The Spread and The Power Back: An Unlikely Marriage?

Traditionally, the spread and the power back were thought to be like oil and water. “They can’t mix!”, they’d say.

Power backs can’t run out of the shotgun! They need to build up speed before the line of scrimmage! They aren’t effective out of the backfield! The personnel needed to run the spread won’t work in a power scheme! The pass catching back provides WAY more value!

And yet up in Green Bay we see Cedric Benson, a power back if there ever was one, smashing his way to 3-7 yard gains. He’s running out of the shotgun. He been called “one of the biggest additions to our offense” by Mike McCarthy. So why is it that a running back who seems to have no value to the Packers system so important?

Variety, Physicality and Attitude

Benson is a running back who can offer them a change of pace form the spread game (The I form and the I-form w/ H-Back formations). He makes the offense not only acknowledge the running game, but also know that the Packers can go from a spread offense to a ‘run to pass’ offense in a heartbeat (SEE: Game vs. Seahawks).

He also runs with a tremendous amount of physicality, which over the course of a game can wear out the opposing defense. He isn’t being asked to hit the home run, but rather to abuse the opposition and make them respect his presence. The value in this is that by wearing out the opposing team, it opens up options in the pass game that plays off the oppositions mental and physical fatigue.

Finally and most importantly, he brings an attitude to Green Bay that they didn’t have in past years. A phrase I saw often used to describe this team in the past was “talented, but clearly finesse” or even more common, “soft”. Now, his addition provides the offensive line with a back they know will finish his run. He brings a power attitude to a finesse system, a mental boost to those around him to match his physicality on every snap.

Time will tell how the Packers offense performs this season and much attention will be payed to how Rodgers and the passing game progresses. If successful, don’t forget the potential impact a power back could have on a spread offense.

It could be the tale of the square peg that didn’t just fit in the round hole, but bull dozed right through it.

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Dom Capers’ Defense: Can it stay Elite?

(Chart Source: pro-football-reference.com)

Dom Capers has been around the game of football for a long time, with his Attacking 3-4 defense not far behind. But as he has traveled, a commonality has occurred among the defenses he has overseen. Starting as a Head Coach in Carolina, Capers defense typically ranks near the top of the league in his first year. Capers will install as much of the playbook as he feels his players can handle in the first year so that his players can get used to the complex adjustments, hot calls and tight communication between teammates his defense requires. For one reason or another, this leads to a good to great first year for most of teams.

Then suddenly, the years go on and things take a bit of a different turn. As you can see in Carolina, his defense goes from 7th to 30th in yards allowed over 4 years. In Jacksonville, his squad goes from 4th to 12th. In Houston, 16th to 31st. The points against average follows a similar trend for those teams as well.

I don’t need to remind fellow Packer fans about the defense last year. It was bad. Historically Bad. But from years 1 to 3, the defense has followed a similar trajectory as his other teams in the past. This year the defense has gotten of to a good start, but that was with the first 3 games being against teams that aren’t offensive juggernauts and barely escaping a always dangerous Drew Brees.

Why does this occur? Could be a large variety of factors. Lack of enthusiasm from players as time goes on, other teams figuring out the schemes/Capers’ playcall tendencies, players getting comfortable with their past success in the scheme. The list could go on and on.

The point is while the Green Bay defense will hopefully buck the trend, history says that a consistently strong defense isn’t in the cards.

Any idea why this phenomenon occurs with Capers’ squads or comments on the Defense in general? Leave them below!

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DJ Williams: The Lost TE

When remembering DJ Williams from his days at Arkansas, he looked to be the little engine that could. He wasn’t physically eye popping and without knowing who he was, you wouldn’t know he was a impact player. Yet for Arkansas, he was a crucial safety valve for their offence and consistently found a way to gain Yards after Catch.

When he was drafted as a Packer, many people scratched their heads. He looked like nothing more than a value pick, as the team was already stacked at TE. How was he going to fit in, experts asked? Would he be a special teamer, someone who fit the army of 6’2, 240 lb. players that Green Bay possesses? Would he be an H-Back type, lining up at both Fullback and Tight End? Not a bad pick, for sure, but how would he help the Packers?

As Williams was scratched yesterday, I couldn’t help but wonder if he would be better served playing elsewhere. He does have some skills as a pass catcher, his time at Arkansas showed that. But with Finley’s contract and everlasting potential, there is little chance he will get to really show what he can do. In the running game, Tom Crabtree is the clear cut blocking TE for the Packers. Not to mention the fact that when he is thrown the ball, on the rare occasion, he seems to be reliable enough to catch it (Which is no guarantee for this team). Ryan Taylor is the special teams ace and can block in a pinch as well.

When weighing all the options, it seems like a team that needs a young Tight End with some upside could shell out a late round pick for him. The Packers seem to have all the typical roles of a TE covered, and with Quarless still rehabbing there is no telling if he could come back and complicate the TE picture even more. Williams has the upside to warrant a look from other teams while also be relatively expendable for the Packers.

Any thoughts on what Green Bay could do with him, both on the team or in return for his services?

 

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Caption Contest!: McCarthy confused face

Caption Contest!: McCarthy confused face

Write your best caption and leave it in the comments section! No prize this time (I’m just starting up) but there is certainly a chance for a prize in the future!

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30.09.2012 vs. Saints: Packers Inactives

The Packers have declared TE D.J. Williams, RB James Starks, CB Davon House, DL Phillip Merling, LB Terrell Manning, WR Jarrett Boykin and DB Sean Richardson inactive for Week 4.

Nothing to unusual about the inactive list except for DJ Williams. Played near 50% of the snaps last week and is now inactive. Certainly points to a passing heavy day for GB, but shouldn’t be a big change as Finley is preferred in passing situations while Crabtree is preferred as a run blocker. Any other thoughts on the Packers inactives?

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Nearly Finished?: Is Jermichael Finley running out of time in Green Bay?

As per Pro Football Weekly,

Scouts around the NFC have apparently begun to question Finley’s future in Green Bay. Check the link for the meat and potatoes of the supposed rumor, but the bigger question is: How long does Finley have left in the Green and Gold?

As Packer fans know, Jermichael Finley is one of the most polarizing players on the team. While the fans have been told about his athletic prowess ever since arriving in Green Bay, there are glaring flaws in his game. The Drops. The hit and miss blocking. His agent speaking publicly about Aaron Rodgers’ leadership.

But at the same time, there are those moments where he shines. His seam routes and ability to extend for the ball. His use of body positioning to shield defenders from the ball. His prowess at running the goal line fade and attacking the football (which he very rarely gets the chance to do) 

After watching for years, I can’t help but think that all these issues are mental. A lack of focus? Maybe. Lack of Confidence? While it may seem unlikely, some of the most confident looking people in the world are also the most insecure under the surface.

Regardless of what could be the cause, the possibility of both Finley and Jennings becoming free agents next year might not be as crazy a thought as it once was.

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