Confessions of a Polluted Mindset - UnBearable Special Teams

The Weekly Packers Brain Drain from Jersey Al.

 

Wow - Someone asked me on twitter if I had ever seen a worse display of special teams incompetence. While I can't speak for other teams, in my 50 years of watching the Packers, I can confidently say no. Here's the rundown:

Punting team allows a 34 yard punt return.
Malik Taylor muffs a kickoff out of bounds at his own five yard line.
Kickoff team allows a 40 yard return.
Crosby sends a kickoff out of bounds.
Punting team allows a 97 yard punt return for a touchdown.
Kickoff team allows a 42 yard return.
Bojo shanks a 22 yard punt.
Amari Rodgers muffs a punt off his facemask - saved by a dubious penalty on the Bears' gunner.
Packers muff an onsides kick which I described in this way: 

On the bright side -  The place kicking operation looked pretty smooth overall, but I'd still like to see Crosby splitting the uprights a bit more.

I wonder if the second half was as much fun for Nagy? I will say this about him, he always seems to have a good game plan with some tricky plays early on that catch the Packers by surprise. But then he kind of runs out of ideas and reverts to more conservative  play calling with predictable results.

Adjustments - If I had to pick one thing I've been most impressed about with this year's coaching, it's been the quicker in-game adjustments. In this game, the Bears were attacking the edges with great success early on and then the Packers defense shut that stuff down most of the rest of the game. After mostly ignoring the running game in the first half, (6 carries) the Packers played a much more balanced style of offense, moved the chains, ate the clock and had only one three and out - when they attempted three straight passes, naturally.

Passing Jones - One thing I've been waiting to see is the Packers using Aaron Jones in the passing game. We finally saw it on Sunday with good success. They tend to pass to him outside the numbers, but I'd like to see then use him over the middle on some angle routes.

Speaking of angle routes - The Packers (and Henry Black in particular) were once again victimized by an angle route resulting in a touchdown. To have both the Vikings and Bears score on you that way is a bit embarrassing.

Pass Pro - It was a bit rough early on, as the Bears' stunts were resulting in some confusion, but they got that worked out (again, in-game adjustments) and it was downright solid the rest of the way, even after Billy Turner went down. 

 

That 10-minute fourth quarter drive by the Packers gets a double chef's kiss from me...

__________________________

"Jersey Al" Bracco is the Editor-In-Chief, part owner and wearer of many hats for CheeseheadTV.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a recovering Mason Crosby truther.  Follow Al on twitter at @JerseyalGBP

16 points

Comments (112)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 06:57 am

shit cake says it all. relieve the chef of his duties and call Servepro to clean up the kitchen.

10 points
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GregC's picture

December 15, 2021 at 07:26 am

Good takes as always, and thank you for getting through the article without using some variation of the "not-so-special teams" pun.

I suppose the best remedy to get through the rest of the season would be to use higher quality players on special teams. But then, when they had Randall Cobb field a punt a few weeks ago, he muffed it, and it was MVS who muffed the onside kick. It's surprising that they can't find anyone better than Malik Taylor to return kickoffs and Amari Rodgers to return punts. Both of them have been awful all year.

Good point about in-game adjustments. With some previous coaches, I've had the impression that making in-game adjustments was simply impossible for them.

Yeah, why not have Aaron Jones catch passes over the middle? He's only 5' 9", and he often has to leap for those sideline passes. Sometimes when he does that, he gets creamed by a defender. In the middle of the field, he could catch the ball comfortably and make full use of his elusiveness to gain yards after the catch.

7 points
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HawkPacker's picture

December 15, 2021 at 07:30 am

To be fair to MVS's muffed punt, the ball really took a bad bounce. Maybe it was the blocking or lack of blocking that allowed the Bears to get to him so quickly?

5 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 07:40 am

Yeah, I think that gets more attention than it should based on the craptacular shitstacle that special teams had been up to that point. That kick did exactly what kicking teams design it to do. Still, your point that the defender shouldn't have had the clear path to the ball that he had is spot on.

7 points
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marpag1's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:32 am

Gotta disagree with you, dobber. One craptacular shitstacle doesn't look any better by virtue of the fact that there are nine other craptacular shitstacles nearby. Sure, the kick did what it was supposed to do. MVS, however, didn't. And that's a major fail.

This was a turnover play (or at least a extra possession... are onside kick recoveries considered turnovers)? Anyhow, I'll admit that the 97 yard punt return for a TD was huge, but how many of the other ST crapsicles were as significant as a turnover?

How does The Drop King get to be the receiver on the hands team anyway?

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:59 am

I don’t think he was before Cobb’s injury. EQ and Taylor were hurt. He may well have been roped in as a result.

2 points
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scullyitsme's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:42 am

I too was asking this, why the hell would MVS be on the hands team? That in itself is all Drayton. He should be fired just for that.

3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:00 pm

on-sides kick, not a punt.

could he have simply batted the ball out of bounds? Is that legal on that kind of play? would that have given the packers the ball where it went out of bounds after he hit it?

-1 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:23 pm

I think that intentionally batting the ball out of bounds is a penalty and re-kick.

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 03:18 pm

drat...

my solutions sometimes work.

