When I was in the 7th grade, I remember checking out a book from our school library titled One Knee Equals Two Feet, by John Madden. We all remember Madden from his crazy “Boom!” “Whap!” “Doink!” expressions on Sunday, or circling guys with his telestrator. He easily became one of my favorite football personalities, and his love of the game is contagious. There is a lot about Madden that I aspire to be in covering football. One thing I picked up from Madden is his love for offensive lineman. They really don’t get the attention they deserve. These guys are the meat of the offense, and some of the smartest players on the field. If you remember, last week I graded the inside linebackers from the New Orleans game. This week, I took to the offensive line and graded out the guards Lane Taylor and Jahri Evans.
Before we begin, as a reminder, this is the process I use when grading players:
0 = Busted play or penalty
1 = Correct assignment, wrong technique
2 = Correct assignment, correct technique
3 = Outstanding play, game or drive changing play, outstanding effort.
Lets begin with Lane Taylor.
Busted plays: 0
Negative plays: 6
Positive plays: 52
As bad as the game seemed, mostly defensively, there were bright spots. To me, this was one. Lane Taylor had a great overall game. He was quick off the line of scrimmage and used quick hands to lock on to the defender and drive him out. His pass protection was great, although a few of his negative plays came from the pass game. Taylor was slow at times getting out in screen plays, but when the offense had to grind it out in the run game he flourished. Lets take a look at the tape.
We talked briefly about pass protection, and here is a good example. Taylor here is facing a 2i technique, or a shade inside of the guard. Notice here his first step inside to cut off the 2i which is scraping to the play-side B gap. This is a great job here getting hands on the defender and doing enough to cut him off on the rollout pass. Footwork is vital up front, and he did a great job here, and all game, of moving the feet quickly. As I said earlier, with the feet the hands must come. If you watch any practice clips of the Packers, or saw them in training camp, they do a lot of bag drills with punching the bag, locking in and driving. The thumbs must be up, hands inside, and move the feet quickly. He anchored down here and held his own.
Simple play here on the quarterback sneak. It doesn’t seem like a big play, but the Packers got on the board. Taylor got the extra push to spring Hundley into the end zone. Playing against a goal line front can be hard. Linebackers are plugging and teams roll out with bigger players up front. He gets a good push on the shaded defender here and Hundley finds daylight. Its little things like this that can make an offensive lineman elite.
This is the best play that I saw from Taylor in this game. I gave him a 3 on this play, and will always give an offensive lineman a 3 for a pancake block. A pancake block is simply knocking the defender down to the ground. Taylor shows his power here, but what is almost equally impressive is his slide step at the snap. Notice his quickness to jump and play the wide 3 technique. He knows he has to reach him quickly, and does. Taylor, and most offensive lineman, are usually underrated on how quick they really are. The footwork here also is impressive to move with the 3 tech and then take him down. I’ve watched this play dozens of times and it never gets old.
Busted plays: 0
Negative plays: 7
Positive plays: 51
Overall, Evans played a great game. I think that he was one of the best additions this offseason. Evans defiantly adds a lot of variables to the offensive line. So far this season, Evans has played fairly well. Any time you can add a veteran guy to the offensive line it can make things go a lot smoother. Lets take a look and see how he fared vs Detroit.
This play was outstanding by Evans. Watch how he blocks down on the 1 tech and combo blocks to the Mike linebacker. This gives Jones a decent lane. The linebackers were flowing well, and Evans was there to cut him off. This is the kind of block that can spring some big plays. I gave him a 3 here for his effort. That can make all the difference up front.
The cut block can be one of the toughest in football. Evans and Taylor both here do enough to slow down the interior lineman on the swing pass. Evans was facing a 2 technique, or a head up defender, and got under him to slow him down. This is technique on a pass like this. I only saw 2 cut blocks from both Taylor and Evans this game, and they were both played well.
Looking at pass protection, Evans fared pretty well. Facing a 3 technique here, Evans gets a deep kick slide and hands on the defender. Watch here as he gets a strong punch with the inside hand and moves the feet. Up front, hand placement is vital. As an offensive lineman, you want to get your hands on the defender before he reaches you. His footwork here is good. The inside leg slightly in front of the outside and he stays on balance. When a lineman is going backwards, that’s never a good sign.
I know this game, for the most part, was terrible. Have faith though. If you remember 2013, a season where Rodgers went down, the Packers lost 4 games in 5 weeks, tying with Minnesota in the other game. The Packers finished up well, and made the playoffs. Those losses also came in the month of November. Not all hope is lost. Let’s hope things get turned around soon, especially for the defense. If Taylor and Evans play as well the rest of the year as they did here, things will look good for the offensive line.
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Go Pack Go!