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Tony Romo: 'New system' could cause Packers' rivals trouble

-- The Green Bay Packers gained an under-the-radar advantage this offseason -- on both sides of the ball -- when they hired on two new coordinators.

After Edgar Bennett spearheaded the schematics of the offense for the past three seasons, Joe Philbin was brought back aboard as the returning offensive coordinator after previously serving under the same title in Green Bay from 2007-2011.

The Packers also hired Mike Pettine to replace Dom Capers, the previous defensive coordinator for the past nine seasons.

Both of these moves on the surface hold great magnitude, not just because one offers a nostalgia kick and the other an actual kick (a reminder of Pettine's aggressive, 'no BS' nature), but because it makes the Packers that much harder to figure out.

It shouldn't take long for opposing teams to gather up enough information to decipher most of what the Packers are trying to run on offense, or the types of looks Pettine rolls out on defense, despite his grand arsenal of different formations.

However, take it from former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and second-year CBS commentator, Tony Romo: It's one of the reasons why the Packers can be a force to be reckoned with this season.

"Having a new system always gives people in your division trouble, just because they don't have a lot of data and situational calls against you," Romo told NFL Network's Lindsay Rhodes on Wednesday.

Romo has plenty of experience against the Packers -- six games worth, including the playoffs -- and just capped off a stellar first season in the broadcasting booth.

If his predictions are as any good as he was at calling games in 2017, the Packers could very well be in for a super season.

"If I had to pick right now? It's pretty early," Romo said when asked for his Super Bowl LIII prediction. "Thing about the NFL is things change pretty fast. Injuries happen, a lot of stuff happens, but, if I was picking right now, I'd probably go with Green Bay versus Jacksonville.

"That would be a tentative, rough guess here in the summer months."

Romo has been on the Packers' bandwagon all offseason. His most recent comments come after he cited them as the "most-improved team" in the league last month.

Is the hype justified?

"The Jimmy Graham addition is gonna be very big. A lot of the field goals are going to turn into touchdowns because of that, having him as a weapon. And then I think their secondary, which I think has been a weakness for a few years and cost them some games, I think that's gonna improve this year."

The Jaguars made it as far as the AFC Championship last season but fell to the New England Patriots, whereas the Packers weren't even contenders in January due in large part to Aaron Rodgers suffering a broken collarbone in mid-October.

Much of the praise this offseason on what the Packers have done under new general manager Brian Gutekunst's regime has come full circle and even sounded redundant at some points. If sky-high expectations aren't met, the colossal backlash would almost seem unwarranted.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (36) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PAPackerbacker's picture

If everyone stays healthy, and that's a big if, the Packers have a good a chance as any good team to make a Super Bowl run. With the coaching changes, a great draft, and some FA moves the Packers have increased their chances of returning to one the favored teams to win the Super Bowl. But injuries have hurt the Packers year after year on both sides of the ball. The Packers have made a lot of solid changes to increase their chances but they need to make major changes in the strength and conditioning aspect of their game if they wish to make a serious run at the Super Bowl. The talent is there, no question about it, but what good is all that talent if it is sitting on a bench recuperating from an injury? And there have been way to many injuries, So if the Packers stay healthy they have to be a solid pick to make it to the Super Bowl. The competition along the way will be fierce. Staying healthy, that's the biggest uphill battle the Packers will face.

Handsback's picture

Yep....two new coordinators may have more impact on Green Bay's season than all of their new FAs. I remember watching the Packers in 2011 and realizing that their passing attack was different then the year before when they won the SB. If Philbin's son wasn't killed right before that playoff game, I wonder if the outcome would have been different?
MM may have the best staff he's ever going to have and needs to bring the trophy home this year!

gr7070's picture

I just don't buy it.

The biggest reason Philbin was so successful was because we had a late 20s, early 30s Rodgers, and Jennings, Jordy, James Jones, Driver, Finley, and even Cobb.

