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It could do wonders

Posted Nov 9, 2017

The rush and coverage need to be in sync and work together


James from Durango, CO

Hey Spoff, can you shed some light on why Marty B. was cut? The only answer I got was failure to disclose physical condition. Apparently, that occurs when a player has a pre-existing medical condition that won’t enable them to finish their contract. I thought Marty B. just had a shoulder injury, so what gives?

I don’t know any more than you do at this point. We’ll have to see if McCarthy says anything about it later this morning.

Jameson from Oklahoma City, OK

I finally heard an educated outside assessment of our Packers when I heard someone say, "I don't know what the Packers do well." With Rodgers, the answer is obvious. Without him, we look like a team trying to throw our hat in the air hoping it will hang on something by the end of the day.

McCarthy used the phrase “tilting the identity” of the team in his Tuesday press conference, but the production within that adjusted identity hasn’t materialized. I believe he knows what this team can do best given the personnel he has. Now it’s up to him to get the players to execute the plan.

Nick from Chicago, IL

Insiders, with all the emphasis on pass rush, dating back to the offseason, I've been analyzing as to why they can't reach the passer. One thing that stands out to me is “off-the-line reaction time.” How critical is it to beat your man to the punch by milliseconds? How much impact do these reactions and reflexes make in the difference?

Football is fundamentally a one-on-one game. There’s a man you must beat, and whether it’s fraction-of-a-second quickness or superior technique, everything matters. That said, when I went through the defensive game film on Tuesday, I noticed a precise timing to the Lions’ passing game that the Packers simply didn’t disrupt. The pass-rush struggles allowed a few extra ticks here and there, but in many instances the ball was coming out on time, and the coverage has to be tighter to make those throws tougher. Too often it wasn’t, and when it was, Stafford threw two absolutely perfect passes on which Jones made great TD grabs.

Scott from Hamlin, NY

Watching the pass rush is frustrating. There's a lot of scheme and trickery with their cross-blitzes and stunts to try and get a free rusher and it takes too long to develop for today's passing. The scheme says we can't win the one-on-ones up front.

I can’t say I disagree, but you have to keep trying to find a way. It’s also on the coverage to play to the timing of passing games you reference as well. The rush and coverage need to be in sync, timing-wise, and work together. I think that’s what McCarthy meant with his reference to the time clock the other day.

Darin from Madisonville, KY

The people screaming for the Packers to run the ball against the Lions must not have been watching the same game I was. I saw a box that was loaded with eight, sometimes even nine men. What did you see in that regard?

Some disagreed with me when I said defenses were going to focus on stopping Jones. The Lions were prepared. The Packers will now have to use the passing game to open up the run, which means plays have to be made downfield.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

I just wonder what the Insider Inbox would've looked like during the Packer dark ages in the ’70s and ’80s? I'm assuming just a little more perspective from the commenters.

It depends how many would have been witnesses to the Lombardi era.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

How does scripting plays for the start of a game work? I mean, there's no way to know how the first play will work, and I imagine there are different plays for different down-and-distances. Are the scripted plays all general enough they can be used in any situation? I would appreciate some insight to this.

You have a handful of plays for normal down-and-distance, and then an opening idea or two for all the other situations – third down, short yardage, red zone, goal line. It usually ends up being 15-20 thoughts in all.

John from New York, NY

Maybe this is wishful thinking; in your opinion if we can find a way to go 3-2 in our next five games that puts us at 7-6. This is all depending if our D can regroup. At 7-6 at Week 15 at the Panthers, we’d still be in wild-card hunt. Would you reactivate Rodgers if he’s cleared?

Absolutely, but win No. 5 needs to be in the bank before anyone can start cashing checks for Nos. 6 or 7.

Jay from Altoona, WI

Through a quirk in the schedule, the Packers' next two opponents will be coming off their bye week. How much better do the Packers need to play to come out with at least one win?

