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November 19, 2007

Gadget Play Un-Called For

The Packers' offense has been operating at a high level for most of the season. Over the past few weeks, Brett has been building on a pre-existing chemistry with his receivers and tight ends. This chemistry is allowing Brett to comfortably work through his target progressions on every passing play, and exploit the mismatch he eventually identifies. On top of that, we seem to have finally found a running game with Ryan Grant, who has put up respectable numbers over the past four weeks. Opposing defenses are clearly on their heels, and our defense is proving to be a somewhat dominant counterpart. That being said, I find one particular offensive play call against the Panthers somewhat disconcerting.photo57.jpg

It was the first quarter of a game in which our opponent was clearly outmatched on paper. Carolina's most dangerous offensive threat (Steve Smith) was sidelined with an injury, and they were starting a 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde at quarterback. On defense, their starting mike linebacker (Dan Morgan) was also not able to play due to injury. Green Bay should have stuck to their relatively safe passing game, balanced it out with a reasonable amount of running plays, and used what they've already proven capable of to dismantle the Carolina 'd.'
It is for these reasons (among others) that I was completely baffled by Mike McCarthy's gadget play call during the first quarter. Lining up in a three wide receiver, one tight end, one running back set, the Packers looked to be running a fairly routine formation. The first thing that stuck out in my mind was seeing Donald Driver lined up in the backfield, next to Brett Favre. Then, amazingly, McCarthy had the stroke of genius to send Brett in motion to the flat, and snap the ball directly to Donald. Although the play went off as a rather benign five yard run off of the right tackle by Donald, the risks far outweighed the benefits in my mind. First of all, Donald Driver is not a running back. His body is not built to attack the line of scrimmage, and he is not strong enough to sufficiently protect the ball while attempting to burst through the line. I understand that Donald is very talented at picking up YAC, but those yards come downfield, typically away from defensive linemen and linebackers. Second, why take Brett Favre out of the play by splitting him off as a wideout? Does McCarthy really expect Carolina's defensive backs to pay attention to Brett? I'm pretty sure I could out-run Brett, and I might even have better hands. The thought of Brett catching a pass is laughable (yes, I know, he caught his own first pass). I believe, and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a football fan who doesn't, that Brett is most dangerous while in the pocket, with options to throw to. Finally, why risk an injury to Brett on a silly play that has little chance at creating an explosive gain? Can you imagine the outrage (not to mention embarassment) in Green Bay if Brett Favre's consecutive start streak was ended on a play where he never even touched the ball? If Brett's career is going to end on an injury, at least let it happen while he's hanging in the pocket long enough to throw a touchdown, or running down the field to throw a block on a reverse like the lunatic he is. Don't put him in harm's way if you don't stand to gain much from it.
The only valid reason I could see for calling this play would be to set up a similar, but potentially more explosive play for later on in the season. Possibly an end-around or an option pass. But honestly, is that what this team is about? Last time I checked, the Mike McCarthy Packers were about playing hard-nosed, smart, physical, and fundamentally sound football. I have yet to see a need for gadget plays in our offensive scheme, and would definitely like to see those plays stay where they belong, the practice field. Now don't get me wrong, I love a great gadget play. By all means, continue practicing whatever tricks you've got up your sleeve McCarthy, and if the perfect opportunity presents itself, take a shot. A shot, however, is exactly what a great gadget play should be. All of this silly trickery for a five-yard gain in the first quarter of a less-than-paramount game seems more than a little reckless to me. Please Packers' coaching staff, don't out-think yourselves. Stick to what you know, don't put your marquee players at unnecessary risk, and respect the fundamentals of the game. I swear, if I see another poorly-planned gadget play end up in a turnover or a crippling injury, I might just have to turn the game off for like two or three minutes.

Posted by abai0001 at November 19, 2007 10:57 PM | Coaching


i'm still not understand about this sport?

Posted by: Faisal at February 17, 2008 8:52 PM

whats so hard in this sport mate?

Posted by: Tech Gadget at January 12, 2010 6:35 PM

Packers love extreme defense. They love crushing the opposition.

Posted by: Terhune Tech at April 9, 2010 12:39 AM

whats this sport about

Posted by: Golden Retriever Training at July 26, 2010 1:21 PM

I can't believe people don't know what football is all about.

Posted by: Top gaming Laptop at August 15, 2010 12:55 PM