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Tag:Desmond Bishop
Posted on: January 12, 2012 6:32 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 8:43 am
 

Film Room: Packers vs. Giants divisional preview


Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

We can only hope this game is as entertaining as the December 4th shootout, which Green Bay won on a brilliant last minute field goal drive.

Since that day the Packers have looked mortal and the Giants have grown white hot. Can Round II produce a different outcome? Here’s the breakdown.


1. Slowing the Pack’s aerial attack
The Giants used a diverse array of coverages against the Packers in the last meeting and actually had Aaron Rodgers a bit out of sorts early on. Still, even though he wasn’t as sharp as usual, Rodgers threw for 369 yards and four scores (not a bad “off day”).

New York’s two-deep safety zone looks gave Green Bay the most trouble, but the only way a defense can get away with playing zone against this offense a second time is if it sprinkles those zones with disguises and man concepts.

You can’t outsmart the Packers; you can only hope to out-execute them. Generally, that means winning press-man battles on the outside. That’s what Kansas City was able to do, though they have better press corners than New York and didn’t have to deal with Greg Jennings (out at the time with a knee).

The Packers do a great job creating one-on-one matchups for Greg Jennings through play design. In example A (left), Jennings ran his route against rookie Prince Amukamara to the outside, while Donald Drive ran down the seam. This combination eliminated the possibility of free safety Antrel Rolle helping the overmatched Amukamara, who was flagged for pass interference. In example B (right), Jennings aligned in the slot, away from the tight end and running back. Because Jennings was running an outside route from this alignment, there was no way a safety or linebacker could help cornerback Aaron Ross on this play.

Interesting side note: the Packers usually create one-on-one matchups for Jennings by lining him up as the X-receiver in a 1 x 3 set (in other words, Jennings all alone on the left side, three receivers on the right side). However, they did not throw a single pass to Jennings from this formation against the Giants in Week 13.


Without Jennings, a good secondary has a shot at stymieing this receiving corps (for not only are a Jennings-less Pack without their No. 1 receiver, but suddenly No. 2 receiver Jordy Nelson must face a No. 1 corner, No. 3 receiver Donald Driver must face a No. 2 corner and so on). With Jennings, a good secondary still isn’t enough; a defense needs help from up front.

Pressuring Rodgers is difficult with his speed. (Getty Images)

2. Pressuring Rodgers
It’s easy to say New York’s key is having its four-man pass-rush get to Rodgers. But that only matters if the pass-rush pressure equates to sacks.

In the last meeting, Jason Pierre-Paul absolutely owned backup left tackle Marshall Newhouse. Rodgers was under duress all afternoon. But all that meant was he ran around more before completing his throws. Rodgers is so athletic, so strong-armed and so good at keeping his eyes downfield that pass-rush pressure does not disrupt his rhythm, it merely alters it.

The Giants dominated the line of scrimmage last game and finished with just two sacks. Unless they get six or seven sacks (unlikely, especially with Green Bay getting Chad Clifton back), their pass-rush won’t be a difference-making factor.

3. Matching up to Finley
The Giants have shown a perplexing willingness to defend elite tight ends with linebacker Jacquian Williams this season. Against the Saints in Week 12, Williams at times defended Jimmy Graham while safety Antrel Rolle defended Darren Sproles.

The next week, Williams guarded Jermichael Finley while Rolle guarded ... James Starks. (Seriously?!) Finley wound up beating Williams’ in man coverage for 24 yards on the game-winning field goal drive and finished the day with six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. (The damage would have been worse if he hadn’t dropped three balls.)

Will the Giants take this approach again, or will they go to their dime defense and treat Finley as a wide receiver (which they’ve also done at times against elite tight ends this season)? Going dime would allow Rolle to defend Finley, though it would also put vulnerable rookie Prince Amukamara on either Donald Driver or Jordy Nelson.

4. Giants offense
As you might surmise, the Packers offense has too many weapons for the Giants to defend. Hence, Eli Manning will be compelled to once again light up the scoreboard. As we’ve explored the past several weeks, Manning is razor sharp against the blitz. The belief here is that an attack-oriented defensive approach will not work against the eighth-year veteran.

But Green Bay isn’t built to play any other way – at least not out of their nickel package. Dom Capers’ scheme is predicated on creating one-on-one matchups for Clay Matthews by blitzing others and using Charles Woodson as a joker. This might yield yards, but it can also create interceptions (the Packers had 31 on the season, which was at least eight more than any other team).

