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04.07.2019 09:19
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Jimmy Graham Color Rush Jersey , we at Acme Packing Company are breaking down the 2017 Green Bay Packers position-by-position. Today we conclude the analysis with a look at the Packers’ special teams units.Kicker: Mason Crosby30/37 Field Goals (81.1%) 34/36 Extra Points (94.4%)Looking at the stats of Mason Crosby’s year, it doesn’t fall far from his career percentages. Crosby has a career percentage of 80.4% on field goals and 98% on extra points. Those looking in from the outside wouldn’t think anything of that but those of us who watched this year know it’s a different story. Call it extremely bad luck as every kick, except for the missed PAT against Buffalo, had a major ramification on a game. Crosby’s first miss came at the end of regulation against the Vikings, that game ended in a tie. The infamous game in Detroit, Crosby missed four field goals and one extra point. That’s 13 points left on the field in a game the Packers lost by eight. He missed a field goal in the first quarter against Seattle when the Packers lost by three, and he missed a field goal with under two minutes left to go in the three point loss to the Cardinals. That’s a rough year.It was also a down year for Crosby on kickoffs. He only had touchbacks on 41 of his 83 kickoffs. That’s a 49.3% and the only kicker that had a lower percentage than that was Sam Martin in Detroit (46.5%).If we turn to the positives, Crosby was 5-7 from over 50 yards with a long of 53. He missed just two field goals and one extra point in Green Bay. That is an accomplishment in itself. With the bad weather and wind that can fill Lambeau Field, Green Bay is one of the toughest places to kick in the league. Crosby also bounced back well from that disastrous Detroit game. The next week, he went 3/3 on extra points and 4/4 in field goals including the game winning field goal against San Francisco. He wound up as the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for that performance.Punter: JK Scott71 punts, 3,176 yards gross, 44.7 gross average, 38.8 net average, one blocked punt, nine touchbacks, 19 downed inside the 20 (26.7%)JK Scott was a fifth round draft pick in 2018 and made last year’s punter, Justin Vogel, expendable. Oddly enough, looking back at Vogel’s stats from 2017, they were almost identical punters. Vogel had a slightly higher net average but the potential of Scott was worth the draft pick. Scott’s long frame lets him generate a lot of power out of his leg and his most noticeable trait is that he rarely lets his plant foot come off the ground when he punts. While his average (44.7) is in the lower half of the league, the biggest positive is that he gets a hang time close to five seconds. That led to 26 fair catches, which was second in the league. Hopefully, new special teams coach, Sean Mennenga, can work with Scott to improve his distance while keeping that hang time.Long Snapper: Hunter BradleyBradley was selected in the seventh round in 2018 and replaced the trio of Brent Goode, Taybor Pepper and Derek Hart from 2017. Goode was a mainstay in Green Bay since 2008 but it was time to find someone younger going forward.Bradley had a very good year as far as long snappers go. While he did have one bad snap that lead to a blocked punt, he did not have the same consistency troubles that Pepper or Hart had last year. Bradley doesn’t offer much in the realm of covering kicks as he ended up with only one tackle but very few if any long snappers provide much in coverage anymore. Kick Returners: Ty Montgomery , Bashaud Breeland, J’Mon Moore, Jamaal Williams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Trevor DavisOne of the biggest flaws of the 2018 special teams came in the return game. The Packers had absolutely no one who provided a consistent return game or even pose a threat to opponents. The best returner the Packers had was Trevor Davis. While Davis has the speed and shiftiness to be a very good returner, he was snake bitten with injuries all year. Davis only got into two games midway through the season where he only got one kick return for 20 yards. With Davis succumbed to injuries at the start of year, the Packers turned to Ty Montgomery. Montgomery returned kicks last year and has been very average at best. Montgomery averaged 20 yards on his ten kick returns. Montgomery was traded to Baltimore after he decided to take a kick out of the end zone and fumbled with just over two minutes left in the game versus the Rams. That denied Aaron Rodgers the chance to run the two minute drill and the Packers lost by two points.After the Montgomery trade, the Packers tried many faces on kick return but never settled on one person more than the other. Bashaud Breeland got the most returns with eight but averaged only 21.6 yards per return. Jamaal