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Defensive Matchups

The Packers have been putting Jaire Alexander out on the offense’s right, Kevin King on the left, and Tramon Williams on the slot receiver most of the last two seasons. This allows opponents to dictate the receiver matchups – not the result you want.

Against the Giants, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine finally appeared to make a few changes, which contributed to the team getting some turnovers that sealed the win.

Early in the second quarter, QB Daniel Jones threw medium deep left toward Darius Slayton. Because Adrian Amos was guarding the deep left space, Kevin King was seen in a rare position: fronting a receiver. He broke nicely on the ball and made the pick look easy.

Early in the fourth quarter, with the Pack ahead by a 24-13 score, Sterling Shepard, on a third and 18, ran a crossing route from the right side to over the middle – it looked like a copy of a route the 49ers used so effectively. Shepard easily left Chandon Sullivan behind him and was in a position to reach the first down marker, but Jones, with little pressure, sailed it over the receiver’s head and right into the mitts of Darnell Savage. An early Xmas gift!

Packers CB Tramon Williams interception against NY Giants

Dec 1, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (38) intercepts a pass intended for New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton (86) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Then with 6:27 left in the game Slayton raced past Kevin King along the left side, only to be quickly covered by Tramon Williams. Williams had the luxury of guarding Slayton closely, because Adrian Amos was backing him up deep. Tramon made a nice interception – his second in three games, but also only his second since returning to the Packers for the 2018 season.

Due to the coverage changes, Slayton and his 4.39 40-yard dash speed got neutralized. The Packers were determined to take advantage of a rookie quarterback who has been prone (though not recently) to throwing interceptions. By better controlling who was matched up on which receiver, the Packers were able to produce some needed turnovers – they are now tied for number two in the league in turnover margin (+11).

I’m not very aware of how often Mike Pettine resorts to man-on-man defense, as opposed to more of a zone concept, but maybe a pure man-on-man scheme isn’t the way to go with Green Bay’s current defensive personnel.

Packers WR Allen Lazard

Oct 20, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (13) stretches to catch a deep pass in the third quarter during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Lazard Emerges from the Pack

The Packers’ 6’5” undrafted wideout didn’t have a catch until Game 6, when he came out of nowhere to haul in four throws for 65 yards – without that performance the Packers don’t squeak by Detroit by a point. Fans hoped that a star was born, and over the next four games (mostly in Adams’ absence) Rodgers threw his way 19 times. Lazard continued to do all that was asked of him, though he was largely confined to short patterns, with his yardage never topping 44 in those games.

Like everyone else, Allen had no luck against the 49ers. But against the Giants, he showed he belongs in the NFL. It didn’t take long on Sunday: on the Packer’s second offensive play, Rodgers hurled a pass high into the snowy air, and Lazard made a spectacular diving catch, good for 44 yards. This big play got Green Bay off to the fast start they’d been lately lacking.

With a bit over a minute left in the first quarter, the Packers noticed the Giants were providing no safety help deep left. Lazard went in motion and lined up on the right, then streaked down the field, cut left sharply and was seven yards clear of the defender when the perfect 37-yard pass floated into his hands. Coach LaFleur had said during the week that the staff needed better scheming to put receivers in open space. This play accomplished that mission.

To state the obvious, Lazard has replaced Marquez Valdes-Scantling as Green Bay’s WR2 – maybe it should have happened even sooner. At any rate, we’ve all been saying the Packers need to get better if they are to go anywhere in the playoffs. Lazard makes the Packers considerably better than they were at the start of the season.

Lazard even made a nice solo tackle on the kick returner early in the second quarter. For the game, Lazard took 55 percent of the offensive snaps (37), as well as 45% of the special teams’ plays. A modest proposal: relieve Allen from his special teams duties, and get him out there full-time on offense.

Maybe I’m getting carried away (again), but I can foresee Adams and Lazard providing Green Bay as formidable a receiving duo as almost any team in the league in the near future. Lazard possesses all the necessities: size (6’5”, 227#), decent speed (4.55 dash) for one who almost could be viewed as a tight end, big wingspan, leaping ability (81st percentile vertical jump), good hands, and his route-running has been creating good separation.