Manning is a virtual lock for 300 yards, but if he can be coaxed into at least two picks, the Pack are a virtual lock to host the NFC Title game.

5. Unless…
The Giants control the game on the ground. This idea seemed absurd a few weeks ago, but lately New York’s front five has gelled and Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs have rediscovered their ability to break tackles running downhill.

The Giants spent a lot of time in base personnel last game, though primarily for passing purposes (they ran the ball just 20 times). They wanted to limit Capers’ nickel blitzes and also throw against Packers backup inside linebackers Rob Francois and D.J. Smith (who were playing for the injured Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk).

With the Packers back to full strength and the Giants’ passing game having significantly improved in three-receiver sets, throwing from base personnel might not be as big a factor this time round. But the ground game might be a bigger factor – especially if the Giants don’t believe the return of defensive lineman Ryan Pickett can suddenly stabilize Green Bay’s wavering run defense.

It will be fascinating to see how Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride calls the game early on.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all the Divisional Round games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: March 2, 2011 5:41 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 5:55 pm
 

Packers cut Hawk and his $10 million salary

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In a move that seemingly was made only for financial reasons, the Packers released LB A.J. Hawk this afternoon.

Hawk You might not realize this, but Hawk led the Super Bowl champs in total tackles this season with 111 (his best number since his rookie season), and he’s been a full-time starter since Green Bay drafted him in 2006.

But Hawk also was slated to make a guaranteed $10 million for 2011, and clearly, Green Bay wasn’t interested in doling out that kind of cash, particularly when the Packers have a glut of inside linebackers (Desmond Bishop, Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar) on their roster.

That, however, doesn’t mean Hawk is done in Green Bay. He certainly could be tempted to return to the Packers if he’s willing to accept a reduced deal.

Of course, for a team that needs help in its 3-4 defense and wants to spend some cash at the ILB position, Hawk could make a pretty great addition.

Said Packers GM Ted Thompson in a statement released by the team: "With A.J., the business side of the game is driving this decision. We’re hopeful that we can continue to work with A.J. to have him be a part of our team in the future."

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: February 7, 2011 12:24 am
Edited on: February 7, 2011 2:23 am
 

Turnovers tell the tale of Steelers struggles

Posted by Will Brinson



DALLAS -- How many times over the past week was this phrase -- the team who wins the turnover battle will win the game -- used to analyze Super Bowl XLV? My best guess is right around 5,345,042 times. That's hyperbole, of course, but there's a reason why lines like that are such go-to cliches for people who analyze sports: they're true.

While the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't immune to turning the ball over, you'll almost never see them fire a couple of rounds into their own feet. But they did just that on Sunday en route to their first Super Bowl loss in the Ben Roethlisberger era.

Mistake-laden football isn't not a common sight because Pittsburgh's a well-coached team that's sustained success by making big plays on the defensive end and letting other teams force their own errors. But the script was flipped Sunday, and it led to the aforementioned typical results.

"Usually when you lose it's because of penalties and turnovers," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said.

Covered that already.

"When you turn the ball over like we did, you put yourself in a bad position to win the game," running back Rashard Mendenhall said.

And he's one of the guys who coughed the ball up.

"You can't turn the ball over and win football games in the NFL," center Doug Legursky said. "That's just Day 1 stuff."

Even a last-minute replacement knows that.

"No excuses," Roethlisberger said. "Regardless of the situation, you just can't turn the ball over."

Not if you plan on winning. Want me to keep going with these? Because I can -- every single Steelers' player who spoke with the media mentioned the turnovers and they know that despite being outplayed by the Packers, they didn't exactly help their own cause.

Just look at the final game stats: The Steelers finished with 19 first downs (to Green Bay's 15), they held the ball for 33:25 (to Green Bay's 26:35), they converted 54 percent of their third downs (to Green Bay's 46 percent), they piled up 387 net yards (to Green Bay's 338).

In other words, the either dominated the Packers or at least broke even with them on the stat sheet … with two major exceptions: Pittsburgh turned the ball over three times (to Green Bay's none) and committed seven penalties for 67 yards (to Green Bay's six for 55).

The penalties came at inopportune times (illegal block to set up Ben's pick six, and terribly-timed holding calls) for sure, but the turnovers were particularly brutal.

That was patently obvious to everyone, including the guys who made the biggest mistakes. Asked about his own game-changing fumble to start the fourth quarter, Mendenhall didn't make any excuses.