1 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:44 pm

Saw the same thing happen to the Rams on Monday night with under a minute in the game. There has been more and more muffs, and flat out mental mistakes in all three phases of the ST game league wide.

2 points
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GregC's picture

December 15, 2021 at 05:35 pm

Very true. It took a wicked bad hop. Maybe it was just one of those things. Hard to take after all of the special teams blunders that preceded it, though.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:08 am

Taylor is a fill in for Hill. He’s not been great but he’s not my biggest concern: that is punt returning. Amari looks like his confidence is shot. Again, this was a guy who was very reliable and effective catching in college. Coaching may be part of the issue too.

We did pick up a PS receiver, Malone, who has returned kicks, but we let a previous pick up, Whyte, who had more experience go. So who knows. In any case, neither seemed likely to return punts. I can only assume Ervin isn’t in football shape or healthy at this point.

Mr Gutekunst, here’s a guy to think about and he’s available: Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi. His story is as great as his speed and he can return punts. Here’s a little bit about him. He’s currently on a CFL roster. https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/08/09/us/nfl-rookie-sheehy-guiseppi-touchdo...

3 points
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PeteK's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:00 am

Very interesting story. Try him, it can't get any worse or could it,

2 points
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Hematite's picture

December 15, 2021 at 10:39 am

I like this guy already, bring him in (Sheehy-Guiseppi).

2 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:39 am

Lets have "The irishman" make him an offer he can't refuse...

0 points
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mnbadger's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:46 pm

Hopefully Guty and scouting department have more advanced research in place and a list already developed? If not, I played against a guy in HS that was really good too, let me know if you need his contact info. GPG!

2 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:25 pm

Wait...what? They aren't reading blogs and fansites for ideas and advice on roster management? ;)

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 15, 2021 at 02:04 pm

I’m gutted. A million dreams crushed.

Despite that, just goes to show that there are potential options to just keeping trotting out Rodgers available.

3 points
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Oppy's picture

December 19, 2021 at 01:27 pm

The middle of the field is where receivers take the biggest hits in football.

If you're worried about AJ getting creamed on the sidelines, you do not want AJ taking shots while crossing the middle of the field.

0 points
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HawkPacker's picture

December 15, 2021 at 07:26 am

Regarding the terrible ST play: it seems like everyone has a lot of ideas including getting rid of the special teams coach now and replacing him. I did not like that idea earlier but changed my mind after this last game. My thinking is: how much worse can it get?

In order to do this, they have to find the right person and he may not exist at this point in time. I read where someone said we should get the best person from the college ranks and put him in that position. I don't agree and is a recipe for disaster by doing that in season.

Now I feel that the best way to go is to take an inventory of what is working the best in ST's and what is a disaster. I don't think you can look at this issue and get all things fixed immediately. I think the punter is fine even though he had one bad punt. So don't make any changes to that position. I also think Mason Crosby is doing okay. We need to be patient with him. He only made one mistake this game which I admit was a complete surprise. I think the main thing we need to do is to find someone that can return kickoffs and punts such as Swervin Ervin. I guess the other thing is to do what LaFleur stated and that is upgrade some of the personnel as well.

Hopefully, this can improve as this is a sure fire way to get beat in the playoffs!

8 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 07:47 am

" I think the punter is fine even though he had one bad punt.... I guess the other thing is to do what LaFleur stated and that is upgrade some of the personnel as well."

Between the shank punt and the kick out-of-bounds, at least they knew those weren't going to be returned for TDs...and, frankly, that may be the recipe on punts: they've got an outstanding punter--more hangtime and FCs or hit the sideline. Eliminate the return element on punts altogether. I say this fully knowing that they've likely thought of this...

With the epidemic of injuries on this team, I'm likely not the only one who cringes at the thought of more of the 1s having to play STs to quench that sucking chestwound...

6 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:26 am

You are not the only one for sure. As thin as we are, that could be equally devastating. A few where we have depth may be ok, depending on the role. Douglas was an example that paid off last Sunday. A caution though: many stars weren’t ST players.

I threw out a couple of names of long time NFL ST coaches who have recently retired. There are others, but I will repeat that comment here:

“ There are a number of long term STCs who have retired recently. Greg MacMahon (Saints/LSU) who just announced he’s retiring would be an example. Brad Seely (Steelers/Texans) retired this summer. Both would bring much needed experience.

Throw enough money at them for 3 months as an interim if they only want that. A chance to be a Super Bowl winner, richer and, if they did want it, to earn a berth next year. We aren’t looking for great at this point. Decent is the objective.”

There are options out there. This idea that there are no options at this time is false. If we want to win out, go lure one.

6 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:53 pm

Coldworld's point is important on ST. The Packers are running out of bodies on the skill side on ST. Lafleur putting starters on ST in the skill positions is his last move he has as a head coach. My main concern is the breakdown in the coverage units, something that has been contained until the Bears game. Too bad we can't use the Letterhead rule on the coverage units :-)

1 points
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Lphill's picture

December 15, 2021 at 02:41 pm

They have the right person right on the sidelines , Chris Gizzi should take over special teams.