I'm not saying Philbin can't or won't help, but if we pull out heads out of the cloufs we'll remember that we had 5!! *top 20* rated WRs in the entire NFL catching balls. Sorry, that is NOT Joe Philbin being awesome. Largely, that's the absurdity of talent at WR and QB.

Koosh's picture

Funny no one mentions the RBs from '11.

'11 Jordy = '18 Adams
'11 Jennings = '18 Cobb
'11 Jones = '18 Allison
'11 Finley = '18 Graham
'11 Driver = '18 Mercedes
'11 Cobb = Ty Montgomery
'11 RBs = '18 Williams/Jones

Cobb and Allison are not as dangerous as Greg/JJ. But Ty > rookie Cobb. RBs are better. Lewis should prove more useful than Driver. And then we have Moore, and either a huge or fast guy in MVS and EQB.

Oh but someone can say the Rooks might not be anything....sure...but will the group of 3 rooks, Yancy, Clark, and even Trevor ALL amount to nothing? Doubt it.

gr7070's picture

Those comparisons are absurd!

James Jones had the 3rd highest DVOA in the entire NFL in 2011! Allison will never in his wildest dreams have a season like that. If he ever comes even within a mile of that season it won't be this season.

Jennings in his prime was way, way better than Cobb can hope to be this season. The old (read young Cobb) is gone forever. Jennings had the 11th best rank in the league Cobb cannot duplicate that. I don't think even Adams will.

Jordy was the best WR in football that year. He had one of the highest DVOAs in football outsiders history. Adams, while good, is obscenely unlikely to match that.

Donald Driver had the 16th best DVOA in football that year. Mercedes Lewis?! Seriously?

Your comparisons are gross.

Again, we literally had 5 top 20 WRs playing for us that season. That is unfreaking believable.

porupack's picture

Top WR stats, yes. But do you think it was top WR talent? Or, was it ARodgers and very aggressive pass attack that featured a deep corp of moderately strong talent. 2011 was similar to the early StL Cardinals under KWarner….and defenses weren't ready for them, nor 2011 Packers.

gr7070's picture

"Top WR stats, yes. But do you think it was top WR talent? Or, was it ARodgers and very aggressive pass attack that featured a deep corp of moderately strong talent. "

It's impossible to completely separate Rodgers from Philbin from McCarthy from the WRs and even from the defense who get them the ball back.

However, some of those things can be accounted for and partly removed from the individuals stats.

Football Outsiders is the best, public information, that does just that. While it's not possible to solely judge the individual these FO rankings are the best we have.

Koosh's picture

Pretty convenient to compare post '11 numbers to not yet happened '18 numbers. Guess you'll win that one every time.

Also, a comparison of the players wasn't the point. Obvs a TE doesn't compare to Donald Driver. What I was attempting to show, is that the number of weapons are there. Of course they are different, and with differing levels of ability at different positions, in a different scheme.

DVOA and stat totals are more representative of the scheme than ability. No team has ever had 5 top-20! What we had were the 5 top-20 most efficient WRs, considering the chances they were given!

The "young Cobb" is not gone forever. What changed? The "young Jordy", though is gone forever. He changed. Cobb has not regressed, our arsenal of offensive weapons has.

See, because having a number of weapons is what does it. Having the "16th best" WR as our #5 option is not what it will take to get back there. Having someone who can legitimately beat the 5th best defensive player is.

Not many people thought Jordy would put up 1300 and 15 after a mere 500. Graham, Adams and Cobb can certainly put up what Jordy/Jennings/Jones did.
Cobb should be back to facing the 3rd best DB again could = 800 and 8
Adams could very well put up 1200 and 12
Graham should be back to 1000 and 12

J/J/J in '11 got 2,847 and Cobb could even do 650 and 7 to match this.
You apparently don't have issue that Montgomery can provide a similar mismatch as a rookie Cobb.
I fully believe Lewis will be heavily used in blocking and as the "lol don't forget this guy" threat. That value should help Jones/Williams and even Ty spring for a lot more than 1100 yards running.