"I just got hit and the ball came out," Mendenhall said. "It just happened and it should not have happened."

This particular instance isn't exactly indicative of poor preparation, but the vibe around the Steelers after the game seemed to be one of stunned shock at their poor performance.

"I don't know, I had some opportunities to make some plays," Troy Polamalu said. "I was just a step off here or there."

He wasn't exactly alone, though, considering that the entire Steelers team spent 28 minutes of the first half doing their best impression of Robert Downey, Jr., at a wine-tasting, looking wobbly as hell, out of synch, and doing things the Steelers don't usually do.

Roethlisberger looked off most -- if not all -- of the game, repeatedly over-throwing receivers en route to racking up an embarrassingly bad 16.7 passer rating in the first half. It was the type of performance that will have people wondering what the hell Ben did in Dallas all week, his tradition of taking linemen out to karaoke bar to sing Billy Joel tunes notwithstanding.

Green Bay, on the other hand, looked as prepared as you can possibly ask a team to be. Even when they lost their defensive MVP Charles Woodson and saw Pittsburgh rally to within four points at 21-17, the defense managed to capitalize on a mistake by the Steelers as Clay Matthews tattooed Mendenhall in the backfield for a fumble that Desmond Bishop recovered.

"It's really film work and preparation," Matthews said. "I had a good feeling that play was going to come."



Could the Steelers really have been that predictable? Losing by just six and scoring 25 against a very good defense doesn't seem to indicate as much, but Packers safety Nick Collins -- a former high-school running back who scampered his way into the end zone for an early backbreaker of a pick six -- and his take on the play might show that they were after all.

"I was just reading [Ben Roethlisberger's] eyes," Collins said about the interception. "I was able to get a nice jump on the ball and when I saw it floating up there, I just wanted to make sure that I caught it."

Those eyes told a MUCH different tale after the game -- Roethlisberger limped around the locker room with red, puffy eyes that showed some an overwhelming amount of emotion even for a guy who's had his share of troubles this season and probably thought things would end better once he got this far.

They obviously didn't, but unfortunately, neither he nor anyone else in Pittsburgh's locker room has anyone but themselves to blame for walking off without a championship this time around.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 2, 2011 6:31 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Matchup breakdown: Steelers O vs. Packers D

R. Mendenhall (US Presswire)

Posted by Andy Benoit

In the AFC Championship, the Steelers surprised everyone by coming out running against the Jets. On paper, Pittsburgh’s banged-up offensive line was overmatched against New York’s third-ranked run defense. But on the field, the opposite proved true.

With Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey possibly out this Sunday (ankle/foot), one might think Pittsburgh would be inclined to come out throwing. After all, backup Doug Legursky has a noticeable lack of power, while Green Bay’s nose tackle B.J. Raji has a noticeable abundance of it.
 
But despite the Legursky-Raji mismatch, don’t be surprised if the Steelers once again rely on Rashard Mendenhall early on. Running the ball shortens the game and keeps Aaron Rodgers off the field. More than that, it decreases the number of times lumbering right tackle Flozell Adams has to fend off lightning pass-rusher Clay Matthews (Adams vs. Matthews is a mismatch that makes every member of the Steeler organization shudder; it’s hard to imagine the Steelers won’t concoct some form of tight end help for Adams.)

Early in the season, the Steeler offensive line and third down back Mewelde Moore struggled mightily with blitz identification. They got the pass-blocking issues in order down the stretch, but with two weeks to prepare, you have to figure Dom Capers will design at least a few new complicated zone exchanges and delayed A-gap blitzes.

What’s more, whether he’s blitzing or feigning a blitz, slot cornerback/rover Charles Woodson is the key to Green Bay’s pressure schemes. If it’s Woodson vs. Ben Roethlisberger in a presnap chess match, Steelers lose.

Super Bowl experience will have a pretty huge impact on this game as well. Here's Hines Ward on that subject:


Running the ball would ameliorate those unfavorable passing game matchups for the Steelers. But more than that, the Steelers may very well feel that they have an advantage against the Packer run defense anyway. Yes, Doug Legursky, left tackle Jonathan Scott and right guard Ramon Foster all lack the power necessary to generate downhill movement as run-blockers. But left guard Chris Kemoeatu doesn’t.

