As Packer fans rightfully celebrate winning the NFC’s North Division for the third straight year, there is much to be talked about concerning the Pack’s razor-thin victory over the Ravens. As a prologue, I’d say that NFL games very often turn out to be a contest of individual matchups, and this one was no exception.
In Defense of Savage
Safety Darnell Savage had a rough outing against Ravens’ tight end Mark Andrews, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. I was thrilled to see the contest end with Savage the one who saved the game for the Packers, when Baltimore’s Coach Harbaugh elected to attempt a two-point conversion. That in itself is a very rarely made choice.
Andrews has gained entry into the league’s top tier of tight ends, alongside Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Kelce and Andrews were third-round draft picks, while Kittle languished until the fifth round. Here’s the stats on the season for this elite threesome: Kelce is at 83 catches (122 targets) for 1,066 yards (12.8 ypc) and 7 TDs; Andrews is at 85 (also 122 targets) for 1,062 (12.5 ypc) and 8 TDs; Kittle, in only 11 games, has 63 catches, in 82 targets, for 850 yards (13.5 ypc) and 6 TDs.
Andrews is still playing under his rookie contract, whereas Kelce is in his ninth season with the Chiefs and Kittle is in his fifth year with the 49ers. All three are large, tall, and strong. As to dash speeds (at Combine time), Kittle wins easily at 4.52 seconds; Kelce, getting to be an old man at age 32, comes in at 4.61, while Andrews recorded a time of 4.67.
It comes as a bit of a surprise to see Savage consistently trailing Andrews by a step in coverage though his dash time was a superb 4.36. On the other hand, only one person at a time can occupy the same space, and Andrews special talent is using his big body to shield himself from pesky defensive backs. Andrews also has a big advantage in height – he’s 6’5”, compared to Savage being just under 5’11”. I’d add that film of Andrews’ touchdown against Savage in the back of the end zone shows Andrews pushing off of Savage with both arms extended a second before the catch was made – so there was nothing Savage could do about that completion.
On the game’s key play, Andrews had Eric Stokes completely screened out, but to Stokes’ credit he refrained from drawing a pass interference penalty. To the rescue came Savage, who launched himself into the air and got a couple of fingertips on the ball, deflecting it from the grasp of Andrews. That’s redemption, NFL-style! There’s a great photo out there of Stokes with his hands up to assure a flag wouldn’t be thrown, Andrews on his haunches with his head down, and Savage lying out of bounds in a happy heap: the agony and the ecstasy.
Who is this guy? Well, he’s a second-year man, who went undrafted out of Utah – despite being named to the first-team all PAC 12 in his final year there. He signed with the Ravens on April 30, 2020 and was placed back on their practice squad shortly after being waived on September 5. After having only three pass completions in 2020, he’s gone on to start three games this season when Lamar Jackson has been injured.
Huntley got his first pro start in Week 11, when Jackson missed the Bears game due to illness. In that game he threw for 219 yards and rushed for 40 more, on his way to leading his team to the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds left to play. He next started in Week 14 against the Browns, completing 27 of 38 throws for 270 yards, along with six rushes for 45 yards, in a 24-22 loss.
Against the Packers, Tyler completed 20 of 40 passes for 215 yards and two TDs, along with 13 rushes for 73 yards and two more TDs. His passer ratings for the three games were: 76.0, 99.7, and 99.5 on Sunday. He’s only thrown one interception as a pro.
The Packers were obviously well aware of Huntley’s running ability, though they were mostly unable to contain him anyway – that’s nothing new for Packers when facing a double-threat QB. Not only did Huntley flash speed when breaking out of the pocket, he also showed Russell Wilson-type elusiveness in evading or breaking free from wound-be sackers. As for his passing, despite completing only 50 percent of his throws, he made good decisions, and a number of picture-perfect throws, throughout the game. When throwing to Andrews, I suspect he compiled a perfect passer rating.
As I stated before, I think the most difficult team to defend (and prepare for) is one with a dual-threat quarterback. PF4L would skewer me if I tried to elevate Huntley to the top tier of the NFL’s double-threat QBs, so I’ll stick to Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray for now. However, he certainly demonstrates the attributes needed to someday join the group, as (perhaps) does Chicago’s Justin Fields. The Bills’ Josh Allen, a different body type, certainly deserves a mention too, as he’s rushed 380 times in four years, for 2,117 yards (5.4 ave.) and 29 TDs. Unlike these other four, Allen stands 6’5” and weighs 237. Fields on the year has 65 rushes for 385 yards (5.9 ave.) and two TDs. Another dual threat QB is the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, who has rushed 122 time for 695 yards so far this season.
