Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Week 17 Game Previews

The FO crew previews three games in the final week of the season with critical playoff implications: Bengals-Steelers, Lions-Packers, and Panthers-Falcons.

16 Jan 2008

Every Play Counts: Packers' Run Blocking

by Michael David Smith

As everyone knows, Packers running back Ryan Grant fumbled twice in the first 1:09 of Saturday's playoff game against the Seahawks, and then spent the next three hours going from goat to hero, finishing the game with 201 yards and three touchdowns as the Packers cruised to a 42-20 win.

But while Grant had a fine game on Saturday, I watched every one of his runs closely, and I think the heroes were also Packers left tackle Chad Clifton, left guard Daryn Colledge, center Scott Wells, right guard Jason Spitz, right tackle Mark Tauscher, tight ends Donald Lee and Bubba Franks, and fullbacks Korey Hall and John Kuhn. Grant had a great game because the guys blocking for him had a great game.

Before we get to all those great Grant runs, let's start with his second fumble, which was the first of many examples of dominant run blocking from the Packers. Grant had gone straight up the gut for six yards on second-and-2 before getting the ball knocked out of his hands. The hole he ran through was opened up by Spitz absolutely dominating Seahawks defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, moving him aside and opening up a huge gap. Spitz was benched briefly early in the regular season after his 2007 got off to a shaky start, but he's been the starter for most of season and has really come on of late. He had a great game on Saturday.

The Packers' two fullbacks, Hall and Kuhn, were frequently matched one-on-one with the Seahawks linebackers when the Packers ran out of the I-formation, and I liked the way both of them played. Neither one is an overpowering blocker, but both get out in front of the play in a hurry and do just enough to knock their man off the play. On a first-quarter toss sweep to Grant out of the I, Hall did a great job of knocking middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu off his feet by taking him out low. Hall is a rookie who played linebacker at Boise State, so he doesn't have a lot of experience as a blocker, but he's developing into a good one.

The use of the fullbacks is one of the best aspects of the running game designed by Packers coach Mike McCarthy. We've reached a point in the NFL where fullbacks are almost obsolete –- even Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated, once a champion of the fullback, now dismisses the position as not relevant enough to modern offenses to be worth picking on his All-Pro team. But fullbacks are still very relevant in Green Bay. Take a first-and-10 with three minutes left in the first quarter. Kuhn was lined up in front of Grant in an offset I formation, and before the snap, Franks went in motion from the tight end position into a fullback spot, so that there were two fullbacks in front of Grant in the backfield. At the snap, Kuhn and Franks both fired straight ahead, and all five offensive linemen got good blocks, and it was simple 1940s-style power football, with Grant following the blocks for a gain of 26 yards.

On the next play, Lee was matched one-on-one with Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney, a matchup that should favor the Seahawks but didn't. Lee shoved Kerney to the inside, and Grant hurdled Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant as he turned the corner, picking up 15 more yards. Two plays later Grant followed great blocks by Wells, Colledge and Clifton into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown. (Although Moose Johnston, who was calling the game on TV, knows more about fullback play than I do, I disagree with his assessment of the play. He said the play succeeded because Grant followed the lead of Kuhn, but I thought the blocking of Wells, Colledge and Clifton on the play was so dominant that Kuhn's presence really didn't make any difference.)

Colledge had several dominating run blocks. Note the way he drove his man about 10 yards away from the play, straight down the line of scrimmage, when Grant followed him on a five-yard run in the second quarter. Colledge is a second-year player out of Boise State, and like Hall, he's a tough, physical presence in the running game. Although Boise State is best known for its gadget plays, someone in the Packers' scouting department noticed that the Broncos do a lot more than the Statue of Liberty, and acquiring Colledge and Hall has made a big difference for the Packers.

Grant deserves a lot of credit for having the patience to let the blocks in front of him unfold. His touchdown run just before halftime was a great example of that patience. It was first-and-goal from the three-yard line, with Kuhn in front of Grant in the I and Hall going in motion like an H-back. The Packers didn't have any wide receivers on the field, and as a result the Seahawks had all 11 defenders bunched in close. It was a big mass of humanity, and if Grant had just taken the ball and lunged forward immediately, he probably would have gotten lost in the pile and been stopped short. But instead Grant started to the left as if he were going to follow Hall, and then looked back inside to see that Kuhn had cleared a path for him. He stepped back to his right and dove toward the end zone, sticking the ball out across the goal line. Grant has only been with the Packers since September, and early in the season he wasn't much of a factor in the offense, but he has now learned his role, and he has enough confidence in the guys blocking for him to pause for an instant in the backfield and wait for them to open a hole.

