spot, yet. Our run defense will get tested, especially if Cook is back from Covid protocols, by game time. Zimmer will have him playing, mark my words. Looking for another pick 6 from Rasul or one of our other DBs. Kark is ripe for a huge INT, or two, and the game is in Prime Time, at Lambeau, so look for him to get somewhat rattled. It's time to finally put our foot on the neck of this purple thing and show it who is boss. What a perfect time and place for the Packers to play their best game, so far! GO PACK, GO!!!

3 points
3
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dobber's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:43 am

I think you'd like Tom Silvestein's take this morning...

jsonline.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2021/12/29/look-beyond-numbers-when-sizing-up-packers-postseason-potential/9035559002/

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:27 am

They will if we play the way we have in the last couple of games. To my mind, however, It seems like Barry does call different defenses against different teams. The next game will be a good test of that. The recipe for the Vikings is pressure up the middle on Cousins and stop Cook. That’s not easy (especially the latter), but it is well established.

Last time we gave Cousins far too much time far too often. Barry seldom blitzes, but he needs to be prepared to and we need our interior DL to step up. That requires tighter coverage by DBs and more center field responsibility on them. It would ordinarily suggest more Amos in the box area than Savage.

It’s not necessarily illogical to dare Huntley and Mayfield to pass. Against Cousins, if he has time, it is not. Contain the run and then get in his face using DBs to delay passing windows.. A different game plan I hope. Whether we see a different one will speak clearly as to whether the recent D has just reflected tactics or has signaled an unwanted loss of direction.

4 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:15 pm

On the DL/LB front - I'm seeing an old bad habit creep up again. The Packers have actually been pretty good about gap discipline this year, but in the last few weeks they haven't been. I am not sure what has changed, but defenders need the discipline to stay in their line and work through blockers vs trying to just get around them, and that isn't happening, which is opening up bigger holes.

On the DB side they are playing softer than they have been. I get the purpose - give DBs the ability to get to the pass at speed without drawing a flag, but I agree the adjustments made post-bye have created more problems than they solve. You can still break up passes and win matchups playing deep - to borrow a MMism, guys need to do a better job executing because wholesale scheme changes are not gonna happen at this point if the year. There is obviously something the people who get paid gobs of money saw that pushed them to make the adjustments they've made. Now it's up to the players who also make gobs of money to make those adjustments work come game time

1 points
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Razer's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:38 pm

...The Packers have actually been pretty good about gap discipline this year, but in the last few weeks they haven't been. I am not sure what has changed...

Both Baltimore and Cleveland have good O-lines. I watched Lancaster get pushed 5 yards into our linebacker's face. Our D-line has been under resourced for 10 years now. If it wasn't for Kenny Clark we would still be at the bottom of the league in defense.

2 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 29, 2021 at 03:23 pm

Don't disagree there. GB has prioritized OLB and DB over DL for as long as I've followed football.

However, the Packers were doing a better job against the run and getting pressure without blitzing for a good chunk of the season. I'm no film expert, and have had to listen to coverage more than I could watch over the last month, but when I'm seeing the action I feel like I'm seeing our front try to run around players more than through them, and like you're saying, they're doing a poor job holding their position. Is it scheme? Injuries? Conditioning? Quality of opponent? The para-influenza illnesses that have been hitting the Midwest with a vengeance this year? I don't know the answer, but something has changed, and I'm not liking what I see there.

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 29, 2021 at 03:35 pm

"Fatigue makes cowards of us all" sound familiar? The DL has been undermanned and those big guys are tired and just a little less effort results in the type of play that is described here.

Maybe Slaton should have been getting more snaps throughout the season.

Maybe Kenny should have had some more better help so he could play a few less snaps.

Maybe the accomplishments of Lowry and Lancaster thus far have taxed them beyond their stamina reserves.

Keke has clearly taken a step backwards this season instead of the anticipated step forward.

The DL has been the tale of 2 cities... It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Lets hope that the past 3 games constitutes their "rest" period and that the heat gets turned up for the stretch drive to number one seed and playoff success!

