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Packers performance from one and two back sets

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by captainWIMM, Jul 19, 2016.

  1. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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  2. El Guapo

    El Guapo Cheesehead

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    It's pretty tough to run when you're passing offense allows the defense to play up. I'm not sure these stats say as much about the running game as they do about the passing game.
     
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  3. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    There's no doubt that teams loading the box made it difficult for the Packers to run the football. Lacy being out of shape didn't help either though.
     
  4. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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  5. JKJB

    JKJB Cheesehead

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    Without enough push from the line we needed the extra blocker in to help keep holes open a little longer since our backs are so slow through the line
     
  6. Arthur Squires

    Arthur Squires Cheesehead

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    It was a disaster last year for the offense period. Exactly how your whole offense looks inferior just by losing 1 player is beyond me.
     
  7. Twiddlemylobes

    Twiddlemylobes Fat Tuesday Orleans

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    It makes sense. Although losing Jordy was crucial. We know now in hindsight that Cobb and Aaron were both playing with significant setbacks. Add to that poor focus and lack of conditioning by our #1 RB and it was a recipe for failure
     
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  8. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    The Packers offensive line isn't built to create huge holes in the run game against a loaded box but excels in pass protection. With the team's receivers struggling to get open it would have helped the entire unit if the OL would have performed better blocking for the run though.
     
  9. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    McCarthy prefers 1-back sets. As a rookie, Lacy said he prefers the 1-back set.

    The thinking is pretty basic: in a zone blocking offense the RB reads and reacts to wherever the hole might develop. The FB can clog up the works. However, Lacy's loss of quickness took away his cutback ability, making him a north-south between-the-tackles runner. Having a guy in front of him getting some push on the line is helpful if what you're going to do is just pound it up inside.

    Further, 3-wide with a TE is McCarthy's preferred base formation providing another receiving option to keep defenses questioning run vs. pass in all those tweener downs.

    It also doesn't help that the Packers line is not that great at run blocking, particularly at the LT and C positions.

    As an aside, for all the issues surrounding Lacy's conditioning, his willingness to take on tacklers with force was not diminished, but it was particularly ill-fitted to the zone scheme. His inability to cut back to an opening made him a deer in the headlights...his pause and redirect was wince-worthy.

    One would hope he now knows he is not Jerome Bettis, a player he has compared himself to in the past. Bettis showed quick feet and 4.5 speed at 250 lbs. I doubt Lacy ever ran 4.5. His speed last season was the secondary issue; the primary issue was quickness to and through the hole, where once through he can knock a guy down for some yards after contact.
    The lingering issue, even with a return to the svelter and quicker Lacy, is whether he thought he needed the extra padding to take the punishment when taking on tacklers at the second level. It will be interesting to see if he implements avoidance maneuvers for the purpose of injury-avoidance and career extension (i.e., "business decisions" in the words of Deion Sanders, a guy unapologetically intimate with the concept).
     
  10. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Even with Lacy being in shape in 2014 the Packers used at least two running backs on 41.2% of the team's runs. While that was significantly lower than last season (50.7%) it was still higher than the league average (33.0%).
     
  11. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    2014 was a tale of two seasons in this regard. As we recall, Kuhn hardly played in the first half of the season. It wasn't working. Kuhn's snaps went up markedly in those last 7 or 8 games. 2015 was a repeat of that pattern, with Lacy's issues being acute.

    The fact that McCarthy went predominantly 1-back through the first half of both seasons waiting for it to jell speaks to preference. As for Lacy's preference, I can only go by what he said. Perhaps he was just being a good soldier in echoing the coach (imagine the kerfuffle if he said otherwise), but I don't think that's the case. The quicker version of Lacy seemed well suited to the single-back zone as a read-and-react style runner in tweener downs and the occasional (or should I say "rare") occasions where McCarthy calls run in a passing down-and-distance.

    The key issue in each season was short yardage productivity. Even going back to his rookie season, Lacy's short yardage productivity has been weak. Let's consider the possible reasons.

    - First on the list is not having a TE who can run block. Rodgers was outright lousy at it as a rookie, and his second year improvement was marginal at best. It's 3rd. and 1 and you're short handed 1/2 of a lineman. I believe you noted that PFF ranked Cook 11th. in run blocking last season. Having not seen him play last season I'd have to go along with that pending personal observation. While the hope is that Cook can recreate the Finley dynamic, the deciding factor in this signing in weighing his drop history might be his run blocking.