Several general managers who have picked inferior quarterbacks among the first ten draft choices over the last five years or so must be very envious of the Ravens. Based on his play against the Packers, Huntley won’t last long as a relief man for Lamar Jackson – in a year or two he should get a shot somewhere else as a starting QB – I only hope it’s with an AFC team, so Green Bay only has to face him once every four years.
I can’t help but wonder what GM Brian Gutekunst must have been thinking as he watched Huntley frustrate Packer pass rushers on Sunday. While Gutey was over in Logan Utah, and homing in on Utah State’s Jordan Love prior to the 2019 draft, Huntley was 80 miles to the south in Salt Lake City being ignore by the entire league. Wouldn’t Gutey be thrilled to see Jordan have a game as fine as Huntley just did against the Packers? And while Jordan has some ability to compile some rushing yards, he lacks Huntley’s potential to become a star NFL double-threat quarterback.
And by the way, in a mythical 40-yard dash race among the above-mentioned QBs, here is the mythical outcome: Lamar Jackson wins at 4.34 seconds, followed closely by Kyler Murray at 4.38 (as reported by the Oklahoman at a time when he wasn’t 100% healthy). Fields comes in next at 5.46, with Wilson (4.55), Huntley (4.56), and Jalen Hurts (4.59) closely behind him. Bringing up the rear are Love, at 4.74, and Josh Allen, at 4.75.
As Christmas approaches, we should all be of good cheer. Green Bay has weathered its endless injury storms with remarkable resilience. Sunday also proved how difficult it is to win at the rate Matt LaFleur has. When the day started three NFL teams were tied with 10-3 records. By mid-afternoon, the Cardinals had been demolished by lowly Detroit, by a 30-12 score. Then by nightfall, the Buccaneers put up a listless fight, as they were held scoreless by the 7-7 Saints.
In the loss to the Saints, The Bucs’ Tom Brady managed to finish with a passer rating below that of Taysom Hill, 57.1 to 66.0. This is of special interest because the media has been declaring Brady to be the likely MVP winner, with Rodgers a distant second. After Sunday, however, Rodgers has raised his passer rating to a league’s best 110.4, while Brady has seen his rating fall to 100.4 – good for only a tie for ninth best.
The winner of the NFL MVP award is based on the votes of 50 Associated Press sportswriters. The vote is taken at the end of the regular season; inexplicably though, the winner isn’t announced until February 12, the day before the Super Bowl. I recall a comment last week, by a pundit whose name I’ve forgotten, who feels there is no way Rodgers will be voted MVP by Big Media. This of course would be due to Rodgers’ mostly off-field controversies, statements, and ensuing loss of popularity. The question becomes: will the MVP vote be based on merit or politics?
Good article Rob! Glad I wasn’t the only one who saw Andrews pushing off on that TD catch you mentioned. As for the Ravens Q-back, I was impressed with the kid. He showed great elusiveness, has a strong arm and the game isn’t too big for him. I think you’re right, he’ll be starting somewhere in the future. Sadly, in todays world; politics overwhelms fact or merit.
“Sadly, in todays world; politics overwhelms fact or merit.”… Let me guess your pulling the race card? Let me know when one of your QB’s that represent a politically oppressed group wins the Super Bowl. Thanks,
No Rebel, I’m not pulling the race card. My comment was in regards to Robs’ comment on how big media might shun MVP votes for Rodgers a/c his off field controversies, statements, and criticism. The award should be given based on performance (merit), not politics.
Found the idiot racist. Good job outing yourself rebelgb. You miss Rush “The media have been very desirous that a black quarterback do well” Limbaugh don’t you? Considering Mick has been one of the most polite, non-confrontational posters here, how the hell you reached for the race card out of his post is beyond anyone’s guess. But then again, as in a not to distant post, your inability to comprehend simple concepts when it comes to politics shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Sadly, not comprehending the “nuanced” meaning of the word “politics” in a non-government related scenario is a dead giveaway for many of the dolts that follow the loudest and most authoritarian demagogues they can . . . Thus, by default, they have been relieved of all of their critical thinking skills, and just wait for instructions. All while indiscriminately vomiting those talking points, non-sequitors, and knee-jerk reactions . . . as per Rebelgb’s post.