0 points
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Oppy's picture

December 19, 2021 at 01:41 pm

What does a strength & conditioning coach have to do with special teams coaching?
I mean, he was a decent presence on special teams squads during his short career, but I don't know that means he's qualified to coach it.

0 points
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Packers0808's picture

December 15, 2021 at 07:41 am

Don't know how bad Taylor is hurt, but why not bring Ervin back to do kick returns for rest of season, I believe he is still a FA!

5 points
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gpt999's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:44 pm

Really, you would consider putting Taylor back on kick returns? Why would you even consider it? I have never seen such a stupid football decision on a GB kick off since - remember a certain Ty Montgomery who elected to take a kick off return in a game where the Packers needed the ball desperately to score. He could have made the correct and simple decision to fair catch the ball and the ball comes out to the 25. But no, he runs it out and fumbles. The Pack released him the next day!

1 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 07:11 pm

Patrick Taylor returned kicks in preseason, didn't he?

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:27 am

I have also never seen such an all pervasively awful performance from a Special Teams unit. That was the football exemplification of the proverbial headless chicken. For that reason I can’t understand the Drayton apologists, starting with LaFleur.

8 points
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murf7777's picture

December 15, 2021 at 07:56 am

Good comments about the adjustments, the coaching staff has been doing that very well throughout the year. Solid coaching is a reason other than Arod that they have lost only 9 times in 3 years.

Regarding your thoughts on a “dubious” call on the kickoff I think it was a very heads up play by Douglas. He faked out the gunner in thinking he was going to push him out of the playing field. At that point, Douglas threw his hands up and sucked in his gut so not to touch the gunner and the players momentum wouldn’t let him stay in the playing field, thus the penalty was called. It was the right call and not questionable. One of the few bright spots on ST’s that saved us 7 points.

14 points
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Minniman's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:19 pm

Yet another "heads up" truly professional play by Douglas.

I truly don't begrudge the team that pay$ him next year.

Sure - I'd love to see him remain a Packer (but we all know that story) but I really want to see him get a long term contract somewhere..... he's earned it.

4 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Another heads up play by a player who plays a position that is in short supply in the NFL. (Sigh...)

2 points
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Ya_tittle's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Just another smart play by Douglas. They need to PAY HIM to stay next year.

1 points
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Razer's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:11 am

Having gone through 3 special teams coaches and not moved the needle past the "crap" threshold, you got to wonder if something bigger is happening. I worry that the Packer front office gets too fixated on specific player attributes such as RAS or height and it handicaps positions. Drafting highly athletic guys who don't have high football instincts means you have players who just don't get it. Guys who can run and jump but can understand the assignment or strategy will ultimately handicap the unit. Just a theory.

7 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:14 am

"Guys who can run and jump but can understand the assignment or strategy will ultimately handicap the unit. "

My understanding is that this is something that is currently hampering coverage units. Names that have come up are McDuffie and Summers: two guys who are supposed to be core special teamers.

2 points
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Razer's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:18 am

Doesn't surprise me. Opponents study your weakness and guys who consistently miss their assignments are targetted. We need a couple of Chris Banjos to go with our Bojorquez and a kicker who can pound it through the end zone. Problems solved

4 points
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Minniman's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Good call about Chris Banjo Razer.

Has anyone here heard of Matthew Slater?

9 time pro-bowler, 3 x SB Champion, 5x All-Pro.

He was the Pats gunner of the last decade.

Bill understood.

2 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 16, 2021 at 02:34 am

MdDuffie for reasons unknown was inactive against the Bears.

As a core ST player, either they were shaking things up, liked someone else better in his role, or he had some kind of injury or illness that prevented him from playing.

1 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:11 am

Packers have surrendered four scoring plays from scrimmage of over 45 yards in the last two games. Gotta tighten that up.

10 points
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Since'61's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:44 am

Excellent point as always Dobber. They allowed a few long plays in the Vikings game also. Barry needs to tighten that up.

MLF needs to get the STs straightened out. He stood up for Drayton, now MLF needs to get results.
Thanks, Since ‘61

8 points
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Minniman's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:45 pm

In fairness, MLF HAS to say that.

Mo Drayton is 100% a coaching "dead man walking" in GB - Like Mike Pettine was last year.

That 2nd TD play that they cooked up for Jakeen Grant was interesting..... the Packers totally underestimated his speed there.

Excellent sweep motion from the Bears.

https://twitter.com/NextGenStats/status/1470215805660844034

4 points
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stockholder's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:17 am

LeFluer needs to send a message. Poor play won't be tolerated. Either Sit them, or cut them. Branden Bostick? Jeremy Ross? Montgomery? Etc. The special teams showed; " trouble is on the horizon again." ( Even Ugly threats. ) And there is only one clear answer. Their job is to get it DONE.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:28 am

Start at the top with the coach, who apparently can’t convey that message.

3 points
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stockholder's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:35 pm

Work Harder or else.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:29 am

Duplicate deleted

0 points
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PatrickGB's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:22 am

Yah, special teams suck. Yet they seldom cost us the game. My guess it’s more of a player issue than a coach one. The players on teams are constantly changing. Ultimately it’s on the players who don’t get reps. Some teams have studs on ST’s and often play starters. GB has done that in the past but instead injuries have kept that roster in flux. Changing coaches has not worked, so doing it again in the season won’t make a difference this year. Throwing another coaching body in there will do little to change lack of smarts and talent. One thing that I believe is Matt’s fault is his short practice’s. He could be using that time to devote to special teams.

