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Season of Distractions

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  Season of Distractions
#1

Posted: December 07, 2015, 9:08 AM Post
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One thing the Packers have done for a very long time (probably since Ray Rhodes was the coach) was to keep a very unified team. Their penchant for "Packer people" have prevented them from bringing in the me-first type players and kept the team very unified.

This year, something seems to have happened. Did we rest on our laurels (or at least the pre-season praise) too much? Have we lost leadership on the offensive side of the team? Or is this year just a fluke?

Eddie Lacy seems to be the bell-cow example. Coming in overweight and seemingly unprepared in certain games. Certain games he attacks the hole and others he runs up the back of his O-line (with the hole present to one side). Not to mention his curfew gaff. And given the severity of the punishment (Harris gone and Lacy benched), I suspect this isn't the first time that they have shown a lack of focus.

The WR group is another example. DD used to lead the group that prided themselves with being able to catch anything. Now they can't get open, nor catch it when they do. Adams and Cobb are among the league leaders in drops. James Jones just turned into a ghost. Hopefully, Quarless, Montgomery and Abbrederis can bring enough variety and options to the team to shake things up.

Play calling. I think I'm finally on the bandwagon here to go back to MM. I hate middle of the year changes, but I think its due. We had a string of games so vanilla that Robert Matthew Van Winkle thought we were boring. It was so obvious what we were doing, our WRs weren't getting a chance to get open. The last two games, we finally started to get more creative (RB screens, end-arounds, different running plays). But we are still missing some biggies: where did our WR screens go? why don't we run more crossing routes? What happened to the back-shoulder throw -> especially in the endzone?

Somewhere between the offensive coaches and the WRs, we need to figure out why our WRs are nearly running into each other out there also. There were a number of plays where Rodgers is in the pocket at 3 second mark and his WRs are crossing each other. Basically taking two WRs out of his options because he has two CBs covering that spot (plus maybe a LB). So right at the time he needs to get rid of the ball 1/2 or 2/3s of his options are bumping into each other.

I do wonder if MM took over the offensive play-calling in the second half of the Lions game. There was a distinctive change in the types of plays run, plus he was walking around with that offensive chart. Maybe its my bad memory, but I don't recall him doing that earlier in the game (or other games).


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#2

Posted: December 09, 2015, 12:54 AM Post
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I don't think these are distractions so much as playing and coaching like dog crap most of the time.

I mean, if the worst "distraction" the team has is a couple guys missing curfew, we're ok in that department.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#3

Posted: December 09, 2015, 2:18 PM Post
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The curfew is the worst 'known' distraction. I'm inferring that there are probably others too. You don't go from playing at an extremely high level to dog crap for no reason.

We went from WRs having a source of pride in not dropping the ball. Suddenly, we are one of the worst teams.

We had a highly regarded O-line, to one that is massively weak against a bull rush.

Eddie Lacy looks like a twinkie.

Those things don't generally fall apart like that unless people became lazy. Comments about people playing video games and not preparing would back up the viewpoint.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#4

Posted: December 11, 2015, 12:09 AM Post
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I think the WR's are the biggest problem and it's really because they were severely overrated before the season started. People thought we'd be fine without Jordy and I don't know if I posted here, but IIRC, I was in the minority that thought he would be sorely missed.

I mean, look at what we had without him, even before we knew how bad they would be:

1) Cobb - very good WR, obviously, but never a guy who could dominate defenders. If he catches a ball in space, he's as dangerous as anyone, but without Jordy opening the field for him, I was worried he would have a down year.

2) Adams - everyone was REALLY high on him, particularly because Rodgers spoke highly of him, but lest we forget, he only had 30-something catches last year and only had a couple games where he did much of anything.

3) Jones - good player, but essentially just a possession receiver who could sometimes get deep a couple years ago.

4) Montgomery - rookie

5) Janis - two career catches, looks like Jordy Nelson

6) Abby - gritty battler, never played in the NFL, coming off an injury, habitually concussed, elevated to hero because he's a Badger

TE's seemed solid enough, but Quarless got hurt and Rodgers was still very inexperienced (see: Adams).

I don't know why people thought this was some amazing group of receivers. Of course, they have been even worse than expected - I don't need to rehash that, but I'll say that Jordy's absence has really been felt.