Lastly, sure Allison is the weakest. I have personally dogged on him ALL offseason. But he plus just one of the 6 others have a great chance to contribute. Could together, equal what Finley provided us.

And Lance Kendricks is still forgotten.

gr7070's picture

Ryan Grant had the 20th best DVOA in 2011. Solid RB. I do expect Aaron Jones to exceed that.

However, when you're looking at 5 top 20 WRs who cares what any RB does.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I hope and believe that Williams/Jones/Monty (remember Monty?) will be better than Ryan Grant and James Starks were in 2011. Still, Grant and Starks were pretty solid. I wouldn't be surprised if folks compared Monty favorably to Dion Lewis after this season.

I have to think that 2011 Nelson (68 recs, 1263 yds, 18.6 yds/rec, 15 TDs) was better than Adams will be in 2018. Cobb is unlikely to match Jennings' 949 yards, 14.2 average and 9 TDs. I'd be ecstatic if Graham matches Finley's 767 yards, 13.9 average, and 8 TDs. Maybe Graham, Lewis and Kendricks combined can match the 2011 TE group since Quarless and Crabtree only managed 74 yards that year. I'd be ecstatic if any other current WR matches James Jones' 635 yds, 16.7 yds per reception, and 7 TDs. Driver chipped in 445 yards, 12 yards/rec and 6 TDs.

The 2011 offense was ridiculously good (35.0 points/game). AR tossed 45 TDs (9%) and just 6 INTs (1.2%). Grant and Starks were decent with 1137 yards between them rushing (4.26 ave.) and 484 yds receiving, but I think our current RBs could improve on those numbers. I am having a hard time picturing Allison and company producing 1080 yards combined. Given reasonable health though, we probably will have at least a very good offense. I think our defense will be better than the 2011 defense, which came in 19th at 22.4 pts/game allowed.

holmesmd's picture

I was a Finley fan for sure but JG is a superior pass catching TE, especially in the RZ!

gr7070's picture

"I have to think that 2011 Nelson (68 recs, 1263 yds, 18.6 yds/rec, 15 TDs) was better than Adams will be in 2018. Cobb is unlikely to match Jennings' 949 yards, 14.2 average and 9 TDs."

For the most part those stats are not very useful, at least when trying to judge how well someone played. They're important for winning football games, but that doesn't provide a ton of insight into how good an individual player was.

Use the FO stats for that.

Adam's, in theory, could far, far outperform 2011-Jordy with far worse counting stats. Yards and receptions and TDs are heavily dependent on so many things the WR can't control (like defense, a bad Packer D can actually inflate receiving yards because the Packer O now had to pay a ton). Efficiency stats become far more important for addressing WR skill/value. Yards per route run, catch percentage, yards after contact, after catch, statistics that are *more* heavily dependent upon the WR himself.

Adams will not outperform 2011 Jordy simply because it was literally one of the greatest DVOA seasons in FO history.

Koosh's picture

"For the most part those stats are not very useful, at least when trying to judge how well someone played. They're important for winning football games, but that doesn't provide a ton of insight into how good an individual player was.

Use the FO stats for that."

There is not a single stat that takes circumstance out of the equations. Stats are merely data and information, not knowledge. Efficiency stats completely disregard that 22 freaking people are on the field at the same time...sharing one ball.

Also, there is only one stat that is important to winning football games. A perfect season can be accomplished with merely 32 of them.

gr7070's picture

Some stats are really bad at coneying meaning, like yards receiving. And some stats are far, far superior at defining value, etc. like FOs two primary stats.

We know this to be true. Some of us prefer to use the more useful stats when doing so. Some are stuck in the dark ages.

Koosh's picture

"Some of us prefer to use the more useful stats when doing so."

Stats are a tool, they do not convey meaning. You convey meaning.

16 is data
16th at some number out of all WR's is information
Donald Driver being the 16th best WR in the league in 2011 is some lol worthy Knowledge!

I will not attempt to argue this because it is literally impossible for any stat to have the answer.

gr7070's picture

Stats often do provide answers.