I’m not suggesting, however, that they’ll approach the Buccaneers, who have Chris Godwin (1,121 yards) and Mike Evans (1,096) – with four games left in the regular season! Even with that firepower, they’ll be no postseason for these two Tampa Bay stars.

Aaron Rodgers rushes against Giants in Week 13

Dec 1, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;
New York Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter (59) takes down Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) in the 1st half at MetLife Stadium. Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Avoiding the Sack

The Packers’ blockers helped to accomplish something unusual against the Giants: Aaron Rodgers went sack-free! The last time this happened was on September 22, against the Broncos. Before that, you’d have to go back to October 15, 2017. The Giants came into this game, and left it, tied for 26th in team sacks.

Having only mild pressure when in the pocket helped Aaron produce a fine passer rating of 125.4. He had not exceeded a rating of 86 in his three prior games. While the temptation is to assign the improvement to a weak opponent, with Rodgers that often is hardly a factor. For examples, his passer rating was over 100 against Minnesota, and was 129 against Kansas City.

Sep 16, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (75) during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Bulaga’s a Trooper

Much speculation concerned who would replace RT Brian Bulaga. When he re-injured his knee early on a week ago, substitute Alex Light had a rough outing. The only other alternative appeared to be to move Billy Turner to tackle and insert Lucas Patrick at right guard. Instead though, Brian was out there on over 95 percent of his team’s offensive snaps. He’s a warrior.

There’s also been quibbling over the recent play of center Corey Linsley, and expensive new acquisition Billy Turner has had his share of critics ever since his 4-year $28 million contract was announced. But at least for one game in snowy New Jersey, Green Bay’s blockers provided a consistent pocket for Aaron – a prime reason the quarterback looked like his old self.

Bonus Coverage

I only watched the Pats vs. the Texans on Sunday night off and on, but it appears that 42-year-old QB Tom Brady is finally approaching his expiration date. His final stats, 24 of 47 for 326 yards, 3 TDs, an interception, and a passer rating of 85.9, are very misleading – I believe at one point he was nine out of 25. On the year, his rating of 88.2 places him 21st in the league.

Then again, people have been predicting Brady’s demise for the last half dozen years – but he keeps proving them wrong. Still, the NFL’s foremost program for going on two decades appears to be showing serious decay – though its defense remains formidable. The hot team in the AFC is Baltimore. Would you bet against the Patriots making it to the Super Bowl this time around?

Tags:
Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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32 Comments

  1. Stiggy December 4, 2019

    I called the picks and no sacks allowed vs a trash team. Good win..good article…but honestly the giants and redskins games are only meaningful (in regards to team prognosis) if the packers lose either of them, which they better not, as the schedule gets real again.

    Hicks may be back in Chicago (meaning their defense might be elite again vs very good), Minnesota is good and Kevin King isnt, and Detroit will likely play the pack tough.

    Reply
  2. PF4L December 4, 2019

    Just what the Doctor ordered.

    Reply
    1. PF4L December 4, 2019

      .

      Reply
      1. PF4L December 4, 2019

        Damn it, it said i was blocked…wtf. Do i have to rewrite it….for free?

        Reply
        1. Jason Parker December 4, 2019

          Was it a Cloudflare warning? Try to take a screenshot if you can so I can see it. Trying to tweak the firewall a bit

          Reply
          1. PF4L December 4, 2019

            Idk…no big deal. breathe easy, i’m not going anywhere. :)

            Reply
  3. PF4L December 4, 2019

    Ok…now that i’m being paid, lets get to it.
    *
    Four games left. Sept.- Dec. the fastest 4 months of the year for me, usually…(ouch)
    Here’s how i see this thing shaking out. I got the Packers finishing 12-4. It’s fairly simple.
    I have the Packers losing to the Lions. It’s an away game, The North has long been settled.
    No one gets hurt…hopefully.
    The Redskins are the Redskins. The Bears don’t have enough firepower. The queens are what they
    are, mired in futility of over 50 years in the NFL of not winning. Kurt Cousins fits right in.
    *
    Fun Fact: If the Packers “could run the table” they would have 13 wins. Or….the
    same amount of wins as the last two seasons combined.

