Breaking Down Blame for Every Sack Green Bay Packers Allowed on 'MNF'
The opening half of Monday night's game was almost as bad for the Green Bay Packers as the very last play of regulation.
And it wasn't the replacement referees' fault.
No, the replacements didn't allow franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers to be sacked eight times in one half (nine for the game) on Monday. That was the Green Bay itself.
Was it all the offensive line? Were they on Rodgers? Was it just the fierce Seahawks pass-rush?
We're going to take a look.
Some of these nine sacks we will break down in detail, some we will go over more quickly.
Let's start off at the every beginning.
On this play, rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin lines up outside on the edge. When the ball is snapped, right tackle Bryan Bulaga slides over to pick Irvin up.
It doesn't go well.
As you can see on this second screen cap, Bulaga is immediately off-balance. He tries to direct Irvin outside and away from Rodgers, but he's too high and is already on his heels.
By the time he recovers and gets in front of Irvin, Bulaga is still too high and Irvin is bulling him back.
If you've ever played football (or watched enough of it) you know the low man almost always wins. If a lineman stands up, 99 percent of the time that's that.
The last frame on that cap shows exactly that. Bulaga is shoved back and out of the way, almost into Rodgers. Irvin takes down the quarterback.
This is clearly on Bulaga, as he never got the upper hand in the battle with Irvin (the first of several instances of this).
Now, could Rodgers have gotten the ball out quicker? That is answered by the final cap of this play.
No, he could not.
The Seahawks have very tight coverage on the receivers, with plenty of support from safeties and other personnel.
So that one, while not helped by coverage, is pretty much all on Bulaga.
This second one is all Rodgers, or you can credit the Turf Monster.
The Turf Monster is so quick, so mean, you can't even see him. It looks like Rodgers just falls down.
We know better.
Here's a GIF of Rodgers falling for you to look at. The Turf Monster isn't visible, but he's there.
The next sack involves an actual player, Irvin again, overpowering Bulaga (again).
On the play, Bulaga lines up straight at Irvin, who once again gets around him.
This time, instead of bulling his way to the quarterback, Irvin gets inside Bulaga and rushes toward Rodgers.
Bulaga starts to ride him across and past Rodgers, but two things happen.
First, Rodgers moves around to his right an then steps forward, clearly not seeing Irvin (or thinking Bulaga has the defensive end).
Second Irvin stops short and cuts back as Bulaga continues across.
The net result is, as you can see in the punch-in, Rodgers between Bulaga and Irvin.
Pretty much the opposite of what you are looking for from a blocking attempt.
Again, the question can be asked, could Rodgers have gotten rid of the ball?
If you look at this final cap, you can see Greg Jennings crossing and pretty open. Did Rodgers just not see him? Did Rodgers feel one of the defenders in the area would have broken up the pass? Did he think that one of his deep threats was going to break open and didn't understand how close Irvin was?
More than once, Rodgers appeared to be holding the ball in the first half when he needed to get rid of it.
This may have been one of those times, so between that and an open Jennings, I put at least a little of this on Rodgers. Still, this is primarily another bad play by Bulaga.
This next sack is, primarily, just a nice play by the Seahawks' Chris Clemons, though both Jeff Saturday and TJ Lang could have deflected him if they reacted quicker (or, in Lang's case, at all).
On the play, Clemons is set up outside. When tight end Jermichael Finley goes out on a route instead of blocking, he slides toward a gap between center Saturday and left guard Lang.
Both players are involved in double-teams. Saturday reacts to the incoming defender, but not quick enough. He hooks onto Clemons, but the defensive lineman pushes past him on his way to a sack.
Lang doesn't react, and there is no way to tell if 1) he didn't see Clemons, 2) wasn't supposed to disengage or 3) just couldn't react fast enough.
Clemons takes down Rodgers, and adding insult to injury, Bulaga gets called for a holding penalty on Irvin.
This is a great play by Clemons, showing speed and quick thinking, but in terms of Packers responsibility, that firmly is on the offensive line, specifically Saturday and maybe Lang.
This next sack is mostly a coverage sack, though Rodgers might have been able to hit his receiver in the flat or perhaps get outside and throw the ball away. Still, the Seahawks had very good coverage, and Rodgers had few options.
This sixth sack (wow) one is 100 percent Rodgers holding the ball too long.
Rodgers really, clearly wants to go long here and is waiting for his receiver (Jordy Nelson, though the number isn't clear) on the far upper right to get open.
He has another receiver crossing a little more shallow, and while there is a linebacker between Rodgers and his receiver, a guy like Aaron Rodgers can make that throw.
Instead, he is waiting for his deep receiver. He pumps once, and then it's too late to do anything.
Simply put, Rodgers holds onto the ball too long. While he isn't outside where he can throw the ball into the stands, he could have overthrown his receiver—or thrown to the deep man and hoped for the best.
If you look at this last shot, the receiver on the middle slant (the yellow "1") is relatively open early while the receiver who ultimately goes deep (the yellow "2") is well-covered.
It really seems to me as if Rodgers is waiting for that yellow No. 2 receiver, and so in my estimation, that sack is all on him.
The seventh sack is courtesy of Clemons again, this time blowing past Marshall Newhouse.
There's not much to break down here—Newhouse just flat-out gets beat. Clemons comes in as if he's going to try and slip around the outside of Newhouse, and as soon as the left tackle commits, the defensive end dips inside and blows past him.
That's all Newhouse; Rodgers never had a chance.
The eighth (good lord) sack of the half is about 50 percent Rodgers holding the ball and 50 percent coverage sack.
Again, there isn't much to break down here. Rodgers is under pressure and slips out of the pocket. He starts to throw short, but sees the receiver is covered. However instead of throwing it away—which he could have done without penalty—Rodgers decides to try to scramble some more.
He hasn't a chance of getting away and is sacked for a loss of one yard.
So, as you can see, plenty of blame to go around.
It's a ripple effect. The line isn't giving Rodgers time to throw long as he likes and as the offense tends to do, and he reacts by trying to stretch the play longer than he should.
In the second half (which is only represented by sack No. 8), the Packers changed how they approached the game. They ran Cedric Benson more, threw shorter passes to loosen the defense up and were far more effective.
As the Packers look at this film, you can bet they see all this and more. Expect adjustments.
A lot of them.
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