6 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:35 am

You only need them to cost us a game once and the season is over come the playoffs. I really struggle with that argument in this year of all years. The Bears are a bad team. That saved us. It won’t against one that is able to keep a game close.

10 points
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PeteK's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:32 am

You might be right Pat, as I see many players pan caked on the coverage teams. I would think Summers and Burks would be studs not duds on ST.

2 points
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mnbadger's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:52 pm

neither have proven they belong on an NFL roster. Can't play defense and are no more than average, if that, on special teams.
Cut them and replace with talented, hungry young linebackers that will follow assignments and hit somebody hard. These two get shoestring tackles when they don't completely whiff or get washed out of a play. GPG

1 points
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Razer's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:32 am

As much as I appreciate the run that this team is on, I am guarding my expectations for this team. The depletion of our O-line is problematic for an Aaron Rodgers run offense - especially when his toe limits his mobility. If the makeshift line can run block and if Rodgers promotes the run, this offense can adapt. If not, Rodgers forcing the ball to Davante Adams will end in Tampa Bay. We will see what coaching and injuries dictate down the stretch.
Baltimore will tell us what we can expect from this "adaptive" offense.

9 points
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murf7777's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:47 am

After watching him run to the sidelines and other plays that he made quick movements I don’t think the toe is limiting his mobility. As he stated, during the games the toe is numb and he isn’t feeling the pain all that much. I think if it was the big and not the little toe it would be very different and affect his mobility. This is because when you run, push off and cut, most of the pressure is put onto the inside of the foot and toes. The little toe seems to be there more for balance and so far he has managed just fine with that issue.

That said, if we are going to win the big one we need Bak and Meyers back. A makeshift line isn’t going do it, which showed in the NFC championship game when Bak wasn’t playing.

9 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:39 am

Right on: they shoot him up--pregame--so it's mostly numb in-game, but I've broken my pinky toe twice and you'd be surprised how much you use it and how little it takes to make it 'bark'...just sitting there, you'd be surprised how often you move your toes. It really screws with your sleep...not as bad as broken ribs, but sneaky-hard to deal with.

"That said, if we are going to win the big one we need Bak and Meyers back. "

I'm starting to doubt we'll see Myers before the divisional round of the playoffs, if then. They've been remarkably silent and non-committal on that front.

6 points
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ApplesAndTons's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:48 am

Aaron has done fine with what he's been playing with. Let Bakh continue to rest and show he's not necessary. This way Bakh can't hold his presence over your heads, murf7777.

0 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:09 am

We'll have to see with Baltimore...they're outstanding stopping the run, and they're good at keeping teams out of the endzone, but they surrender a fair amount of yards through the air: mostly between the 20s and in garbage time. Still, their pressure and knockdown rates are pretty high, even if their sack percentage isn't. Their blitz percentage is 3rd highest in the league--I think that tells us what to expect on Sunday against this beat-up Packers OL.

If Jackson doesn't play, their 'straight out of Division II' offense will be hampered some, but they have a credible backup who plugs right in. They turn the ball over, though, and I think that will be the key on Sunday: win +/-, keep ARod upright, and the Packers should win.

Tampa has a cake end-of-season schedule with two games against Carolina, one v. the Saints, and one at the Jets. If they don't run the table, they don't deserve the 1-seed. Arizona has a tougher schedule having to play the Colts and at Dallas. They play the Lions this week and should roll them. They close at home against Seattle, who has righted the ship somewhat recently. Packers have the benefit of playing 3 of their last 4 at home, but have the toughest remaining schedule of the 1-seed competition. They'll earn it if they get it.

6 points
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Razer's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:54 am

...Packers have the benefit of playing 3 of their last 4 at home, but have the toughest remaining schedule of the 1-seed competition. They'll earn it if they get it...

I like the idea of a battle hardened unit taking the field for the big games - ala 2010. I just don't know what price we will pay to get to the end of the season. We need some studs back - not more in the trainer's room.

4 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 10:01 am

"We need some studs back - not more in the trainer's room."

From your lips to God's ears, friend...

6 points
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croatpackfan's picture

December 15, 2021 at 10:21 am

Cardinals have tougher schedule than Packers...

2 points
3
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 10:38 am

It could be argued...yes.

2 points
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Ya_tittle's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Two home games, two road games remain for the Pack. Unless Detroit is a home game.

1 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:33 pm

Correct! Thanks for catching that.

...although my guess is that Detroit will essentially be a home game. Hell, I'll be there....

2 points
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Ya_tittle's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:47 pm

Saints will beat the Bucs. Bank on it.

-1 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:35 pm

I'd love for it to happen...

1 points
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RCPackerFan's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:44 am

Wow -
Yeah, so what else can you really say about it. They can only go up from here? Because I don't know now how it could get any worse.
My question is what was worse on the list?
I think the Taylor muff out of bounds was probably the worse. He simply lets it go, its out of bounds and they get the ball at the 40. Instead he tries to field it and they start out at the 5. One question I have with it was he properly coached how to handle that situation?

