November 22, 2020

Packers' road loss at Indy highlights short-yardage conversion woes

The Green Bay Packers dominated the NFL’s best defense for two quarters Sunday afternoon, scoring 28 points with beautiful ease en route to a 28-14 halftime lead on the road at Indianapolis. 

But their inability to convert short down-and-distance derailed what would have been a signature road win and a stranglehold on the wide-open NFC race for the conferences' number one seed. 

Let’s not ignore the obvious mental mistakes that led to costly turnovers in critical moments, but notwithstanding, if the Packers are able to convert two of their short-yardage plays in this game, it’s an easy win.

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Armed with one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, an elite running back and the NFL’s highest rated quarterback, one couldn’t help but think, what gives? Why is it so hard to pick up 36 inches or less for a first down to sustain drives?

The answer is poor play-calling, lack of execution and unfathomable predictability on short yardage plays. 

You don’t need to be an elite NFL scout to predict the Packers' plan on short down and distance, based on their formation and personnel. 

Tight set with multiple TEs, two RBs and one WR. Inside run, loss of one.

Shotgun formation, Rodgers takes the play-clock down to near zero with Aaron Jones licking his chops…only to be stuffed as the stacked box fills the creases and pile-drives the RB for no gain.

Play-action pass and 1-2 routes from TEs covered by LBs as Rodgers is chased off his spot with 2 seconds to throw the ball. Incomplete pass, fourth down. Sound familiar?

Fourth-and-one on the Indy 34 with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter, LaFleur rolls the dice and goes for it. First of all, this is a terrible decision. Inside the dome, one of the best kickers in the game - tie it up and kick the 51-yard FG here. Against the number one defense in the NFL, sometimes you need to set the ego aside. But fine, all the rage is rolling the dice on fourth down, but once again it's a horrible play call. Immediate pressure and blitz not picked up, Rodgers over-throws Jamaal Williams, ball hits the turf and it's a turnover on downs. 

It is all too familiar and the Packers get an F on creativity, execution and personnel grouping mixes on these plays. It’s mind-blowing how poorly such an explosive offense performs on plays that don’t have to reinvent the playbook. 

Here’s an idea: have 3-4 canned quick-plays at the ready to execute following second down, that do not allow the defense to substitute personnel. Get up to the line quickly, catch the defense off-guard and let Aaron Rodgers read the defense and make a quick decision. Quarterback sneaks need and should be a weapon of choice, as should under-center quick run handoffs to up-backs while the defense is scrambling to get set. 

Just because Tyler Ervin is inactive doesn’t mean jet-sweep motion should cease to exist – keep the defense off balance by forcing them to honor pre-snap movement, read the defense and get that 36 inches. 

Good teams are mediocre on short down and distance, great teams convert the majority of the time. The Packers have all the tools, intelligence and scheme to be great, it’s just sad they can’t concoct the right elixir to convert the plays that great teams do time and time again.

October 12, 2020

Arman Three Pack Video Analysis: 2020 Quarter Season Recap

The Arman brothers are back to breakdown the Green Bay Packers' performance across the first four weeks of the 2020 NFL season. Topics discussed include:

  • New addition to the Arman family (spoiler: it's a Bears fan!)
  • Biggest individual player disappointments of the first four weeks
  • Individual player MVPs of the first four weeks

Thanks for watching and don't forget to follow us elsewhere on the interwebs:

May 12, 2020

Arman Three Pack Video Analysis: 2020 Packers Schedule Breakdown & Favre Controversy

The Arman brothers break down the release of the Green Bay Packers 2020 NFL Schedule, analyze the Brett Favre comments on Aaron Rodgers and $1.1M controversy then end with which young player each brother thinks will step up and break through to make a difference for the Packers this season. Topics covered:
  • How Arman brothers are getting their sports fix during quarantine, plus recap of the brother's Super Nintendo Arman Open of PGA Tour Golf (0:00 - 6:15)
  • Brett Favre Controversy & his comments on Aaron Rodgers (6:15 - 13:03)
  • 2020 Packers schedule & wider NFL schedule analysis (13:03 - 28:28)
  • Which young player is poised for a breakout year (28:28 - 35:42)
Please like us on Facebook (Arman's Titletown Talk), follow us on Twitter (@Titletown_Talk).

