Scout's Take

<b> What are the keys for the Green Bay Packers down the stretch of the season?</b> Offensively, they must develop a second reliable threat at wide receiver for Brett Favre. They must also utilize tight ends Bubba Franks and David Martin more in the passing game in order to make defenses defend the middle of the field more, creating more big play opportunities for the receivers on the perimeter.

Getting more consistent, healthy play from their wide receivers will give them the flexibility to spread people out in the passing game and allow the running game to flourish with Ahman Green. They must stay dedicated to the running game to advance in the playoffs. Defensively, they must continue to get the edge pass rush from Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and utilize Na'il Diggs and Nate Wayne more in the blitz package. Both have improved significantly in this area and they have a chance to make some big plays with all the attention given to Gbaja-Biamila.

Injuries have cost him in the development area. Coming out of college, he was purely a speed edge rusher that had not developed a counter move. He will need to use his hands better and develop his pass rushing technique once he can get enough healthy repetitions. That is the only way to get better.

Is this as good as you have seen Brett Favre play?
He is playing like his old self because he is healthy, has a running game and for a while before injuries set in had some weapons at wide receiver. He still makes some mistakes in the red zone because he can be lulled into false reads and has supreme confidence that he can force the ball places where it need not be thrown. Still, what gives him such an advantage is that his physical abilities force defenses to defend the entire field, creating lots of big play opportunities.

Why do some football analysts say that some quarterbacks are best when they are outside the tackles? What is the difference versus the pocket passer?
Quarterbacks who are athletic enough to be a running threat are a real weapon outside the tackles because the run/pass option is there for the quarterback and also there for the defense to defend. By creating this threat offensively, it creates spacing in coverage allowing more gaps in the passing lanes making it easier for the quarterback to throw the ball accurately.

By being outside the tackle, it also aids the quarterback for a couple of reasons: It improves his vision because he doesn't have big offensive and defensive lineman to look over. The other reason is that rollouts are quick pre-snap designed reads making it easier on the quarterback mentally (decision-making-wise). Pocket passing is more rhythm and timing routes oriented: 3-, 5- and 7-step drops coincide with the depth of the receivers' routes and the ball must be delivered on time with the break of the defender. If the receiver creates separation from a defender it's only for a very brief period and if the ball is not there on time, an opportunity is lost. Pocket passers are usually bigger, have quicker releases and are more accurate delivering the ball. They are also usually not as athletic and thus not as effective rolling outside the tackles because the athletic run threat does not exist.

What are your feelings on all the situational players that are out there now? Situational pass rushers, situational running backs. Is it just an excuse for not having all around talent at those positions?
There are still good all around players out there but certain players can do certain things better than others therefore dictating that you use them when those situations arise. What we find often as scouts are players that are great at doing certain things but all of them have certain definable weaknesses. This is why it is so important for NFL coaching and scouting staffs to be on the same page. You have to know how to develop and utilize players better now than ever before. If you are waiting for the perfect player in the draft that can do everything equally well, you may as well pass because they are not out there. You have to use a players strengths and hide his weaknesses. It is like any other business.

In past years, NFL rosters were smaller and thus required more rounded players. Just because they were more well rounded in some cases, they were not necessarily better because different responsibilities are now required of players. Situational substitution came about as the game changed. The key to winning today is having a good quarterback, a top-flight pass protector for that quarterback and a pass rusher. A lot of other components are necessary as well but this is where it starts. When teams went to three- and four-wideout formations, defenses had to counter with nickel and dime packages (five and six defensive backs) to counter that. That is going to necessitate taking an inside run defending tackle out of the game for a more gifted pass rusher and a linebacker for a better coverage defensive back. In football, like anything else, a reaction creates a response to that reaction. It is a revolving game and you are seeing that on a yearly basis.

Is there a consistently winning formula you see for having a team that is quicker vs. having size? Do the teams with the bigger players in the trenches and the faster players in the open field positions fair best or does that depend on too many factors?
It does depend on what you are trying to accomplish scheme-wise but generally speaking size up front matters greatly in the run game and speed and quickness translates into big playmakers. It is usually two to three big plays every game that makes the difference. For instance, if you are going to have athletic playmaking linebackers that can run and chase but are not guys that can take on and shed a block with a great deal of efficiency, then you better have a couple of big strong space-eating tackles up front that keeps the linebackers freed up to make plays.

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