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  • Packers offensive woes sound familiar

    by Tom Fanning, Packers.com
    posted 09/24/2009

    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said this week that Green Bay's offense is at its best when it can find a rhythm, but their struggles on first and second down have contributed to the Packers' inability to develop that during the first two games.

    After ranking fifth in the league in 2008 in third-down conversions with a 44.2 percentage, the offense has seen a drop-off there through the first two weeks of this season, converting just 10-of-27 (37.0 percent) opportunities, which ranks tied for 20th in the NFL.

    "I think we need to help (Aaron) more, and number one is winning more on first and second down and creating better third-down situations for him to be competitive in," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "Our biggest problem on offense is the down-and-distances we have been playing in generated by the negative plays we have had."

    The Packers' 17 negative plays through two games, which doesn't include penalties, are the second most in the league, behind only Minnesota's 19. Besides the league-leading 10 sacks Green Bay has allowed, it also has had six negative rushing plays and one passing play that lost yardage.

    That has played a large part in the Packers' need to pick up 10 yards or more 12 times on 27 third downs, second only to San Francisco's 16. In 2008 when the offense converted at a higher clip, Green Bay faced third-and-10 or more just 57 times all season.

    "When you are putting yourselves in third-and-12s, third-and-16s, third-and-20s, guys know they can pin their ears back and come after you," guard Daryn Colledge said. "We have got to run the ball well, establish it, and put ourselves in some short down-and-distances and let A-Rod and these receivers do what they do best."

    Of those 12 third-and-10-plus situations in the first two games, the Packers converted just one of them, a 22-yard pass from Rodgers to tight end Jermichael Finley on a third-and-10 on Green Bay's final possession against Cincinnati.

    Of the Packers' 27 third-down plays, 16 of them (59.3 percent) have been third-and-8 or more, with just two conversions. Compare that to the 8-of-11 (72.7 percent) third downs they have converted when they are looking at third-and-7 or less, and the impact of the negative-yardage plays is obvious.

    Getting into those improved third-down situations starts with production on first down, and that hasn't been there to this point either. Green Bay has gained just 213 yards on the opening down, second to last in the NFL, as the Packers rank last in the league in average yards to go on second down at 9.37.

    That number has also been impacted by the sacks that the Packers have allowed, with six of the 10 coming on first down for a total yardage loss of 42 yards. It only makes sense that when they are facing long-yardage situations so often on second down, establishing the run becomes much more challenging.

    "When we get into a rhythm we are tough to stop, and teams have been successful in kind of breaking that rhythm," Rodgers said. "Some of it has been the field-position battle because we started inside our 20 or what not. But we had a couple of drives there where we were inside the 35-yard line and then had a sack or a negative-yardage play, which took us out of field-goal range and then we took points off the board. We need to stay in third-and-manageable, and that in turn will give us a better opportunity to run the ball."

    Because of the difficult down-and-distance situations, those opportunities just haven't been there as much in the running game, with only 40 rushing attempts through two games, second fewest in the league, compared to 67 passing attempts. The Packers also have only five runs of 10-plus yards, with three of those coming from Rodgers against Cincinnati, but he said the responsibility falls to the entire offense in the quest for more explosiveness.

    "The zone-blocking scheme is all about efficiency and hitting your aiming points every time and the fullback inserting the correct position and the running back making one cut and getting downhill," Rodgers said. "If we do all of those things correctly and I carry out the fake back-side and the receivers block, then that's when those 10, 12, 15, 40, 80-yard runs come. We haven't had those yet because it hasn't been all 11 of us on offense doing it the right way every time."

    Injury/participation update
    Cornerback/safety Jarrett Bush (ankle) was added to the injury report but was a full participant. McCarthy alluded to the fact that Bush had an ankle injury last season as well but didn't miss any games.

    Running back Brandon Jackson (ankle), who was limited Wednesday in his first regular-season practice, suffered a setback and did not participate in Thursday's practice.

    Tackle Chad Clifton (ankle) did not participate and won't play on Sunday. Safety Atari Bigby (knee) is out.

    Kicker Mason Crosby (abdomen), who was limited on Wednesday, participated fully on Thursday.

