Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

14 Nov 2007

Every Play Counts: How the Packers Ran on the Vikings

by Michael David Smith

On paper, the Packers' run offense against the Vikings' run defense looked like a mismatch. Heading into Sunday's game, the Vikings ranked second in the league in run defense DVOA, at –32.2%. The Packers ranked 16th in the league in run offense, at –7.5%. Ryan Grant, who had 186 rushing yards in his career heading into Sunday's game, started at running back for the Packers.

But if it was a mismatch in the Vikings' favor on paper, it was a mismatch in the Packers' favor on the field. Grant's first run went 12 yards, his second run went seven and his third was a 30-yard touchdown. By halftime he had 92 yards and he finished the game with 25 carries for 119 yards as the Packers rolled to a 34-0 win. So how did the Packers run so effectively against such a good run defense?

A big part of it was the offensive game plan and play-calling, which recognized the right times to run and the right way to attack that Vikings defense. The initial 12-yard run from Grant came on a second-and-5 when middle linebacker E.J. Henderson was lined up so far off he line of scrimmage that the Vikings had only five players in the box. Although Henderson did eventually make the tackle, he was in such a bad position from the snap that he couldn't make it until the Packers had already picked up a big gain.

And why was Henderson lined up so far off the line of scrimmage? Because the Vikings' entire defensive game plan was to stop the Packers' passing game. All game long, the Vikings came out in defensive alignments that made clear that they thought their best chance was not to let Brett Favre beat them deep. But Favre had a brilliant day anyway, and as the Packers established the pass to set up the run, Grant was the beneficiary.

Grant's second run came with the Packers in a strange offensive formation. They had two fullbacks in the backfield, each four yards deep and directly behind each guard, with Grant lined up eight yards behind the line of scrimmage. Any time you have two fullbacks on the field you're thinking run, but the Vikings still only had seven in the box, and Grant was about five yards past the line before anyone touched him.

Grant's first two runs succeeded for the simple reason that the Packers had more blockers than the Vikings had defenders, but the third run, the 30-yard touchdown, was more about superior execution than superior scheming. Grant started the play behind fullback Korey Hall, and at the snap Grant followed Hall around the right side. Hall submarined Vikings linebacker Dontarrious Thomas to open up some room, wide receiver Donald Driver and tight end Donald Lee both held their blocks at the point of attack, and wide receiver Koren Robinson ran all the way across the field to block free safety Dwight Smith. It appeared that there was some kind of mistake in the Packers' blocking assignments -- unless the play actually called for right tackle Mark Tauscher to pull to the outside and block nobody -- but the blocking from Hall, Driver, Lee, and Robinson got Grant enough space. Grant finished the run by breaking Cedric Griffin's tackle and high-stepping into the end zone.

Hall is a rookie out of Boise State, where he played linebacker. I've been a fan of Hall's for a long time, and I'm glad to see that he's found a place in Packers coach Mike McCarthy's offense, even though he played defense in college. He's a very promising young player.

Switching a college linebacker to fullback is far from the only way McCarthy has gotten creative with his offense. Earlier I called one formation "strange," but there's really no such thing as a strange formation in McCarthy's offense. The running backs line up all over the place, and McCarthy will go from calling for a full-house backfield on one play to five wide receivers on the next, and the result is a defense that doesn't know what to expect and is therefore primed to be beaten with draws, delays, counters, and misdirections, which are the kinds of runs that McCarthy called on Sunday. McCarthy got the Green Bay job in 2006, a year after he coordinated a San Francisco 49ers offense that was one of the worst you'll ever see. That led to some questioning of whether he actually deserved the top job in Green Bay, but there's no doubt that he's doing a good job with the Packers.

There was talk last week that one or both of the Packers' guards, Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz, were in danger of being benched, but they both had good games Sunday, as did center Scott Wells. On a second-and-7 in the second quarter, Wells, Colledge and Spitz did such a good job clearing out the middle of the Vikings' defensive line that Grant had no one even close to him when he crossed the line of scrimmage, right up the middle. He picked up eight easy yards. (It should be noted that Vikings defensive tackle Pat Williams was taking a breather on the play, and it's a lot easier to run up the middle on Minnesota when Williams is off the field.)