On the bright side -
Crosby outside of the kick that went out of bounds, was much, much better. That whole operation seemed to be much better.

Adjustments -
I completely agree about the Packers adjustments. I think LaFleur and the offense have always done a good job of adjusting. The difference this year I think is Joe Barry. He seems to make better adjustments then how Pettine used to.

Passing Jones -
With no more Tonyan, Cobb out for a while, they need to get Jones more involved in the passing game. He is a dynamic player and if they can get him the ball in space our offense has become that much more dangerous.

Speaking of angle routes -
My question in this situation, is why are they playing Black in front of Douglas? I'm not saying Douglas would have prevented that from happening, but with the way he has been playing, why is he off the field for Black?

Pass Pro -
I would like to add Rodgers seemed to get the ball out a little faster after Turner went down. Whether it was by design or Rodgers simply settled into the game or he understood the situation, he did a better job of getting it out quicker on most plays.

LaFleur coach of the year -
The part I hate is how Rodgers is the sole reason why this team is good. People that have that take are lazy and don't watch the offense. They don't watch the play designs and concepts. They don't watch the adjustments made during the game and for the players they lost. LaFleur deserves a lot more credit then what he has gotten.

5 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:15 am

"Pass Pro -"

Dennis Kelly is looking like a really shrewd pickup now. If he can hold his own the next three weeks (Baltimore, Cleveland, and Minnesota are really good at pressuring QBs), or until Turner returns, he will have been a real bargain--even though he was invisible during the gutting of the LT position.

4 points
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RCPackerFan's picture

December 15, 2021 at 10:28 am

Kelly was a good signing. I like how Gutey has went out and brought in some veterans at key positions. He has been doing this since he has been here.

4 points
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scullyitsme's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:39 am

I’d argue he hasn’t really been doing this until this year, but at least he’s doing it now

1 points
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Moose51's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:58 am

It falls on LaFluer to get intimately involved as he is not making a coaching change. The Punter is fine, no confidence in punt coverage, all falls on ‘Bojo’ to force fair catches. No confidence in kick-off coverage, falls on Crosby to get touchback. Zero confidence in XP and FG units, including Crosby, as stated he hardly ever splits the uprights.

Hard to argue the belief some have that this glaring weakness will cost the Packers a Playoff game and end another season on ‘what if’. Can’t have 1 of the three major phases of the game be this poor. It is a cancer to momentum and field position.

3 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:11 am

Agreed--teams will find ways to exploit the Packers' special teams, and have been returning kicks (and kicking off short) against the Packers all year.

6 points
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PeteK's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:51 am

After an initial struggle Nijman stalemated Guinn the rest of the way. Amazing how well this O line is performing. As far as Jones , teams are aware of his pass catching ability and are sending coverage his way. Yes, change his route pattern, put him in the slot, run a reverse, and use him as a wildcat QB.

4 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:54 am

It was a whiff by Nijman on an inside move by Quinn that got Turner rolled up on. much like Marshall Newhouse caused Derrick Sherrods career ending severely broken leg with a whiff block on an outside charging DE.

Not serendipity, all things have causes if you look for them.

1 points
3
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flackcatcher's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:20 pm

KC ran a stunt and our LG miss the pickup. Newhouse made the correct read. One of the downsides of the Wham scheme that the Packers were running back then. Playing with two rookie tackles with both your bookends out. Talk about playing with fire... (even though both played at the Falcons and stoned them) And Quinn is damn quick, once Nijman saw that move he wasn't beating all game. But still, game of inches...

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 03:34 pm

I recall LT Newhouse getting beat badly outside and the DE Tamba Hali screaming across the backfield and diving at the QB who stepped up to avoid him. Sherrod was on the right side on his block after giving ground in sound technique when the diving DE slammed into the back of his legs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEZG0RMchAM

Video evidence that my memory still works. note Newhouse chasing Hali as he rolls into Sherrods leg.

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 03:37 pm

at the end of the clip they have a cut to a distressed looking Newhouse. He knows his failure caused that injury.

1 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:19 am

JB, Newhouse's read was correct, but the other side play's too. KC outside speed was a real problem that GB couldn't cope with on that field. (One of two worst in the NFL. Chicago Soldier's field being the other) What happened to Sherrod is a play that happens all too often as we saw with Turner last week. The outcome with Sherrod was the worst possible for a OL. As for Sherrod, we will never know how good he could have been, losing close to an inch after surgery and learning how to walk again, much less play is in amazing story in its self.

1 points
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barutanseijin's picture

December 15, 2021 at 03:08 pm

Derrick Sherrod not being very good at pro football ended his career. Sherrod got very few snaps as a rookie because he was getting outplayed by the likes of Newhouse. Then he got hurt and missed a season and most of another one. He came back, picked up where he left off by continuing to suck and got cut. The Chiefs signed him, but didn’t like what they saw and that was that.

Newhouse turned out to be the better player by far.

-1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:10 am

Sherrod was not a bad player. he sat behind bryan bUlaga until Bulaga - wait for it - got injured! Clifton was on the other side. Those circumstances do not make sherrod a bad player. He simply never recovered from his severely broken leg with nerve damage.