How hot is it? 90* F

However, some stats do a better job of painting the whole picture.

The heat index is 103* F.

Don't get caught up in the fact that many people use statistics poorly, improperly, or even misleadingly.

4000 yards passing paints a picture.

98 passer rating paints a more detailed picture because it accounts for more than just yards.

32% DVOA paints an even more detailed picture because it accounts for even more things, potentially things like interceptible balls that were dropped and the effects a great or poor D has on passing stats, etc.

I certainly didn't state one stat covers everything. I did state that some stats do a much better job than others at incorporating many important factor and thus providing a much more accurate portrayal.

You can pretend all stats are meaningless or that all stats are equally good/bad, but you'd be wrong.

It's 2018. We know better. Makes sense to use the best info we have today, regardless of the obvious fact it's not perfect.

Koosh's picture

My bad, we had 5 top 20 WRs in 2011 then. Makes sense to consider a 5th best receiving option competing against the 5th best defensive player, as being on the same level as the best receiving option playing against the best defender.

gr7070's picture

Double post

Nick Perry's picture

Yup, the new system will be huge in GB. I have no doubt whatsoever the Packers will be better offensively and defensively and not just against division opponents with situational calls but all year in every game.

But what I'm still most jacked up about is the way Gutekunst has started to build his roster. In one draft he's made the Packers a faster, bigger, and more athletic team than Thompson did in his last 5. Combine that with a few of last years draft choices who never had a chance to get going because of injuries and you have a lot of athletic players who will be on the field at ONCE that we haven't seen in GB in a long time.

Yes it's a new system but the NFL has changed the last few years and the Packers finally have a GM who's getting the players necessary to keep up with the change. Players like Alexander, Jackson, Burks, Moore, Valdes-Scantling, and St. Brown to go with King, Jones, Biegel, and Adams from last year and you have a large influx of athletic talent we haven't had her in a long time. We even have a pretty athletic punter and holder now!

A new system is great and IMO will reap huge benefits. But at the end of the day you have to have the athletes to carry it out. The Packers are finally getting with "Today's NFL" and getting those athletes.

Lare's picture

While I share the optimism about the speed and athleticism added to the roster, getting all the players (rookies & veterans alike) to be able to perform in the new schemes without having to be thinking too much is going to take a while.

The challenge for the coaches & coordinators is going to be keeping things simple early in the season while also keeping the team competitive. Later in the season (and into next), I'd expect the team to be hitting on all cylinders and we'll really get to see the benefits of all the changes.

As others have mentioned, the key every season is to stay relatively healthy.

Packmaniac's picture

And add Reggie Gilbert to the influx list. Bakhtiari and Bulaga both like Gilbert’s potential. Props from two good tackles. That’s saying something. It’ll be interesting to see him in pass rush rotatiion. Offensively, Marcedes “play action” Lewis is flying a bit under the radar, it seems. He’s likely to provide a big boost — bigger than most folks expect.

Nick Perry's picture

Thanks I forgot about Gilbert. I was sticking to players who really haven't yet played. I don't really look at what Biegel or Adams might have done in limited snaps BECAUSE of injuries or even King with one arm.

With Jones, Monty, and Williams this IS one of the better RB groups we've had in quite a while. Throw in Lewis as a blocker/receiver and things are going to be interesting to watch on offense.

carlos's picture

Agree Nick. Gute’s doing a good job. Hope injuries don’t sideline the playoffs. One thing that bugs me is when players do stupid things with so much on the line and get suspended. Can’t you keep it together for a couple years. You’re no good when you can’t practice, let alone play in a game. C’mon Man.

egbertsouse's picture

I take anything that Chatty Cathy says with a grain of salt. He just runs his mouth and says whatever he thinks the audience wants to hear. Worst. Commentator. Ever. Yes, and that includes Joe Buck.

dobber's picture

In the booth, he talks too much, yes, but on game day he's pretty insightful, and very frequently right.