2 points
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pacman's picture

December 29, 2021 at 07:47 am

I don't understand MLF's response. Stokes starts out with 10 yds of cushion and then back pedals beyond the first down mark. If he was supposed to funnel the coverage to Savage, he should have stood his ground and been underneath while Savage would have taken over. And the pass would not have even happened with Stokes in front of receiver. And how was Savage supposed to get in front (for the INT) being so far back - not even in the video until the end.

I could understand giving some cushion of a few yards and letting them pick up 3 each play. But backing up past the 16 yds when you've got deep help??? Somebody please explain this to me. (Better yet, explain it to coaching staff!)

(edit - I see Johnblood above posted the same idea at the same time).

8 points
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jurp's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:45 pm

MLF never talks negatively about any of his coaches or players, which is probably what happened here. I hope that he doesn't actually think this play was a good one.

1 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 29, 2021 at 05:03 pm

I shouldn't actually have to call this out, but no coach worth even a warm sixer of Natty on the hottest day of summer is going to reveal a schematic weakness in any public venue. Every word a coach or player utters and every second of tape they put out will be evaluated by QC assistants of known and potential opponents. The NFL may be an entertainment product but THEIR personal job isn't to entertain and enlighten you.

A coach who says, for example, their DB is having trouble flipping their hips, is putting a target on that DB's back. Instead, it was part of the plan that they played soft. Infer what you can from film, look for tendencies, and recognize that absolutely nothing of value can be gained from any NFL media session aside from what teams are obligated by club rules to provide, which is basically just injury updates.

1 points
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NickPerry's picture

December 29, 2021 at 07:53 am

What is especially upsetting is watching this soft coverage when we've seen them play a more aggressive approach with positive results. We've seen the CB's on the Packers playing close, challenging the receiver, and getting OFF the field on 3rd down several times this year. Just like we've seen Dillon in the 4 minute offense and close out the game.

I'm a "Homer" to the 10th degree. I will almost always look for the positive, especially when they win. But ALL SEASON long we've been waiting for the Packers to pay just ONE complete game. You know, a game where the defense is able get 3rd down stops, keep the opposing team out of the endzone, and SWARM to the ball and tackle the ball carrier. On offense I want to see a possession in the 1st quarter where the offense actually looks interested and came to play and in the 4th quarter when they have those double digit leads, KEEP your foot on their throat!!!

Times running out on them to figure this out. In 2010 the Packers SMOKED the Giants then beat the Bears to make the Playoffs. The Packers need to SMOKE the Vikings, and beat the Lions and do it for all 4 quarters.

16 points
16
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Bearmeat's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:15 am

Yep, NP. The team was pointing up in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Down or flat in December the other years in the last decade. That's no coincidence.

Could the defense turn it around? Sure. Could the special teams avoid making a pig's ear of things in a close playoff game? Sure. Could Bakh, Z, Jaire, Turner and Meyers come back? Sure. Will those things happen? I dunno man... The only reason GB is a "Super Bowl favorite" right now is because literally every other NFC team has shown its whole ass for most of the last month. We've had 11 legit opportunities to win it all since 92. We've won 2. Why would 2021 be any different? This team hasn't shown it can fire on all cylinders at all - against anyone. Not to mention against a great team. No sir. I bought in last year. I'll believe it could happen if 12 actually wins a NFC CG this year..

11 points
11
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jurp's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:48 pm

I agree. Right now, Dallas looks to be the most complete team in the NFC, unfortunately. I don't know that home field will matter much if we meet them in the playoffs.

0 points
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1
Matt Gonzales's picture

December 29, 2021 at 05:27 pm

There's something up. No team flips the switch to decide to suck overnight with the same personnel.

If I were a betting man, I'd lay equal odds on an overcorrection to avoid unnecessary defensive penalties and overcorrection to create favorable opportunities for defensive turnovers, with a norovirus or parainfluenza (or under-reported COVID) outbreak further exacerbating issues that have already existed.

Say what you want about Barry, but being the Packers DC is his job. And he has lots of people that spend all day churning film as THEIR job. And the players they manage are playing for THEIR jobs. There isn't a damn comment you could make that hasn't been identified as a issue at least a week or two before, but you should remember the other team is paid to play their best and is coached by coached who are paid to coach their best.