Kemoeatu is one of the most mobile blockers in football. When he gets to the second level and faces linebackers, he’s frighteningly nasty .The Packer defense did an excellent job at keeping inside linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk clean from blockers this season. (Why do you think the inexperienced Bishop and resoundingly average Hawk were the only two Packers to record 100-plus tackles?)

But the Steelers, who run two-tight end base personnel, could give those inside linebackers problems by shifting to three-receiver personnel (which would involve replacing Matt Spaeth with wideout Emmanuel Sanders). The Packers almost always use a 2-4-5 alignment in nickel defense. With only two downlinemen, Kemoeatu would have a clear path to Bishop or Hawk (and remember, in nickel, one of those inside ‘backers will be off the field). In that case, Mendenhall could run inside, or, if he’s lucky, get isolated on the edges against outside linebacker Erik Walden (an impressive athlete but very callow run-stopper).

Roethlisberger is Pittsburgh’s best playmaker, but the run game could very well be Pittsburgh’s best chance at a seventh Lombardi trophy.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: February 2, 2011 12:58 pm
 

Packers learning to deal with Twitter

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

IRVING, Texas – In the heat of the moment, Packers LB Desmond Bishop has logged on to the Internet, clicked on his Twitter page and prepared himself to spill his thoughts online to the 14,000 or so who follow his feed.

Then, sometimes, he takes a breath, thinks about the possible ramifications and deletes the words he’s just written.

“All the time,” Bishop said Wednesday during the media’s morning availability at the team’s Omni Mandalay at Las Colinas hotel.

Really? All the time?

“Yeah, you have to realize what you’re writing before you put it out there,” Bishop said today. “There were times when I was going to write something in the heat of the moment, and I read it, and I was like, ‘I better delete this, because it wouldn’t be good.’ Sometimes you get that backlash when you press send, and then it’s too late. It’s out to the world.”

Some of the Packers know about Twitter backlash.

Like last week, when TE Jermichael Finley and LB Nick Barnett – both of whom are on Injured Reserve – complained that the Packers injured players wouldn’t get to sit for the team photo because of travel logistics.

It caused a mini-controversy for the team, and it prompted coach Mike McCarthy to talk to his team about the ramifications of social media.

“I wouldn’t classify that as a major issue,” McCarthy said. “It was really a situation we dealt with, and as long as our football team is not distracted by it, I don’t feel like it’s an issue. But it was talked about.”

Said Bishop: “He basically told us to have common sense. You know what’s right to say and what’s not right to say. Sometime you’re giving an option and you don’t expect it to be blown out of proportion.”

While a guy like G Josh Sitton won’t bother messing with social media – “I don’t even think about it. I don’t care,” he said – it’s still relevant on his team and in his league. Even though McCarthy isn’t a fan of Twitter and Facebook as either, he also has to deal with it.

“I won’t even let my daughter have a Facebook account, so I think that tells you what I think about Twitter,” McCarthy said. “I wouldn’t even know how to access a Twitter account right now. I understand it’s an important part of the network, but that’s something personally I have zero interest in.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: February 2, 2011 2:24 am
Edited on: February 3, 2011 8:45 am
 

Green Bay Packers defensive roster breakdown

Posted by Will Brinson & Andy Benoit

Perhaps the most fascinating thing if you look (at a glance anyway) at Pittsburgh and Green Bay is that they've built their teams "properly." (AKA "the opposite of Dan Snyder.) They draft smart, and they sign smarter. At least that's what we're lead to believe, right?

Andy and I set out to check the roster breakdown for both teams. En route, we* managed to figure out not only where they're coming from, but what they'll do for their respective teams in the Super Bowl.