Just as the Packers' successful plays were often a numbers game, so were their failures. On a second-and-five late in the first quarter, Grant ran around the right end, and no one blocked Henderson, who tackled Grant for a loss of two yards. In the second half the Packers' running attack was much less productive, mostly because they had a big lead and the Vikings knew they had to stop the Packers from gaining yardage on the ground and letting the clock run. On a first-and-10 late in the third quarter, Grant took a pitch in a two-fullback formation and defensive end Ray Edwards ran right through the line to blow up the play two yards behind the line of scrimmage. Two plays later, on third-and-1, Grant tried to run an off-tackle play but had to cut it outside when he was met by three Vikings behind the line of scrimmage, and he was ultimately pushed out of bounds for a two-yard loss.

Perhaps the most troubling part of the second half for the Packers is that rookie second-round draft pick Brandon Jackson looked like he was in over his head. Jackson ran the ball four times Sunday, and on three of those runs he was tackled behind the line of scrimmage. The Packers were relying on production from Jackson this season, but he looks too indecisive and doesn't hit the hole quickly enough.

Those second-half struggles against a defense that was playing the run indicate that the best hope for the Packers' running game is Favre continuing to throw deep effectively enough that opposing defenses have no choice but to play pass first. The Packers' running game probably isn't good enough to win games in January if Favre has an off day, but it's good enough to complement the passing game and make the Packers a real threat in the playoffs.

Each week, Michael David Smith looks at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game. Standard caveat applies: Yes, one game is not necessarily an indicator of performance over the entire season.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 14 Nov 2007

42 comments, Last at 17 Nov 2007, 3:18pm by Packer Pete

Comments

1
by billsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:43pm

"Grant’s second run came with the Packers in a strange offensive formation. They had two fullbacks in the backfield, each four yards deep and directly behind each guard, with Grant lined up eight yards behind the line of scrimmage."

I've seen them line up that way a in another game earlier this season, except with the fullbacks directly behind the two tight ends. It was odd enough that the commentators commented on it and I had to rewind my DVR to marvel at the 1930s-style formation. Only other place I've seen that formation lately was Navy for the entire Notre Dame game. I won't be surprised again until I see the Packers line up in the single wing.

2
by Levente from Hungary (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:59pm

Thanks for this piece, ever since seeing the game I wanted to read about it.

3
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:11pm

Colledge would have been benched if not for the injury to Junius Coston. Colledge was outright manhandled in the KC game causing Favre to get body slammed several times. On one running play the KC guy Boone shoved him and Colledge went flying back a good four yards. It was one of the most humiliating moments I have ever seen an OL ever experience in a pro game. Boone just put out his arms and WHOOSH there went Colledge.

Daryn has the build but really needs to work in the weight room. His legs aren't strong enough so he gets driven back too easily by powerful linemen. His arms aren't strong enough so instead of punching he reaches too much. He can get by in pass protection thanks to pretty good feet and good use of hands. But in run blocking he is a sorry sight.

The Packers tried to hide it by playing to their strengths and the Vikes weaknesses by going outside on most runs. The Vikes defensive ends are ok but obviously not the Williams boys. Also, the hope was that fat Pat might be gassed come the fourth quarter having to huff and puff along the line of scrimmage.

Of course, this became a moot point.

Colledge has played in about 2 dozen NFL games and has regressed, last Sunday or no. If the guy doesn't hit the weight room in a serious way this offseason he can expect to be a backup in 2008 and maybe off the Packer roster.

4
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:14pm

1: Gil Thorp thinks that formation is called the Wing -T.

5
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:17pm

Nice write up. The Vikings D failed on two fronts on Sunday. Not only did the Packers run successfully, but Brett Farve had plenty of time to throw. For a D that was set up to "play the pass", that's not good.

6
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:28pm

You know, the Packers have been doing crazy things with their formations since at least last year, when they'd often line up with 3 WRs, and then have two RBs in the backfield to block. Nothing strange about that, of course, but the RBs weren't lined up one on each side of Favre. One was lined up to his side, and another was lined up in front of the first, almost directly behind one of the guards. It was pretty crazy seeing a blocking back so close to the line of scrimmage, especially when there was another one right behind him, but when you consider that they were breaking in two rookie guards and using a new zone blocking scheme, it starts to make a little more sense.

