Green Bay Packers: 5 Scheme Adjustments the Packers Should Consider in 2012
The Green Bay Packers have the necessary requirements to win a championship, and a few tweaks in their scheme could land them back in the Super Bowl.
The Packers have a historically great offense, but some small changes can push them even further.
As for the defense, the group was terrible in 2011. However, they were very good just one year before that, and if the coaches rethink the defensive strategy, the group could return to its 2010 form.
Here are five scheme changes Green Bay could execute to improve for the 2012 season.
Throw the Ball More on Third Down
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The Green Bay Packers have a historically great passing offense but a very mediocre running game.
The rushers, however, went on to gain 1,558 yards and average 3.9 yards per carry, which gave Green Bay the 27th best running game in football.
The Pack converted 48.1 percent of their third downs last season, which was the third-best mark in the league. 230 of those first downs came through the air, while just 89 of them were gained on the ground.
Green Bay has one of the best receiving corps in the league and is capable of putting several sure-handed pass catchers on the field on important plays. Tight end Jermichael Finley in particular is a nightmare to guard in short-yardage passing downs.
With so many receiving options and Rodgers, the most efficient quarterback in the league, it's hard to imagine why the Green Bay coaches ever run the ball on an important down.
Sure, there are some situations where running the ball to pick up a fresh set of downs is a good idea, but it should not happen too often in Green Bay. When the chips are down and the Pack need to pick up a first down, the ball needs to be in Rodgers' hands.
Run the Wildcat with Randall Cobb
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Randall Cobb showed in his rookie season that he is an electrifying athlete in the open field, but his greatest attribute may be his versatility.
Cobb played quarterback at Kentucky before transitioning to wide receiver/kick returner for the Green Bay Packers.
The second-year man also played running back in college, giving him a perfect skill set to receive the ball in the wildcat formation.
The Packers struggled to run the ball consistently last year and need explore new and creative ways to gain yards without relying so heavily on Aaron Rodgers. Putting the ball in Cobb's hands would give the Packers' MVP quarterback a breather once or twice a game.
Cobb's ability to line up at different positions makes him a perfect player for gadget plays. This former Wildcat would excel when running the wildcat, and it would make the Packers a more unpredictable team.
Use the Nickel Package More Often
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Nobody used the nickel package more effectively in 2010 than the Green Bay Packers, but the team struggled to rush the passer in this formation last year.
The Packers' version of the nickel uses two down lineman and four linebackers.
The formation puts the Packers' defensive backs in the best position to succeed. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams are both capable corners, while Charles Woodson is at his best guarding slot receivers.
Playing Woodson in the slot also puts him close to the line of scrimmage, where he is most dangerous.
During the Super Bowl run, Cullen Jenkins and B.J. Raji were used a the defensive lineman in the nickel package, and both excelled in the role. But Jenkins left the following offseason in free agency, and no player on the Green Bay roster was able to adequately fill his spot.
From 2010 to 2011, the Packers dropped from second in the NFL is sacks to 27th. The pass rush was frustratingly inept too often last season.
Now, with talented rookies Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels in the mix, the team has players with the ability to rush the passer in the nickel package. Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove also have the required skill set, but both will serve suspensions before they see the field.
With the right group of players, Green Bay can again rely heavily on the nickel package to excel on defense.
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The Green Bay Packers blitzed a lot last year and came away with nothing to show for it.
The Packers actually blitzed more in 2011 than it did in 2010, yet still registered significantly less sacks.
In the first seven games of last season, Dom Capers dialed up blitzes on nearly 40 percent of plays, compared to 33 percent during 2010.
All the blitz did last season was take players out of the secondary. After giving up an NFL record 4,796 passing yards, the secondary needs all the help it can get.
As the New York Giants proved last year, effectively rushing the passer with just four players can break down even the best offenses. During the playoffs, the Giants almost never blitzed, yet still wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
Green Bay cannot measure up to the talent that New York has on the defensive line, but after this year's draft, the Packers have several players who can do some damage.
Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels will all likely play a role on passing downs next year. These talented rookies can team up with Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji to pressure QBs without any help.
The Packers now have the talent to effectively rush the passer with just four men and need to stop relying so heavily on the blitz.
Run the No-Huddle Offense Often
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The Green Bay Packers caused some buzz last preseason when they debuted their no-huddle offense, and the excitement proved to be warranted when the team used it successfully in the regular season.
The Packers' offense has all the right pieces to run the no-huddle with devastating proficiency.
The key component is Aaron Rodgers, who has complete control at the line of scrimmage and is as accurate as any passer in the game.
The no-huddle takes the play-calling responsibilities away from the coaches and puts them with the quarterback. Rodgers is at the peak of his powers right now, and there's no better time for the Green Bay coaches to go all-in with him.
The Packers also have remarkable depth at the wide receiver position, and all of the wide outs are capable of lining up in several different spots. This will keep defenses thoroughly confused and create matchup problems.
Lastly, new center Jeff Saturday spent his career running the no-huddle with Peyton Manning calling the shots. No center in the league has as much experience in this style of offense, and he will make sure the line is on the same page as Rodgers.
The Packers did make good use of the no-huddle at times last year, but the team could make it an even bigger weapon simply by using it more often.
Now that Saturday is in the mix and Rodgers is a year older and smarter, this scheme change could make the Packers offense even better than it was last year.