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Early Bird Breakdown Wildcard – Green Bay @ Washington

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Early Bird Breakdown Wildcard – Green Bay @ Washington

Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown, this week we follow the Packers to Washington for the first round of the playoffs, but first here is last week’s recap:

The Recap:

Last week Green Bay’s offense laid another egg in a division clinching game against Minnesota. While the Packers moved the ball more in the air than in recent weeks the team was ineffective on the ground and was only able to score 13 points. Rodgers passed the ball 44 times but still did not break 300 yards which marked the 7th consecutive game where he failed to get 300 yards or more. The defense kept Green Bay in it, holding Minnesota to 20 points and only 242 total yards but Minnesota held on to win 20-13.

The Breakdown:
Green Bay’s Offense vs Washington’s Defense:

The Packers head in to Washington having scored a combined 21 points in the last two weeks. However, Green Bay gets a break as Washington has given up over 20 points in each of the last four games. Washington had the 25th ranked pass defense, giving the Packers a real shot to be able to throw the ball around.

Washington is not any better against the run, ranking 26th in the league in run defense. Eddie Lacy and James Starks will need to give the team an early boost to keep the Packers offense going. Green Bay has gone three-and-out on 22.9% of their possessions, which is 18th overall in the league. The Packers will need to break this trend if they want to have a chance in the post season.

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What’s wrong with the Packers offense this season?

aaron-rodgers

What’s wrong with the Packers offense this season?

Packer fans this season have been scratching their head as the historically potent Packers’ offense has fluttered and fallen far short of expectations.  Green Bay so far this season is 24th in total yards, gaining only 341 per game. Despite an up-and-down year overall rushing, they still rank 15th in yards per game, getting 111.7 yards per game. The problem has been the passing game, getting only 229.8 yards per game through the air, good for only 22nd overall.

What has been the cause for such a collapse? The answer is three fold: simplistic route trees & play calling, a regressing offensive line, and the lack of a true dynamic weapon have caused this offense to become one that ranks in the bottom third.

Simplistic route trees:

Since Mike McCarthy has handed play calling duties to Tom Clements, the offense has gotten significantly less complicated. Very few crossing routes causing legal pick plays, wheel routes around a receiver who cuts in, bubble screens to wide receivers…the list of unique looks McCarthy had executed for years has dwindled to simple curl and drag routes, as seen above.

Denver was the first to spot this during their bye week and subsequently has given teams a blueprint on how to beat the Packers. Line up man coverage, with bracket (meaning two or more defenders) coverage on Randall Cobb, and do not worry about anything deep. Defenses have been dropping safeties into the box, both to stop the run as well as guard the first down marker because they know Green Bay no longer attempts to hit it deep.

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Packers need to get Rodgers and WRs on same page

life-saver

The downfalls of the Packers offense were on display once again two nights ago. Yes, there were questionable calls from the refs, but there is no sense dwelling on it because the refs didn’t lose the game. The offense did and continues to look like a shell of its former self. Ever since the bye, it has not been the same. And truth be told, it was starting to falter around the San Diego game.

Sure the team is 7-4. Not a bad place to be. But the offense couldn’t get the job done and and Aaron Rodgers looked like the lesser quarterback in a match-up against Jay Cutler.

So how do they right the ship? If it was one easy fix, it would’ve already been solved and the team would be steamrolling like it did early in the season. Unfortunately it appears to be a multifactorial issue, and unless everything is addressed, the Packers’ offense will be as vulnerable as its proverbial weakest link.

Aaron Rodgers continues to drown on the field. It’s an apt analogy, if you ask me. You don’t realize you’re drowning until it’s too late. It’s a silent death, and you slip below the surface often before anyone can notice and help. There are rarely screams for help, and you descend into the depths.

That’s where he is right now, his arm barely above the water’s edge. We can see it, but no one seems to have one of those life saver rings that could drag him to shore.

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Early Bird Breakdown Thanksgiving Special: Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers

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Early Bird Breakdown Thanksgiving Special: Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers

Hello and welcome to Early Bird Breakdown on this Thanksgiving. Before we dive into the breakdown, we need to have an appetizer of last week’s recap:

The Recap:

Last week the Packers began to play a more complete game and came away with a pretty easy over the Vikings. Eddie Lacy looked fresher and was able to rush for 100 yards for the first time this season. Rodgers was effective, but had some issues with miscues with his receivers. James Jones was able to get his first catch in the last few weeks and then five more after that, leading to a big 109 yard day with one touchdown. The defense shutdown Minnesota by keying in on Peterson and forcing Bridgewater to beat us with his arm which he was not able to do. However, the game was only as lopsided as it was due to the fact the offense was able to capitalize on penalties, the Vikings gave the Packers over 100 free yards in penalties. The final score was 30-13.