Some interesting comments from opposing coaches and scouts here:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2590 ... ing-league


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#5

Posted: December 11, 2015, 6:32 PM Post
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Adams has been battling a leg injury all year, I think an ankle. He got hurt in the KC game and missed the entire month of October, and I think reaggrivated it in the Denver game. Because of that I don't think he has been able to run routes and make cuts the way he would when healthy, which has affected his production and the entire team's production.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#6

Posted: December 13, 2015, 2:58 PM Post
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I think Adams is the biggest surprise this year. He got a lot of praise from Rodgers and MM, which fanned the flames. His stepping up, plus getting Jones back was supposed to at least balance losing Jordy, but that been close. Montgomery has been the only one to overplay his expectations.

I hope Adams is only injured. Otherwise that praise has been misplaced


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#7

Posted: December 16, 2015, 1:18 PM Post
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I think the play card being back in the hands of Mike McCarthy makes a huge difference. I didn't want to believe it but I do. Below is something I posted elsewhere. Beyond that, there's a good read on SI.com about "building offense" during a game and how Mike McCarthy is very good at it and Clements just was not good at it. Having been a fan for 50+ years, I thought I knew a bit about the game but the SI article really demonstrates how much the professionals know above and beyond us mere mortals.

"I was one that thought the play calling didn't much matter as the game plan is developed as a group effort during the week and certain plays are put in for a given game. I was wrong. Not about how the game plan is installed but about the actual calling of the plays. The same 20 (or whatever the number) of running plays would be on the play card if the card was in Clements' hand or in McCarthy's hand but that doesn't mean they'd call the same play in a given situation. McCarthy just seems to have a better "feel" for which plays will work in which situations."


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#8

Posted: December 16, 2015, 8:23 PM Post
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Yep, it's about using plays early in the game to set up plays later in the game. It's about running different plays off the same formation and seeing how teams react to that formation. Example - GB uses the WR screen a fair amount. Two WRs on one side of the formation, a quick pitch to one while the other blocks. Well, teams started selling out to that. Solution - same formation, fake the quick pitch to the WR, while the defense swarms to that side you leak a RB and the weak side G and C to the back side, turn and throw the backside screen to the RB for 25 yards. Then next time in the formation the defense doesn't know what to do; they key on the RB and WR and you leak the TE up the seam. Then when the defense thinks pass on that formation you hit a quick run off tackle with Lacy for 7-8 yards.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#9

Posted: December 17, 2015, 6:08 AM Post
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Below is a link to the SI article I mentioned above. It talks about the same kind of stuff as LouisEly talks about above. It points out specific plays in the Dallas game that McCarthy had working off of the same formations and how Clements was woefully lacking in this area.

http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2015/12/14/gree ... on-rodgers


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#10

Posted: December 17, 2015, 4:56 PM Post
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Great article. Just like any professional, play calling is a talent and some people are better than others. It takes quick thinking and chess-like demeanor to outwit your defensive opponent head to head. Clement has shown that he isn't there. Joe Philbin proved it in Miami too.

You can just tell by the style that the play caller had changed. I can't remember how many times we ran the same basic play from the same basic formation against Denver and Carolina. It looked like we were watching a continual re-play of one play (that failed).

MM was all over the place with variety. He opened up with barely any TEs and heavy doses of Kuhn. Then he switched it up and had more TEs which led to the Rodgers-Rodgers TD combo in the second quarter. Then Cobb was moving all over later in the game.

Not all QBs can do what Rodgers can do. Not all play callers can do what MM can do. I'm glad he is back.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#11

Posted: December 18, 2015, 12:08 PM Post
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I agree totally. I've always been a big believer in the importance of the combination of the guy calling the plays and the guy running the plays. For instance, I've always wondered:

Would Brady have won so much without Belichick? Would Belichick have won so much without Brady? Would they both still have won a bunch? Would neither have won very much?


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#12

Posted: January 04, 2016, 8:10 AM Post
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I think it's been a season of distractions because of the poor play and coaching since early in the season. A lot of the things that have happened happen every year (the off-field stuff) but they've been magnified because this team has been such an utter disappointment since early October. Things I've been disappointed in:

1. I never thought I'd say this, but Aaron Rodgers has not played a game where he was the best player on the field since game 4 by my count. In a season of disappointing play by many individuals, this one is the biggest for me.