McCarthy likes that formation with the tight end motioning into the backfield as a second fullback, and it usually works well. It's not perfect, though, and the tight ends don't always know what they're doing when lined up as fullbacks. On a run early in the third quarter, Lee motioned into the formation as a fullback but appeared to block the wrong Seahawk, leaving Tatupu free to grab Grant at the line of scrimmage and stop him for no gain. Tatupu also stopped Grant for a loss of a yard on another run early in the third quarter. On that play, Kuhn was supposed to block Tatupu, and he just missed him. It says something about the kind of game Tatupu had in a losing effort that almost every time I saw a Packer miss his assignment, he was trying to block Tatupu.

Good plays like those from Tatupu were the exception though, rather than the rule, for the Seahawks' defense. Much more common were plays on which the Seahawks overpursued and made the Packers' running game easy. On a first down in between those two big plays by Tatupu, Grant took a handoff in the I formation, and all of the action of the Packers' offense went to the right. That led the entire Seahawks defense to go too far in that direction, and when Grant saw that, he cut back to the left, aided by a big block from Clifton, and picked up 24 yards.

The Packers offense often just seemed more advanced than the Seahawks defense. Late in the third quarter Grant got his longest run of the game, a 43-yarder, when the Packers came out in an unbalanced line, with Tauscher moving to the left side of the line, giving the Packers three offensive linemen to the left of the center. Although left defensive end Patrick Kerney saw that Tauscher wasn't lined up in his usual spot at right tackle and tried to warn his teammates, the rest of the defense wasn't ready for it, and Grant had a clear path along the left sideline.

That run was re-played on all the highlight shows, but with that much open space, it was a run that just about any NFL running back could have made. Grant deserves credit for his big game Saturday, but the players who blocked for him are the ones clearing the Packers' path toward the Super Bowl.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 16 Jan 2008

44 comments, Last at 17 Jan 2008, 5:42pm by Xian

Comments

1
by Lee (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:08pm

Packers running back Ryan Grant fumbled twice in the first 1:09 of Saturday’s playoff game against the Seahawks, and then spent the next three hours going from hero to goat

------

Hero to goat? Is this supposed to be from the perspective of the Seahawks?

2
by Doug Farrar :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:15pm

Nicely done, MDS. I don't know what was worse from a Seahawks perspective -- watching that defense that had been great all year get pushed around like a JV team, or enviously observing the kind of run blocking Seattle hasn't pulled off since Super Bowl XL. This Packers team obviously places a very high value on blocking fundamentals, and they're reaping the rewards.

3
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:22pm

As a point of fact, Daryn Colledge was benched mid-way through the second quarter of the Dallas game and if not for an injury to Junius Coston that put Coston on IR would likely not be starting.

Bubba Franks skill set is pretty much just blocking these days but he can really lay the lumber in a tight space. He provided several seal blocks that sprang Grant to the next level. I have hammered the guy for being slow and dropping balls but McCarthy likes him and Franks has responded as best he can.

And the legacy of Ron Wolf lives on. Three of the guys blocking for Grant on Sunday were drafted by Wolf in the 2000 draft: Franks, Clifton, and Tauscher. Actually, four if you count Driver who came in the 1999 draft. Driver certainly blocks when asked.

4
by Nate (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:24pm

I find this article very interesting, especially in light of the fact that the Packers O-line is ranked 26th in rushing according to your metrics.
I wonder if the horrendous first half of the season is weighing them down a lot.

5
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:24pm

Doug:

I owe you an apology. Based on the game thread reaction of several Seahawk fans I fully anticipated the Game Audibles to be a Farrar tirade against the officiating and stated as such in the game thread. That clearly did not happen and I apologize for making that completely erroneous assumption.

Sincerely,

BadgerT1000

6
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:31pm

Nate:

Perhaps. But it is also true that throughout the season the guards have been in and out of the lineup either due to injury or playing poorly. At different times Colledge, Spitz, Coston and Tony Moll have started games for GB.

Also, both Clifton and Tauscher have admitted to struggling with the zone blocking scheme. It is also true that both tackles have always been better pass blockers than run blockers. Which for Tauscher just amazes me since he started several years at Wisconsin which is about as run-heavy as you are going to find in a major college program these days.