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The Best and the Wurst: Lions at Packers (Mass Hysteria Edition)

Best and Wurst - DET

The Best and the Wurst is a weekly series wherein I highlight just a few of the things that stuck out to me in last week’s game.  They are not only or merely the best or wurst players overall, but are merely observations from the game.  Sometimes the considerations aren’t even players at all, but play calls, incidents, or various nonsense.

 

 

Before we begin, let’s take a live look in on Green Bay after the Packers’ have dropped a third straight game, this time to the hapless Lions at home:

The Best

Damarious Randall: Randall is playing lights out. Yes, he secured the onside kick to give the Packers their 102nd chance to beat the Lions in the 4th quarter, but he’s also been shining in coverage for weeks now. On top of that, he made a tackle behind the line of scrimmage against the Lions. Randall was a bright spot for a defense that actually played well yesterday. Had this defensive performance been coupled with an offense from recent seasons, this would have been a blow out. Randall reminds me of a young Charles Woodson.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: Clinton-Dix made up for his terrible play last week by showing up in this one. Not only did he make a number of strong tackles, but he was able to make a great interception of Matt Stafford. Unfortunately, the offense did nothing with that turnover.

 

the wurst 3

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Early Bird Breakdown Week 9 – Green Bay Packers @ Carolina Panthers

Rodgers and Newton square off Sunday in a potential playoff preview.

Early Bird Breakdown Week 9 – Green Bay Packers @ Carolina Panthers

Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. Before we get into this week’s breakdown, we need to go over last week’s recap and it is more important than usual.

The Recap:

Last week every weakness the Packers have had in small segments was exposed over the course of a full game. Offensively Aaron Rodgers had the worst start of his entire career, throwing for only 77 yards. The reason for this was two-fold. One, the Broncos were able to get consistent and strong pressure on Rodgers, not giving him the time to setup and move around to buy time for his receivers to get open often. Second, the Packers receivers could not get open. The Broncos have multiple incredible pass rushers, so the first issue is not as big of a deal as the second. While Denver does have great corners, the Packers have this season had issues creating space and have had to rely on Rodgers to get them the openings to complete plays. This has been an issue of both play calling, where they have not called any deep routes to try and take the top off of the defense, and because the Packers have been out matched talent wise. While the Packers are deep at wide receiver scheme wise, the lack of a truly dynamic weapon (see Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Amari Cooper, etc.) has been the biggest problem. There was a reason James Jones was cut from the Giants, and while Randall Cobb is very good at what he does, he is elite when someone else can force the defense to have to play deep. Right now, Cobb cannot get the separation because the Packers deepest throws are only for 10 yards and the defenses know that.

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McCarthy Addresses Eddie Lacy’s Weight

Green Bay Packers current Running Back Eddie Lacy

What’s up with Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy?  That’s been the question that a lot of Packer fans have been asking themselves lately.  When looking ahead at the season, no one would have expected James Starks to be the team-leader in rushing yards, especially with Lacy being mostly healthy.  Sure, there was an ankle injury that seemed to nag Lacy early in the season, but as of last week, Lacy and his ankle were not even listed on the injury report leading up to the Packers’ home game against the San Diego Chargers.  One would have expected, then, to see Lacy getting more involved in the offense and finding more success.  What actually happened is that Lacy gained just 3 yards on 4 carries.

There had been some speculation, especially in the Twitterverse, about the cause of Lacy’s decreased efficiency and playing time.  A few folks even speculated that Lacy looked big and sluggish.  Of course, Lacy has always been a big back, but the contention was that Lacy looked even bigger than usual.  While I initially thought that this explanation was a bit of grasping at straws, it turns out that it may very well have merit.

In a press-conference on Wednesday afternoon, Head Coach Mike McCarthy confirmed both that Lacy appears to be fully past the ankle injury and that he is indeed heavier.  Speaking about Lacy, McCarthy stated, “I’m not going to get into guy’s weights. I mean, I’ve never been asked a question about a guy’s weight. But I think players do get bigger in their career. But he’s bigger than he was as a rookie.”  ESPN reporter Rob Demovsky went so far as to say that, “Mike McCarthy doesn’t sound overly thrilled about it.”

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