Your assertions are equivalent to saying Tim Lewis sucked and Sterling Sharpe sucked and Nick Collins sucked and Mark D'Onofrio sucked and Jonathan Franklin sucked and Johnny Holland sucked and Jermichael Finley sucked and LeRoy Butler sucked and Terrance Murphy sucked and on and on...

here are just the neck injuries that ended careers...
from a Tyler Dunn article

Player, Position, Injury, Date of injury

Johnathan Franklin, RB, spinal bruise, Nov. 24, 2013

Johnny Jolly, DE, herniated disc, Dec. 15, 2013

Jermichael Finley, TE, herniated disc, Oct. 20, 2013

Nick Collins, S, herniated disc, Sept. 18, 2011

Jeremy Thompson, OLB, spinal trauma*, Dec. 4, 2009

Tony Palmer, G, bone fracture, Sept. 16, 2007

Terrence Murphy, WR, spinal trauma*, Oct. 3, 2005

Gary Berry, S, spinal trauma*, Sept. 31, 2000

Mark Chmura, TE, herniated disc, Sept. 20, 1999

Roland Mitchell, CB, herniated disc, Sept. 4, 1994

Sterling Sharpe, WR, disc looseness, Dec. 24, 1994

Johnny Holland, LB, herniated disc, Jan. 16, 1994

Tim Lewis, CB, spinal trauma*, Sept. 22, 1986

* Spinal trauma due to stenosis

1 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:28 am

Sherrod had that rare combo of quickness, strength and football IQ. To see Ted Thompson being so openly happy over his pick said everything about what the Packers thought of him as a football player. As your short list points out, this is one brutal game. Why fans forget this is beyond me...

2 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 15, 2021 at 09:56 am

We must do better on Special Teams play. If not, it could be our demise in the playoffs to the Super Bowl this year.

Perhaps we should evaluate the special teams play by teams like the Ravens and the Patriots who year after year are among the top special teams in the league. They have demonstrated that it can be done and we have to learn how to do it.

What is winning a Super Bowl worth to a franchise? If we have to spend top dollar to get a special teams coach to get it done....open that pocket book.

7 points
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JohnnyLogan's picture

December 15, 2021 at 10:09 am

One of my dad's favorite sayings was "You can't argue with stupid." The ST teams unit is made up of football players who have played this game at the highest level. They know how to tackle. The problem on KO and punt returns seems to be the Pack's ST rarely touches the receiver until he's made a substantial return.

I see players throw their hands up in frustration. My guess is they were told where to be, rather than told to bring the guy down. I saw EQ simply let a runner go by him without making much effort at making the tackle. It looked like he didn't want to give up the position he was told to maintain. This "maintain" mindset can work against making tackles when they're right there.

There must be something to ST coaching or there wouldn't be coaches who are successful for stretches of time, meaning they succeed regardless of player changeover. At the moment, our coverage units just seem to be lost in space, "stupidly" running around like Keystone Kops.

Drayton is probably very well-liked having been on the team for a number of years. They want to give him a chance. But he should have never been hired and now should be fired. Immediately. You don't gamble on an unknown at a position of weakness when you're fielding a SB contender. The Barry hire also seemed too big a gamble but seems to have worked out. At least he had experience. Drayton was a complete unknown. The stupid is on LaFleur and Gute.

4 points
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Minniman's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:53 pm

Funny that you make the point about not laying a finger on the returner, I was watching the Pat McAfee show yesterday and even he commented on the poor lane management of the Packers return defenders.

As a Punter and Kick-off specialist, he'd know what he's looking at.

2 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 15, 2021 at 10:06 am

Unless Swervin Ervin looks like Eddie Lacy, we better pick him up. As for Mason, I think he’s back on track. However, his ability to kick it out of the endzone in cold weather has been an issue for a couple of years.

5 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:57 am

so you are saying that now that it is cold it may be time to try a Molson?

3 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:38 pm

Ha—very good Johnblood27!!

0 points
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croatpackfan's picture

December 15, 2021 at 10:44 am

Nice piece Al. But the topic was somewhat easy to pick. I read one opinion: "Usually, when one aspect of a team struggles as consistently as Packers special teams have struggled, it's a talent issue." What do you think?

Maybe it is not on M. Drayton... And, playing starters will not solve the issue. There was sevral starters that contribute on ST, like Lazard for example...

1 points
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Bitternotsour's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:01 am

10 and 3 teams are not untalented. If you have a weakness somewhere you scheme out of it. Drayton is not getting the job done, and by extension neither is MLF.

8 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:41 pm

I’m a “players not plays” guy, but it’s clear good coaching can make a difference.

1 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:45 pm

I’m a “players not plays” guy, but it’s clear that good coaching can make a difference. In this case I believe we need a “player”.

1 points
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Since'61's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:04 am

MLF has stood by Drayton, now he needs to get results. He has taken the STs on his shoulders. If he is not going to make a move on Drayton then he needs to step up and get the STs straightened out.

The HC is always responsible for the performance of the entire team. MLF is doing a great job with the offense. He made a solid choice in Barry as DC. But he is looking bad on STs. If it doesn't get corrected he should not win Coach of the Year assuming that he is in the running. Worse yet if our STs do not get corrected it's going to cost the Packers in a playoff game. Better teams are going to exploit our STs. At the least they will win the field position battle and turn our ST gaffes into scores. At least get the fundamentals like catching the ball and maintaining their lanes in coverage. It should not be this hard or this bad.