2 points
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stockholder's picture

December 29, 2021 at 07:56 am

Somebody better start calling out Savage. If the packers are to re- ignite this Defense before the playoffs. They need to get on his Butt! And if soft is what you want. Don't expect Stokes to improve. In Fact the laziness of a soft defense will dig your own grave. This defense was better with P.Smith over the RT. And I believe Campbell can help Gary more if they switch. This team has overcome a lot. But with so many questions popping up. Confidence is way too low.

1 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:21 pm

I guarantee Savage doesn't bother with this blog or other blogs/fancasts but complain all you want. I'm sure that, and not the film study I guarantee is done by him and his coaches on a daily basis, is really gonna make a difference.

-1 points
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Razer's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:25 am

I think that Packer fans need to prepare themselves for our January Groundhog Day. The Cleveland game shows what a good O-line does against a very pedestrian D-line. Outside of Kenny Clark, our defensive line struggles to get to average. If Stefanski had called a game that minimized Baker Mayfield and highlighted his backfield this game would have been vastly different. Thanks to Stefanski and Mayfield for this win.

We are all moaning (rightfully) about not have AJ Dillon in the game because we don't want to admit that we are a finesse team. We are Rodgers doing it his way. His way will always be arrows through coverage rather than a power back pounding the rock. If we had another legitimate receiving weapon, we might win with this formula but Davante Adams will not be enough.

We could get lucky and have our opponents lose key players but that isn't what champions rely on. We take what is ours - not hope that the opposing QB hands you the game on a platter. Enjoy these wins and hope that some of our studs come back to help.

7 points
9
2
jurp's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:54 pm

Offense gets you into the playoffs; defense wins championships.

So yes, if the playoffs started today we'd be SOL and possibly one-and-done.

0 points
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1
dobber's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:26 am

"Too close - So, the Packers are winning these close games where they let teams stay close or come back to make it close. Are we feeling good because they find a way to win or concerned that they are playing with fire if this theme continues in the playoffs?"

I'm gonna say both: never apologize for winning in any professional league, especially not the NFL when you get such limited opportunities and so much rides on each game. Teams that have to fight to the end each week have to be developing a different kind of resiliency character from those who run away and hide every week and never learn how to respond to getting punched in the mouth. But if this is really an SB contender, we'd sure like to see them dominate and put opponents away with more regularity.

"Revenge of Pettine"

The question is: are they learning anything from the last 4 weeks or so? Are we seeing any adjustments? The first 4 weeks of the season and the last 4 look pretty similar for this defense. The middle looked awfully good...but they didn't play any real dominant running teams in that stretch either. Could it be that now they've put enough film with Barry's schemes utilizing these personnel that offenses have caught up to them? Could it be that they had a fortuitous stretch where opponents just weren't good enough to be able to exploit their weaknesses? Could it be that this defense is just wearing thin? Whatever the case, they've got two weeks plus a bye (fingers crossed) to get some players back and straighten things out.

"Why so soft?"

That's what she said...

https://clip.cafe/national-lampoons-animal-house-1978/is-supposed-be-soft/

11 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 29, 2021 at 03:40 pm

Cookie for Animal House clip. Way to go Brother Dobber!

6 points
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Guam's picture

December 29, 2021 at 08:28 am

At least the special teams were better! Not only was the kick operation solid, but the coverage units looked much better. Not sure if it was coaching or just plain embarrassment after the last couple of outings, but the special teams actually looked okay. Now if the defense would just get embarrassed enough to change.........

3 points
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Leatherhead's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:00 am

Well, we did hold them to 22 and got 4 interceptions. That should be enough to win.

4 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:55 am

Well, we did give up 28 1st downs, 408 total yds, 219 rushing yards with an 8.8 yds per attempt. That should be enough to lose against most teams not QB'd by Baker Mayfield. You know, as in Dallas (Prescott) or Tampa (Brady).

6 points
7
1
Leatherhead's picture

December 29, 2021 at 01:26 pm

Actually, I don’t think that 1st downs, yards, or rushing yards count. Points count. 22.

And statistically, you will lose 90% of the games where you turn it over.

Still obsessed with me, I see. You just can’t help yourself.

