Tag Archives: Sam Shields

Week 3 Initial Reactions: Bengals 34 Packers 30

  • For a game between two probable playoff teams and for as exciting as it was, it was a really ugly game.
  • Sam Shields just made himself a bunch of money.
  • Jonathan Franklin looked like an absolute stud, except for of course on the 4th and 1 play where he fumbled. I thought Bleacher Report’s Aaron Nagler hit the nail on the head with this tweet.

The Packers have been poor on 3rd and 4th and short for almost the entire Mike McCarthy era. Obviously, that situation is tailor-made for Eddie Lacy, but he missed the game with a concussion. The Packers offensive linemen are almost all finesse blockers who struggle in short-yardage when the defense knows whats coming. Franklin never had a chance. 

  • I tend to not really believe in QB wins or anything that isolates wins and losses to one player, but this tweet from Packer Report was pretty damning.

Yeah, yeah, yeah I get it: the Packers win a lot of games in the first 3 quarters. But for as good as Aaron Rodgers is, he really doesn’t have that defining come-from-behind win in his belt. Just a lot of near-misses like the Arizona playoff game. 

  • I’ve defended the training staff ever since the Super Bowl run when the Packers had 18 players on IR, but enough is enough. Its been how many years of having seemingly a half a dozen injuries on every play. They may be fine medical professionals, this is a results-oriented business. Eventually, no matter how nice you may be or how many good ideas you have, if the main area you are responsible for is constantly under performing, it is time for a change. I can live with having them play out the season, but this season should be the staff’s last. Football is a violent game and things like concussions are borderline unavoidable, but how many soft tissues injuries have the Packers had?
  • Was this Rodgers’ worst game as a pro? Or at least since 2009 in Tampa right?
  • Clay Matthews’ injury was pretty much the end of the Packers’ defense. 20 unanswered points? Come on.
  • Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the loss is not necessarily that they lost, but that it seems like the same things keep happening every game, win or lose. The textbook slow start on offense. The defense fluctuating between dominant and awful.
  • That Week 4 bye is looking awfully attractive now, eh?
  • I have a feeling that Finley leaving the game early really messed with the Packers game plan.
  • Going to be a LONG two weeks. Bring on the Lions.

 

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Week 3 Preview: The Bengals Offense Is More Than Just A.J. Green

Plain and simple: A.J. Green is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. His unique combination of size and speed combined with his route-running savvy make him a tough matchup for any cornerback in the NFL. Two consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, 18 touchdowns in his first two years and an absolute domination of one of the better CBs in the game–Peanut Tillman in Week 1. But as with many elite talents, Green’s domination is not limited to his box score numbers.

The Bengals knew they had a stud WR in Green but also needed to provide QB Andy Dalton with more weapons not only to take the next step as a franchise and win a playoff game or two, but also in order to figure out whether Dalton is the guy to lead them to that success drafting Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert and North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard to help them serve both masters: put Dalton in the best position to succeed while also effectively moving all of the chips in on this season to determine whether he could be the franchise guy.

One of the things I believe the most about football schematically is that the truly impactful players are either able to draw double teams or are so good that they don’t need help in nearly any situation. Think of Revis Island. When the Jets made two consecutive AFC Championships, a big reason was their elite defense. And a big part of their elite defense was having the best cover corner in football able to cover anyone at anytime from almost any alignment. Safeties could cheat away from Revis allowing them to move effectively guard other receiving options or crash in on run plays.

The same is true with elite WRs like Green. He draws double teams because of how good he is, causing a mismatch somewhere else for the Bengals offense to take advantage.

A.J Green’s impact on the Bengal offense was perhaps the most obvious on this play toward the end of the 1st quarter. 

Watching this Monday night game with All-22 really gave me an appreciation of Ike Taylor, who the Steelers left on an island throughout the night, playing 1 on 1 on 28 of the Bengals 49 pass plays. But that isn’t the case on this play.  CB William Gay is actually playing the zone corner to that side of the field with Ike Taylor on the opposite side. But watch LB Lawrence Timmons (94 top middle) and especially S Ryan Clark (25 top right). In the screen shot below, you can see four Steelers react to A.J. Green’s side, leaving Eifert wide open for a big play that would eventually lead to a TD.

Four Steelers

I would expect a heavy dose of 2 TEs in the game, especially considering how much the Packers ILB struggle in pass coverage and with raw safeties Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings slated to start for the third straight week and wouldn’t be shocked if Eifert in particular had a big game.

