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Monday Practice: Notes & Reports

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by TOPHAT, Sep 10, 2007.


    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007

    More McCarthy notes

    Asked about the Packers' problems running the football in Sunday's 16-13 win over Philadelphia, coach Mike McCarthy on Monday spoke for nearly 90 seconds and rattled off a number of issues, topped by a game plan that might have been too extensive. "I need to look at the volume of offense that we took into that game," McCarthy said. "We took in a little more than you normally do. ... In hindsight, I thought we did too much."

    Other issues included: fundamental mistakes; poor blocking angles that didn't match the course of the backs; missed one-on-one blocks that resulted in pressures and sacks; subpar route running; and decision-making by quarterback Brett Favre that left room for improvement.

    McCarthy said he was more disappointed in the number of plays the Packers ran (63) than the number of rushing attempts (16, not including a late Favre kneel-down). "The game plan going in was to throw the ball, and particularly, early in the game," he said. "The ratio is one thing, but the number of plays is the first thing. ... We want to be 74, 75 (or more) plays a game, so execution plays a big part of that obviously, but also to get in and out of the huddle, the tempo, and things that we did not establish. But I don't want to be throwing the ball 42 times a game."

    Also from McCarthy ...

    * Punter Jon Ryan "didn't punt particularly well" -- one of several issues on an otherwise strong day for the Packers' special teams.

    * Favre's interception on a pass intended for TE Bubba Franks was a result of confusion when Franks altered his route based on coverage when the Eagles blitzed.

    * The Packers planned for Greg Jennings "potentially having a big day, but ... that's no excuse for the way that we played on offense, at all." Jennings missed the game because of a hamstring injury.

    * Will Blackmon still doesn't appear to be catching the ball comfortably with a cast on his broken left thumb, so it's unlikely he'll be available to return punts or kicks this week against the New York Giants.

    * Atari Bigby played "good" in his first game as the starting strong safety, but "did not play as well on special teams." Bigby collided with Al Harris on the punt return that left Harris with a sprained elbow.


    Injury update

    Cornerback Al Harris has a sprained elbow but "feels good," coach Mike McCarthy said this morning. The team is waiting for MRI results, McCarthy said, and Harris is receiving treatment. Based at least in part on the injury, which occurred while Harris was playing on the punt return team Sunday against Philadelphia, the team will "lean the other way going forward" when it comes to playing starters on special teams. Harris left briefly but returned and finished the game with his right arm heavily wrapped. Based on a conversation with head athletic trainer Pepper Burress, McCarthy indicated he's confident Harris will play this week against the New York Giants.

    Receiver Carlyle Holiday has the only other new injury, with swelling in his knee. He'll be limited in practice this week, McCarthy said.

    * Right guard Jason Spitz continues to battle a calf strain, so Junius Coston is expected to open practice Wednesday with the starters.

    * Running back Vernand Morency (knee) will practice Wednesday and then be re-evaluated Thursday.

    * The team is hopeful WR Greg Jennings and S Aaron Rouse, who have hamstring injuries, will be ready to play this week.

    * Tackle Tony Moll (neck) will be evaluated Wednesday.

    * End Michael Montgomery (knee) is out again.

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    McCarthy on...

    Here are some of the more interesting comments coach Mike McCarthy had during his press conference on Monday:

    On the offense

    "Offensively, we weren't really very good. Fundamentally, we need to clean up a lot of things. We just had a bunch of common mistakes. That was the most frustrating thing for myself watching the tape this morning. We really didn't execute very good in the run-blocking unit. You can talk about the stretch on the front side, the cutting on the back side, the course of the running back, all fundamental things we need to improve on because we weren't in sync. The blocking angles weren't in tune with the course of the back. The pass protection, I thought we did a good things picking things up, making the proper calls. But we just flat lost in one-on-one situations that occurred and resulted in quarterback hits and sacks. Route running needs to be better. Quarterback decisions need to be better. So we had a lot of things we need to clean up on offense."

    How much did Greg Jenning's injury affect what you could do on Sunday?

    "If you would have watched us practice, Greg was a big part of the gameplan. I think Greg and Brett are really developing that connection from year one to year two that you see between a quarterback and a receiver. So we had planned on him having potentially a big day. But that's no excuse for the way we played on offense, at all. I think Greg Jennings is really developing and can take that next step as a receiver."

    How much did Junius Coston's performance factor into Jason Spitz being replaced?