As PF4L states; “stay in school kids” . . .
Here’s an example. Race has nothing to do with it other than both individuals happen to be African American. Imagine Tyler Huntley being signed after the Packers very own Brett Hundley was drafted. By virtue of being a draft pick Hundley would stay while the undrafted free agent Huntley hits the waiver wire and a practice squad near you. AKA “politics”. The Packers aren’t going to waste a precious draft pick by admitting they made a mistake so early (see Burks, Oren for further reference.)
Remember, McCarthy had a “bunch of time invested in” Hundley, which led to the QB coach Alex Van Pelt and Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett having to take the fall for Mike “Let’s just state the facts: I’m a highly successful NFL head coach” McCarthy’s shortcomings and his vaunted QB school failing to develop the draft pick Hundley. Also considered “politics” but I digress.
Unrelated to race..(because i don’t care to have pissing matches in a football blog about race, politics or whatever.
Unless of course social justice issues dominate the story over the football game…then i got a big problem!! :)
I watch football, to watch football….simple, right?
Anyway…it’s refreshing to read someone’s Packer knowledge, and…get it right, as Empac always does.
His comment about Alex Van Pelt triggered me.
According to McCarthy, Pelt was fired because Hundley wasn’t ready.
At the time, i’m thinking ….wait a G D second here.
McCarthy is the head coach, a QB guru some say.
Three years into Brett Hundley, and the head coach doesn’t have a clue whether Hundley is prepared and ready?….seriously?
2015 Pre-season MVP, (129 passer rating)…some Packers fans darling!!
Just for the record, PF4L wasn’t impressed about Hundleys “pre season” accomplishments for obvious elementary reasons, as discussed back in 2015.
Sorry…just keepin it 💯
As far as those firings taking the fall for Mike, Empac is right again.
I talked back then about the chronological order of firings before McCarthy had to answer the bell himself and be terminated.
It wasn’t all McCarthy’s fault though, as someone on the board was smart enough to wake up Murphy from his nap and tell him to fire big Ted because the team was regressing.
We all remember me talking about that…for far too long.
Much of the difficult Savage was having was due to the fact that Huntley was able to extend plays with his feet. You can’t cover forever. The pass rush wasn’t getting home. The problem with these QB’s that run a lot is they tend to get hurt a lot and have a shorter shelf life than most traditional QB’s. Kyler Murray has missed games this year and last. The one exception is Russell Wilson because he’s built more like a RB that a QB. And at 32 is no longer the dual threat he once was. The best thing you can do for a young QB is give him talent around him and Huntley certainly had that. For all the nice things Huntley was able to accomplish, he still barely threw for 200 yards. It was his 73 rushing yards that was the difference maker. The defense looked gassed by the end of the 4th quarter quarter from chasing Huntley. You have to think had Kenny Clark played, collapsing the middle of the pocket, his rushing numbers may not have been so gaudy. Huntley is a capable backup to be sure. Not convinced he’s more than that just yet.
Why isn’t anyone talking about the call 4th and 5, on your own 30, he punts we lose. And yes going for 2 ridiculous, the way they we’re running all over our defense. Ravens thank you for the Christmas present!!!
The Ravens did not punt because they thought they could not stop the GB O at that point in the game. I mean GB was actually trying to run the ball, but it looked like they could have passed for 350 yards if they needed to. A punt at that point in the game (when GB had the momentum) most likely would have resulted in a long drive for a FG or TD.
Tyler Huntley ain’t know Jordan Love, dat for damn sure.
Yep! I would say that T. Huntley puts J. Love to shame . . .
Careful ladies. You were saying the same thing about Tim Boyle and Kurt Benkert. Not to mention how you proclaimed Rashan Gary a wasted draft pick. I’d let this play out before you embarrass yourself.
No motherfucker I wasn’t . . . Never did I say that about those QB’s. Get your facts straight punk. Why posit these fallicies?
fallacies . . . duh . . .
Tom M December 22, 2021
Careful ladies I’d let this play out before you embarrass yourself.
This from the guy who has done nothing but embarrass himself since the first day he commented here.