    Safety Nick Collins (chest) was limited for the second straight day, but McCarthy said he anticipates that Collins will be able to play on Sunday.

    Fullback Korey Hall (shoulder/concussion) was limited and linebacker Aaron Kampman (hand) and nose tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) were full participants.

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  • Rambos
    Packers-Rams: Six Things To Look For
    by Rambos
    .
    Scribe Written on September 24, 2009
    (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) The St. Louis Rams host the Green Bay Packers Sunday in their home opener. The Rams are winless through two weeks, losing 28-0 to Seattle, and 9-7 to Washington. The Packers are 1-1 following a 21-15 win over Chicago, and a 31-24 loss to Cincinnati.

    There may be more Packers fans at the Edward Jones Dome than Rams fans with thousands of Packers faithful traveling to see their team.

    Couple that with disappointed Rams season ticket holders selling their seats, and the dome once again becomes "Lambeau South." That's how it was referred to two years ago when Green Bay came to town and left with a lopsided victory.

    If the Rams expect to stay close and have a chance to win at the end, they must do these three things:



    Establish Steven Jackson early: The Rams finally got Jackson going last week in the loss to the Redskins. Jackson had 17 carries for 104 yards, and an additional four receptions for another 15 yards. He needs more touches this week, probably 20 by halftime, to soften the Packers secondary and open it up for Marc Bulger.



    Hold onto the ball, Donnie Avery: Avery was the victim of a couple key drops last week, and is not looking like an NFL No. 1 receiver, as the Rams hoped he would be. The first receiver taken in the 2008 draft also had a fumble inside the Washington red zone that cost his team some points.

    If Avery has better ball control against Washington, the Rams win. They need him to secure the ball Sunday against the Packers.



    Cover the tight ends: The Packers have two very good tight ends in Donald Lee and Jermichael Finley. St. Louis has had trouble covering tight ends through the first two weeks of the season. Seattle's John Carlson caught six balls for 95 yards and two scores in week one, while Chris Cooley had six catches for 83 yards last week.

    If the Rams safeties and linebackers can take Lee and Finley away from Aaron Rodgers, things should be easier on the St. Louis defense.

    Those are the three things the Rams must do.

    They must avoid the following three things:



    Giving Aaron Rodgers time in the pocket: Rodgers has a strong, accurate arm, and will pick apart most secondaries when given enough time. The Packers have allowed an NFL-high 10 sacks through two games, and starting tackle Chad Clifton is out with an ankle injury. The Rams got their first, and only, sack of the year last week.

    They must take advantage of a weak Packers line and force Rodgers to throw under duress.



    Picking up dumb penalties: In week one, it was four personal fouls, including two from Richie Incognito. The Rams were also penalized for having 12 men on the field, which negated a...
    -09-24-2009, 05:49 PM
  • RamWraith
    Unlevel Playing Field: Field position, fan support help Packers
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Monday, Dec. 17 2007

    For nearly three quarters, the St. Louis game plan worked effectively and the
    Rams stuck with it. They established Steven Jackson and the running game early,
    and took their shots with Marc Bulger in the passing game.

    Through three quarters, the Rams had a 2-to-1 edge in possession time and had
    outgained Brett Favre and the potent Green Bay offense by nearly 100 yards.
    Yet, when the Rams looked up at the scoreboard at the Edward Jones Dome — aka
    Lambeau Field South — they trailed by two touchdowns.

    How did this happen?

    Well, some gridiron historians refer to football as the "100-yard war." On
    Sunday, it became more like a "50-yard skirmish" for the Packers. Thanks in
    large part to lousy special teams play, the average starting point for the
    Packers' drives was their 48-yard line.

    Of Green Bay's 12 offensive series, six started in St. Louis territory. Three
    others started at the Packers' 40, 44 and 48-yard lines.

    "I just know when we're on offense and we hit the 50, it's kind of like you're
    going downhill," Bulger said.

    The Packers were going downhill all afternoon, like a sled on the snow at Art
    Hill. Of the 53 offensive plays by Green Bay, 41 began in St. Louis territory.

    "You're not going to beat a good football team like (Green Bay) doing that,"
    coach Scott Linehan said.

    Given such a lopsided edge in field position, it's almost surprising that the
    final score wasn't more lopsided than Green Bay 33, Rams 14.