    Reply
  4. Howard December 4, 2019

    My take away from this game is the Packers have won games, for the most part, this way all year.
    (1) Taking the ball away on defense, and not turning the ball over on offense.
    (2) Scoring TDs/points in the red zone on offense, and not allowing TDs/points in the red zone on defense.
    Against the Giants the Packers were +3 in turnovers. The Packers offense was 3-3, 100%, in red zone TDs. The Packer defense allowed 1-3, 33%, to the Giants in red zone opportunities.
    The Packers offense currently ranks #2 in turnovers per drive, and #1 in INT per drive. The offense ranks #2 in RZ TDs per drive, and #1 in RZ points per drive.
    The Packers defense ranks #8 in causing turnovers per drive, and #5 in Ints made per drive. The defense ranks #3 in RZ points allowed per drive, and #6 in RZ TDs allowed per drive.
    If only the Packers offense and defense could improve on their very poor 3 and out drives. The Packer offense ranks 27th in 3 and out drives. The Packer defense ranks 28th in forcing opponents 3 and out drives.
    You would think an offense that is very good in the red zone should be much better at sustaining drives with an open field/space in front of them. The defense struggles in open space and with communication/job responsibility on the back end at ILB and DBs. Once the field constricts the defense does very well.

    Reply
    1. Cheesemaker December 4, 2019

      I’ve said it before, I come here to see if Howard has anything to say, because when he does, I usually learn something.

      Reply
      1. Howard December 4, 2019

        Thank you Cheesemaker. Much appreciated.

        Reply
        1. PF4L December 4, 2019

          I come here for the free popcorn and the free soda refills.

          Reply
          1. Cheesemaker December 4, 2019

            , or to see if PF4L will amuse me… like a clown

            Reply
          2. PF4L December 5, 2019

            f’kn a

            Reply
  5. Ferris December 4, 2019

    Coolio’s real name is Artis Leon Ivy Jr. So now you’ve learned something else.

    Reply
    1. PF4L December 4, 2019

      The Packers defense gives up a league leading 6+ yards just on first down. Plus they give up more big plays than anyone else. So lets call this…The Learning Place.

      Reply
  6. rebelgb December 4, 2019

    I appreciate the effort, or if it was required to get paid: i dont. Bottom line is we didnt need anymore recaps of the Giants game. It was a crap opponent in bad weather.

    Lets see how this team does against Minnesota.

    Im glad we have Gute and Lefluer and I believe our future is bright. But the 3 losses against quality opponents has shown that the hype on this team is a mirage. Frankly winning anymore is really setting us back. Its nice and everything winning the division and getting to say you had such a good record in a rookie coaches first year. But honestly we need high draft picks right now to keep building this team, and winning against shit opponents just to get destroyed in the playoffs is killing our draft position and not helping this team at all.

    This team has shown against the 49ers and the Chargers that it is not ready to compete with the top teams yet.

    Apparently the “leaders” of the team called a team meeting this week to address some “issues”. Lefleur played it off like a good thing, and maybe it was. But I have to wonder how a team with a new coach and a supposed new culture gets to a point already where they have to have team meetings.

    Reply
    1. PF4L December 4, 2019

      Ever wonder if all the major players are still meeting once a week like Murphy said they were. I haven’t heard a word about that in…forever.

      Reply
    2. Robster December 4, 2019

      If I have your logic right, wins against lesser opponents are meaningless, and past wins against strong opponents don’t count either, but losses to anyone are what determine the quality of this team. Got it.

      Reply
      1. rebelgb December 5, 2019

        Um no. Nice try. WIns against lesser opponents are important if you are also capable of winning some of your big games. WIns against shit teams when you cant beat a good team is a whole nother matter.

        Reply
    3. Kato December 4, 2019

      I kinda disagree. They don’t have to have a top pick in the draft. They need to just simply hit on draft picks/RFA pickups period. Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, David Bahktiari, Josh Sitton, TJ Lang, Nick Collins, Sam Shields, ect. All the best players that have played for the Packers in the past 15 years (Not counting Rodgers obviously, or Clay Matthews, or Woodson), and all were second round picks or later. The Seahawks built a hell of a team with Russel Wilson (3rd), Richard Sherman (5th), Bobby Wagner (4th) being cornerstone players. Yeah it’s nice to get a player like a Von Miller at the top of the draft, but the best teams in the NFL draft good throughout the draft, not just getting one of the 10 top rated players in the draft.