One of the game charters last year noticed it and surmised that, given Favre's quick release, and the fact that they had two blocking backs, and one of them had to be right near the line of scrimmage instead of next to the QB, the Packers' new guards (and perhaps others on the O-line) were having serious trouble passblocking.

7
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:31pm

James:

The Vikings do not have any real pass rushers and their best cover guy, Winfield, was out of the game. With the continued improvement of guys like Greg Jennings and James Jones I figured Favre would have his chances. And he did.

There is also a belief among a good many MN fans that the team has started to pack it in under Childress. I can't speak to that.

Frankly, I think there IS that big a gap between the two teams no matter what others may say. Minnesota doesn't have a qb on the roster, no wide receivers that would even rate as back ups on GB, their safeties stink and the coaching staff is clueless.

Green Bay has issues but at least they have something passing as an NFL player at each position. Whatever strengths the Vikings have are offset by gaping holes beyond one's reckoning.

I thought Childress was a fraud at WI and I have seen nothing to change that opinion. The guy must kiss a lot of *ss to keep getting jobs and now that he's calling the shots without someone else to take the flack his obvious weaknesses, of which there are many, are being exposed.

But this upholds the proud Minnesota tradition of undermining whatever talent exists with coaches who couldn't find their *ss with a map.

8
by SG (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:33pm

Nice writeup MDS.

Out of curiousity, has anyone looked at whether past DVOA in the deep passing game leads to improved run DVOA in future games? Some sort of reputational effect?

9
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:40pm

Grant's long touchdown run came when the Vikings were blitzing up the middle, which is why Tauscher didn't have to seal anyone after pulling right. Scheme played a role as well as execution. The Vikings were plainly inviting the Packers to run, which unfortunately didn't keep Favre from having a terrfic day throwing, while they also ran effectively. Given that the Vikings' best corner in both the run and pass game didn't suit up, and corner is not a position where they have a great deal of depth, this was not exremely unexpected. It actually wasn't a terrible defensive game plan form the Vikings, if the Vikings had any ability of their own to throw the ball, which they don't, of course.

The Vikings have some talent, but if they play a good team with a terrific quarterback on the road without their best cornerback and their best receiver, which, unbelievably, rookie receiver Sidney Rice undoubtedly is, they are going to get smoked more often than not.

10
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:43pm

SG brings up a good point. I know after the Washington game Favre took it as a personal affront when the local media began to question his arm strength. And with teams looking to take away the Packers success with slants and hitches McCarthy decided going long was the only option with the running game stinking it up. That Favre has lit up three straight teams with something of a bombs away approach has to get into the heads of defensive coordinators.

I figured after Favre had alienated Javon Walker it would be some years before GB stumbled across another legit deep threat. But Jennings has managed to get a step or two on a regular basis while James Jones and Ruvell Martin have also beaten coverage deep. None of these guys is a speedster but all have good hips, head fake well and clearly their "football speed" is of some consequence. Jennings has not only gotten open but WIDE open which is the real stunner. That and his hands being erratic. It's like he made some kind of tradeoff during the offseason where he got an extra half step but his hands are less reliable. So far it's kind of working. But it totallyl goes against his rep coming out of college where he supposedly caught everything but was the very definition of a possession receiver.....

11
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:50pm

Badger, I'm going to defend Mike Tice here, a place where he was commonly subjected to extreme ridicule. No, he was not without faults, but I actually thought he performed decently under ownership conditions that would have overwhelmed a lot of coaches.

I do wish they had promoted Tomlin and fired Childress last year. Oh well.

Finally, if I had a time machine, a great experiment would be to swap out Sidney Rice for James Jones, beginning last May. Rice looks like a real NFL receiver, which is a somewhat monumental accomplishment, given the Vikings' qbs.

12
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:55pm

Although the teams aren't as good, pre-Colt injury era, I am looking forward to the Packers-Cowboys matchup every bit as much as I did Pats-Colts.

