Tyler Dunne Packers chat Sunday, Dec. 28
From Tyler Dunne, Journal Sentinel
~Beat writer Tyler Dunne answered your Packers-Lions questions after the game Sunday.
Q: Ralph hamilton, Joplin mo – Who would you expect the packers to play next?
A: Tyler Dunne – Ralph: How’s it going, everyone? Thanks for staying up late tonight for the Packers chat. Ralph, you have to think it’s the Dallas Cowboys. Really hard to see this Detroit team going into Texas and winning after such a demoralizing loss. The Cowboys are the rare team that could hang with Green Bay drive for drive with those weapons, and for all the good vibes the Packers have out of Sunday, Dallas could head into that divisional round match-up on a 5-game winning streak. It’d be one heck of a game.
Q: Hugo, Honolulu – Hey Tyler, Crazy game- for a minute I thought it was Favre hobbling around the turf throwing strikes! Any thoughts on the offense and how successful it was against the number one run defense? Aloha
A: Tyler Dunne – Hugo: This is the kind of game that further builds a legacy, that’s for certain. Aaron Rodgers injured a different part of that left calf and gritted through it. As he said himself afterward, the big picture was on his mind. A loss meant playing AT Dallas…in six days. A win meant a two-week rest and getting Dallas (or whoever’s the top seed) at home. Who knows if Rodgers could’ve realistically recovered in time for a wild card game? He appeared to be in serious pain. The fact that he has effectively changed his game — a lot of shotgun, a lot of staying in the pocket — and still been playing at this level is remarkable. While the team probably knew this injury was more serious than it let on during the week, one of QB coach Alex Van Pelt’s comments rang true this game: “He knows how to play the game from a lot of different places on the field.” Right now, that’s shimmying inside the pocket.
Q: Rich, Dayton – Thanks for the chat. Was Rodgers’ calf injury the reason he played out of the shotgun the entire second half?
A: Tyler Dunne – Rich: Yes. Rodgers asked McCarthy upon returning to stick to the shotgun.
Q: HC, Carlsbad CA – Cutting right to the chase. What are your thoughts on the Suh incident?
A: Tyler Dunne – HC: Like most, it looked like something we’ve seen from Suh repeatedly through his career. Many times, he’s had incidents like this and decried it as an accident, as playing through a whistle. Remember Suh initially defending the stomp in 2011? One step, maybe, is incidental. But it’s pretty clear that the 305-pounder took two steps on Rodgers’ leg. The offensive linemen hadn’t seen footage of the play, but as T.J. Lang said, “There’s some history there.” If there’s intent, it’s a dirty play on par with everything else he’s been fined for.
Q: Cheesehead Sports Nut, @CheeseheadSN – The Packers ran the ball well early on but oddly seemed to struggle running the ball as the game wore on. Usually rushing yards are gained the opposite way in the NFL with running backs piling up yards in the second half as teams are trying to salt away wins. What are your take aways from their running performance against the best rush defense in the NFL?
A: Tyler Dunne – Cheese: The Lions have been allowing less than 70 yards per game on the ground and Green Bay went for 152 on 38 attempts. That’s a pretty emphatic success here. Against this two-deep look, the Packers needed to gash Detroit early and that’s exactly what they did with Eddie Lacy gaining 67 yards on 11 first-half carries. That success — making the Lions respect the run more — had to help Rodgers in his return, too. When asked by one reporter afterward if it’s safe to say Rodgers doesn’t do what he does if the run game isn’t rolling early, Bryan Bulaga said “I’ll never count out anything he can do but I think it definitely helped. I think we kept a pretty clean pocket for him. He didn’t have to move around too much when he came back in, which is important.” He’s right. The Packers were able to keep Detroit off balance with the run and pass. Rodgers had a MVP-like day but this offensive line has come a long ways since Week 3, too. They mostly manhandled one of the best front fours in football.
Q: sjupton – Starks. Howard Green. Erik Walden. Guys that played outside of themselves late and propelled the ’10 team to a Super Bowl. If we are sitting here a few weeks from now and talking about a win in Glendale-who in your opinion will have stepped up their play exponentially to become a key contributor to another championship team?
A: Tyler Dunne – SJ: Good question. Agree that for any team to make a Super Bowl run, you need those two or three contributors that practically come out of nowhere. Who are those players on this team? Tight end Richard Rodgers played a ton on Sunday. He caught all five passes thrown his way and held up as a blocker — and you might remember him getting beat on that safety in Detroit, too. Possibly, he continues to be a solid third or fourth option for Aaron Rodgers. At some point in the postseason, the kicking game will be a difference one way or another for this team. Seven blocked kicks in one season is beyond bizarre. Not a good trend at all for this team. And Micah Hyde tied a team record with his third punt return for a score. Kick returner DuJuan Harris didn’t even dress on Sunday, too. As Mike McCarthy said this week, the return game takes on a larger emphasis at this point of the season. There’s going to be shorter kicks; more chances at returns. If Hyde makes the first man miss, he gets north quickly. He might be a candidate for your question as well.
