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Will Packers Take Advantage of Speed Mismatches?

Thursday night’s game was a coming-out party for Buffalo Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin – and one the Green Bay Packers can learn from.

Goodwin has been almost continuously injured since his rookie year with the Bills in 2013. His stock in trade is speed, blazing speed – 4.27 40-yard speed – 99th percentile speed. At the same time, and even at 5’9” and about 180 pounds, Goodwin is an all-around athlete and every inch a football player, not just a track man.

It didn’t matter that the New York Jets’ All-Pro defensive back Darrelle Revis was covering him Thursday night. At his fastest back in 2007, the 31-year-old Revis had 4.38 speed. Other than double-teaming the receiver, there’s simply no way to compensate for speed differences such as that between Goodwin and Revis.

Sometimes football can be quite elementary. When Goodwin lined up wide right, covered solely by Revis, he ran a straight fly route. No fakes, no stop-and-go. This was according to plan, as quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s focus was solely on this one-on-one confrontation. Goodwin raced past Revis, ran under the perfectly-thrown 60-yard bomb, caught it in stride, and skipped into the end zone. The 84-yard completion is the second-longest so far in the young season.

How can the Packers benefit from the Bills’ example?

Green Bay, for the first time in ages, has a fast receiver – two of them in fact: Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis. Both have 40-yard-dash times of 4.42 seconds.

The Packers play Seattle at home on December 11. The Seahawks’ cornerback who mans the offensive right side of the field is another All-Pro: Richard Sherman. Even if the 28-year-old hasn’t slowed down a bit, his 2011 40-yard NFL combine time of 4.54 seconds is woefully slow – he’s highly susceptible to being beaten by the deep ball.

The Packers have the deep-ball quarterback – they now need to commit to taking advantage of the speed they have on the roster. Their two fastest receivers will soon be fully healthy. When they are, the Packers should routinely exploit receiver-defender matchups whenever they have decided speed advantages. The Seahawks game is but one obvious opportunity.

Coach Mike McCarthy preaches that this year he wants to have more high-impact plays, and he needs to stretch the field more. Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan showed how it’s done Thursday night. Will McCarthy absorb the lesson?

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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7 Comments

  1. Empacador September 17, 2016

    No McCarthy will not.

  2. NIC September 17, 2016

    He will trot out the same players,run the same plays and talk about execution and pad level.

  3. Zwoeger September 17, 2016

    When I saw that play I was exactly thinking what you said Rob.
    But then I have to second Empacador and Nic.

  4. Cheese September 17, 2016

    Come on now, you know the game plan is set in stone- run Lacey up the middle three times in a row in the redzone and throw it to Davante as much as you can whether he catches it or not.

  5. MR September 17, 2016

    MM has the need to show he is the “smartest” guy in the room by always taking the least obvious option…NIC summed it up perfectly

  6. Howard September 18, 2016

    McCarthy will pound the ball directly at the Vikings. The surprise will be McCarthy is going to go at the Vikings deep. The Vikings are without Rhodes, their best corner. Trae Wayne is fast but struggles with change of direction and double moves. Newman is suspect against speed. The Vikings will put two safeties over the top. The team just needs to draw Harrison Smith who is a very good safety to the line with a strong run game, or force Smith to make a decision on covering speed down the middle or help a corner on the sideline. The Vikings will try to protect Newman deep with a safety as often as possible, and Rodgers will avoid throwing into double coverage. Wayne may be left alone in coverage and no one from the Pack is going to outrun him. The good news is Wayne can be beat deep by a receiver with good moves, not speed. With Rhodes out and Wayne in his place the slot corner may also be a good target. Expect the Pack to send receivers on vertical routes down the middle to force decisions by the safeties. Smith will come down to the line frequently on third and short. That will also be a good time to try a deep pass.

    MM will try to go vertical this game because he has been indicating he is not a conservative coach and the team is probably tired of hearing about the low yard per pass attempt average. That does not mean he will not start out trying to establish the run or short passing game in an attempt to draw up one safety, Newman, and slow the pass rush. If you cannot slow down the pass rush then you do not have time to throw the deep ball. The real question is when MM the non-conservative play caller comes out will MM the conservative head coach squash him. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who dominates?

    1. Empacador September 18, 2016

      I’m still undecided whether McCarthy actually believes he isn’t a conservative coach…