13
by Wicked (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:01pm

Favre said himself in the post game press conference that the Vikings played defense different from what they were expecting. The Vikings out smarted themselves. The Vikings should have continued to play like they normally do - to stop the run - because that is their strength.

14
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:01pm

Will:

Tice's downfall was that he was determined to be known as a players coach. I was also annoyed by his constant cozying up to writers like Peter King in an effort to keep his image positive. I saw multiple national guys reference their "Mike Tice conversations". I hated it with Holmgren and just can't see straight when I notice a coach obviously trying to curry favor with the media.

His teams could bring it every so often.

15
by Levente from Hungary (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:09pm

Badger,

I know it was one game only, but what do you think of Koren Robinson?

16
by doktarr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:14pm

That 3-back formation ("inverted wishbone", "diamond", "full-house backfield") was coverd by Mike Tanier in an old Too Deep Zone. Click on my name to see it.

17
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:15pm

Levente:

I like the pickup last year despite local guys like Cliff Cristl branding him the AntiChr*st.

There are several things in Robinson's favor:

--he is motivated as all get out
--he is the best shape of his life. Everyone who has been in the Packers lockerroom has mentioned that Robinson is in SHAPE
--he is beyond grateful to Favre. Favre publicly supported Robinson's signing, Favre openly questioned the NFL policy of not letting Robinson work out with the team and Favre repeatedly mentioned Koren this offseason as a "key guy". Robinson has stated several times his appreciation for for Favre's public support
--he is big as h*ll
--he can return kickoffs and maybe punts

Clearly there is the risk of him giving in to his personal demons. And I can understand Vikings fans being less than kind in their remarks if questioned on the topic. But if a team were ever to take a flyer on a guy this would be the type of scenario you would want. An incredibly talented guy desperate to regain his former stature.

I know this much. He would be starting for the Vikes. And right now he's the number 5 guy for the Packers.........

18
by Jin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:17pm

BadgerT1000. you have a good point about the Vikings weaknesses. The old saying about you are only as strong as your weakest link applies perfectly to the Vikings. They have some links made out of diamonds, and others made out of wet paper.

19
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:22pm

Badger, if he stays sober, Robinson will not be the number 5 guy next year. In fact, I'd wager that by the time the playoffs roll around, he'll be seeing significantly more playing time.

20
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:24pm

Jin:

What baffles any reasonable person is the qb situation. This isn't a Carolina where everybody with a pulse got hurt and all of the sudden you have Vinny at the wheel. They CHOSE these guys. Free will. They had CHOICES and decided that THIS was the best combo.

That boggles the mind. It defies understanding. Who looks at Tavarius Jackson and Brooks Bollinger and determines, "Yes, I will win the division with these guys as my quarterbacks." And this NOT knowing that Adrian Peterson was the second coming of Gayle Sayers.

Look, Will Allen and others have trashed this better than I so sorry for being redundant. But this is Exhibit A as to why I think Brad Childress is a dumb*ss on a Paris Hilton type scale. I mean, c'mon already.

Just, like, wow.

Wow.......

21
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:27pm

Will:

Favre was looking for him from the first time he stepped on the field. He adored Robinson's effort on that fourth down where Favre nosedived into the ground, Robinson dove to catch it then hurled himself forward to get the first down.

If Favre likes you he will GET YOU THE BALL. Just ask Bubba Franks.

So yeah, I hear ya'. Robinson has a chance to be a playmaker if he stays on the right path.............

22
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:34pm

Badger, I wouldn't be shocked to see Robinson have a bust out game against the Cowboys in two weeks.

23
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:57pm

Also, regarding Tice, I highly suspect that if Tice had been given a real NFL coaching staff salary budget, and some leeway with using cap space, he'd still be the head coach in Minnesota. In particular, if he hadn't been forced into hiring Cottrell, because Cottrell was about the only guy who would work that cheap, and hadn't lost Linehan for salary reasons, it would have made a big difference. Most importantly, if McCombs hadn't based most of his personnel decisions based on maximizing short term cash flow, there's a decent chance the Vikings would have signed Dre Bly from the Rams in 2003, and traded for Ogunleye from the Dolphins in 2004, along with hanging on to a certain guy named Moss. That team almost certainly would have won the division in 2003 and 2004, and not had the early collapse it had in 2005.