Q: Dawg 13, Broken Arrow OK – Not that I’m complaining but do you have any idea why Detroit didn’t use any TO’s with less then 5 minutes to go and down 14? That allowed us to take an additional 2:30 or so off the clock. Almost seems they weren’t concerned about winning or not.
A: Tyler Dunne – Dawg: More than clock management, it was somewhat of a surprise to see Joique Bell and Reggie Bush under-utilized in the run game. Yeah, the Lions had to flip into a 2-minute mode after the Packers went ahead 28-14, but even before that the Lions had abandoned a productive rushing attack. Bell was bouncing off defenders to the tune of 5.3 yards per carry in the first half and then had two attempts in the second. Bush had 34 total yards on four touches in the first half. Yet the Lions kept on throwing and Matthew Stafford had more incompletions (21) than completions (20).
Q: Steve, West Des Moines, IA – Tyler, not the first time Brad Jones has committed BAD penalties at the worst possible time – wouldn’t cutting him first thing tomorrow send a message? Fine line on playing aggressive but that was TERRIBLE. Do coaches warn players about repeating boneheaded stuff or do they just let it go? I just can’t understand how Jones could think he’d get away with a blatant and unnecessary helmet slap on a QB in today’s NFL.
A: Tyler Dunne – Steve: That was a huge penalty and Brad Jones has certainly had a handful of those in his limited snaps this season (at Seattle, Miami). Dont think youll see the Packers outright cut Brad Jones any time soon. Theyve stood by him before and defensive coordinator Dom Capers has said multiple times that he likes Jones ability to rush. All players today know they cant smack a quarterback in the head. A major gaffe at the worst time here. Jones playing time has fluctuated all year, so maybe the Packers do go with someone else in that role. I just wouldn’t hold your breath. Capers likes using so many different linebackers in his packages. Don’t know if they’d want to double-up somebody else as the dime.
Q: Mike, Evansville, IN – What a gritty performance by Our MVP! Do you see the NFL suspending Suh for their playoff game for stepping on Rodgers? What would be the key for the Packers to avenge their opening day loss to Seattle if we meet them up there again for the NFC Championship? Even though it would have been nice to gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs, don’t you think a win in Seattle would seem sweeter?
A: Tyler Dunne – Mike: The Seahawks have allowed 39 points in their last 6 games (that is an average of 6 1/2 points per game).
OK, so they played Ryan Lindley and Colin Kaepernick. That’s still an insane number. Right now, they’re still the favorite. Do think the way the Packers’ offensive line is playing right now gives you reason to think a return to Century Link Field goes differently this time.
Q: Brad, Missouri – It seems like our d-backs played pretty well today, what say you Mr. Dunne?
A: Tyler Dunne – Brad: You can call me Tyler. Don’t let this receding hairline fool you! Yeah, Calvin Johnson did score two touchdowns but this is probably the best the Packers have contained Megatron in a while. He did get behind the Packers’ secondary once deep and Matthew Stafford overthrew the receiver on a would-be TD. But he finished with only 39 yards on 11 targets. Green Bay will take that. Tramon Williams did a nice job of positioning and leveraging routes, not letting Johnson get to his desired spots.
Q: Steve – Adams was running free on a couple of routes, Boykin was open on the slant in the endzone in the first series, but Rodgers didn’t throw to either today. Is is a case of him losing confidence in them and waiting for those he know can catch to come open?
A: Tyler Dunne – Steve: Probably a combination of progressions and trust. Adams’ two drops last week surely didn’t help his cause and Boykin hasn’t really been involved much all season. The Packers only had 23 pass attempts, so there weren’t a ton of opportunities. But did notice the open Boykin. The Packers finally started punching in those red-zone opportunities Sunday. After stalling at the 1-yard line in the first half, they were 6 of 17 in the red zone in their last four-plus games.
Q: Bart, Rhinelander – Hey Tyler, Appreciate your burning the midnight oil on game day, which undoubtedly is already a long one for you. My comment is on Brad Jones. Beyond the penalty that sustained a scoring drive for Detroit (I recall that this is the second such offense for Jones this year) using him as the dime linebacker absolutely perplexes me. He’s not good in coverage, he’s fair at best on open field tackles and unless nobody touches him, he has little chance of reaching the quarterback. I know we are thin at inside linebacker, so wouldn’t Sean Richardson be a much better option from both a coverage and tackling standpoint? That’s outside the box, but Dom is noted for going there… your thoughts?! Thanks Man!