I don’t look at it like that. I am curious with the Bears having changed quarterbacks a few weeks ago and now coming off their bye how many unscouted looks the Packers will have to react to against their offense. They may have some surprises in store.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

When was the last time the Bears were favored versus the Pack?

I think I read nine years ago, so 2008?

Brent from Delano, MN

Again, no mention of Capers getting out-schemed. When you have a scheme that lines up Martinez against Tate, you are going to lose. When you have become so predictable in your blitz calls that the OC is able to call the perfect response, you are being out-coached. Yes, players not plays, but the players need to be put into a position to make the plays. Please elucidate me if I am wrong.

On the Tate play, I saw one DB drop into a zone while everyone else in the secondary appeared to be playing man, which left Martinez chasing Tate, so something went wrong that shouldn’t have. To your other point, seeing both the Vikings and now the Lions gash the defense for a big play with the perfect screen call against an all-out blitz concerns me greatly from a tendency standpoint. Kudos on the first appearance of elucidate in the Inbox.

Andrew from Memphis, TN

I have to say, I was expecting a breakout year from Damarious, and I feel he really has stepped his game up this year. Take away the meltdown at the Bears game, and he is quietly putting together one of the best seasons on that side of the ball this year. He is still ball-hawking like he always has, but I am also seeing a lot of physicality in his tackles. Take away some of his overzealousness and he could develop into the player the Pack thought they would get at that pick. Do y'all see the same thing I do and agree that he is on the precipice of something special?

I admire how he has bounced back from a personal low point. Now he has to keep trending in that direction. His aggressiveness against the run has stood out. I’m sure he’d love another shot at that second TD pass to Jones.

Kyle from Kronenwetter, WI

First off, let me say I'm a huge Clinton-Dix fan. He's one of my favorite players and I respect the player and the man. With that being said, is it just me or is he having a bit of a down year? Last year he was playing at a very high level, having a bigger impact on the defense and on the games, and obviously he made the Pro Bowl. It seemed everyone was dubbing him a "rising star" in this league at safety and I agreed. However, I'm just not seeing the same impact and production this year. Does he admit his play needs to improve? Your thoughts?

I’m not seeing any glaring miscues or assignment errors, but the splash plays aren’t there. No denying that. I’m wondering with the extensive use of “nitro” if he’s still trying to find how he can make the biggest impact. He’s not blitzing as much as in the past. Those calls are going to others. The overthrow to Ebron down the middle was an interception for him last year, but Josh Jones was deep that time and was focused on the man, not the ball. Clinton-Dix rotated over on that play to take the slot receiver because Randall blitzed. Sometimes, opportunity doesn’t knock for you.

Joe from Des Moines, IA

One point that wasn’t mentioned was Davante Adams’ lack of effort on Hundley’s deep ball at the end of the first half. Gruden wanted Adams to lay out for it, but on the replay, it seemed Adams could have extended and made the catch without leaving his feet. Hitting a big pass play would do wonders for Hundley and the offense, but Adams barely even reaches for the ball. I was incredibly disappointed in him that moment. Did you see the same as me? Or was that my frustrated eyes looking for somewhere to place blame?

I thought the same thing in the moment. Adams said after the game he misjudged the ball, so it wasn’t a lack of effort. But that’s the type of play this passing offense needs to make early in a game. It could do wonders.

Mike from Charlotte, NC

Let's face it. The loss of Rodgers is weighing heavily on this team, and McCarthy called them out with his "no one has stepped up" statement. My heart sunk when he went down, and I feared this would happen. It is inexplicable as to how they could play this badly otherwise. I think McCarthy is turning up the heat. I think we'll also see improvement in the coming weeks. Whether it happens in time is out of our control, and we can only watch. Fair analysis, yes?

Yes.

Mark from Cranston, RI

When Spriggs comes off the injured reserve list is he the odds on favorite to replace Bryan Bulaga at right tackle?