      Reply
      1. PF4L December 4, 2019

        Kato is absolutely right….It’s not where you pick, it’s who you pick.
        *
        Is there more value picking Rashan Gary 12th, or Elgton Jenkins 44th?
        *
        It’s a damn good thing Savage gives us some hope, because outside of him and Jenkins, the 2019 draft is filled with a bunch of nobody’s. The same could be said for the 2018 draft, outside of Alexander. Overall…two horrible drafts.

        Reply
  7. KILLER December 4, 2019

    A few of my takeaways:

    For the not-so-ignorant on this site (you four, over there!). So Piffle need not read it.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/12/02/kirk-cousins-went-bust-bargain-this-season/?arc404=true
    Instead of repeatedly criticizing the 2nd ranked QB in the NFL maybe you guy’s time would be better spent trying to help improve your #9 QB. It looked like last week aaron got with the program after Lafleur took him aside and had a little father-son talk with him and aaron is going to do it Lafleur’s way instead of his own. You could see that led to an improved product on the field. Aaron did flare up and got catty with MVS but I think Lafleur will get aaron under his control more firmly and we’ll see a meeker more obedient and thus more successful QB. Who knows, aaron could rise all the way up to #6 this year if he stays focused on doing as told to do.
    Redskins are easy so I fully expect aaron to stick with the program and throw 4 TDs but with at least two of them only being for 1-3 yards which would have been run in by any other team. aaron Rodgers: stat padder. Always has been and now on the brink of being a has been.
    By the way, have you guys ever noticed how every time, I mean EVERY time, that aaron scrambles and runs for even a few yards he is grinning and laughing like he heard the funniest thing ever? (Except when he is bitching about a “late hit” or “too hard” hit that was neither too late nor too hard.) It is just totally artificial. No way are the defenders telling him the best joke he heard that day on every single scramble. I’m not sure if he would genuinely laugh if he DID hear the best joke he’s heard in a month or year.
    It is pure acting combined with poor sportsmanship.

    Reply
    1. Kato December 4, 2019

      The fish sandwich was good today, but you still need to work on centering the fish with the melted cheese on the bun. I don’t like it offset so that a third of my bites are just bun without fish

      Reply
      1. PF4L December 4, 2019

        Your cheese is melted? And what’s with the “half” slice of cheese Lonely Boy?

        Reply
  8. PF4L December 4, 2019

    KILLER December 4, 2019
    By the way, have you guys ever noticed how every time, I mean EVERY time that i post, all i seem to do is talk about Rodgers. I’m starting to think i may have an obsession issue. What do you guys think?

    Reply
    1. PF4L December 4, 2019

      Trust your instincts.

      Reply
    2. KILLER December 5, 2019

      “Those who wish they could deny the message, yet cannot, will, instead, seek to attack the messenger and thus to distract from the message.”

      Reply
      1. PF4L December 5, 2019

        PF4L December 4, 2019
        Trust your instincts.

        Reply
  9. PF4L December 5, 2019

    Maybe you can tell us about Xavier Rhodes and his PFF Grade of 47.6. Then maybe tell us about the tantrum he threw on the sideline, maybe describe his body language, like you do with Rodgers.

    Reply
    1. Stiggy December 5, 2019

      I wonder if he apologized to Adam thielen too.

      Reply
      1. KILLER December 5, 2019

        Rhodes has played extremely poorly this year and is pretty much THE reason the Vikings defense has performed worse than usual and worse than expected. Everyone else is about where they are expected to be or about where they have been in performance in the past.

        I don’t and never have denied Rhodes’ poor performance. He certainly did have a temper tantrum on the sidelines. The two things I will add: He did at least apologize. It is a one time incident so far. Aaron Rodgers does some bratty thing about every other game and has never, to my knowledge, apologized. He makes no apology for undermining McCarthy or for making false accusations towards Barr and consciously manipulating media time to convey a false story about Barr or for screaming profanity in front of children or for being a bad sport or for liberal usage of beards or for ostracizing his entire direct and extended family or for skipping his grandfather’s funeral who called him every week because it was not convenient for him to attend it. Just to name a few.

        If Aaron did what Xavier did as per behavior you guys would be talking about how that shows how competitive he is.

        Hypocrisy lives and thrives in Packer land.

        Reply
        1. PF4L December 5, 2019

          Ask him to talk about Rhodes……tells us all about Rodgers.

          Reply

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