Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Jan 2017

Off The Charts Podcast: January 12

Some thoughts about the new head coach hires in Denver and Buffalo, and then previews of the four divisional round games. Lots of information in here about how various units are trending up or down during the second half of the season.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 12 Jan 2017

1 comment, Last at 13 Jan 2017, 8:50am by PackerPete


by PackerPete :: Fri, 01/13/2017 - 8:50am

Two items jump started the Packer offense. First, the offense got more athletic mid season. Lacy and Starks were the slowest running back tandem in the league. Following their season ending injuries, the Packers moved Montgomery to RB and added Christine Michael. The running game has been third in DVOA since week 10, according to the podcast. With Jared Cook out for the first half of the season with a high ankle sprain, the Packer TE duo of Richard Rodgers and Justin Perillo were easily the slowest TE pair in the league. Cook's return to health has greatly upgraded the TE athleticism.

What's never mentioned is the complete change in Mike McCarthy's offensive philosophy. In the season's first half, McCarthy insisted in running his "up tempo" offense, a misnomer if there ever was one as Rodgers would stand behind center running the play clock down to 5 seconds every down anyway and the team seemingly burned two time outs each half to avoid delay of game penalties. The players on the field for the drive's first play stayed on the field for the entire drive, leading to situations like first and goal inside the opponent's five and Eddie Lacy on the bench. Apparently, the thought process was that keeping the same players on the field limited the defense's ability to substitute situationally (which of course also limited the Packers' ability to do the same). The result was a very predictable offense with slow players. Keeping 3 receivers and 1 back on every play downsized the Packer playbook. The entire offense seemed to hinge on Rodgers' hard count to get an occasional free deep toss or a quick snap to catch an opposing defense trying to substitute for a 5 yard 12 men on the field penalty.

McCarthy finally broke out of that mold and it jump started the offense, especially with the emergence of Montgomery, Michael, and the return to health of Cook. The situational substitutions open up the Packer playbook, and the offensive player substitutions mid drive puts more pressure on opponents' defensive coordinators to get the proper defensive package on the field following Packer substitutions.

The offensive unpredictability is back, the offense is lining up with more athletic players, and the best QB on Earth is pulling the trigger. Gonna be a whale of a Packer Cowboy game!