John30856's picture

Best and most knowlegable guy out there

LambeauPlain's picture

I have been impressed with Romo. He brings excellent observations on the game as a former QB who used his brains as much or even more than his physical talent to win games.

And he seems very prepared on game days in the booth...a principle that served him well as an NFL QB.

carlos's picture

I like Romo as a commentator.

Oppy's picture

I agree, Egbert.

Calling a game shouldn't be a non-stop monologue of predicting the next play or series, calling out every adjustment, and generally filling the air with a barrage of technical huddle talk. It would make for interesting post game analysis during film review.. but during the game, let the game do most of the talking.

I am probably one of the few that thinks the invasion of ex-players into the announcers' booth has gone too far. There used to be a sort of journalistic art to calling a game. Today, it is over-analyzed in real time by people who, while they may be knowledgeable, aren't exactly Rembrandts in terms of broadcasting prowess.

dobber's picture

I'll be the naysayer here and say that I really don't expect the offense to change that dramatically under the Philbin/McCarthy partnership. I hope it does and we some sparks of innovation, but the playcaller hasn't changed and the QB who makes the calls at the line hasn't changed. Tendencies and comfort zones are hard to break out of: we naturally fall back into them.

I don't expect the product--based on play calls--to change dramatically. If anything, the distribution of weapons are a greater hope for diversification of offense. That may result in our seeing plays that they used to run pop up a little more frequently (no wraparound draws, please!). I'm expecting the bigger, and more impactful, change to come from a more effective defense.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I think that's ok. The offense doesn't need huge changes with Rodgers on the field. It just needs some adjustments. The defense, it needs bigger changes.

PatrickGB's picture

The first time I heard Romo as an announcer on TV my first thought was “gee he talks a lot”. Then after I listened more I found him insightful and often correct in his assessments. As others have posted, I think that scheme and injuries play a role in a successful season. But the bottom line has to be skill, motivation and execution. I don’t foresee a cakewalk but I would not be surprised in the least if we had a very successful season. I sure hope we come out of the starting gate with guns a blazing! (Sorry about the mixed metaphor)

Jonathan Spader's picture

"The Jimmy Graham addition is gonna be very big. A lot of the field goals are going to turn into touchdowns because of that, having him as a weapon."

While helpful I think Romo is overvaluing the Graham addition. Go back to 2017 prior to Rodger's injury. We were already deadly in the red zone. We weren't kicking a lot of field goals until Hundley hit the field. I expect us to be back with a dominant offense due to Rodgers while having Graham could really help his addition is meaningless without a healthy #12.

porupack's picture

Very true, Tony Romo. Opponents will have a challenge defending packers if the new system includes TE as a chesspiece 'queen', able to strike from backfield, short, deep middle or split wide. Add another new system 'if'; that is realizing the potential of the RB group, and maximizing the run, screens and dump passes.

The WR corps is going to be effective, including at least 1 rook, but opponents should know what to expect from that part of the play.

So offense isn't so much a new system, but rather better athleticism and experience to actually realize the old offensive system.

Agree with other posters, that the Pettine shift gives GB an advantage. Looking forward to what he does with the asset potential. He has 3 strong units; Safety-CB, Dline and pass rush., and he has interesting versatility, including Burks, JJones, CMatthews. The Defensive back unit has been somewhat dysfunctional in the past, and handicapped Capers to do a number of things.

Any new system 'if' is contingent on getting the CB unit coached up to create quarterback hesitation, if not 4th downs, if not turnovers. That unit if well schemed, combined with a penetrating Dline allows Pettine lots of options, and use unpredictable 'knights' (JJones, Burks, CMatthews) if I may stick to the chess piece metaphor.

LambeauPlain's picture

How many other NFL teams have both coordinators who were previously NFL Head Coaches?

Not many, I'd venture but it would be interesting to analyze who did and what their records were.

TheBigCheeze's picture

truth is......even last year's dismal defense proved good enough when 12 was playing.....take away that dirty cheap shot by the dirty vikings....and the Packers would have won the division.....

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