Actually, in some respects, the Packers may have the ideal ownership structure for the salary cap era, in terms of winning, especially now that the stadium renovations have been done. No, the Packer fans don't benefit from a Robert Kraft's or Jerry Jones' devotion to winning, but as has been seen in Dallas, that can be a double-edged sword. The Packer fans do benefit, however, from never having to worry about an owner who will forgo winning to squeeze an extra nickel from the p and l statement. As long as the board installs the right gm, the Packers will be fine.

24
by Jason Kramer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:58pm

A cool graphic on Grant's 30-yard TD from JSOnline is linked in my name.

25
by billsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:40pm

4,16:
I thought it was some sort of modified-T, but couldn't find a good name for it anywhere, since "full house" is too generic. Good to see in doktarr's link that there are other Single Wing enthusiasts out there.
10:
It's also impressive that Jones and Jennings each managed to burn one of Denver's highly touted (and paid) corners deep in the same game.

26
by Xian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:42pm

And...more stuff from JS Online. Brief mention of the formation under so much discussion, linked in my name.

Nice, reasonable discussion, Will & Badger. Pretty similar to what I've been thinking over as a Packers fan born & raised in WI, but a MN transplant for many years.

I'm not sure about Tice, though, Will. I agree that McCombs is (was? whatever happened to that bid from the T-Wolves owner?) a pretty poor owner, but Tice seemed to be making a lot of questionable decisions, both within the game, and outside of it (scalping tickets? though that could have been caused by McComb's stingy purse strings, I guess).

27
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:52pm

billsfan:

Jones got Bailey for the simple reason that Champ didn't think JJ could get past him. He was caught napping.

Bly had to honor the run and got peeking.

But in neither case did the guy catch up. Part of that was Favre leading both guys perfectly and part of that is that both players are faster in pads then one would expect from their workout times.

Pleasant and unexpected surprise for the Packers. Jones in particular. Save for those two awful fumbles against the the Bears the kid has been outstanding. His hands are wonderful and he uses his body to gain separation from smaller/weaker dbs.

If the Packers solidify their offensive line and Favre's legs don't go the offense could be a handful for just about anyone. It's not being talked about but it really is rather astonishing that Favre has played as well as he has with an interior line that has been in flux all season due to poor play and injury. The tackles have been pretty solid but the guards/center have sucked *ss on a regular basis. Number 4's quick release and ability to sidestep the rush have kept plays alive.

I know folks reading this will roll their eyes because I know this will be perceived as just so much "Favre love". But facts are facts. The guy is 38 years old and one of the best qbs in the league.

All those guys who were supposed to be the next big sh*t and Number 4 has outlasted them all save for Manning.

Brady was never pimped as the next great anything. He just happened.

28
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:58pm

Xian, McCombs sold the team two years ago. The new ownership is not stingy, at least not yet, but is inexperienced, and made a rushed decision when they hired Childress. Zyggi Wilf seems to be getting a better handle on things over the past year or so, so assuming that stadium issues don't cause him to emulate McCombs, the next coaching hire may go quite a bit better.

I'm not saying Tice was a great coach. I am saying that if he would have had more support from ownership, he likely would have won division titles in '03 and '04, and made the playoffs in '05 as well, and still would be coaching in Minnesota.

29
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:05pm

xian:

Man, stuck amongst the unwashed masses? Sorry about that.

Will is a reasonable fan. Passionate but it's a rare thing when he declares somebody is the best or worst or states emphatically that the "season is over" after game two. A combination of hope and historical perspective. Crazy stuff happens in this league.

Mike Sherman had teams stumble out of the gate at 1-4 and looking incompetent and still win the division. Bizzaro stuff occurs.

The fans I try and avoid conversing with are the whack jobs who in the game chatters are throwing up their virtual hands two minutes into the game at this or that. Emotional immaturity does not lend itself to rational discussions.