    "They have only two losses for a reason," Bulger said. "They're a good team.
    They made us play with that field position."

    And made them pay because of that field position. Green Bay's victory coupled
    with Seattle's loss to Carolina clinched a first-round playoff bye for the
    Packers (12-2).

    On a day when Favre eclipsed Dan Marino's NFL record for career passing yards,
    it seemed as if all of Green Bay was on hand. With Rams fans continuing to bail
    on their 3-11 team, thousands of "lower bowl" tickets belonging to Rams
    season-ticket holders ended up in the hands of Packers fans.

    Green and gold were the colors of the day. Cheeseheads everywhere. Dozens of
    pro-Packers signs throughout the stadium. There was no way to know officially,
    but it looked as if there were more Packers fans than Rams fans in attendance.

    "It was a joke," Jackson said. "It's as simple as that. The whole (lower) level
    was Green Bay Packers. We allowed them to put up signs. It's a joke."

    "That was the worst, as far as the other team's fans,"...
    -12-17-2007, 05:23 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Packers] Packers timing it just right
    by DJRamFan
    Green Bay has won five straight since it flopped in its last appearance on 'Monday Night Football'


    By Todd McMahon
    News-Chronicle
    There was a time, not long ago, when a general consensus had formed that the Green Bay Packers' time was all but up in the 2004 season.

    They left a national TV audience equal parts flabbergasted and appalled the evening of Oct. 11. The Tennessee Titans stormed Lambeau Field and battered the Packers into submission by way of a 48-27 defeat, the most points ever surrendered by the home team at its sacred stadium.

    Like that, the two-time reigning NFC North champions had sunk to the unfathomable low of being at the bottom of the division with a 1-4 record spun out of a four-game losing streak.

    That was the last time the Packers had a co-starring role on ABC's "Monday Night Football." My, how the times have changed in the seven weeks leading up to their return engagement - and there's more to it than the network's catching flak for one of its desperate housewives baring herself to Philadelphia star receiver Terrell Owens in a recent pregame locker-room spoof.

    At 8 tonight, the coast-to-coast TV audience will be introduced to a Green Bay team that has taken on a new, albeit familiar identity. All the Packers have been doing since bombing in their last "MNF" episode is win.

    They put a five-game winning streak on the line against St. Louis (5-5) at Lambeau Field. At stake for the 6-4 Packers is maintaining a hold on the NFC North lead, a concept that seemed a pipe dream in the wake of the debacle against the Titans.

    "We know how it feels to be 1-4. That feels pretty bad. We've been through that, and we don't want to go back there," said right guard Marco Rivera.

    No turning, or looking, back is precisely the outlook head coach Mike Sherman drilled into his players' heads Wednesday morning. It was his first meeting with the team since addressing it late last Sunday night, following its gritty 16-13 comeback win at Houston in another prime-time game.

    He paralleled what transpired in those four quarters to how the Packers' season has unfolded to date.

    A 13-3 deficit through a dismal three quarters mirrored their 1-4 start in the win-loss ledger. "In that game, things weren't looking very good," Sherman reflected.

    Lo and behold, the Packers caught fire in the final 15 minutes to score 13 unanswered points, pulling out the victory on Ryan Longwell's 46-yard field goal as time expired. A microcosm of how they've rallied in the past month and a half to string together the five wins.

    "The guys hung together throughout the game; they believed in themselves," Sherman continued with the analogy. "You're down 13-3 going into the fourth quarter, and guys battled back. I thought...
    -11-29-2004, 01:21 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Packers] Offensive line shoots for big finish
    by DJRamFan
    It’s a long shot, but group could match Dolphins’ NFL record for fewest sacks

    By Pete Dougherty
    PackersNews.com

    The Green Bay Packers are protecting Brett Favre nearly as well as any team has protected its quarterback in NFL history.

    Favre has been sacked five times in 10 games this season, which is on pace for eight sacks for the year. The NFL record for fewest sacks allowed in a season is seven, set by the Dan Marino-led Miami Dolphins in 1988.

    With six games still to play, beginning Monday night against St. Louis, the Packers will need an extraordinary finish to tie the Dolphins’ record, let alone beat it.