April 28, 2020

Arman Three Pack Video Analysis: Recapping the Packers' 2020 NFL Draft

The Arman brothers break down the Green Bay Packers 2020 NFL Draft, which many of us will look back on years from now as one of the most significant, franchise changing drafts in recent memory. Topics covered:
  • Discussion of the surprising first-round trade-up to select Utah State QB Jordan Love
  • Breakdown first 3 round picks
  • Which player is most important for getting the Packers over the hump in 2020-21
  • Predictions for how the awkward Jordan Love / Aaron Rodgers may play out once Rodgers' contract is up and Jordan Love's fifth year option comes due.

Please like us on Facebook (Arman's Titletown Talk), follow us on Twitter (@Titletown_Talk).

April 20, 2020

Arman Three Pack 2020 NFL Draft Preview

The Arman brothers are back in action, this time on video to preview the 2020 NFL draft. We discuss dream trade scenarios, realistic player selections for the Packers' first round pick at 30 and close talking about the backup quarterback situation. Within you'll find:
  • Adam dreaming of acquiring Odell Beckham Jr. by dishing an OL and giving up picks;
  • Mitch hoping the Packers move up a few spots to take a punisher for the middle of the defense;
  • Shane exploring the potential drafting of a developmental quarterback with a cannon arm from Green Bay, Wis. 

Comment with your top positions of need, top prospects who are a fit for Green Bay and any draft-day surprises. Happy Viewing.

April 3, 2020

Grading the Green Bay Packers' 2020 Offseason Acquisitions

Grading the Green Bay Packers' Offseason Acquisitions as of April 3, 2020

ILB Christian Kirksey - 2 yrs, $16M 

Shane - The total deal works out to 2yrs, $13M because the extra $3.35M in incentives is unlikely to be earned, so not terrible. In no universe is Blake Martinez worth the $10M a year the Giants gave him and the Packers have to be very careful about managing the cap with big-time players contracts coming due after 2020. Those include Kenny Clark, Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari and Kevin King. Kirksey is familiar with Pettine’s scheme, is still young (27) and the only (big) question will be, can he stay healthy. If he does, he has a chance to be an equal tackle-eater, possibly slight upgrade from Blake and great value-based addition. At that rate I like the signing and give it a B-.
Mark LoMoglio, AP

Mitch - Anyway you look at it, Blake Martinez was clearly not worth the $10M per year value he got, as Shane stated. The market for this position was thin this offseason, with Cory Littleton being the only other viable starter there to replace Martinez. He got $13.5M per year. So there’s that. Kirksey placed in the NFL Top 5 in tackles both in 2016 and 2017, and I like his chances for success in Mike Pettine’s defense. Hard to imagine anyone else being worse in pass-coverage than our ILB core last year, so I’m excited to have an equally as young guy manning the middle of the field. I’ll agree with Shane on a B-.

RT Rick Wagner - 2 yrs, $11.5M 

Shane - Echoing my above sentiment on the overall cap situation after 2020, this is another shrewd signing that provides replacement-level skill at an important position. Bulaga is clearly a better player, but his going rate of $10M a year is not a luxury the Packers can afford. The former Badger is a reliable veteran who has 87 starts over his 7-year career, including 12 games last year for Detroit. Perhaps a draft pick will push Wagner in training camp, but in any case, veteran OLs don’t grow on trees and for that reason, I appreciate this addition. I’ll give this signing a C+.

Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Mitch - I’m not one for grading offensive lineman performance down to a tee, but this has been the Packers MO for as long as I can remember - draft, develop then dump O-Linemen once we’ve gotten a solid 5-8 years out of them. Sitton, Lang, now Bulaga, all had great careers protecting AR12 and are now gone - as Shane mentioned, they don’t grow on trees, so I’m expecting some attention in the draft to go to this position. Rodgers has 3-5 years left, tops and the offensive line should be the #1 priority for longevity. Wagner should fit in nicely with a couple of other solid pieces we have (Jenkins, Linsley, Bahktiari) but it’s hard to imagine the line being as firm as it was with Bulaga in there. Overall grade of C for me, simply because I haven’t seen Wagner play much.