2 points
3
1
13TimeChamps's picture

December 29, 2021 at 01:52 pm

Disagreeing with you every 2 or 3 months is hardly an obsession, considering how many times you post. I just think your comment is ridiculous. But you are the cherry-picking king. Focus on the 1 or 2 positives and completely disregard the 4 or 5 negatives. But that's what homers with blinders on do. No need to be ashamed. It's who you are.

If you think the Packers are going to get away with playing defense like that against Dallas or Tampa, you're certainly entitled to your opinion.

1 points
3
2
Leatherhead's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:09 pm

Citing the score makes me the Cherry Picking King? Cool! 😃😃

I’ve always wanted to be The King, even if it’s the Cherry Picking King of the Mentally Ill and Emotionally Disturbed.

Ok, you’ve passed your gas and I’d appreciate if you’d just ignore me for the next couple of months. Read what smart people say instead and don’t waste your time with me. I’m not worth it.

0 points
3
3
13TimeChamps's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:13 pm

You've finally posted something I agree with. But I'll respond to whomever, whenever I please. It's what I do.

1 points
3
2
Leatherhead's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:58 pm

Good. Let everyone see what an obsessed nutcase you are.

0 points
2
2
13TimeChamps's picture

December 29, 2021 at 03:44 pm

Calm down Bozo. It'll be ok.

0 points
1
1
Guam's picture

December 29, 2021 at 10:12 am

Without the four interceptions, the Packers lose this game. I wouldn't care to bank on most QBs being as generous as Mayfield. The turnovers were great, but the rest of the defense needs to get back to mid-season form for the Packers to win the Super Bowl.

4 points
5
1
PeteK's picture

December 29, 2021 at 11:29 am

Also, let's be honest, two of those INTs could have been nullified by penalties.

-4 points
0
4
Coldworld's picture

December 29, 2021 at 12:48 pm

As could many other plays on both sides. It’s not like the officiating differed through the game or by team.

3 points
3
0
Leatherhead's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:17 pm

Exactly. Woulda Coulda.

If the offense doesn’t go to sleep in the second half, we score 40 and the whole conversation is different. Cleveland has to run less and pass more. They don’t get 200 yards on the ground and Mayfield throws 6 interceptions and we win in a massive rout. Then the officiating isn’t even being discussed.

Bad things happen and you keep going and the most points wins. Everybody gets screwed by the refs.

2 points
3
1
13TimeChamps's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:35 pm

Just curious....you a fan of Homer Simpson? Maybe your next super duper avatar? Just a thought.

0 points
1
1
Leatherhead's picture

December 30, 2021 at 09:37 am

Obsession.

0 points
1
1
13TimeChamps's picture

December 30, 2021 at 11:16 am

Is that your preferred cologne? You keep mentioning it. Personally, I never use the stuff, but to each their own I guess.

1 points
2
1
Leatherhead's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:00 am

Well, we did hold them to 22 and got 4 interceptions. That should be enough to win.

3 points
6
3
marpag1's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:04 am

If the team executes, then no one cares about the play call. Otherwise, it's "damned if you do, and damned if you don't." Stick with the pass, and people say "Why didn't you grind it out?" Stick with the run, and people say, "Why did you take your foot off the gas?"

Lot of folks miffed at Savage these days. In fairness, these haven't been his best few games. But the Packers still have a top 5 safety tandem. Which team's starting safety group is CLEARLY better than Green Bay's? Buffalo, probably. Maybe you could make a case for a few others, but not very many.

8 points
8
0
Razer's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:57 am

I don't know enough about football to second guess these coaches. Much of angst expressed is about playing or not playing solid football. I don't think that the Packers played sound football on Saturday. We didn't so much win that game as much as Baker Mayfield gave us the game. Cleveland put themselves in a position to march down the field and kick a game winning field goal. Fans are upset because we expect to see a semblance championship play not a concoction of luck and gift-giving.

6 points
6
0
PeteK's picture

December 29, 2021 at 11:38 am

I did not enjoy watching parts of that game. Most of the second half was filled with a helpless feeling that we couldn't stop the Browns.

5 points
5
0
pacman's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:13 am

Retracting my complaints.

I just realized that no coaches could be that bad as to give up 17 yds of cushion when opponent needs 16. And no coaches could be that stupid to not use Dillon to pick up 3 yds on 2 plays toward the end of the game.

