November 8, 2016

Green Bay's Rodgers, McCarthy NOT on the Same Page

How is it possible the leader of your offense doesn't have a clue if one of his star receivers will be available for the game, how much he will play or what his injury status is?

It shouldn't be possible, but that was the case Sunday afternoon in the Packers embarrassing 31-26 home loss to the lowly Indianapolis Colts. Aaron Rodgers was dumbfounded post-game in an apparent shot at the coaching staff.

“There were some things that happened out there tonight that were obviously very frustrating. Didn’t quite understand what Cobb’s status was, so we got him in there the last couple drives, but yeah, it was frustrating,” said Rodgers.

What we may be seeing is a small fracturing of the QB/coach relationship - the two individuals with the biggest impact on how the Packers prepare and perform every week. 

More post-game comments from McCarthy and Rodgers reflect differing point-of-views on what plagued Green Bay Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers said the Packers had "uncharacteristically low energy," and followed that up with, "This is what we get paid to do. I would hope the guys would say I bring it every week. I don't know what the lack of juice was. We've got to look deep in the mirror there because that's not acceptable."
Aaron Rodgers makes sure to clarify that he brings energy - but doesn't feel the same about his teammates. Message sent.

In a completely opposite take the next day, the Packers head coach disagreed with his quarterback in an almost passive-aggressive way.

“After really reviewing the video, I actually thought the energy was pretty good,” McCarthy said Monday. "Our guys played with a lot of energy, but we were not clean in a number of different situations, and they took advantage of it.”

Now, does this sounds like a quarterback and coach on the same page with each other, their football team and what needs to be fixed? 

Until Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers get aligned on expectations, what is working, what isn't and find a way to motivate this team - it will continue to be an uphill battle for a team that's already battled lots of adversity and now heads out on a three-game road trip that will decide their playoff fate.

November 5, 2016

Arman Three Pack Preview: Mid-Season Review and Colts

Lately, the Packers have been using the non-RB backfield carousal of Ty Montgomery, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb - How long can the Green Bay sustain it and how long will they stick with it?

Adam: The difficulty with this strategy is getting the opponent to actually respect the run game. Ty is the best option for executing run plays in the dual threat attack of RB/WR. The obvious benefits are keeping the offense fast pace, getting Rodgers into a rhythm and taking advantage of mismatches with WRs in the backfield. Using the Patriots as an example of excellence deploying this tactic i believe it is sustainable as long as McCarty and Rodgers can recognize the right opportunities to run the ball against soft fronts. Liken it to Brady and Faulk, Brady and Vereen, and most recently Brady and White. All extremely successful combos of stud QBs and scat backs. The difference is the Pats can change pace with LeGarette Blount and the power run game which McCarthy is more than familiar with as a play caller. My hope is that Burks who flashed well in preseason and was recently signed to the practice squad could be the more conventional option. Regardless, when in doubt go with your strength which is a great offensive line and MVP caliber QB. I am confident Coach Mac and Arod will figure out the best formula to get into the post season and make a run.

Shane: The Packers can and will sustain this spread look and it will only get more dangerous when James Starks returns. When healthy, Starks brings the quickness and speed that will make defenses honor the run game, which the Packers will need down the stretch. This offense has the potential to explode with big plays in the second half if McCarthy can strike a bit more balance. If not, when the Packers run into defenses who can man up, tackle well and get pressure with a four-man rush (i.e., Seattle, Minnesota) they will be stagnant and have difficulty moving the ball consistently.

Mitch: ​The Packers can sustain it for as long as they need to as long as Aaron Rodgers plays the way he did last Sunday at Atlanta. With the trade deadline having come and gone, it seems they will try and stick with it until Eddie Lacy is lifted from IR.

Who is the Packers' MVP through the first eight games of the season and why? Most disappointing player?

Rookie Blake Martinez is the defenses' signal-caller
Adam: Wow, great question. The defense, even with the astronomical amount of injuries, has been a strength despite struggles from the offense. You may want to sit down for this...I believe Blake Martinez is the Packers mid-season MVP. His ability to call plays and consistently be in the right place and make tackles has almost been taken for granted considering he is a rookie and is working with a unit playing defensive backs 5, 6 and 7 on the depth chart. Mike Daniels would be a close second for his consistency in both run support and pass rush with a lack of spine depth. But back to Martinez, the 4th round rookie plugged in as a starter from basically day one and asked to replaced an All-Pro in Clay Matthews at the weakest position on the defense of a championship contending team. Talk about pressure. I think that says it all and he had been rock solid, fast, reliable and instinctive versus the run and in coverage allowing Don Capers to make play calls to protect his depleted secondary. If you didn't notice I'm kind of a fan of Blake Martinez.