2. Offensive coaching. I'm no expert, but is there really no way to scheme guys to get open? None? It seems to me there is a lack of creativity and/or innovation from the offensive staff that borders on insanity.

3. Lack of playmakers. Previous seasons somebody would make a play. It rarely happened this year, to the point that, by mid-season I had no confidence in this team to make the plays (at least on offense) that would determine the outcome of a game. There were constant dropped passes, errant passes, turnovers by RBs, penalties that negated positive plays, and someone on the O-line was constantly getting beat in big situations.

4. The lack of unity. Look, I get that McCarthy and Rodgers don't see eye to eye on things. Maybe that is now something the team as a whole cannot overcome. But this season it felt like players didn't have each other's backs like in previous years. I'm not sure I can point to anything specific other than some of the comments I heard during the season, I guess it's just a feeling I have. Regarding McCarthy and Rodgers, if they can't figure out how to make it work together, one of them has to go.

5. Nobody outplayed my expectations this season. Normally, some guys are worse for various reasons, but there are almost always players that step up and produce at a level above what I felt was their baseline. The only player I can think of that might fit that would be Damarious Randall, who had a pretty good rookie season. But, as a 1st round pick, I wouldn't say that he outperformed what was expected, at least not by a great deal. The number of guys that played to a level below my expectations is a rather long list, though.

I had a discussion a few days ago with a person who referred to me as a hater because I am so disappointed in the team this year. So, I'm asking the other 5 guys on this board, am I being unrealistic? This was a team that should have gone to the Super Bowl last season and returned most of the key players. Barrington and Nelson going down early hurt, but I discount injuries; everybody has somebody get hurt in the NFL. Outside of a few bright spots early, this team was a constant letdown for me, to the point where I couldn't really enjoy the wins they did have later in the season.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#13

Posted: January 04, 2016, 9:41 AM Post
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I think you are pretty spot on for the offense. I actually thought the defense as a whole and a few individuals (Randall, Rollins, Peppers, Raji, Capers) played better than I expected; partly because the results in the past haven't been great...

The OP was prompted by some comments Rodgers made about people playing video games too much and not being prepared for the game. Shortly after that, Lacy and Harris were late for curfew. Harris was released and Lacy ended up playing (a bit) better as the season progressed. I don't think those are unrelated. Now, if he can lose 10lbs in the offseason...

I have a feeling that the offense as a whole was a bit to overconfident from the pre-season predictions and the early season success. When Denver and Carolina landed two "haymakers" to our offense, we lost confidence (Rodgers mainly) and couldn't recover.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#14

Posted: January 04, 2016, 8:26 PM Post
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Honestly, I think the biggest things are:

1) The injuries, particularly at WR and OL. Missing a deep threat (Nelson) and a very versatile threat (Montgomery) combined with playing backup OL and/or injured OL doesn't leave a lot of time to get open or make plays. I also think that Cobb (shoulder) and Adams (leg) are hurt more than they are letting on.

2) I really think that the team got deflated when guys such as Vernon Davis and Jared Allen were traded for so little (6th round picks) and TT wouldn't pony up to shore up depth. TT will have at least two extra comp picks next year, estimated to be 4th round picks, but wouldn't pony up a 6th round pick when they were thin at TE, ILB, and backup OL? I seem to recall a few indirect comments from players around the trade deadline, and the slide started soon after.

3) As mentioned, bad penalties at horrible times. Starting with Sitton. And there should never be penalties on kick returns ever - you should never put your team in a position to start on the 10 yard line.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#15

Posted: January 05, 2016, 12:12 PM Post
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LouisEly said:
I also think that Cobb (shoulder) and Adams (leg) are hurt more than they are letting on.


I really hope this is true for Adam's sake. With Jordy Nelson gone, he barely improved on his rookie year numbers. And he looked terrible out there with mental mistakes and easy drops. He will surely get another chance next year, but if he comes out the same, he is going to get the Boykins treatment.