So it must be that MLF is holding his team back to surprise everyone in the playoffs and coast to a SB victory.

There, I feel much better now.

GPG!

12 points
12
0
scullyitsme's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:33 am

Let’s see, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t ever turn the ball over, he’s been playing at an mvp level for years, he has one of the best wide receivers to play the game, but every single frickin week is the same thing here. Run the ball more, why aren’t we using Dillion? Come on people…I know this site tends to hate Rodgers but he’s not the problem. Take the best matchup because we have the best qb in history and he doesn’t turn the ball over, I don’t care if that ends up being Dillon or a bomb to Adams. Cut’em some slack.

2 points
6
4
barutanseijin's picture

December 29, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Even with a good passing game, there are times when it’s best to run the ball and eat up clock. A failed running play still takes time off the clock. An incomplete pass doesn’t. A run with Dillon in a short yardage situation late in the game is more likely to get some positive result. That’s not to say you want to give the ball to Dillon on every snap.

I don’t necessarily hate a high percentage pass; as you say, there’s a logic to going to your best players in that situation. It was disappointing to see them flub those two passes & stop the clock for the Browns.

2 points
2
0
jurp's picture

December 29, 2021 at 05:01 pm

Yeah, I hated those passes; the two incompletions allowed the Browns to keep two timeouts (which they ultimately didn't need thanks to Mayfield). We do that against a competent team needing only a FG to win and we lose.

1 points
2
1
JerseyAl's picture

December 29, 2021 at 01:24 pm

I don't get how a site "hates" Rodgers, but anyway, for me, it's always about situational football - there are plenty of instances where throwing the ball is the lower percentage play or the play to have the least chance of achieving the goal of the particular situation. For example, do you throw a sideline go route on third and two or just focus on getting three yards to keep the drive going? Unless you're losing late by a good amount, my answer there is always the same.

3 points
5
2
Johnblood27's picture

December 29, 2021 at 03:52 pm

Right on Al. Situational football isn't always a clear cut run-pass dichotomy.

Im not going to focus on loving or hating AR and relating that to run-pass decisions.

Please everyone, think about how mixing the run and pass, AND sometimes doing the unexpected, really opens up both run and pass plays for success. Sometimes by the element of surprise by doing the unexpected, sometimes by making the defense respect the unexpected when you run the routine play.

You have all heard the adage about making the offense one-dimensional, right? Well, an offense can do that to itself by being out of balance in either or both events of run-pass selection as well as expected vs unexpected play calls. One dimensional offenses are easier to defend by a cognizant defense. Let's not do it to ourselves.

It isn't all about AR. The offensive philosophy needs to have not just a healthy percentage mix of run-pass, but also a situational mix of expected and unexpected paly calling.

1 points
2
1
jurp's picture

December 29, 2021 at 05:05 pm

We get one-dimensional when we're behind in the fourth quarter - all the opponent's D has to do is double up on Adams and they tend to win. See last year's NFCCG for a real-world example.

2 points
3
1
scullyitsme's picture

December 29, 2021 at 05:50 pm

Depends on the matchup,..always. No problem throwing on 3rd and short if the defense shows that it’ll work. Running more isn’t always the answer, wish people would stop acting like it always is. Now if we had Jordan love as qb, the run the ball chant might actually be relevant

-1 points
0
1
jannes bjornson's picture

December 29, 2021 at 06:08 pm

The end-around with E quan put big Mo into Reverse. Lucky they held on. I would use a bit of Taylor in the mix with Jones dinged up.

2 points
2
0
Leatherhead's picture

December 29, 2021 at 01:44 pm

Rodgers couldn’t pass us to the Super Bowl for the last decade, even when the league’s #1 offense was on the field, like 2011, 2014, and 2020. Why do you continue to believe that the solution is to throw more?

3 points
5
2
stockholder's picture

December 29, 2021 at 05:41 pm

Rodgers is the MVP of the NFL. And he is the Front runner again this year. That says it all. The problem isn't Rodgers. It's been management. Past Firings. Defense. Thats what you and others must open your eyes too. Rodgers is a hall of Fame QB. Brett Favre put it right out there when MLF became the coach. "Don't take the Ball out of Rodgers hands."