7
by ebongreen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:37pm

I think you'll find that Daryn Colledge, not Jason Spitz, was the Packer O-lineman benched early in the season for shaky play. The only reason Jason Spitz hasn't been in the lineup for the entire year were injuries or experiments involving Junius Coston. A recent JSOnline.com article (linked) talks about it.

8
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:48pm

For a fan of a team, what the Seahawks did on Sunday provided the worst sort of defeat; just getting their defense's ass kicked, play after play, as if they were a flag football team playing tackle football for the first time. The worst defeat in Vikings history, the 42-0 crushing received at the hand of the Giants in the 2000 NFC Championship Game, was slightly more palatable than this, in that the most glaring inadequacy was the inability to cover anyone in a pass pattern. Somehow, having your corners stumble around like drunks hurts less than having your defensive front seven acting like they expected to participate in an aerobics dance class, instead of a football game.

9
by Dunbar (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:50pm

#3,

Badger, what's your sense of how well Colledge run blocks in general (not just this game)? I know you've hammered him in the past for his poor pass-blocking (and justifiably so, from what I've seen of him), but is he actually a good run blocker in spite of that? I haven't really seen enough of him to be able to tell whether he's really that good or he just had a good game.

10
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 12:55pm

I remember the general reaction when the Packers tabbed McCarthy to be the HC as largely 'Huh?'. McCarthy had been the OC for a 49ers team that had defined offensive futility (Alex Smith's rookie year). Never would have guessed that it would have turned out this well for the Packers.

11
by Joseph (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 1:01pm

Did the bad field conditions have anything to do with it all? The Packers' equipment staff is obviously used to dealing with this kind of weather, whereas the Seahawks aren't. I think I remember hearing on the broadcast about "changing cleats."
Not trying to make excuses for Seattle. GB OBVIOUSLY did a great job of blocking.

12
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 1:05pm

Dunbar:

Colledge keeps getting a chance BECAUSE of his run-blocking. But with the team not having a running back worth a tinker's d*mn to start the season and the unit in general struggling the coaching staff had no chance but to put the onus on the passing game which just exposed Daryn's weaknesses of poor feet and a tendency to lunge.

I thought he was toast after the embarrassing display in the KC game where the D-tackle Boone just threw him around like a rag doll and almost got Favre killed. Daryn didn't set a good base and Boone hooked him and flung him like a rodeo steer mauling a clown. And then the Dallas meltdown where McCarthy finally flew up his hands and yanked him mid-second quarter.

But Colledge has hung tough and now he gets a second chance.

Sunday will be a test as the Packers will be clearly need to pass and if Colledge doesn't set a good base he will once again be exposed in pass blocking.

13
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 1:16pm

Yeah, Badger, the Packers will need to pass, but the best way for to keep the Giants' pass rushers in check will be to run effectively. I'd say that the Cowboys got away from running too early in their debacle. Of course, that means it'll help immensely if the Packers defense keeps the Giants from getting a lead. I do think the Packers defense matches up against the Giants offense better than than the Cowboys defense, but I expect a close game. The Giants and Eli Manning are playing with house money at this point, so I wouldn't expect them to make many mental mistakes due to the pressure of the situation.

14
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 1:19pm

Joseph:

"Dr. Z" and many think so but the fact is that BOTH TEAMS changed cleats at half time.

I personally think it was a combination of great blocking, simple size advantage in one on one matchups and Grant having the vision to see the cutback lanes.

Chad Clifton is not a great run blocker and he manhandled Tapp who was a complete non-factor. I mentioned Tauscher's shutout of Kerney in other threads but failed to highlight Clifton's work.

I have stated this multiple times but DEs who are light in the britches are great when the weather is fine and you keep them off the field 30 odd minutes a game. But on a tough track and in a knockdown game the corners become pretty appealing pretty quick.

GB learned the hard way with KGB. And face that some themselves when Kampmann wears down toward the end of the season.

15
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 1:24pm

Nice piece. Brett Farve was interviewed after the game, and he credited the line, by name for the success of the offense. He also pointed out that Colledge had struggled earlier in the year but had overcome his problems. The 'Full House' backfield was pretty cool too.

Interestingly, for all the talk of "the demise of the Fullback", 3 of the 4 remaining teams feature a FB prominently in their offense.

16
by citizen jason (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 1:40pm

14: I agree. I don't have any statistics for this (not that that ever stopped me before!) but it seems like a defense that is light in the middle and mostly built on speed (Seahawks) would have a hard time in tough conditions. When you can't move quickly enough to get around the blocks, it turns out that you just get knocked out of the way. Repeatedly. All game long.