    - When going to a 7-man line the TE situation has not been much better. Quarless was a serviceable run blocker at best. At draft time, I expressed a preference for the Packers to look to a run blocking specialist even among the UDFA's. They brought in one (who's name I've forgotten), then cut him in short order. They've since added Pierce Casey who's draft profile indicated some college blocking bona fides. While he may be a long shot, some effort is being made to investigate the issue. It's not like the rest of the backups can be judged more than "just guys". I still like the idea of using Spriggs at TE in short yardage in the absence of other options.

    - Rodgers doesn't run many sneaks, despite a good success rate. Over his career, Football outsiders shows Rodgers running 32 times in short yardage, or 4 times per year as a starter, with an 84% success rate. However, in the past 2 seasons, he's attempted only 3 short yardage runs, and for all I know there may have been a broken play among the 3.

    Having Lacy and protecting the franchise would be the reasons. However, it's one less thing the defense has to think about in short yardage. It's one of the several small elements that gives this offense the appearance of predictability. Perhaps McCarthy should review how often QBs get knocked out games on sneaks, because in having watched over 50 years of NFL football I can't recall an instance.

    - Second to last, but certainly not least, the O-Line is (and should be) recognized as an average run blocking line at best. But when they go off zone blocking to man blocking in short yardage with a targeted hole, they're outside their comfort zone and just don't get much push. Having no TE support compounds the problem.

    - Last but not least is something of a speculation: Is Lacy a short yardage runner? We know him to be a punishing guy, but we see that primarily at the second level when he's got up a head of steam. We don't see him plowing his own path to the needed 1 yard. I say this is a speculation because of the above issues...a guy needs some little seam or angle to get leverage on D-Linemen while a LB is coming downhill, and the O-Line doesn't provide much of that in short yardage.

    The long and short of it is the preference is for 1-back; that it hasn't worked particularly well in short yardage. The fact that the Packers have left Kuhn behind, a guy who's been highly effective as a lead backer, might suggest a doubling down on that preference in abandoning what has been the late-season security blanket.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
  12. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Lacy was pretty succesful in short yardage situations during his first two seasons, converting 75% of his runs on third and fourth down for two or less yards into a first down.

    His success rate dropped to 50% in 2015.

    I honestly don't believe the Packers mainly brought Cook in because of his run blocking but his ability to stretch a defense.
     
  13. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    Did I say "mainly"? Of course I didn't.
     
  14. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    According to the following site, Lacy's career 1 yard conversion rate is 66.7%, providing no advantage over the other options, with the running backs as a whole underperforming both Rodger's success rate (and the league average for QB sneaks which is typically over 80%):

    http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/the-packers-in-short-yardage-situations

    2 yds. to go, whether 2nd. or 3rd. down, is a tweener down in Packerland which I would not consider a purely short yardage situation. Rodgers throws with enough frequency in those situations, particularly 3rd. down, that the defense cannot sell out on the run, whereas the Packers predominantly run on 3rd. or 4th. and 1.

    But the point of my posts is about the coach's and the runner's preference and the reasons why that 1-back preference has been abandoned in the back half of the last 2 seasons.

    So, to make the stats relevant to my point, we'd need to see short yardage success success rate in 1-back vs 2-back sets. Even then, with a heavy dose of Kuhn in the second half the past 2 seasons, he still wasn't on the field for half the snaps, reinforcing the conclusion that 1-back was the preference in other than short yardage situations even with an out-of-shape Lacy.

    Abandoning Kuhn only goes to reinforce the preference.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
  15. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Actually I made a mistake calculating Lacy's success on third and fourth down runs with fewer than two yards to gain during his first two seasons as his success rate was at 66.7% during that period. While that number is lower than the league average (68.3%) it isn't terrible either.

    Football Outsiders supports the idea that a QB sneak is the best play in short yardage situations but of course teams have to consider the risk of their franchise player getting hurt.

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2016/2015-short-yardage-results

    The Packers have thrown the ball on third and fourth down with two yards to go on 65.9% over the last three seasons. That number is lower than the league average of 69.2%.

    Unfortunately I don't have any access to information about that.
     

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