Wednesday, November 11, 2009

As if we didn't already know: sacks are not good

Stating what football fans -- and especially, Packer fans these days -- know all too well, sportswriter Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel today has a bit of an overview on what happens when a team's quarterback gets sacked too often. You get three guesses. And the first two don't count. Ding-ding-ding! You're correct, oh wise one! A lot of sacks on the QB translates to a lot of losses for the team. I know: who'da thunk it, right?

The article is worth checking out for the stats, as well as for the comments about the issue from Packers' coaches. For example, Head Coach Mike McCarthy insisting things are correctable. Hmmm...where have we heard that before? Gonna get things "cleaned up," eh, coach? As someone apparently responded on another blog (overheard it repeated on radio, just for attribution purposes), if Coach McCarthy was in charge of "cleaning up" the Lambeau Field bathrooms after games the place would be condemned.

So, with a league-high 37 sacks through 8 games the Packers are on track to come close to beating the record of 76 sacks set by the Houston Texans and David Carr in 2002. And with the Cowboys and LB DeMarcus Ware coming to town Sunday, and yet more shuffling on the offensive line because of injury if not performance, things don't look set for a turnaround anytime soon.

Post-game analysis, which was really more like mid-season review, brought out such points as the fact that various retired players (including a few QBs) have said that a review of all the Packers sacks shows that perhaps about half of them are due to Aaron Rodgers hanging on to the ball too long. That's another one of those obvious, "Ya think?!", statements. But part of that may also be due, as some of these same analysts suggest, because the Packers seem to be focused on a passing scheme that is all downfield, requiring deep drops by the QB and solid protection by the line for the play to develop. If the Packers worked more of a 3-step drop scheme, working slants and quick out pass plays, the line wouldn't have to protect as long and Rodgers wouldn't be holding the ball so long, i.e., less sacks overall. But as long as the scheme is what is, expect more of the same. And isn't that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

If the Packers are to resurrect their season -- and it is not too late...yet -- they have to work with what they have. They have a very good young quarterback, they have a great receiving corps, and a serviceable running game. What they also have is a sub-par offensive line that gives sieves a bad name. That means they need to shorten up the passing game and go to more quick-hit plays, the ol' dink 'n' dunk that somebody by the name of Brett Favre learned and executed so well and built a Hall of Fame career upon.

The question is, will McCarthy and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin go that route? We'll see if they are smart enough to make that adjustment...or continue doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Not only the Packers season but their jobs depend on the answer.