17
by irreg (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 1:44pm

You left out one important element of packer run blocking: down field blocking by the receivers. Driver, Jennings, Robinson, and especially Ruvel Martin have all gone out of their way to give Grant help against the secondary.

This is one of the big reasons that Grant has broken so many explosive plays once he has made it beyond the line of scrimmage. Grant's a great runner, but this explosion in the Packers' running game has been thanks to strong effort by every member of that offense.

18
by Jim (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 1:53pm

Props to Joe Philbin, the one constant for this offensive line over the last few years.

19
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 1:57pm

There is no doubt that the conditions favored the Packers, and it once again showed that often times what is considered poor conditions favors offense instead of defense. With the exception of a truly horrible field, like Pittsburgh's this year, the only weather that can be counted on to hurt offense is high winds. If you ever watch the '67 Ice Bowl game, you'll see plenty of evidence that the weather harmed the defense as much as the offense. Ask LeRoy Jordan and Jerry Kramer.

20
by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 2:22pm

#19 - Obviously, a lot depends on the personnel, but I always figured that bad weather favored the offense on account of the fact that they at least knows where the play is headed, while the defense has to react.

21
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 2:25pm

Is Colledge's late season revival linked to the deteriorating weather? If any lineman is going to prosper in the ice and snow wouldn't it be the guy from Alaska?

Or am I looking too hard for an angle?

22
by irreg (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 2:38pm

In regards to Colledge, you should remember that his major issues in the early season were due to bad fundamentals and a lack of upper body strength.

His time off may simply have given him the time and motivation to improve his technique in practice.

Also, it should be remembered that despite his great improvement, he still seems to lack the strength/skill to consistently pass block. Favre's stumbling underhanded toss was instigated by Colledge completely whiffing on his block.

So while Colledge is no longer a liability, he still has a lot of work to do in the off season.

23
by Spenserhawk (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 2:49pm

"Is Colledge’s late season revival linked to the deteriorating weather? If any lineman is going to prosper in the ice and snow wouldn’t it be the guy from Alaska?

Or am I looking too hard for an angle?"

Honestly, I think his late season revival is a result of hardwork. I know at one point in the season (it might have been after the Dallas game) McCarthy held an open try out for the guard position because Colledge simply wasn't cutting it. A Milwaukee radio station interviewed him and asked if he was upset and I was suprised to hear that he said no. He stated that he realized he wasn't getting the job done and that he needed to perform better. I was impressed that instead of whining about the fact that he was benched he realized that starting positions are earned and not given. Maybe he realized that if you don't give maximum effort in the NFL you will soon find yourself off the team and then out of the NFL (just ask Cletidus Hunt.)

24
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 3:05pm

AccuScore projects the Packers to win 25-21. What is AccuScore???

25
by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 3:39pm

I agree with MDS that it was the linemen's blocks, not Kuhn's, which cleared the way for Grant's first TD. And on the second one, it's worth mentioning Spitz's cut block as well, since he took out at least two, maybe three defenders, albeit ones on the opposite side of the play.

It is worth adding that this was by far the best game I've seen the Packer linemen play: perhaps the combination of an extra week's practise and a deep rethink following the debâcle in Chicago. More typically the season has been about missed assignments and general discomfort in the system, interspersed with really outstanding work.

Although this thread is about GB, I'd like to point out that on a fair number of Grant's successful runs, you can clearly pick out Seahoawks' safety Jordan Babineaux doing something quite other than what he should be doing. The Grant plunge from the full-house backfield is one example; on the long run down the sideline, although Babineaux eventually catches Grant, I can't for the life of me work out what kind of an angle he tried to take at the beginning - and indeed why he was in the middle of the field in the first place. I think Seattle was showing a run blitz on the play, overloading its right-hand side, and if that was the case Babineaux was responsible for the lane that Grant eventually cruised along. Perhaps he has been tutored by Marquand Manuel!

26
by Nate (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 3:56pm

Though this article talks about run blocking, it is interesting to note the games that GB has played vs the top teams in adjusted sack rate.

#1 Giants- NY was up at half and it was a one point game in the 4th.
#3 KC- Chiefs were up with 5 minutes left.
#4 Dal- Packers lost
#5 Chi- Packers lost twice
#6 Phi- Packers had a game winning FG with :02 seconds.
#7 Sea- we all know what happened here. Though weather was a major factor.
#12 SD- Chargers were winning in 4th Q.