30
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:08pm

If I wanted to win this year, the only guy I would definitely take over Favre is Manning. I actually think Favre would get as much out for the Pats offensive personnel as Brady does, because I think Favre has actually thrown a better deep ball than Brady has this year. Sure, when I consider future years, there are more guys I'd take over Favre, but it is not irrational Favreophilia to assert that the aged one is playing at an extraordinarily high level. It's a shame that so many years were wasted with Ray Rhodes and Mike Sherman.

31
by Jin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:15pm

Badger, Mike Florio said today on Profootball talk that in the six years since he started doing the site, he has never received as many e-mails about fire x coach as he has with Childress. Viking fans absolutely HATE him. It's just Adrian Peterson has kept that contained with his insane level of performance. Don't be surprised if there are some fire Childress chants in the Metrodome this weekend.

Oh and Antoine Winfield took a shot at the coaching staff, this is what he said: "This game is real simple," Winfield said. "You have to put certain players in position to make plays. If you're not doing that, you're going to get the result that we had [Sunday]. Thirty-four-0."

Keep in mind he criticized Childress last year too. Anybody has Marty's phone #?

And does it make me a bad person that when I saw Koren Robinson the 1st emotion I felt was anger? Not that I wish harm on anyone but I was kind of hoping he would come across the middle and Tank Williams would give him a nice hard hit. That guy screwed us up pretty bad and then goes and plays for the Packers.

32
by Jin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:31pm

I have to say I'm very surprised that McCarthy has turned out this well, a guy who had never done a damn thing as coordinator. Yet I see him using some creativity with 3rb V set and using draws, misdirection, shovel passes and whatever he can think of to run on the Vikings and get them out of their Nickel packages.

These are things that Childress doesn't do at all. Our 3 biggest playmakers on offense happen to be our 3RBs, yet how many times have even 2 of them been on the field at the same time? This is something I suggested before, why not use some 3RB sets (with Rice as the only WR and either Shiancoe or JimmyK as the TE). Hell Mewelde Moore was inactive on a lot of games at the beginning of the season! And it took him this long to figure out he's the best PR on the team!

33
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:34pm

I love Antoine Winfield on the field, but I do wish he would talk to reporters less. His latest remarks sound like a typical ill-informed fan's, in that it concentrates on scheme, instead of the primary problem by far, which is that there are guys on the roster who don't belong on an NFL roster, and some of them play the most important position.

I never have been a Childress hater, but only noted that when you place huge bets on Tavaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger, well, it can be a lot of fun to be a contrarian, but contrarianism which results in six wins will likely end your head coaching career.

34
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:38pm

My first reaction to Childress when he became the Viking coach was that he wasn't very bright. I based that on his handling of the Culpepper thing, his notion that controlling the running game is the key to winning and his signing of Mike McMahon.

I tend to be an optimistic guy so I look for the positive. The Vikings were 8th in DVOA just last week, so I wonder how stupid is he really?

Last weeks game reminded me of the St. Louis game last year. It looked to me as if some of the players mailed that one in. From the comments in the Childress press conference on Monday I think he thinks that some of his players did indeed mail it in.

Sunday will be telling. Even a close win will tell me this team has packed it in.

35
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:40pm

Jin:

Bad person? Nah. He let his team down. And in turn the fans.

I think he has a breakout game against the Lions. Detroit will be gunning for Favre and likely tsking away Driver/Jennings. Robinson against a safety? Like that very much.

36
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:40pm

Jin, I've wanted to see more two back sets as well, but let's not kid ourselves. When your qbs overthrow wide open receivers, and your receivers drop balls that hit them in the hands, and rarely outfight a db for the ball, scheme doesn't matter much. You can't compete effectively in the modern NFL with passing personnel like this, unless the defense is off the charts historically good. It is impossible. Hell, the only reason they beat the Chargers is likely because Cottrell is a moron.

37
by billsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 8:38pm

As for Favre's arm strength declining, Jaworski asked him about just that before the MNF game vs. Denver. Favre's response was to knock over one of the end-zone pylons with a "laser" from the 50.

