Not so fast boys and girls ...not at all. Your buddy Zook and his boys once again caught with pants down and the player is getting the full blame....WRONG !
Special Teams … Again
Last week’s loss to the Rams was frustrating for a number of reasons. The offense put up early points and moved the ball consistently throughout the game. The defense held McVay’s high-powered unit in check by limiting the explosive plays that have propelled them to the league’s only undefeated record. For the Packers, this was arguably the most complete game on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, but then comes that pesky third phase of the game: special teams.
There were a slew of issues throughout the game:
Second quarter (8:56) – Rams P Johnny Hekker completes a pass on a fake punt for 12 yards.
Second quarter (3:04) – Rams punt downed at the 1-yard line. Next play: safety.
Fourth quarter (5:45) – Packers P JK Scott’s 25-yard punt gives the ball to the Rams at the GB 40. Down one point and essentially one first down away from field-goal range.
Fourth quarter (2:05) – Montgomery fumbles kickoff return.
Let’s discuss the most polarizing of the plays, the fumble late in the game by Montgomery. If he was told “no matter what” you take a knee, it’s tough to defend him in that situation. However, catching the ball 2-3 yards deep in the end zone is questionable for any returner to make a split-second decision. Now, it was unfortunate he didn’t hold on to the ball in that situation, but it brought to my attention something rather peculiar with the Packers return unit.
The NFL eliminated three-plus man wedges on kickoffs in 2009, and then went even further this offseason in eliminating all wedges and double-teams. Other new kickoff rule changes this summer required kickoff return units to have 8 of 11 players within a 15-yard zone before the kick. Back deep are only a returner and two isolated blockers.
This rule change has altered the way special team coordinators are using personnel. In previous seasons, most return units featured a lineman working into the wedge/double team but without the double-team aspect.
Those roles are now isolated. Just about every team in the NFL is now using TE, RB, FB, DE’s in this role: players that are most athletic in space.
The Packers seem to be only team featuring a 300-pound offensive lineman in this spot, reserve Lucas Patrick. And who missed the block on the kickoff return that got Montgomery hit? Yes, Patrick. He has been in this role since Week 2. It is a tough spot to put an interior offensive lineman in space to block moving targets with 30-40 yards of steam.
The kickoff return team has been putrid all season. The Packers are 26th in kickoff return average (19.9 yards) and 22nd in average starting field position after a kickoff (24.4-yard line). They also have no returns of 30-plus yards on the season and have had several big returns come back via penalty.
Well I think it's also time to start putting blame and calling out someone who often gets overlooked and gets a pass. Some of you have said as much but let's say it again, clearly, Mark Murphy doesn't have the balls to do what it takes to make this team a contender again. Accountability has been a huge problem for awhile. But accountability really starts with Murphy and he has failed... Big time...
Murphy and BOD care more about $$$ than trophies. Welcome to the new NFL that Gooddell has made where trophies don't matter anymore.