I think that depends on how McCray plays, assuming he gets through this ankle injury OK.

Phil from Gladstone, MI

Stafford played lights-out Monday. Even with Rodgers playing this would have been a very close game. Hundley can ball and anyone who says otherwise should look back on his college career. There is no replacement for experience in the NFL and he's getting it, and he will get better.

There were plays to be made against the Lions. The more Hundley plays, the more of them he’ll see and find.

Kevin from Stallis, WI

The Packers lost to Minnesota on the road, were in the New Orleans game midway through the fourth and laid an egg against Detroit, all after losing the best player in the world at the most important position in sports. This just in: Minnesota and New Orleans are pretty good and look at Detroit’s schedule so far – they’re no Cleveland. The overreaction of GB “fans” I heard today has been nothing short of astonishing. Why can’t the majority of Packer fans grasp that life in the NFL is not easy?

Because for 25 years they’ve enjoyed an edge, and often a decided edge, at the most important position. That makes winning look easier than it is.

Gary from Crossville, TN

"Don't confuse result with intent." Love it! This will be my standing comment to the rest of my foursome when we next play 18.

After any kind of accidental mistake, I used to say, “I didn’t try to.” A friend of mine would always respond, “You have to try not to.”

Bobby from Green Bay, WI

While I didn't appreciate the circumstances that caused it, the field goal at the end of the half was beyond good sports, it was art. The guys looked like a NASCAR pit crew. I don't recall ever seeing that in an NFL game before. Do they actually run that as a drill in practice, or did they all just execute a quickly drawn-up plan?

It’s practiced, and anytime you’re out of timeouts and the run-on scenario looks possible, it’s being discussed on the sideline so everyone is ready.

Dave from Germantown, TN

In looking at the game stats, I noted there were only four penalties called in the Packers-Lions game. It may have been the first time that I've seen a game with no offensive or defensive holding calls. Did the league or ESPN send the refs a memo that they were calling too many penalties? (Like you, I thought Nelson was interfered with on the long pass in the third quarter.)

It was refreshing to see so few flags, the Nelson play notwithstanding, and there was only one declined penalty as well. I’d be curious to see the grades for Clete Blakeman’s crew after the league’s film review, but those are never made public. Blakeman’s crew was middle of the pack last year in terms of overall number of penalties called. I haven’t seen any stats for this year yet.

Patrick from Pearland, TX

The repeatability with which the Lions stopped blitzes by high-performing players suggests someone on our D has a tell film study should find. What is the worst tell you ever witnessed being exploited?

My father told me after a few years in college that he knew I didn’t drink in high school. He was right, so I asked him how he knew. He said because I never tilted my glass at the dinner table when I poured my milk.

Chris from Buffalo, NY

Do you think in the offseason the Packers should revamp a good part of their defense?

No. I think they should revamp a bad part.

Mike from Charlotte, NC

The tanking discussion has already begun. Writers peddling it use the same logic as always: draft picks. If people think the list of free agents lost was big this year, wait until you see the list that succeeds THOSE antics. Alas, it is just reactionary media creating drama for ratings, and that is the thing today. It is sad that the internet has ruined society as it has. There is truly no filter to the swill that I am forced to avoid each day. I am glad there are still venues trying to carry on the tradition of objective reporting like this one. Thank you for paying attention to that bit of detail.

The internet hasn’t ruined society. Society has done that to itself, though the internet has been a convenient tool assisting the process. The most important words you used are filter and avoid. Keep them top of mind. My position may not allow me to speak in completely unvarnished fashion, and you may not agree with my opinions, but I won’t lie to you or say outrageous things for the sake of clicks. That I can promise you.

David from Coeur d’Alene, ID

You’re walking down the hall and bump into Mike McCarthy, who is clearly pondering something. He looks up and says, “What do you think? How do we turn this thing around?” What is your response?

The same as his would be. Win a game.


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