Cobb got double teamed consistently down the stretch. His numbers were down, but still caught some balls. (79-829yds-6TDs). Similar thing happened to Nelson for a while when Cobb was injured a couple years ago. Having both keeps people guessing on who to double.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#16

Posted: January 06, 2016, 3:49 PM Post
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I wouldn't put Rodgers remotely close to the biggest disappointment. The standard he has set has essentially been perfection. This year was was merely really good.

Most of the struggles he has had, though, have been the result of all the other problems with the team: awful receivers, poor OL, stubborn, uncreative coaching.

Think about it: how often this season did we see Rodgers receive a snap, scan his options for a second or so, then find an open receiver more than 8 yards downfield? 10 percent of the time? Less? Almost every play, either receivers didn't get open so he had to eventually scramble to try to make something happen or the defenders pounced on him before he had a chance to see if anyone was open.

No, Rodgers wasn't as accurate as in years past, but he still did a very good job (eye test) with the hand he was dealt. There's only so much he can do. And I'm guessing that some of his (relative) inaccuracy was the result of skittishness as the season went on.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#17

Posted: January 07, 2016, 8:21 AM Post
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I wouldn't put Rodgers remotely close to the biggest disappointment.

I don't think anyone is saying that either. Just that in a bad year, he has had his share of issues too. Its been obvious that Rodgers hasn't been on the same page as any of his receivers. In the middle of the year, he was shockingly inaccurate (for Rodgers) on some very short and easy passes. The interception in front of James Jones against the Vikings is another example. It was 4th down and a bit of a desperation throw, but if he puts it further left its an easy TD.

Certainly his struggles are down the list. But at the same time, its worth noting that he hasn't been sharp either.


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#18

Posted: January 07, 2016, 8:52 AM Post
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How has no one brought up Olivia Munn yet!?


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#19

Posted: January 10, 2016, 10:41 PM Post
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LouisEly said:
Honestly, I think the biggest things are:

2) I really think that the team got deflated when guys such as Vernon Davis and Jared Allen were traded for so little (6th round picks) and TT wouldn't pony up to shore up depth. TT will have at least two extra comp picks next year, estimated to be 4th round picks, but wouldn't pony up a 6th round pick when they were thin at TE, ILB, and backup OL? I seem to recall a few indirect comments from players around the trade deadline, and the slide started soon after.


Looks like McCarthy isn't real happy with TT's inactivity either. What kills me is this:

"Losing left tackle Ryan Clady for the season in May was a far worse blow for Denver than anything the Packers' offensive line was dealt.

One of GM John Elway's moves was signing tackle Tyler Polumbus, 30, on Oct. 1. He isn't pretty, but his 138 snaps in Denver at both tackles were better than those of Don Barclay and Josh Walker in Green Bay."

Now you have Rodgers throwing off of his back foot because he thinks he's going to get hit right away on every passing play due to the poor OL depth.

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/lack-of-in-season-roster-moves-by-silent-gm-thompson-hurting-team-b99647553z1-364762971.html


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  Re: Season of Distractions
#20

Posted: January 28, 2016, 11:49 AM Post
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LouisEly said:
LouisEly said:
Honestly, I think the biggest things are:

2) I really think that the team got deflated when guys such as Vernon Davis and Jared Allen were traded for so little (6th round picks) and TT wouldn't pony up to shore up depth. TT will have at least two extra comp picks next year, estimated to be 4th round picks, but wouldn't pony up a 6th round pick when they were thin at TE, ILB, and backup OL? I seem to recall a few indirect comments from players around the trade deadline, and the slide started soon after.


Looks like McCarthy isn't real happy with TT's inactivity either. What kills me is this:

"Losing left tackle Ryan Clady for the season in May was a far worse blow for Denver than anything the Packers' offensive line was dealt.

One of GM John Elway's moves was signing tackle Tyler Polumbus, 30, on Oct. 1. He isn't pretty, but his 138 snaps in Denver at both tackles were better than those of Don Barclay and Josh Walker in Green Bay."

Now you have Rodgers throwing off of his back foot because he thinks he's going to get hit right away on every passing play due to the poor OL depth.

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/lack-of-in-season-roster-moves-by-silent-gm-thompson-hurting-team-b99647553z1-364762971.html


The funny thing is that I didn't even need to click on the link to know this was another TT-bashing article from Bob McGinn. Did Thompson kick his dog?


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