Name POS Acquired Scouting Report
Ryan Pickett
DE 
Drafted 29th overall 1st Round 2005, STL; 2006 FA
Tough guy to move in the trenches; never gives up on a play.
B.J. Raji
DT
Drafted 9th overall, 1st Round 2009
Did not truly come on until late in the year, but once he did…wow. Haloti Ngata of the NFC.
Cullen Jenkins
DE
UDFA 2003
Incredibly nimble for a 300-pounder. Can rush the passer (eight sacks on the season despite missing time and fighting through a calf injury) and also anchor against the run.
Howard Green
DL
Drafted 190th, 6th Round, 2002, BAL; FA 2010
Ate himself out of New York but offers some power whenever one of the starters needs some oxygen.
Clay Matthews
LOLB
Drafted 26th overall, 1st Round 2009
Skims the edge with astonishing speed. Can change directions and hunt down the ball in the blink of an eye. (OK…in 10 blinks of the eye. But blink 10 times in a row and you’ll realize that’s still incredibly quick.)
A.J. Hawk
LILB
Drafted 5th overall, 1st Round, 2006
Fundamentally sound system player, but not enough of his tackles come near the line of scrimmage. Plus, you don’t draft “fundamentally sound system players” fifth overall.
Desmond Bishop
RILB
Drafted 192nd overall, 6th Round, 2007
Green Bay’s most dynamic inside linebacker. Instincts aren’t dazzling, but very good at reacting to what he sees. Gets downhill with alacrity.
Erik Walden
ROLB
Drafted 167th overall, 6th Round, 2008, KC; FA 2010
Plays because he’s a better athlete than all of the other “non-injured” outside linebackers.
Frank Zombo
LB
UDFA 2010
Can make the play that’s right there in front of him, but that’s about it.
Tramon Williams
CB
UDFA 2006 Hard to believe he went undrafted given that he’s such a natural talent. Ball skills have flourished now that he’s comfortable with one-on-one technique.
Charles Woodson
CB**
Drafted 4th overall, 1st Round 1998, OAK; FA 2006
Matthews is fantastic, but this is still Green Bay’s most valuable defensive player. His versatility is what makes Dom Capers’ defense thrive.
Charlie Peprah
SS
Drafted 158th overall, 5th Round 2006
Not bad, but completions seem to occur most often in his area of the field.
Nick Collins
FS
Drafted 51st overall, 2nd Round 2005
Excellent range. Has a knack for sniffing out the ball when in attack mode. Very good tackler, too.
Sam Shields
CB
UDFA 2010
Undrafted rookie has terrific speed. Less than two years of cornerbacking experience explains why he sometimes struggles to feel-out his safety help.
Atari Bigby
DB
UDFA 2005
Was looking like the next big thing until injuries derailed much of his 2010 season.

*Scouting smarts credited to Benoit. HTML and research credited to Brinson.

*Classification is really unfair for him.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Hot Routes 1.5.10: The mic is hot!



Posted by Josh Katzowitz
  • If football fanatics like Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden think a football game is running a bit long, chances are it’s taking forever. Check out this video from the Orange Bowl when the MNF team discuss how long the game took.
  • Looks like some of the Jets players are going to need a refresher course on the NFL playoff overtime rules system.
  • It sounds like Giants coach Tom Coughlin doesn’t hate the media quite as much as he used to hate us. With an appearance by CBSSports.com’s own Pete Prisco.
  • Matt Millen feels good for John Elway. And he has some advice for how to navigate the world of an NFL team’s front office.
  • How brutal is this? UFL players, according to Pro Football Talk, are still waiting to receive their final paycheck of the year. If you’ll recall the UFL championship game was played at the end of November.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: October 26, 2010 10:18 am
 

Brady: Belichick wouldn't act like Childress

Brad Childress called out B. Favre during his Sunday night news conference (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Remember how Vikings coach Brad Childress pretty much lambasted Brett Favre after the Vikings loss to Green Bay on Sunday?

He basically said that Favre’s three interceptions cost his team badly. Which, of course, was completely obvious. But then again, a Favre who only had one leg under him nearly led his team to a stirring comeback. Later on, Childress looked a little like a jackass when he revealed Favre was playing with two ankle fractures.

Said Childress: “It still goes back to taking care of the football. You can’t throw it to them. You’ve got to play within the confines of our system. Sometimes it’s O.K. to punt the football, and you can’t give seven points going the other way. Not in a game like this. Not with a high-powered team.”

And this:

“Yeah, the (interception) to (Desmond) Bishop, I’d have to look at that because I’d like to know where we’re going with the football, because I believe the play was designed to go to the other side and I think Percy’s standing there in big air, so not sure why we’re looking at the left-hand side.”

The “we” obviously refers to “him,” as in Brett Favre.

Which leads us to Patriots QB Tom Brady’s weekly appearance on WEEI radio this morning.

He was asked about Childress’ comments, and Brady said, “I think every head coach has different styles to motivate their players. Coach [Bill] Belichick, he doesn't ever do that to anybody. It doesn't matter if I threw seven interceptions, he would never do that. But there's no doubt that he's going to bring that up to me at some point, probably right away, in front of the team, as well. He's going to make the point that he needs to make in order to try to get his players to play better."

The fact Childress did it in such a public way, though, surely won’t win him many friends in the Minnesota locker room.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com