38
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 9:58pm

What baffles any reasonable person is the qb situation. This isn’t a Carolina where everybody with a pulse got hurt and all of the sudden you have Vinny at the wheel. They CHOSE these guys. Free will. They had CHOICES and decided that THIS was the best combo.

That boggles the mind. It defies understanding. Who looks at Tavarius Jackson and Brooks Bollinger and determines, “Yes, I will win the division with these guys as my quarterbacks.� And this NOT knowing that Adrian Peterson was the second coming of Gayle Sayers.

Look, man, he's just preparing his team to dominate the league and win the Super Bowl next year, when they get rid of the forward pass. Didn't you get the memo? Something about the competition committee changing things. Kind of wierd that nobody's talking about it, you'd think it'd be big news.

Anyway, just wait until Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have to scramble or hand the ball off every play, instead of using those gimmicky plays where they throw the ball downfield. Ha! No more of that AFL nonsense next year. Smashmouth football is coming back!

Tavaris Jackson will dominate the league. He's more mobile than those two, and he's way better at handing off. After all, practice makes perfect, and while Manning and Brady have been working on a bunch of crazy trick plays all this time, Jackson has been concentrating on the most important thing an NFL QB needs to learn: how to best hand the ball to Purple Jesus.

By taking a more disciplined approach, and thinking about the long term, Childress has cemented the Vikings as the next NFL dynasty.

Wait, you didn't get the memo?

39
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 10:29pm

Billsfan:

My favorite Favre story is how it's training camp and Holmgren is all over the team for a bad practice. And during an end zone drill Antonio Freeman, a rookie, drops a pass. And Holmgren goes nuts and says practice is going to keep going until everything is perfect. Now at this point in his career Favre is well known for hating practice. And as one of the qbs he has to keep throwing to all the WRs. So it's hot, Favre is ticked and then he sees Freeman yucking it up with the other receivers. So at the next drill on a slant Favre throws his best fastball that goes through Freeman's hands, smashes into his helmet and knocks him out cold.

Nobody dropped any more passes.

Freeman tells this story so believe it at your own risk.

40
by Jin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 11:59pm

Will, I know it's pretty hopeless with the QB and WR group we have, but it would be nice to see them at least try something out. Knowing their best playmakers all play the same position, they should do some unconventional things to try to use their skills more, instead of banging one's head against a wall by repeatedly trying to pass the ball to Wade, Twill and the other misfits not named Sidney Rice.

41
by wolfsnigs (not verified) :: Thu, 11/15/2007 - 12:36am

as a packer fan even as good as this season is going - I feel unsure cause it's so so new to me and I'm sure to many packer fans - when mike sherman was let go - he was still a great coach at the time (we liked him still), then we lost javon walker, lost ryan longwell, running back ahman green, safty darren sharper...I mean things looked very grim for packers team, even talk of favre retiring. But we have to remember favre came in as who is this guy, then sherman - everyone was who is he, ahman - I mean the team can make a nobody somebody. I think they're doing it again except until they succeed again next year - i'll remain skeptical hoping this is not a one year wonder like the bears. But I'm loving this year ...thanks pack!

42
by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Sat, 11/17/2007 - 3:18pm

The Packers running game in the past few games differs in two ways from the running game earlier in the season. First, Ryan Grant runs much harder and hits the hole noticeably quicker than any other Packer back. Grant got a couple of carries in the third or fourth game of the year and my buddy and I looked at each other and said "Man, he hits the hole quickly!" This, after a steady preseason diet of Brandon Jackson and Deshawn Wynn. Jackson, Wynn, and Morency are much slower to the line, have the happy feet, and are easily stopped. Grant slams it in there and gets a few positive yards.

In the Viking game, the big early runs, including the 30-yard TD, came on pitchouts, which got the ball to the edge quickly. Early in the season, the typical "zone blocking" running play was a stretch handoff to the back requiring Favre to run several yards to make the handoff while the entire line shuffled left or right. The plays took forever to develop and were easily diagnosed defensively. With less zone and more "hat on hat" blocking and an attacking running back such as Grant, the Packer running game is showing some life. Still, as long as we continue to line up with an empty backfield and 5 wideouts on 3rd and one, we ain't quite there yet as a running team.