Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Jul 2010

Packers and RB screens

The GB section of the Almanac say:

"The Packers had the league’s best DVOA and second-best average gain on running back screens.

Is this really true?? Can you double check this?

My perception was that GB was a HORRIBLE screen team last year. I don't recall more than two decent screens, and MANY that went next to nowhere. I am struggling to grasp how my perception of GB as a screen team is so different than the FO numbers.

Posted by: Flounder on 18 Jul 2010

4 replies , Last at 22 Jul 2010, 9:22am by Flounder

Re: Packers and RB screens
by Arkaein :: Tue, 07/20/2010 - 12:39pm

I was also surprised by this. Similarly I was surprised by the fact that Ryan Grant was the best goal line runner in the NFL last year.

I wonder how much of this dissonance is due to context and perspective. The Packers were such a good conventional passing team as well as scoring a lot of red zone TDs by passing that it's easy to look at a few failed goal line runs or screen passes and think that other play calls would have been better. The successes don't stand out because we expected GB's offense to be successful on most plays.

Re: Packers and RB screens
by Flounder :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 8:24pm

Yeah, perhaps. The only good screen passes I can remember involved Brandon Jackson, who is actually OK at it. I just remember Grant either not catching the ball, or gaining minimal yards.

Re: Packers and RB screens
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 9:09pm

Part of it is that they didn't use screens often. From our charting data, they ran nine RB screens in Weeks 1-9, and one of those was an incomplete pass on a 2-point conversion. The others were all on first or second down, with 9 or more yards to go. One was incomplete, and one was caught for a three-yard loss. The other six completions were:

* A 13-yard gain on 1st-and-10 against Cincinnati.
* A 13-yard gain on 2nd-and-10 against Minnesota.
* A 20-yard gain on 2nd-and-14 against Minnesota.
* A 6-yard gain on 1st-and-10 against Detroit.
* An 11-yard gain on 1st-and-10 against Minnesota (second game).
* A 10-yard gain on 2nd-and-10 against Tampa Bay.

So on screens, they were 7-of-8 passing for 70 yards (8.8 yards per attempt), with five first downs and six successful plays by DVOA standards. (All of those were receptions by Grant, by the way, except the Tampa Bay game.)

They ran 16 RB screens in the second half of the year, and while there were a few more incompletes and negative completions, eight of them gained 10 yards or more.

So about once per game, they would run a really good screen that gained 10 yards or more, but they only had about a half-dozen screens all year long that failed to gain yards.

Re: Packers and RB screens
by Flounder :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 9:22am

Interesting. Thanks for the info. Maybe what I am remembering were just swing passes and not actual screens.

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