It's on MLF now. No excuses. Thanks, Since '61

12 points
13
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Alberta_Packer's picture

December 15, 2021 at 06:31 pm

The only realistic action for STs at this juncture is damage control. The Team is far too deep into the schedule for any significant changes. You gotta dance with the girl you brought.

4 points
5
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Brockrice99's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:34 am

Special Teams is just a broken record at this point, a constant repeat of special teams failures and miscues.

3 points
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wimiller's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:09 pm

some of the stuff we put on the st coach really belongs placed on particular poor play by individual players. how does taylor play pro and college ball and not know a kick off out of bounds puts you on the 40. Lombardi would have had him out of town on Monday. It was not Mo who kicked the kickoff out of bounds or muffed the punt, and who missed god knows how many chip shot field goals this year. i suppose our ST cost us an average of 20 yards of field position on every possession, unless that is we just let them go all the way for 98 yard punt returns when we at least get the ball back on our own 25, unless that is Taylor or Rogers tries to field it. but it would be crazy to replace Mo at this time of the year. he did not cost us the KC game, that was on Crosby, Rogers, and Rodgers.

1 points
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scullyitsme's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:41 am

JANIS!

3 points
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Minniman's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:11 pm

As I posted above re the Pats Matthew Slater and Packers Chris Banjo..... you don't appreciate a good ST player until you don't have one!

3 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:24 pm

Beat me to it... :-0

1 points
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dobber's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:40 pm

DAMMIT!

-1 points
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stanthemanwiththeplan's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:55 am

This special teams performance looks less like a freak accident or off day and more like a squad that collectively has lost respect for their coach and are playing as bad as they can to intentionally get him shit canned. I cannot believe this performance, and this season, void of any course correction and continually spiraling into new surprising depths of "shit" is mere coincidence or ineptitude.

-1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 11:59 am

I don't see any plan mentioned in your post...

just sayin...

1 points
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Minniman's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:18 pm

I respectfully don't agree with this comment.

ST is a pathway onto a mainstream roster spot for most (barring specialists), and only one step away from "Practice Squad Purgatory".

No-one there wants to play bad - rather they want to prove that they are capable of bigger things.

If a player can't maintain their lane and effectively get through to the returner - how can they be trusted to either set the edge, or cut through traffic on a sweep or rub route to get the ball carrier on a normal play?

5 points
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cheesehead1's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Hope LaFleur does whatever it takes to improve ST, including inserting some starters if need be. Against a better team like the Bucs, Cardinals etc, we probably lose this game.

4 points
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TheKanataThrilla's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:58 pm

I struggle with our decision to keep Mo. I surely hope we are not revisiting this decision in the playoffs at some point.

I echo everyone's desire to give Ervin a call. At least bring him in for a tryout for optics sake.

With all the injuries on the OL I wonder if we place a call to Wagner or Veldheer to see how much they may have left in the tank.

Not sure if Lamar will be playing this weekend, but hope we pull the same Defensive playbook out of the Arizona game where we kept a focus on containing Murray. Even a hobbled Jackson is someone you are going to have to worry about and his ability to burn you for large chunks with his feet.

3 points
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Minniman's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:25 pm

So the 2 most egregious things happening on ST play are:

1) Muffed catches or decision making from the returner\catcher - resulting in muffs or poor decisions

2) Poor positioning of return defenders (lane management) - resulting in poor containment of the returner and consistent yardage (or worse)

OK CHTV brains trust - How do the Packers solve these?

3 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:54 pm

A) Heal faster. B) MLF takes over ST. C) Pray... :-0

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 03:21 pm

click your heels 3 times and repeat...

"Rick Gosselin is gonna love this..."

0 points
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gpt999's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:32 pm

I have to agree with other comments here that MLF should not be a coach of the year candidate given the utter failure of STs. The head coach is ACCOUNTABLE for the entire team performance - not just the offense and defense. Its becoming clear that LaFleur's ego is getting in the way of releasing Drayton as it was he who promoted him. In my mind, that does not qualify him as the best head coach in football.

So, in my mind, this STs fiasco is on MLF to this point. If he can't make a coaching change, then he should at least allow (1) Putting more starters on STs and (2) personally help Drayton in drills and schemes. On this latter point, at least he will have a more intimate look at the problem versus accepting it as it stands now.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 15, 2021 at 02:14 pm

MLF has enough to do. If Drayton needs that kind of help at this point, we need a new coach.

3 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 15, 2021 at 01:49 pm

Good points all Al. Outside of echoing most what has been said. ST is an outright mess now, and Lafleur does not have many moves other than putting starters in the skill positions now that the Packers have entered the last part of the season. Like everyone else, I also think that the breakdown in all three phases of ST is a coaching issue. One that will not be fixed until next season. (Lafleur is going to get his 'come to Gute' moment over both Barry and Drayton after the season is over. But Gute does not escape his failure on the personnel side either) What surprised me was how unready both the defense and offense were for the unscouted looks the Bears threw at them. Teams are going to empty their playbooks now that they are in the final stage of the regular season. If the Bears has a slightly deeper bench, this could have been a very bad loss for the Packers, so call it a wake-up for Lafleur and company. Beyond that, injuries are starting to effect the Packers game plan in all three phases of the game. How Lafleur and Gute handles that...

