The Electric Commentary

Monday, November 14, 2005

Waiting for Gado

That's more like it.

Sam Gado may never have a game like that again, but if nothing else it serves as an important reminder of just how crucial the running game is to Favre and the passing offense. While the Pack has suffered massive injuries at RB, remember that even when healthy Ahman Green was having a terrible season. When the running game has clicked this year, during Najeh Davenport's few productive appearances, the offense as a whole has clicked.

I wasn't as impressed with Gado as I was with the line. Did benching Adrian Klemm actually make that big of a difference? Last week, when I was at the Pitt game Gado looked like a hard runner who was too slow to the hole, but on Sunday he was routinely getting through the first layer and punishing linebackers. It is obvious that the line improved significantly this week.

The other big factor for the Pack this week was that they managed to play from ahead. Except for New Orleans the team has been behind for basically the entire season, and as the Football Outsiders have noticed, the Packers are absolutely horrible in "late and close" situations:

A team which outscores its opponents 168-159 should be a lot closer to 4-4 than 1-7. The disconnect isn't just one big win over the New Orleans Saints of San Antonio the Packers have also lost four games by a field goal or less. The problem is that the Packers are the league's worst offense in what we call "late and close" situations: second half, game within eight points. Favre averages 4.8 net yards per pass in these situations with an interception once every nine passes. The rest of the time, he averages 7.3 net yards per pass and throws an interception once every 46 passes. (For the DVOA-inclined, the Packers are -78.1 percent in late and close offense. San Francisco is the only other team below— 35 percent.)


I think this can be explained by the fact that Donald Driver is the only above average skill position player still healthy (other than Favre). Late in games, if you're trailing, you are going to be restricted to passing exclusively. In these situations, it is crucial to have an above average #2 receiver to take advantage of double coverage on the #1. Right now it's easy to take Driver out of the game and make Chatman and Thurman beat you. If the Packers can play from ahead, they can still be successful on offense.

A few other quick notes.

1. Al Harris continues to have a spectacular season at corner.

2. Vick looked slow to me. Linemen were catching up to him. What gives?

3. Nick Barnett actually had a pretty good game, and not just because he recovered a few fumbles. He maintained his gap responsibility and didn't overpursue. If you're MLB is out of position against Atlanta, they'll run all over you.

4. Bubba Franks looks like he's fully recovered. He actually looks faster and leaner to me than at any other point in his career.

5. B.J. Sander is still a disaster as a holder. It was a bad snap, but it was not impossible to field.

6. Longwell is still excellent as long as the ball gets to where it is supposed to be.

7. Jim Bates did a remarkable job changing up his normal scheme and pressuring Vick and Dunn into mistakes. Atlanta was clearly not prepared to deal with extra pressure.

8. The pressure had the added bonus of forcing Vick to try and pass. He's still a terrible passer. Instead of LBs chasing him around he was forced to scramble away from DBs. After Al Harris got into the backfield a few times he looked tentative.

9. I think that Carolina will finish ahead of Atlanta to take the NFC South, and that Atlanta may end up missing the playoffs altogether.

10. Every game left on the schedule is winnable, with the possible exception of Seattle. Getting into the 5-11 - 6-10 range is possible. We finish with:

Minnesota
@Philly
@Chicago
Detroit
@Baltimore
Chicago
Seattle

2 Comments:

  • Wells may have made a difference but consider two other things:
    First Pitt's run defense is much better than Atlanta's. Second, Gado actually had time to practice as the primary back. I bet that last week he had a much harder time finding the holes that were there. I agree with your playing with a lead point as well.

    Also, Vick only looked slow becasue according to the Mil. J-S, Bates scheme was to have people not blow containment, thus Vick couldn't just bolt because someone was likely to be in his way. Instead he had to zig-zag making him easier to catch.

    By Anonymous Scott, at 10:11 AM  

  • Vick is in the middle of an identity crisis (quarter-with-a-half-back vs. pocket passer). Plus his O-line and Pack D conspired to put him under a ton of pressure. With all of that (and 3 freaking fumbles) considered, he did ok.

    The Packers played a pretty good game all around though.

    By Anonymous Rashid Muhammad, at 2:32 PM  

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