Devin Funchess - 1 yr, $2.5M

Shane -  This is an incentive-laden deal that counts very little guaranteed against the cap - $2.2M, that can escalate another $3.75M for performance - so I like taking a low-cost flier on a young WR (26 years old) with some decent upside. His shortcomings - lack of speed, hands - are well-documented, but adding a veteran big body on the outside will no doubt help Aaron Rodgers, especially in the redzone. The Packers can’t afford to spend at TE, so consider this move a gap-filler there and expect Funchess to contribute solid WR3 numbers in 2020-21. For those reasons, I give it a B.

Mitch - Everyone has seemed to scoff at this signing, which puzzles me. Part of me thinks nobody has seen him play, part of me thinks it’s his 2019-20 lost season due to injury - but look at the facts and other options out there. Robby Anderson got 2 yrs, $20M with $12M due in the first Breshad Perriman, who has a similar skill-set and is as injury-ridden as Funchess, got 1 yr, $5M with the Jets. And here we sit with a 26 year-old, 6’4” high-upside guy with a team-friendly deal. What am I missing? Yes, he’s slower (his hands are not as bad as advertised, Shane) but he will give the Packers offense a viable red-zone threat. If Funchess can stay healthy, I don’t see why he can’t have a WR2 type’s there for the taking. I even think he can hit double-digit touchdowns if he can play a full year..big IF, though. For value and what he brings to our offense, this is a B+ signing for me. We add a speedster for the slot in the second or third round of the draft and we’re right back in the mix for next season.
Green Bay Packers Twitter (@packers)

Adam’s Offseason Summary - There is still time, money and trade partners out there that allow wiggle room for my assessment to improve. I remain optimistic that Guty will get creative with a trade or at least lock-in 1-2 of our studs that are needing extensions. As we sit here three weeks before the draft it’s certainly been a lack-luster offseason that's seen our top NFC competition only strengthen itself. Namely, the Saints adding Malcolm Jenkins and Emmanuel Sanders, the Niners locking up one of their stud defensive lineman and flipping the other into the 13th pick that may become Jerry Jeudy. We have a downgrade at RT, risky replacement at ILB we hope for the value is the right fit to replace our single caller, leading tackler and always available ILB, and a health adverse WR3 with a funny name. Does that seem like we are taking significant steps forward as the teams we have to get through to go to Super Bowl? That’s a definitive no.

I don’t see any measurable upgrades with these acquisitions, not to mention we haven't extended any of our Pro-Bowl caliber core whose contracts are up next offseason. (in order of importance, David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, Corey Linsley and Aaron Jones). At what point do we go all in with the hotshot young head coach and aging legend? Pretty sure we’ve been begging for that for that last 5 years. Don’t get me wrong, last offseason was a huge step forward and that Khalil Mack trade isn’t looking so hot. Homerun deals have the ability to lead to catatsrophe but the two greatest free agent signings in team history literally produced Super Bowl victories both times. That’s the Green Bay standard. The minister of defense was the first and Charles Woodson was the last.

Living in fantasy land we need 1 more big time playmaker on defense and offense. Would you sign up for DeAndre Hopkins for Aaron Jones and a 2nd rounder? Yes. Calais Campbell for a 5th round pick? Yes. I know we are talking fantasy land but in an offseason filled with veteran playmakers going for pennies on the dollar, Guty needs 1-2 to bring the Lombardi trophy back home. It could still be out there if the price is right for OBJ or we hit on another 1-2 draft picks, but as it stands today we are 10-6 team destined to come up short. Arman’s Titletown Talk Senior analyst assessment: C-

Draft Priorities / Holes to Fill
10 total picks 30, 62, 94, 136, 175, 192, 208, 209, 236, 242
Give your top three positional needs and call out any players you’d like to see drafted 

Adam - Building through the draft never gets old, right guys? I can’t wait to watch 2 hours of coverage on day 1 only for the Packers to trade back and not pick on day 1, in order to accumulate picks. Only half serious. It's been refreshing to see Guty take a stand and trade up to get guys like Darnell Savage. Bottom line we do not need 10 picks so I expect Guty to be active and package some picks to move around and get guys we love. He’s been pretty successful in the mid rounds which makes giving up picks tough, but I am onboard if it's for positions of need.