Calvin Johnson is more physically imposing than Green, but is probably Green’s best comparison in the league. The Packers have used a variety of packages in the past to try and stop Calvin with little success, including the speedy Sam Shields, the more physical Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson and a multitude of double and even triple teams. The Packers can get away with that to a certain extent because, for the most part, the Lions have lacked other weapons in the run and the pass game. In addition to Eifert and Gresham, the Bengals also have two other solid receivers, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Although neither have quite become starting caliber at this juncture in their careers, both are more than adequate to handle the single coverage looks they often get because of Green. Each had just 1 deep target: Jones on 5 targets and Sanu on 6. Now certainly part of that is a result of Andy Dalton’s mediocre arm strength, but much of them seem to work as high-percentage throws for a few quick and easy yards, such as the video below. 

The Steelers are in zone coverage with a single high safety a common red zone coverage but also the perfect coverage for the quick out to the receiver for a few yards. Dalton doesn’t even get to his 3rd step before the ball is out. Although Jones and Sanu aren’t burners, Sanu in particular is actually fairly good at making the initial guy miss because of his size. For good measure, he drags William Gay for an extra yard or two, giving the Bengals an easy win on 1st and 10.

Aside from two solid TEs, a stud 2 nice secondary receivers, the Bengals also feature a nice tandem of backs which complement each others’ strength’s nicely the aforementioned rookie Gio Bernard and veteran mudder BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis is what he is: a decent between-the-tackles runner who never fumbles and understands blocking schemes and benefits from his own learned patience behind the line.  But Bernard is the far superior talent who still struggles a bit with some of the nuances of the pro game. Nothing too out of the ordinary: pass-blocking, trusting your line, taking the green in front of him, etc. But he’s clearly the back of the future and has already displayed some innate receiving and yard-after-catch ability in just his first 2 games.

Sure, that’s Bernard’s best play in his pro career to date, but look at the feet frequency. He doesn’t have elite speed, but because of the foot frequency, he get easily get underneath the linebackers, make the catch, and turn up-field without wasting steps or motion. He made one of the best safeties in football-Ryan Clark-look like a walk-on from Duke. With Green over the top, Gresham and Eifert up the seam, Sanu and Jones in the flat and Bernard able to leak out any where, what coverage do you play to stop the Bengals on a critical 3rd and 3? The weapons Cincinnati possesses makes that choice exceedingly difficult.

Overall, while I believe the Packers are the better team, I feel like the secondary breakdowns that have occurred time and time again over the first two weeks will really come back to bite Green Bay. I expect a substantial number of checkdowns from Dalton as he did Monday Night–attempting to dink and dunk his way through a porous Green Bay back 7. Combined with a strong Cincinnati front 7, I’ll take the Bengals to win 30-27 over the Packers, sending them into their early bye week 1-2.

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Initial Reactions: Green Bay 38 Redskins 20

  • Huge comeback week for the entire Packers roster. Top to bottom just simply outplayed the Redskins.
  • After solid performances last week, LT David Bakhtiari and RT Don Barclay regressed. While the game was still close, Rodgers was pressured a bit too and the Redskins had more hits than needed against the franchise.
  • Welcome to 2013 James Jones.
  • Impressive showing by James Starks, but also credit the Packers offensive line and guys like John Kuhn and Andrew Quarless for leading the way and opening up up huge holes against an underrated front 7. Special shout-outs to the Packers interior linemen, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, LG Josh Sitton and RG T.J. Lang for an improved performance.  Look for a post later this week charting all of Starks’ carries.
  • Troy Aikman mentioned over and over how much the Redskins struggled with up the middle pressure. Capers must’ve seen the same thing. Dialed up blitzes with 6 and even 7 men more than a handful of times.
  • CBs Sam Shields and Tramon Williams for improved tackling this season, but as the game got out of reach, the Packers’ poor tackling re-appeared.
  • Mike Daniels is a really solid player.
  • @jenbielema, Brandon Meriweather getting a concussion is the definition of karma. Never want to wish injury on a guy, but despite overtures from the leagues and a multitude of fines, he still manages to lead with the crown of his helmet.
  • An inspired outing from the entire Packers defense, but RGIII still just doesn’t look right. Combine that with a suspect secondary, and the Redskins could be on the outside looking in to return to the playoffs.
  • James Starks? Johnny Jolly? Shades of 2010. Did something happen that season?
  • Another strong front 7 beckons next week as the Packers travel to Cincinnati before their Week 4 buy.

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