Shane: Davante Adams. He's been the most consistent receiver and sure-handed target for Aaron Rodgers, which he's badly needed. His performance against the Bears was the best by a Packers receiver in the last 16 games, I don't care that the Bears defense stinks - Adams was in straight up beast mode all night. Most disappointing would be Aaron Rodgers. I can't remember him not only missing as many throws as he has but missing them badly. The decision making from #12 has also not been what we'd expect. And finally, he's lacked in the clutch. Two clear opportunities to put the team on his back and carry them to victories - both failed and by a lot. I expect him to win at least one of the two, so that's disappointing. Good news for Packers fans is that Rodgers looks to have snapped out of it.

Mitch: MVP through seven games for me is Nick Perry. Perry has been disruptive in the run game and has been our most effective pass rusher putting pressure on opposing QBs. On a banged up defense, Perry has been the bright spot. Most disappointing player is tough, but until his recent outbursts, I would say we all had higher hopes for Aaron Rodgers. The first five games he just did not seem himself. I think Aaron has turned the page and will end up being in contention for MVP of the league.

Predict the Packers W/L for the second half of the season and explain any surprise wins/losses
Green Bay's upcoming 3-game road trip will define its season

Adam: I believe the Packers will go 7-2 down the stretch to finish 11-5. This is a unified, tested group with a good mix of veteran leaders and young hungry players that know what the lies ahead for the second half of the season. The Packers have progressively gotten better at developing throughout the season with the intention of peaking at the right time. This team is fully capable of that. I expect the Pack to sweep the remaining 3 games against the division with including the noteworthy revenge matchup with the Vikings on Christmas Eve. The toughest games remaining mostly based on matchup are the Eagles and at the Titans. The Eagles have a higher frequency of sub package and mis-direction plays which the Packers seem to struggle with. The Titans on the road will be a surprisingly tough matchup against a playoff contending ground and pound team with a mobile QB similar to the problems Dallas presented.

Shane: I think the Packers finish 6-3, for a 10-6 overall record. At Philadelphia and at Washington will be difficult road tests, especially the former so I expect Green Bay to lose one of those. The young Titans will always present a tough matchup, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's a loss. Seattle at home will be a playoff-like atmosphere, especially knowing the Seahawks tend to peak late in the season, but the Packers still win that one. Lastly, the Packers will lose one of the final three division games, likely at Detroit.

Mitch: I think Green Bay finishes 6-3 for an overall record of 10-6. The injuries on defense are going to cause us to lose a game or two that otherwise I think we would take care of business in. A potential surprise will be on the road against Philadelphia. Tough defense, hostile environment, and the last of back-to-back-to-back road games.

What is one key matchup to watch in this weekend's Colts/Packers game that will have the biggest impact on the outcome?​

Adam: I believe the Packers offense won't have any difficulty putting up 28 to 35 points against a Colts defense that is short on playmakers. Andrew Luck despite a suspect line and run game is capable of keeping the Colts in the game with his grit and arm talent. To me the key matchup will be between the Colts tide ends and somewhat WRs down the middle of the field against the Packers linebackers and safeties. In blitz situations and play action scenarios Luck will look for his pass catchers down the seem against zone coverage from safeties or TE vs. linebacker man coverage down the middle. This doesn't happen if the Packers stop the run game and get consistent pressure on Luck.

Indy's T.Y. Hilton has game-breaking speed
Shane: Green Bay will need an answer for T.Y. Hilton. No one on the defense can matchup with him 1-on-1 so I expect Capers to play a similar look as he successfully did against Julio Jones last week. But that will leave other WRs 1-on-1 against the Packers' 5-6-7 CBs, so the Packers will need to pressure Andrew Luck. Getting Clay Matthews back will pay dividends and I think the defense crushes Luck with five-plus sacks in this game, plus and INT or two for good measure.

Mitch: Biggest impact is going to be Colts passing game versus our injured secondary. Will Green Bay get Quentin Rollins back? Will Goodson pass concussion protocol? With limited options in the secondary, will the defense be vulnerable to the long ball to T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief? We could have a shootout on our hands.

Score prediction for Indianapolis Colts Game

Adam: Packers 31-20...Randall plays and has a big day over 100 and a TD, while Ty hovers around the 10 catch for 80 yard territory...Secondary is desperate for  a pick, Gunter had been playing great and comes through with a pick

Shane: Packers score a big win at home, gaining momentum for the three-game road trip: 37-21. Davante Adams catches 8 for 135, including a 40+ yard TD. The defense gets after Luck and the Colts poor offensive line, forcing two turnovers and notching five sacks. This is a dismal team and if the Packers don't smell the blood at home and win by two TDs, I'll be very concerned.

Green Bay 34
Indianapolis 23