Maybe it was an optical illusion, but the 2 point pass by Huntley looked off target. The pass appeared to be well upfield from Andrews. It appeared that Savage’s tip moved the ball closer to Stokes and Andrews. I’m glad Savage tipped the ball, but I don’t think Savage saved the game with the tip. To me the pass was going to be incomplete even if Savage didn’t tip the ball. I think Huntley performed very well. However, Huntley was off on more than one of his throws when running/sprinting to his right. I’m just glad he was off on the 2 point conversion.
My first reaction to Harbaugh going for 2 (the win) was….Do you have rocks in your head?
I kind of get why he did it, but i still think it was the wrong move.
I understand that sometimes the success or failure of a given play is determined by it’s outcome.
But i thought it was the wrong call regardless…
Any insight Howard?
I dislike it when a coach chases points. Take the points that are in front of you because you never know how the rest of the game will play out. I complained about LaFleur going for 2 points (failing) in the 3rd quarter in the NFCCG last year. I’m positive it changed how the game played out at the end.
I can see why Harbaugh made the decision. The Ravens have been hitting about 50% this year on 2 point conversions. The Packers D has given up every 2 point conversion ran against them the last two years until last week. In many cases the Packers D has looked inept in trying to stop 2 point conversions. Add in the Packers D was tired and looked confused so I can see giving it a try. With all that said, tie the game and see if your defense can stop the Packers O and go to OT. You still have a 50% chance of getting the kickoff and the Packers defense had already been on the field for 70 plays. The Packers D may stop you on one play in a OT drive, but I don’t think they stop the Ravens from getting first downs and driving down the field on a series of plays. In fact I run hurry up offense against the Packers if I get the ball. The Packers D never stopped the Ravens when they hurried up. I’m not just talking the last two drives. In every drive the Ravens scored they ran at least one or two plays in hurry up and the Ravens succeeded in making yards. The Packers D was usually not set and was still calling out assignments. Even on the first Ravens drive when they didn’t score the big pass to Andrews was in hurry up and the Packers were not ready for the play.
I commented about the first of November how bad the Packers D looks when a team runs hurry up offense. The Packers have not fixed the problem yet. They have a hard time getting aligned/set and getting their assignments straight. Sometimes they can’t even get all or the correct personnel on the field.
“Take the points that are in front of you because you never know how the rest of the game will play out.” – Howard
Knowledge and wisdom, from maybe the most knowledgeable Packer fan i never met.
I don’t know anyone…who couldn’t learn something from this man.
Keep keepin on my man.
Thanks for contributing.
Best wishes to you and yours through this Holiday season and New Year.
Thanks PF4L. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family.
Thank you good sir….
It’s not been verified, but rumor has it that JP is sending us both a $100 gift card from Best Buy for our participation on his website.
I keep checking my mail, but i haven’t gotten it yet.
Yeah Howard I agree, basic physics says the way he tipped the ball, if anything it put the ball closer to Andrew’s, but I don’t think it really changed the trajectory in any meaningful way
“You gotta love the NFL”—– “the 49ers are the Colts of the NFC, that no team wants to face in the playoffs”—– “the Cardinals have gone from the #1 seed, to a possible WC team; in just 6 days”…………ie Peter King.
Rob Rob Rob….
I do nothing but give you props and i’ve even had your back in here with a few rebels besmirching your good name and character”.
Part of the new kinder, gentler PF4L that (i hope) all you fine people have enjoyed over the past 4 or 5 years.
But then again…..it is what it is…..¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We agree on a a lot, including where you stated NFL games are all about “matchups”.
Which is why i always have said…..
Just because team A, beat team B, that doesn’t mean team A can beat team C, who lost to team B.
If that makes any sense to anyone.
Tom M December 21, 2021
“Much of the difficult Savage was having was due…..”
Stay in school kids
How good is Aaron Rodgers?
Here’s a very, very small sample….
“Favre needed 255 games and 253 starts for his 442 touchdowns over 16 seasons. Rodgers, who’s in his 17th season, can do it in his 211th game and 204th start.”
“The biggest difference between the two, however, is the interception total. The gunslinging Favre threw 286 in his Packers career, more than any player in the NFL regardless of team. The fastidious Rodgers has thrown 93.”
There will come a day…maybe soon, when some Packer fans finally realize and appreciate how lucky Packer Nation has been the last 3 decades.
In NFL parlance…having a HOF QB for 30 years straight, is a once in a lifetime occurrence.
It’s NOT the norm, as some Packer fans seem to think.
The reality of not having a franchise QB, may hit some hard…..sooner than you think.