Though the sack totals aren't high in any game (except Philly), maybe these teams put a lot of pressure on keeping the games close.

Maybe I'm just looking for hope for the Giants.

27
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 4:14pm

Nate, you have plenty of reason to have hope for the Giants. Typically, the only time a playoff team's fans are reasonable in abandoning all hope is when the opposition's defense can be expected to just crush the fan's team's offense. Even after the Vikings got crushed by the Giants in the 2000 NFC Championship Game, Giants fans couldn't rationally have much hope, because the Raven were so likely to just completely strangle the Giants offense.

In contrast, an opponent with an overwhelming offense should not inspire such dread, because an overwhelming offense can always drop the ball enough to make the game close. The Packers don't have an overwhelming offense, but more importantly, their defense, while good, is not historically dominant by any means. The Giants can score enough to make a victory possible.

I see no reason for Chargers' fans to to be excessively pessimistic for the same reason, despite the Pats having perhaps the best offense ever.

28
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 4:32pm

Folks keep talking offense and defense while forgetting special teams.

It was special teams that was a real factor in the Packers getting to the SB after the 1996 season. Howard broke several runbacks.

And in very cold weather a returner coming off the bench is going to have stiff hands and slowed reactions. The ball is a bit more slick.

29
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 4:36pm

Re 26: I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock into the Packers close games vs. good pass rushes, there were several other factors in most of those that had an impact:

Giants: didn't have Greg Jennings (missed the first 2 games) or a real run game at this point.

KC: pass protection was an issue here, though this is also before the run game had really developed.

Dallas: Favre got hit a lot here, but this was because he kept trying to go deep instead of taking wide open WRs underneath. If he plays like he did last weekend that game could have been very different.

Chi: first game was lost because of 2 James Jones fumbles early and abandoning the short passing game (which destroyed Chicago in the first half) in favor of more running in the second half. The second game was lost almost 100% by the special teams, as the Packers had nearly equal running yards and more passing yards.

Chargers: also before the running game existed.

If any conclusion can be drawn it's that good pass rushes gave GB problems before they had a running game to keep defenses honest. Once that happened draw plays became an effective counter and teams can't just key the pass.

The Giants are a better team now than they were at the start of the season, but the Jennings + Grant (not to mention the development of rooking #3 WR James Jones and the reinstatement of Koren Robinson) means that the Packers are as well.

30
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 5:09pm

Following up on Arkaein's post the only area of the team that I believe is "worse" now than it was to start is the d-line. And that is solely because of injury as both Colin Cole and Johnny Jolly are on IR. Jolly is a great run-stuffer who regularly got 20 plays a game and really made them count. As well as giving other guys a breather.

Justin Harrell, the number 1 pick, is getting better but not in Jolly's class right now as a defender. Though he is one big SOB.

31
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 6:15pm

Colledge got kicked out of practice today for scr*wing up on a pass play. He let his defender get through clean.

Ouchimama........

32
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 6:17pm

also, in the second chi game they were facing Orton...

33
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 6:17pm

#29

Jones didn't just happen to cough up the ball in the first Bears game, Tillman made two great plays to rip it out.

Just pointing out (point, point).

34
by irreg (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 6:43pm

@ Badger: Where did you hear that? McCarthy said that they had a good practice in the press conference. Colledge relapsing back to poor form would make it a fairly poor practice from any perspective.

@33: You're right that Tillman made the plays, but the ball popped out due to an error in technique by Jones, which have thankfully been remedied since then.

35
by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 6:43pm

The Packers rushed for an average of 66 yards per game in the first six games, topping 100 once against Chicago, and failing to reach 60 four times. In week 8, Grant's first serious work, through the Seattle playoff game, the Packers have averaged 130 yards, topping 100 nine times and 200 in each of the last two games. By contrast, the Giants finished second in the NFC with a regular season average of 134 yards per game. With the running games pretty much equal, the Packers 270 to Giants 170 passing yards per game is the significant difference.

In the first Chicago game, the Packers had 341 total yards AT HALFTIME, and that was the lone game early in the season that I felt they ran heavily with fullback formations. Packer fullbacks stoned Urlacher on runs between the tackles. With Grant on board, we've gone to more fullback formations, the "U" formation with double FBs and others motioning in a TE to act as a fullback.

Passing the ball for a victory is certainly pleasant, but for sheer pleasure, nothing beats running the rock down the other guy's throat.

