Let’s review some game notes from last night’s Colts-Packers matchup in Green Bay. The game plans were more advanced and the individual competition was at a much higher level than we saw over the first two weeks of the preseason. Expect this throughout the weekend.
ICONRodgers threw 3 TDs last night at Lambeau Field.
Manning/ Rodgers: Let's foucs on two things: their footwork and ability to locate the ball. When we watch top-tier QBs, one thing to take notice of is how they use their feet in the pocket. Both Manning and Rodgers can slide away from pressure, step up into the pocket and deliver the football—but their feet are always square to the target. There are no false steps and no sense of panic when they feel that pressure. Technique sound players. The other area to discuss is how they can both throw the ball away from the defender's leverage. We saw it twice from Rodgers in the red zone on the back shoulder fades, and with Manning you see it when he throws the “7” route (flag) and any of the inside breaking routes in the Colts' playbook. Teaching tape.
Jermichael Finley: Finley can run the entire route tree and can also align all over the field. We saw him as a wing in the Packers' “Tank” personnel (1 WR, 2 RB, 2 TE), in the slot and used in pre-snap motion. Green Bay has a weapon in Finley that they can get creative with and move to get those favorable mathcups. But regardless of where he lines up, his ability to use his size and speed against a safety playing with outside leverage is the reason he will make plays. There isn’t a proper way to play him in man-coverage right now when the QB can put the ball on his up-field shoulder.
The Colts' running game: When the Colts can get into their “Ace” or 212 personnel (2 WR, 1 RB, 2 TE) and run the ball to the slot side with production it will set up their play action passing game. RB Joseph Addai looked fresh in my opinion, and we saw that on the first play of the game where he was able to cut back against the Packers over-pursuing to the football. They need that as an offense in the regular season—and need to see production from it.
Wayne vs. Williams: Packers' CB Tramon Williams can learn a lot from this tape. He struggled against Colts' WR Reggie Wayne. The slant for the TD when he was beat inside. The “9” route (fade route) when the Colts were backed up. And, when he had his eyes in the backfield on the out-and-up in the red zone that Manning missed on. However, the reason he got beat had more to do with technique than ability at the corner position. Simple things he can see once he turns on the film and can correct before the regular season.
ICONSanders is back in the Colts' secondary.
Bob Sanders at free safety: The Colts are a Tampa 2 team, but they also are heavy in Cover 1, Cover 3 and in their zone blitz packages. Sanders is good coming out of his backpedal, can plant and drive on the football and is the ideal player to come down out of those Cover 2 looks when Indy blitzes from the free safety position. One way the Colts can get him close to the line of scrimmage is to play their Under 10 scheme. This requires the FS to drop down to the open (or weak) side of the defense and take any run to the “A” gap. And, as we saw last night, he can still fill the hole when he forced the fumble from the Packers’ Ryan Grant in this exact scheme. Sanders can still hit.
Packers’ Burnett: Rookie safety Morgan Burnett made some plays last night. He showed range from the middle of the field getting over the top of the “9” route early in the game and then played great blitz technique when he picked off Manning. The Colts ran the same route we talked about yesterday on the chalkboard: the china/dig. Instead of running it to the closed (or strong) side, they ran it to the slot side. Burnett’s responsibility in this zone blitz scheme is to play the Seam/Flat over the top of the new No.2—who is the “X” receiver running the 5-yard square in. He dropped down, was patient with his feet (something I saw at Packers' camp) and read the QB. Not easy for a first-year guy to do against the league’s best QB. Burnett is not going to be perfect as a rookie, but when you make plays, you stay on the field. I like it.
– Rookie LB Pat Angerer looked solid filling in for Gary Brackett on the Colts defense, but you hate to lose such as active player if he is out for an extended period of time. Brackett is the perfect fit for the defensive scheme in Indy.
ICONGreen Bay's Charles Woodson
– I love watching elite talent and that is why I kept my eyes on Packers CB Charles Woodson throughout the game. His footwork is so smooth, and younger players should study the way he uses his hands.
– Ryan Grant runs the football without hesitation. Doesn’t dance, squares his pads to the line of scrimmage and gets downhill with speed. That is what you want to see at the running back position.
-The Colts can still score quicker than any team in the NFL. At times, it looks too easy.
– Donald Driver might not be the No.1 guy in Green Bay, but he is still one of the most dependable players in this league.
– Preseason or not, giving up 59 points in an NFL game leads to a long, long film session the day after.
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