    But they’ve had five sackless games already this season, so while breaking or even tying the record has to be considered a long shot, it’s also not out of reach.

    “If we give up less than eight sacks, it would be a pretty incredible feat,” said Mark Tauscher, the Packers’ right tackle. “I don’t think we’re going to sit here and dwell on it. The most important thing is to be effective moving the ball. But it’s something, if we can break it, we’d like to do it.”

    The five sacks in 10 games is barely one-fourth of the league average of 22.9, and only two other teams are in single digits for sacks allowed: Indianapolis (six) and Denver (seven).

    It’s also a continuation of the Packers’ excellent pass protection last season, when they set the team record for fewest sacks allowed in a 16-game season with 19.

    Perhaps most surprising is that the Packers are protecting Favre better than ever without starting center Mike Flanagan, who was lost for the season in Week 4 because of a patellar-tendon injury. Grey Ruegamer, a sixth-year pro with only three career starts coming into the season, has recovered from a shaky start in his first game against the New York Giants.

    All in all, things are going so well that some of the offensive linemen fear jinxing themselves.

    “Just talking about it makes me nervous,” guard Marco Rivera said.

    As in the running game, pass protection is very much a collective effort. Halfback Ahman Green, the NFL’s eighth-leading rusher, helps because opponents have to honor his play-action fakes. The running backs and fullbacks play an important role in protection, too, both in picking up blitzes and chip blocking before they go into their pass routes.

    Also, Favre has an excellent sense for pass rushers closing in, and though he’s not the scrambling threat he was several years ago, he’s still adept at avoiding rushers and making throws outside the pocket.

    Nevertheless, the offensive line is the key to pass protection, and the Packers’ line is peaking with the bulk of that group in its fourth season starting together. Coach Mike Sherman ensured that continuity by re-signing left tackle Chad Clifton as the protector of Favre’s...
    -11-28-2004, 05:37 PM
  • RamWraith
    Packers give the Rams extra motivation
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Dec. 16 2007

    For the past couple of months, the Rams have been under the radar, out of sight
    and basically out of mind in NFL circles. That's what happens when you open the
    season with eight straight losses.

    On Sunday, the Rams play somebody from the other side of the tracks. For only
    the second time since October, the Rams play a team with a winning record. And
    it's not just any team. It's the Green Bay Packers, arguably the most storied
    franchise in NFL history.

    At 11-2, Green Bay can clinch a first-round bye with a victory, coupled with a
    Seattle loss (or tie) at Carolina. A Green Bay tie and a Seattle loss also does
    the trick.

    The incomparable Brett Favre, at age 38, can surpass one of the NFL's biggest
    passing milestones if he throws for 184 yards Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.
    That total will allow Favre to break Dan Marino's record for career passing
    yards, set at 61,361.

    Even at age 33 and in his 12th NFL season, defensive tackle La'Roi Glover
    admits to being a bit more energized than usual because of the caliber of the
    opponent.

    "The motivation is there because of who Brett Favre is and the things he's been
    able to accomplish in the NFL," Glover said. "So it's going to be a little
    heightened excitement."

    But it's not as if the Rams are going to seek out Favre's autograph during TV
    timeouts.

    "He's a quarterback who is good at what he does," running back Steven Jackson
    said. "But you can't get caught up in that. We are playing the Green Bay
    Packers. If you are in awe of who you're playing, then that's a loss already.
    We have to go out and take care of business."

    As for Favre's pending record, which can be achieved at the Rams' expense with
    that modest total of 184 yards?

    "I'm not worried about Brett Favre setting any type of records," cornerback Ron
    Bartell said. "I'm worried about getting the win. He's set so many records in
    his career, who cares about if he passes for 180 yards? I just want to get a
    win."

    For the Rams, 3-10 and officially out of playoff consideration, getting a
    victory will be no mean feat. Not only are the Packers ranked No. 3 in the NFL
    in total offense, they come to St. Louis with the league's ninth-ranked
    defense. With a special teams unit that ranks in the top 10 in most major
    categories, the Packers have few soft spots.

    "They can run the ball. They've got, to me, the greatest passer that's ever
    played the game," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "And they've got
    great receivers. So we have our work cut out...
    -12-16-2007, 08:54 AM
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