Williams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Davis got their chance but also only averaged in the low twenties per return as well. If there is a little hope it might have been with J’Mon Moore. While he only had four returns on the year, he averaged 25.5 yards per return. While that’s nothing to go crazy about, with more work, maybe being a return man could be in Moore’s future. At least it could give the Packers an option after Davis in 2019.Punt Returners: Tramon Williams, Randall Cobb, Trevor Davis, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Kevin KingPunt returner was just as big an issue as the kick returner. With Trevor Davis injured most of the year, the Packers didn’t have many options here either so they seemed to try anyone. While it was only two games, Davis was the best returner. He had four returns and averaged 11 yards per return. The Packers did try some of the young players with Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson and Kevin King. Jackson and King only had three attempts on the season but all were fair caught. The electric Alexander, how had a history of being a good returner in college, only got four attempts and averaged 6.3 yards per. For the most consistency, the Packers turned to Tramon Williams and Randall Cobb. Williams got the most chances as he had 12 returns for and averaged, a team leading, 6.9 yards per attempt. When he was healthy, Randall Cobb also got some punt returns. Cobb averaged 6.6 yards on his seven attempts. Not much to brag about with these two as far as average went but they stepped up when the Packers needed them and tried to give the team a spark like when they were younger.Overall Grade: FLooking at the main special teams players in Mason Crosby, JK Scott and Hunter Bradley, giving a F might be a little harsh. Between the three of them DeShone Kizer Jersey , I probably would have been more generous and given a D. However, we have to look at the bigger picture here. With the mess that was the return game adding into the poor coverage teams that Ron Zook lead out there week after week, the only option was to give an F.I can’t remember a time when the coverage and return games were so poor. From all the successful fake punts against, to the fake field goal against New England, the Packers just never seemed prepared or had given the proper time to practice for what each team threw at them. Gladly, it lead to the end of Ron Zook as special teams coordinator. Sean Mennenga takes over in 2019 and he will have his hands full. Let’s hope he gets Mason Crosby back on track and keeps developing JK Scott. Still, the biggest concern will be in the return game. Getting Trevor Davis healthy will be a big help, otherwise the Packers need to put a high priority finding someone in free agency or the draft. Way back in 2011, current Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets under Rex Ryan. 2011 was a turbulent season for New York as, following up a near-Super Bowl run in 2010, things fell apart completely. That season is captured wonderfully by Nicholas Dawidoff in his 2013 book, “Collision Low Crossers,” in which Dawidoff was given unprecedented access to the Jets’ coaching staff and players for the entire 2011 season. For a fan of Wisconsin sports, the book turns out to be an extremely interesting read as two of the main characters of the story are Pettine and current Wisconsin Badgers’ defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, then a safety for the Jets.Every member of the coaching staff is viewed as a workaholic, and no one more than Pettine, who is portrayed as a 23-hour-a-day film rat, but the contrast between Pettine and Ryan is stark. Ryan is presented as defensive savant, who only needs to study the tape once to see what others still can’t see after five or six rewatches. Pettine, on the other hand, is a paragon of detail-oriented preparation, someone who broke into the league as an underpaid technology-forward tape watcher for the Ravens (while secretly cashing out his 401K in order to hide a substantial pay cut from his then-wife), but who doesn’t see the game at the same level as Ryan. Ryan is Mozart, Pettine is Salieri. While they work well together if Ryan is leading the way, Ryan can’t help but criticize and interfere when Pettine is given more power.Ryan and Pettine spend much of the book bouncing ideas off of each other, often forgetting whose idea it was in the first place. However, it’s an uneasy relationship, with Ryan giving Pettine more and more responsibility Tramon Williams Color Rush Jersey , only to quickly grab it back when he disagrees with something he sees. Everyone in the locker room that year loved Ryan, but not so with Pettine. As a defensive coordinator’s defensive coordinator, he played the role of bad cop to Ryan’s jovial good cop while taking much of the blame (sometimes deservedly) when things went wrong. Pettine wasn’t exactly Ryan’s fall-guy, but