    "Well, Jason's calf started to tighten up there probably two or three series before he went out. I think we talked about Juice in here the other day, about how he backs up all five positions. It tells you what we think of him and what he's done. He's definitely pushing those guys. He'll play the right guard position as we go into Wednesday based on Spitz's status."

    Even if Spitz is healthy, could he be in the mix to start for Spitz?

    "I'm not a big fan of that, but I think it's something that's definitely justified. There's some sentiment in our (coaches') room that Juice Coston is at that level to push for the starting position. The flip side of that is the continuity you're trying to establish among your five guys. I'm not opposed to it. But that's something we have talked about.

    Is the zone blocking scheme causing some of the problems in the running game?

    "To me, systems are starting points. When you play football the way it's supposed to be played...We don't ask our players to do anything they're not able to do physically. We will improve in the zone system. I don't think it's a reflection of the system. I think our players from an athletic standpoint up front fit the system so we need to do a much better job up front. And frankly the playcaller needs to commit to it a little bit longer. It wasn't the mindset going into that game. I didn't walk into that game thinking I was going to run the ball 40 times. I'd like to run the ball 40 times but based on the film study and gameplanning, we felt we did the things we thought could be successful."

    Are you surprised that the line struggled as much as they did?

    "I'm disappointed because the one thing we established, particularly last year, was when we went seven-man protections was great confidence and understanding in the schemes. With our quarterback back there, you give him time, and we do have good parimeter players that can win one-on-one, we thought we could be successful. When you get into offensive gameplanning, that's something you'd think you can hang your hat on. I still think I can, but we didn't do it very good yesterday. We will do a much better job as we move forward."

    Did you use a lot of seven-man protections?

    "We used a bunch of them in third down. Most of our pressure can in second-and-long and exclusively on third down. We didn't get a lot of pressure on first or second down. The key statistic for us is our first and second down production wasn't very good. Third downs are always easier when you're successful on first and second downs."

    On the third-and-1 play when Favre went deep to Jones, was that the first option?

    "Yes. There was a particular defense I was looking for and we got it and we took the shot."

    Were you happy with the balance considering you had 17 runs in 63 plays?

    "The game plan going in was to throw the ball, particularly early in the game. The ratio is one thing but the number of plays is the first thing. We want to be 74, 75 plus plays a game. So execution plays a big part in that, obviously, but also getting in and out of the huddle, tempo that we did not establish. But I don't want to be throwing the ball 42 times a game."

    What happened on the Favre interception?

    "The quarterback and the receiver were not on the same page. I think Brett got fooled and he threw it up like that."

    How do you balance using your starters, like Al Harris, on special teams?

    "The disappointing thing about Al getting hurt on special teams is, No. 1, he's asked to do on special teams exactly what he does every day, which is play bump and run. The disappointing thing about the injury is it was Atari's decision to go over there. Atari is kind of a free hitter on that particular return. There's a judgement by him where the injury occurred. The reason why we have Al out there is he can handle those guys one-on-one. There's no reason to play any other way. I think the leverage of the gunner flashed to (Atari) and then Al turned and Al was in fine position. I think the initial release of the gunner, Atari reacted to it but he hit Al."

    On Harris coming back into the game

    He really toughed it out. (Head athletic trainer) Pepper (Burruss) thought he was done when the injury occurred."

    How did Bigby play?

    "He played good at safety. He did not play as well on special teams but he had a solid game. He graded out very high."

    That's it for McCarthy's comments. Obviously it was interesting that there are at least a few coaches who think Coston should start over Spitz. And that's Favre interception should have been thrown better.

    Packers injury update

    Here's what coach Mike McCarthy had to say just minutes ago about his team's injuries:

    CB Al Harris (right elbow strain) -- "We're waiting for the MRI, but he feels good."

    WR Greg Jennings (right hamstring) -- "We're hopeful he can go this week."
    RB Vernand Morency (knee) -- "He will have full participation on Wednesday and then we'll see how he feels."

    DE Michael Montgomery (knee) -- "He's out this week."

    RG Jason Spitz (calf strain) -- "We're waiting for more information."

    WR Carlyle Holiday (knee swelling) -- "He'll be limited in practice to start the week."

    S Aaron Rouse (hamstring) -- "We're hopeful."

    RT Tony Moll (neck) -- "He's still got his neck thing. We'll see what happens."