36
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 8:23pm

Re 33: You're right about Tillman, I was just emphasizing in the context of the Giants pass rush (which started this line of discussion) that the pass rush was not the problem for the Packers in that game.

37
by Ryan Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 9:21pm

Is there any explanation as to why the Packers run game was so anemic prior to Ryan Grant?

Sure the Seahawks D was terrible in this game, but Grant has been great all year. Were the other RB's just blind to the holes? Brandon Jackson and Deshawn Wynn were not very good with the exact same team, what gives?

I also have to wonder how Grant never got a shot before. I mean he is fantastic and has been so far down the depth charts everywhere else. Strange.

38
by Bob Coluccio (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 9:37pm

Part of the running problems stemmed from the linemen learning the zone blocking scheme, and part of it was that Jackson and Wynn aren't really one-cut backs. I think long-term Jackson's going to be good - maybe better than Grant. He's looked great the last couple weeks. He looked awesome on the 34-yard screen* for the TD. I hope they make the screen a big part of the game plan on Sunday - they're going to need it - and I also hope they change up with Jackson a lot.

*Was it a screen? I may be remembering wrong.

39
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/16/2008 - 9:54pm

irreg:

It was mentioned in the blog posting by Bedard. Colledge was reinserted into practice after getting his *ss chewed out on the sideline. The coaching staff is riding that guy like a broken down mule. Partly because they think he gets sloppy with his technique. And they are right.

Ryan:

This has been discussed earlier in the thread. The guard kept getting switched around, the running backs kept getting hurt and the first time Grant got a chance he fumbled which McCarthy DOES treat harshly. James Jones was MIA for a game or two after the Chicago debacle.

So during the bye Grant got more reps and come the second quarter of the Denver game he got his chance and ever since he's been gold. Spitz settled in at the one guard spot and when Colledge messed up Coston stepped in admirably. Pass blocking you can get away with five fatsos getting in the way (ahem, Dallas) Run blocking takes coordination.

Grant's STYLE also works with GB. He can "get skinny" to get through holes that may not really be there. He plants once and GOES. And his big runs have all come on cutbacks as the action flows one way he sees it and dashes back.

One thing that would work on any team though is the way Grant attacks, no ASSAULTS, would be tacklers downfield. He blew through some Seahwawks Saturday but as I mentioned in the game thread Grant has sent two guys to the sidelines this year with injuries. The one db from Detroit left with his arm hanging and never returned to the game.

I could be wrong, but I suspect young Ryan Grant is a tad "motivated".

40
by Dev (not verified) :: Thu, 01/17/2008 - 2:21am

Running backs score points, but offensive lines win games. Truly, we are in the era of the elite offensive lineman. Packers and Patriots rule this arena, and i'd like to see someone do a statistical analysis of how strongly that correlates with victories.

41
by ammek (not verified) :: Thu, 01/17/2008 - 2:05pm

Dev, you should take note of MDS's small print: this is analysis of one game, and may not accurately reflect the entire season.

Until proven wrong, I'll continue to see the Seahawks as the optimum for the Packers' line: the best they can expect to play. The Bears' game might have been the nadir. Usually they're somewhere in between.

FO does have metrics for measuring o-lines, adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate. The Pats and Packers are high in the latter, but GB has been unimpressive in the former. If the Packer linemen can match the intensity - and the near-perfect execution - of Saturday's game, then we can think about calling them elite. But for the moment, I prefer "inconsistent".

42
by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 01/17/2008 - 3:53pm

It took time to learn the zone blocking scheme? They implemented it at the beginning of last year!

43
by Mike W (not verified) :: Thu, 01/17/2008 - 5:40pm

Well, McCarthy talked a lot earlier in the year about the line needing to execute better (he also said something like "running the ball is about attitude" a few times, but who knows whether that refers to working as a unit or gutty, gritty detemination, or whatever). I think a lot of it is Grant, though. People overuse the "one-cut" and even more so the "downhill runner" phrases, but Grant runs more like Terrell Davis than anyone I've seen, though after he finds the hole, he races. He keeps it simple: 1) find hole, 2) blast through hole, 3) keep blasting until tackled. It seems clear that Brandon Jackson began with a more "toss in an early juke or two" running style, and has made a lot of progress in worrying about that stuff after he gets to the second level. Deshawn Wynn actually ran with a somewhat more appropriate style, but doesn't have the talent of either of the other two guys.

44
by Xian (not verified) :: Thu, 01/17/2008 - 5:42pm

#42: Lots of time.