A: Tyler Dunne – Bart: Thanks a lot. Capers has been using Sean Richardson more and could, theoretically, get creative there. But don’t think they’re going to do anything radical defensively at this point. Jones was playing better after getting thrown back into the defense. At Buffalo, in his 11 snaps, he ended three drives. He took down receivers short of the market twice with open-field tackles and then broke up a third-down pass to Fred Jackson. So even though we’ve got dozens upon dozens of Jones-related questions in tonight’s chat, I’m not sure they’ll bench him after one hand to the QB’s head. The Packers like the fact that he can cover and blitz in that role, and as Capers has said they want to use as many different players as possible.
Q: BigFatFloridaGreek, Safety Harbor, FL via Milwaukee, WI – Suh is just a lousy, despicable human being. Tyler, How much do you wanna bet 1) he denies it was intentional (it most certainly was) 2) the wrist slap Suh gets from the league won’t be nearly enough?
A: Tyler Dunne – Big Fat: We don’t know what Ndamukong Suh was thinking on the play because he didn’t speak to Detroit reporters. As far as league punishment, given his history, you have to think anything’s possible.
Q: Danl, Expat Milwaukeean – Here’s my Suh question: Football seems like a game where these guys likely step on each other all the time, still it’s only the guys in Detroit who get caught on film doing it?
A: Tyler Dunne – Danl: I think players know where that line is. There’s not as much gray area as you’d think in this game. This play kind was something like a hockey player hip-checking a another into the boards when that player’s skating to the bench. Yeah, players do get stepped on, but not like this. Suh took two steps back into Rodgers after the play. Only Suh knows what Suh was thinking, but Step No. 2 alone could lead to discipline from the NFL.
Q: Dave Piskorski, Mounds View, MN – The offensive line has been playing at a very high level, both in the run game and giving Rodgers time to throw. The O-line may be the best chance GB has in advancing into the playoffs. With Lacey running the ball at 5 yards a carry and Rodgers having time to wait on Nelson and Cobb to get open, GB can definitely play with any of the playoff teams. As much as this pains me, should we all root for Detroit next week against Dallas?
A: Tyler Dunne – Dave: The Lions put this game on their defensive line and the defensive line failed. Aaron Rodgers was hardly touched and Eddie Lacy gashed them early when it mattered most. Not surprisingly, the Lions played both safeties deep. This time, Green Bay took advantage. Suh and Ansah were not factors against a Packers’ offensive line still playing as well as it has under McCarthy. Rodgers had a lot of time in a wide cup of a pocket his 13 second-half pass attempts. You can root for Detroit, but it’ll probably be more of the same in Dallas. Tony Romo’s offensive line has played just as well this season.
Q: Brad, Missouri – Would Carolina or Arizona pose any threat to the Seahawks?
A: Tyler Dunne – No.
Q: Matt, Detroit, MI – Just to clarify, I’m forced (wife) to live in MI and I’m so excited that I don’t have to listen to the lions fan’s for awhile. What is the problem with our blocking on FG attempts. Is it is scheme, is it low kicks by Crosby, something else?
A: Tyler Dunne – Matt: They’ve said it’s the blocking up front, not Crosby’s trajectory. Giving Lang and Sitton a blow on special teams seemed to be a problem early but seven blocks? Two in a season is high. Shawn Slocum talks to us tomorrow, so we’ll more info then.
Q: Jesse, Tahlequah OK – Hey Ty, Great win and Rodgers is Superman. Being 4x in a row division champs is truly dominating our closest rivals. Awesome. BUT… I have to say I don’t like GBs matchups in the playoffs. A likely home game against a power running Dallas team with a good playaction game, and IF they win that, yet ANOTHER trip to Seattle (probably) to face the ground-and-pound LOB. Assuming 90% or higher health for ARod can they get back to the big game? Will they?
A: Tyler Dunne – Jesse: Sure. He’s the one player nobody else in the NFC has. And whether it’s that fake spike at Miami, six touchdowns in one half, edging Tom Brady or this, he’s finding different ways to beat you. His scrambling ability completely taken away — confined to the pocket — he converted crucial third downs. Dallas and Seattle are difficult match-ups for sure. Even though they haven’t played much in the cold this season, Dallas’ big receivers and power rushing attack should be able to travel. The Packers will need Rodgers as close to 100% in two weeks. And Seattle is the obvious favorite at home, but Rodgers probably doesn’t avoid Richard Sherman completely the second time around. Still see the Seahawks as an obvious favorite, but it’s a different Packers offense. Remember, Derek Sherrod played that game.
Q: Michael , Middleton – What exactly is Rodgers injury? We’re all assuming he’ll be fine in two weeks. Is that a good assumption?
A: Tyler Dunne – Michael: Right, he said he injured a different part of his calf. He didn’t simply re-aggravate the same injury. Two weeks help but he’ll keep playing with that heel pad and need a lot of treatment. Hard to say what kind of shape he’ll be in by Jan. 11. … OK, guys. Thanks a lot for chatting tonight. Catch you all soon.