it’s unsurprising that the gang split up after the season.Working for guys like Ryan can be difficult. They see and understand things at such a high level compared to almost everyone else, that it’s actually difficult to learn much of use from them. Bill Belichick, who is also discussed at length, is similar in that he primarily needs coaches to execute his vision, not necessarily to bring additional ideas to the table. It is, I believe, the chief reason so many of his assistants fail when they leave the Patriots. There is a lot to like about Pettine, as his pro-technology, meticulous nature, and old-school work ethic likely make him an effective, process-oriented coach. That said, I suspect he excels at the tactics of coaching more than the strategy, and some of his defense’s numbers on early downs vs. late downs bears that out. The Packers, while well-prepared on 3rd and long, were eaten alive on first and second down.Likewise, the book makes clear that Ryan really isn’t a great fit as a head-coach. He is too willing to delegate on offense and completely unable to delegate on defense, leading to a lack of overall chemistry and a volatile relationship on both sides of the ball. I’m sure it’s commonplace on NFL teams for offensive and defensive players to have uneasy relationships, but in this instance, Ryan’s lack of offensive direction compounded the problem. I doubt there is a universe where a Mark Sanchez-led offense succeeds, but there probably is one where the the Jets’ offense doesn’t repeatedly beat itself, allowing the defense to secure more wins.Everything came to a head for these 2011 Jets in a late-season game against the Giants that saw Sanchez throw the ball 59 times despite being in a close game. With Pettine calling the defense, and Jim Leonhard missing his second game of the season, the Jets’ defense allowed an unusual number of big plays, including a 99-yard touchdown to Victor Cruz. It was the nail in the coffin for the pairing.It’s possible that Pettine will yet succeed, but the book made me long for Ryan as the superior defensive mind. If I were looking for someone to combat the new , innovative offensive minds in the game, it wouldn’t be Pettine, who needs to process a lot of information before cranking out alternative plans. Jim LeonhardPerhaps the biggest surprise of Collision Low Crossers is the juxtaposition of the all-world Darrelle Revis, perhaps the finest corner to ever play the game, with the supremely talented but deeply flawed Antonio Cromartie and the less-talented but hugely important safety Jim Leonhard. Leonhard is the current defensive coordinator for the University of Wisconsin, where he also starred as a ball-hawking safety. In the book, Leonhard is portrayed as a coach-on-the-field, responsible for making the calls for one of the NFL’s best defense while relying on his football intelligence to allow him to compete with faster, stronger players. When Leonhard is lost for the season to a knee injury for the second year in a row, the defense goes to pieces for the second year in a row, as no one behind Leonhard is capable of implementing the defensive calls as well or as quickly. In fact, when the coaching staff and front office are seeking his replacement, they don’t focus on forty times or agility drills, but on Wonderlic scores (eventually settling on journeyman safety Gerald Alexander and his solid, if unspectacular 25). Leonhard also comes across as a superb locker room presence, able to laugh at himself in the way confident people can without actually sacrificing any charisma, while diffusing petty squabbles. Everyone on the team seems to respect Leonhard, and he comes across as one of the few people outside or Ryan who really seems to understand the Ryan defense at a deep level. It’s no surprise that Leonhard is a rising star as a college football coach, and if he isn’t a high-level head coach in the next several year, I’ll be shocked. I actually found myself preferring Leonhard to Pettine as a coaching candidate once I was finished reading. “Collision Low Crossers” is fundamentally a book about the Jets, but for any Packers or Badgers fan wondering about their team’s defensive coordinator, you won’t find a more in-depth profile. It’s a pretty breezy read, and it offers plenty of insight into the inner workings of a football team including a few fascinating one-off facts. For instance, the Jets did not value wide receivers in the draft because “they only touch the ball a handful of times per game,” which explains a lot about their offense. They also didn’t trust Penn State pro-day times because the PSU facility sloped noticeably downward, and running drills were all downhill as a result. It’s well worth your time, especially if you happen to be interested in the direction of the defenses for the two highest-profile football teams in the state of Wisconsin.

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