Outside of Kenny Clark, our defensive line is significantly below average. It looks like a mixture of competitive eaters and a North Woods construction crew. DL, WR and ILB are the priorities. I would forgo the entire draft class for Isiah Simmons from Clemson. The middle linebacker from LSU won’t be there at 30 but looks like a thumper. Jefferson and Higgins interest me at WR but also are unlikely to be there at 30.

Shane - The draft is stocked on OLs, so I’d like to see one taken in the first three rounds, along with WR and DL or ILB. Any mix of those four positions and I’ll be happy.

Mitch - Justin Jefferson is my guy in the first round, I don’t see how you pass him up at 30 if he were to fall there. Agree completely with Adam and Shane on the defensive line front, outside of Kenny Clark, our D-Line is pretty pathetic and poor against the run. If we can’t get Jefferson and there’s a guy there at 30 that makes sense, that’s where I’d like to go. ILB is a need, yes, but we’ve made do with scrubs in that area for many years now. Don’t be surprised if there is a studly Safety or Nickel corner type-guy there in the first or second; you can never have too many ballers on the backside of the secondary.

Way Too Early Look at 2020 Opponents + Knee-Jerk Predictions 
Outline the game you are most looking forward to and overall record prediction 

Adam - At first glance this is definitely a first place schedule coming off a 13-3 performance that statistically was more of a 10-6 type of season. Where are the gimmie games? I don’t see any. Thankfully because of salary cap mismanagement the Bears and Vikings haven't done anything significant to bolster their rosters and the Lions will be reliably pitiful. We will have to go 4-2 or 5-1 in the division. Okay, I see the gimmies now. Carolina, Atlanta and Jacksonvlle at home, but that road slate looks mighty difficult. Colts on the road in the dome with Philip Rivers taking the helm for a team with a great offensive line, some playmakers and solid defense. Jacoby Brisset was close to the worst starting QB in the NFL last year, so that’s a sneaky tough road game.

I hope the spacing of playing TB, NO and SF can be favorable because winning 1 of those 3 will be tough. No question Arod vs. Brady part 2 is going to be a Sunday Night Football matchup. 30-27 Packers with Zadarius sacking Brady twice sounds about right to me. Head says 10-6, heart says 11-5.

Shane - Tampa obviously jumps out because we’ll get another Brady-Rodgers battle and road games vs. New Orleans and San Francisco are about as tough as it gets in the NFC. Going 1-2 in those games would be my expectation or as Adam says, best-case. I expect the Bears to be better, Vikings to regress and Detroit, is well...Detroit. But don’t expect another division sweep, that’s pretty rare. I never thought the Packers would go 13-3 last year and still believe the team is more in the 10-6 / 11-5 range, so I’ll go 10-6 with losses at SF, at Chicago, vs. Tennessee, at New Orleans, at Minnesota and vs. Atlanta.

Mitch - Such an interesting schedule this year. We get the best NFC division (South) and worst AFC division arguably (South). Tennessee will be a fun one, but at Home I like our chances. Rodgers return to Houston where he threw 6TDs last time will be fun to reminisce about. I don’t think the 49ers are the class of the NFC in back-to-back years, so my game to watch is the New Orleans road game. I hope this is a late-season game once we’ve had the chance to get some juices flowing. I want to see how our guys react in the dome and if there is any chance of our defense slowing down what seems to be an even stronger Saints offense. This game will say a lot about where we stand in the NFC pecking order. Should be a fun Sunday or Monday night showdown. I think at worst we are an 11-5 team, assuming no major injuries. SF, NO, CAR, @MIN, ? will be the losses. Three seed in the NFC behind NO, SF.