0 points
2
2
Leatherhead's picture

December 30, 2021 at 09:38 am

How many times has the MVP passed us to the title?

0 points
1
1
Qoojo's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:03 pm

The point about running is that it doesn't allow the defensive line to anticipate pass all the time against this almost all rookie offensive line. Then a run or two eats time, and keeps the soft defense off the field, plus puts the offense in favorable down and distance usually. The cherry on top is that play action will work better. It's the quick passes and the run game that keeps Rodgers upright.

3 points
3
0
Lphill's picture

December 29, 2021 at 09:54 am

I actually listen to the radio and yesterday on the NFL network with Pat Kerwin he had on a former coach Dick Williams I think it was and he now gets hired and paid many teams to rate their O lineman and help adjust some players weak points , one thing he pointed out was the increase in sacks this year which is due to so many replacement players being put into starting roles because of covid and injuries , he then grades players accordingly, he didn't mention any Packers which I thought he would but at the end surprisingly he said he gets asked about one defensive player the most and how to slow his bull rush down and he stated I don't usually praise pass rushers but the kid on the Packers Gary is an amazing player and his name comes up the most.

12 points
12
0
Swisch's picture

December 29, 2021 at 11:16 am

It seems important to allow our defenders to play aggressively at times, including tight coverage for the cornerbacks and blitzes for the linebackers and safeties. Not all the time, but at least some of the time.
Playing aggressively gets the juices flowing. It helps these guys to gain the surges of energy to sustain effort and focus throughout all four quarters of a grueling and exhausting game. They need a little fun once in a while to help them to be disciplined overall.
***
Which brings up a second point, unpredictability.
Not only is it good to mix things up for our players between holding them back and letting them loose, it's also good for keeping opposing players from getting comfortable and finding a rhythm.
If just about any defense in the NFL does the same thing over and over and over again, just about any offense is going to figure out the scheme and pick that defense apart.
To play soft coverage time after time after time seems lunacy, just as it would be lunacy to blitz every time.
***
So, it seems the key to success in the NFL is to mix things up for the good of our own players having some healthy variety, as well as keeping the other players guessing and off balance.
That holds true for both our offense and defense.
Spread the ball around to our receivers. Hand it off to Dillon most of the time for short yardage, but also fake it to him. Allow our cornerbacks the challenge of tight coverage on at least some plays with safety help. Blitz now and then, with the extra guy coming from diverse places.
It seems you can stay with the same basic schemes to keep things simple, but also use creative variations to make good things happen. To me, that's the illusion of complexity.

3 points
3
0
Since'61's picture

December 29, 2021 at 11:02 am

Like most here I don’t understand why we don’t use Dillon to close out games, it make no sense. However, earlier in the season they were not using Dillon at the goal line and finally around mid-season they began to do so. Maybe they will reach the point where they use Dillon to close out games.

I’ve always hated soft defense and I still do. Why play soft when it has been proven time after time that it does not work? Play tight, get pressure, hit receivers at the LOS, make solid tackles. Don’t make it easy for the offense.

Our defense was playing so much better when we played aggressively. No time to start now and it’s not easy to flip
a switch and get it back. They have 2 games left to get back to aggressive. Thanks, Since ‘61

7 points
7
0
marpag1's picture

December 29, 2021 at 12:15 pm

"I’ve always hated soft defense and I still do. Why play soft when it has been proven time after time that it does not work? Play tight, get pressure, hit receivers at the LOS, make solid tackles. Don’t make it easy for the offense."

And then Tom Brady chucks an easy 39 yard TD over the head of Kevin King as time expires in the first half of the NFC championship game, and Packer fans spend Super Bowl Sunday cursing Mike Pettine for not playing soft coverage. (No, I still haven't quite let it go).

I would argue that prevent DOES work most of the time, and is a perfectly valid defensive philosophy assuming that it's used appropriately. But different strokes for different folks.

Today, let me take a moment to quote the late, great John Madden. He seemed about as conflicted on this topic and you and I are. Rest in peace, coach.

"“The only time that fans don’t like prevent defense is when it doesn’t work,” Madden said. “When it does work, you don’t even notice it. It’s like good officials and a well-officiated game, you don’t notice them at all. If you have poor officials, then the whole game is based on officiating.