1 points
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Jonathan Spader's picture

December 15, 2021 at 02:30 pm

Al, check out the Bengals game against the 49ers. The Packers continue to fire the ST coordinator and then promote his assistant. It's WAY past time we went outside of the organization and brought in someone new.

4 points
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ricky's picture

December 15, 2021 at 02:44 pm

Am I the only one who thinks the Bears were purposely exploiting weaknesses in GB's ST's? Especially on the TD return, the receiver went one way to draw the defenders to that side of the field, then the Bears set up a "picket line" for the very few guys who were actually maintaining their assignments, and ran untouched for the TD. That looked like a designed play, implemented after watching film of the Packers and spotting some weaknesses. That the ST's was only responsible for seven points, rather than 21, was more a matter of luck and questionable officiating. Because if those other two TD's had counted, rather than being called back, the Bears would have been driving for a game winning FG at the end of the game, rather than trying desperately trying to score fast and often.

3 points
3
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HarryHodag's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:46 am

Field position. It's often ignored by fans but is critical to the success of both the offense and defense. How many times this season has the offense started deep in their own territory and conversely the defense begins with the ball near midfield? This is a key critical failure of the special teams play.

I think the Packers simply don't prioritize it. The theory appears to be that the offense and defense are good enough to overcome shortcomings elsewhere. I'm not certain that coaching is the cure though it is a factor. If coaching changes were so positive why is it we've had several changes since Ron Zook and why do the teams still suck year after year?

I tend to think that the special team players aren't necessarily up to the challenge. All of them, I'm sure, would much rather be playing regular snaps. People looking at replays note that the players go out of position often. Special teams require a lot of discipline. Your instincts say 'go to the ball' but if you do and the other team sees the gap you just left then it's off to the races.

I've often wondered how great kickers in college come to Green Bay and eventually become awful. Crosby is the exception but he is starting to fade. A story left uncovered is why the Packers would cut their long snapper and bring in a guy cold from the street who was awful? Why must the punter be the kick holder?
It would be worth it to have Love or Benkert be the holder. Yes it takes up a place on the roster, but a QB also gives them an option for a fake kick which the defense must note.

This long of time with such bad special teams makes me think the Packers simply don't care which is a bit puzzling.

2 points
2
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Grimbo's picture

December 16, 2021 at 06:48 pm

Solution:
1. Sign Ervin.
2. Bring in consulting coach to help Mo get through season.
3. Fire Mo after season.

1 points
1
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Packerlifer's picture

December 18, 2021 at 06:32 am

Let's face it: "special teams" is not the highest priority for the Packers. They expect to win with their offense and defense. Special teams is an afterthought by comparison. Just look at the coaching resources they put into their "three legged stool." https://www.gamblingsites.com/news/assessing-green-bay-packers-nfl-coach...

The offense and defense each have a coordinator but there are also 7 more assistants for each covering different positions and phases of the offensive and defensive game. Special teams has one and two assistants.

It's not quite fair or accurate to consider special teams as a single "leg" of a 3-legged stool either. There are separate and distinct areas to "special teams." There's placekicking; which has 5 subsets involving field goals and extra points, kickoffs, and blocking for kicks and covering kickoffs downfield.

Then there's punting, protection on punts and downfield coverage.

Kick and punt returns are also different and distinct from each other and for both there are different blocking issues.

The Packers tend to put players who are back ups on offense and defense on their special teams because they have to cover those parts of the game and don't want to risk starters on them. But when injuries occur they have to reshuffle that deck, which leads to lack of cohesion.

I don't know how much time each week they can put into special teams either. With so many issues, so much change in personnel and few coaches it can't be enough.

The Packers have switched out ST coordinators several times in just the last few years with no real improvement overall in any. The offense and defense, in that order, are what carries the team. Special teams don't have to be special; they just can't be bad.

The Packers really haven't had great special teams since the '96 Super Bowl XXXI team; when Nolan Cromwell was coordinator and they had Chris Jacke kicking, Craig Hentrich punting, Desmond Howard & Don Beebe returning and Travis Jervey was a Pro Bowl "Special Teamer."

They've done well with their kickers; just 3 over the Past 32 years: Jacke, Ryan Longwell and Mason Crosby.

But they haven't had a dynamic field flipping-game changing returner since Allen Rossum left 18 years ago. And I can't count the continual twists and turns with punters since Hentrich left in 1998.

Even if you find a Devon Hester the Packers aren't going to take up roster or cap space on a returner who doesn't do other things for the team.

They switched out punters once again just at the start of this season and in-season were still changing up the long snapper-holder-kicker lineup.

I think the best we can hope for is that they don't lose a crucial remaining game or a playoff by some calamity in the kicking game or breakdown on kick or punt coverage. But those issues involve stressing and doing fundamentals, like staying in your lane, blocking and tackling, which pro coaches and players ought to be able to do.

1 points
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