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007
    Monday: Notes & Reports


    Giants hurting

    What looked like a stiff early-season test for the recently vaunted Packers defense may not be as difficult as advertised. It appears the New York Giants offense will be significantly weaker this week than it was in Sunday's 45-35 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Running back Brandon Jacobs reportedly is out three to five weeks with a knee injury, and starter Eli Manning reportedly sprained his right shoulder on Sunday. Jacobs' injury hurts, but the Giants have fine alternatives in Derrick Ward, who rushed for 89 yards on 13 carries Sunday, and veteran Reuben Droughns. Manning's injury would hurt worse. Even if it's only a sprain, that could be enough to keep him out Sunday for the first time since he became a full-time starter late in the 2004 season. The Giants' backup is the plus-sized Jared Lorenzen, who hasn't seen significant action is three NFL seasons.

    UPDATE: ESPN is reporting Manning will miss at least a month with a separated shoulder. New York's defense also will be short-handed. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora reportedly will miss at least a month with a knee injury.

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    Assistant coaches on....


    When you looked at the film, where did you have the most problems?
    There was a little bit of everything. It wasn't one isolated event that was our breakdown. The starting point was initially maybe the course of the running back on the outside zone was maybe a little bit too tight. We felt that wasn't exactly the way we'd like it to be. We got some guys cut (blocked) on the ground, but we'd kind of get them down too fast and the guy would get up and make the play. We have to get that corrected there. There were a few other occasions where we felt the movement at the point of attack wasn't quite enough. Those are three things that we felt caused the most problems in the running game. There were a couple of reads... The first run of the game we felt maybe could have gone outside but I think from a fundamental standpoint: the course of the back, cutting on the backside and movement at the point of the attack were three things we need to get better at, quickly.

    Were you surprised that Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher were giving up some of the pressures?

    A little bit, yeah. I mean, yeah. We certainly had high expectations going in that we were confident in our ability to protect the quarterback and thought we would do a better job doing that. I'm sure they're disappointed in themselves, which is probably more important than me being disappointed by, yeah, we certainly went into the game feeling those were two veteran players that have played well here in the past and we were counting on them, sure.

    When you don't practice cut blocking in training camp, is it natural for it to takes some time to develop?

    Well, we don't necessarily cut our own guys but we spend an awful lot of time on it in drill periods. We were in position a number of different times to make the cut and actually at times cut the guy but we didn't finish the block so (Eagles DT Mike) Patterson would get up or (Brodrick) Bunkley would get up and get involved in the tackle.

    So Brandon Jackson didn't play a perfect game, but for a rookie did all right?

    Was his course perfect every time? No. Did he have the exact read every time? No. But he protected the football, had a couple good runs in there. Considering where he is in his career, we're not disappointed in what he did.

    How did Junius Coston do when he replaced Jason Spitz?

    He was solid. He came in and did a nice job. There were one or two times when he gave up some pressue on the quarterback where he didn't handle the spike of the defensive tackle very well and there was one twist that he could have passed off a little bit cleaner, but overall he was solid.

    How much is his pushing for a starting job?

    We all sat down together and watched the film and evaluated the tape but we really didn't talk personnel yet. We'll probably wait until tomorrow when we set the gameplan and determine who's exactly available. Obviously Jason has a little bit of an injury issue. How severe that is, I don't know at this point.

    How has Coston improved?

    He's been more physical at the point of attack, he's moving guys, he's one of the more physical guys that we have. And we like what he's doing. He's always had that good athleticism.


    How did Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn look in their first game?

    Considering it was their first game, I thought they stepped up and made some plays when they had some opportunities they made some plays. There's still room for improvement. Will run through some areas where they need to improve, but for their first time in the NFL, I thought they did a very good job.

    Picking up the blitz?

    They did a good job. When you factor in DeShawn Wynn on third down, he did a good job. He knew exactly what his keys were and the different pressure looks he had and he made the necessary adjustments and he did a good job with his techniques.

    McCarthy and Philbin brought up their route running and reads. What did you see?

    Jackson did a good job on his run reads. Where he needs to improve on is his course as far as his initial aiming point. He needs to get better at that. It's something we're focusing on and he will improve going into this next week.

    Can you explain more about a RB's course?

    It's his initial starting point. Just like the offensive line and they have an initial starting point, the backs have an initial starting point as well. I'll just kind of leave it at that keeping in mind we're about to play the Giants. I don't want to get too far into it. But that's what he needs to improve on, his course.

    Provided Vernand Morency is healthy this week, how is his skill set different than the other backs?

    He's been in the system for a year so he has experience as well as he's elusive. The bottom line is he can help us win football games. He's a good football player and I know he's anxious to get back out there. We'll see how it goes this week.

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007

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