“If the prevent works, no one ever talks about it or writes about it or mentions it.”

“I thought it made the players play too conservatively,” he said. “Pretty soon they’re aware of everything and doing nothing. But I bet if you did the statistics on it, the amount of times that you use it and it works and you win the game would be a pretty high percentage.”

1 points
1
0
Since'61's picture

December 29, 2021 at 03:44 pm

Marpag1 soft defense is different than prevent defense. For the last 3-4 games the Packers have played soft defense from the opening kickoff. CBs several yards off the LOS, poor gap control against the run and a failure to hold the edge on too many plays, not to mention an overall lack of aggression.

Prevent defense is designed to prevent the long yardage play or score late in the game when the team is leading by 2-3 scores. The Packers have not played prevent, they have played soft from the opening kickoff.

I remember when Madden originally made the comment you quoted. That was a time before the rules were changed in favor of the passing offense. DBs could still play bump and run even in prevent. There were no rules for a defenseless receiver or helmet to helmet hits. Balls were often knocked loose by savage hits on receivers. QBs were not protected from being hit high, low or anywhere else. It was open season and teams always used a four man pass rush at least. No 3 man rush while Madden was coaching.

So yes, the prevent was more effective in Madden’s time than it is today. But it was not played for an entire game. And no one ever heard of playing soft defense back then.

The soft defense is a result of the rule changes for pass coverage. It’s trying to prevent a DPI which could give a huge gain to the offense. However it allows a good offense to move down the field with 2-3 medium range passes in 20-30 seconds. We’ve seen Rodgers do it numerous times in his career. And we’ve seen it done to the Packers during the Capers and Pettine regimes.

It won’t work in the playoffs if we stay with it. The good offenses will exploit it. Thanks, Since ‘61

4 points
4
0
marpag1's picture

December 29, 2021 at 04:17 pm

OK. If by "soft defense" you just mean "bad defense" ... then yeah, soft defense is bad. Looking at your definition above, there's no doubt that some defensive schemes or specific play calls - actually a hell of a lot of them - line up the the CBs "several yards off the line of scrimmage." No one will deny that, but then again I don't think anyone will ever say that CBs must always crowd the LOS. Does it even happen that an NFL defense, even a great NFL defense, will go a whole game without playing a fair amount of off coverage?

The other things you define as "soft defense" certainly do not describe any defensive scheme I've ever heard of. No defensive coordinator in the history of football ever said, "Alright men, let's have poor gap control, let's fail to hold the edge, and overall I wanna see a lack aggression!"

So if you just mean that the Packers have played crappy defense and have done things that no DC would tell their players to do, ever, regardless of scheme, then yes I agree.

-1 points
0
1
jurp's picture

December 29, 2021 at 05:11 pm

To your point, AR beat SF's prevent/soft defense this year, requiring only two completions in front of their DBs to get us into FG position.

A different HOF coach (Tom Landry maybe?) said that the prevent defense does only one thing - it prevents you from winning.

2 points
2
0
coolhand's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:06 pm

I thought that is what Barry said this defense was going to be, aggressive and attacking and flying around. That hasn't been the case the past 4 or 5 games. Soft zone coverage, no blitzes, and poor run support from the LBs and DBs.

3 points
3
0
PeteK's picture

December 29, 2021 at 11:59 am

Just a theory: there has been a very high rate of and numerous dropped INTs much more than I have seen in many years from the Packers. So could it be that the idea is to give up some completed passes early in drives which give the opposing QBs ( especially young QBs) a false sense and then swoop in for INTs? 2019-18 INTs-74 PDs ( King 5 INTs, sad how far he has regressed) 2020-11-74, 2021(15 games with a rookie and an all pro CB injured most of season) 18-69.

2 points
2
0
Qoojo's picture

December 29, 2021 at 12:15 pm

It's like every week the packers learn that the run game is their friend, and some weeks, they don't learn it.

I have no idea what the solution is or if there is a solution for the defense. It seems like teams can exploit DE/OLB over-aggressiveness and just run under. Seeing the soft coverage, very little confidence it will succeed. I know they can't actually practice tackling at this point due to the agreement. I would show the defense and special teams tackling training videos, and perhaps tackling practice walk-through. If they bring the ball carrier down on first contact, I don't think things look so bad. At this point, a few defenders qualify from frequent rider discount as much as they got carried.

On a side note, it seems like A. Jones takes some of the hardest hits. I cringe once or twice every game over the hits.

2 points
2
0
gpt999's picture

December 29, 2021 at 12:39 pm

2 Questions continue to puzzle me about the Packers:

1) Defense - Why use soft coverages so much? My latest / greatest theory that it has to do with the conservative mindsets of the Defensive coordinators. Both Pettine (in recent past) and Barry don't want to give up "the big plays". But why? Not all tight defensive coverages will result in "big plays". Sometimes - in fact most times - the defense will win. On 3rd downs, it means Aaron Rodgers could get the ball back sooner than later! And guess what - if teams do take advantage with a big play, who else do you want to give the ball back to quickly than Aaron Rodgers? Passive coverages are for Defense Coordinators who are scared and want to protect their jobs statistically at the end of a season - not coordinators that play for individual wins! Doesn't Stokes have the speed to cover from the line of scrimmage against most receivers? Of course he does.

2) Offense - How much of MLF's offense is actually being executed by Rodgers? My concern is how many times could Rodgers be changing the play at the line of scrimmage? Frankly, when you have 2nd and 3 with 2 good RBs, why on earth would you be passing? Chew up the clock and maximize the chance of a first down with 2 plays to get 3 measly yards! Maybe an MVP candidate would choose to pass with passing statistics on his mind, but would a successful head coach? God, I hope not. Maybe this last example was MLFs call? But frankly, it certainly would show a lack of coaching experience to make such calls...

The Pack have a good team and certainly, the glass is half full. But you can't blame players for bad coaching decisions. Poor coaching decisions like these only tend to make games much closer than they should be!

2 points
2
0
flackcatcher's picture

December 29, 2021 at 02:36 pm

On defense: Early in the season Pettine like to play primary man coverage across the board. The danger is in giving up the splash play late in the game. As injuries hit the secondary he and Gray went to more combo coverages. (man on the boundary, zone deep, slot depending on the offense personnel package) By keeping the offense in front, the defense limits the field the offense ran with 'inside the 'red zone'. With the Packer front 7 pushing inside and the OLB pressing the edges the Packers got pressure and forced early release by the QB and covered the gaps behind the LOS in the run game. This was a really good defense that did put the offense in position to win games. Barry has run the same scheme for two reasons. 1) He was hired too late to make major changes or input a new scheme. 2) This is a veteran group that knows their assignments in the scheme, changes that would critically affect their play. What has impacted this defense is personnel loss both at OLB and at the boundary. And they are as a unit on the field for too long. (Thanks MLF) Playing with only two effective OLB has left the edge open, and Gray does not trust either Sullivan in the slot, or Douglas at the other boundary to cover their man in press coverage. That limits what Barry can do in his defensive packages. The problems at ILB in pass coverage are because of the lack of edge pressure in either the run or pass pro by either P Smith or Gary. Both have been gassed by the fourth, and the packers have no real replacements for them, so they play till they drop. Barry may have different personnel packages he would like to play, but the personnel he played with are for the most point either on IR for the year, or still not healthy enough to play major snaps. Some of that will change in the secondary with King when the Packers decide to play him in the playoffs. Otherwise, Barry will have to scheme with what he has.

0 points
0
0
flackcatcher's picture

December 29, 2021 at 01:56 pm

Short comments: MLF does not have a lot of game management experience. So he, like most young coaches learn hard into analytics. Last year MLF was far worse in in-game management. (Helps to have one of the best in-game managers on the field) Mike Pettine: HaHaHaHa... (should I take my victory lap now :-) Seriously, Injuries and Covid have hit this defense all at the wrong time. That is not Joe Barry fault, scapegoating him is wrong. We will find out a lot about how Barry is as a DC in the next two games as he makes adjustments. But a warning. The Packers may decide to play their current defensive packages to keep any unscripted looks to themselves for the playoffs. Neither the Ravens, nor the Browns had that option.

1 points
1
0