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It was one of the more embarrassing defeats in the long history of the Green Bay Packers. When the Pack matched up against the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the 2012 season’s playoffs, and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw a pick-six to cornerback Sam Shields early in the game, it appeared that Kaepernick’s hot streak had cooled precipitously. Not so. One 45-31 final later, the Packers had been served.
Through the game’s first 30 minutes, Kaepernick amassed 148 yards passing (on just 11 completions in 23 attempts) for two touchdowns and that pesky interception. But his real value to the team showed up in the rushing totals; 107 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, on just 11 carries. Only Ray Rice and Warrick Dunn had more rushing yards in the first half of a playoff game in the last 10 years.
In the second half, Kaepernick stayed on a higher plane. He finished the game with 17 completions on 31 attempts for 263 yards. On the ground, he befuddled the Packers even more, amassing 181 yards rushing. No quarterback has ever rushed for more yards in a single game, and to put that final number in its proper perspective, Kaepernick finished with the 14th-highest single-game rushing yardage total in the league’s postseason history.
The Packers had no answers for the 49ers’ option packages, which led their great defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, to experience a lot of heat this offseason. According to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Capers barely addressed the option in practices the week before the game, which was a bit silly, as Kaepernick had been riddling the league with it for weeks. Green Bay faces Kaepernick and the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III in the first two weeks of the 2013 regular season, so Capers is taking no chances this time. Not only is the option at the top of his “to-do” list, but he recently took his entire defensive staff to the Texas A&M campus to spend a day with the Aggies’ coaching staff, and he spent a day with Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Arnada, who was part of the Hawaii staff when Kaepernick played for Nevada. As a result, Arnada was intimately familiar with the ins and out of the Pistol formations Kaepernick ran then and runs now.
“We’re going to do more,” Capers told Dunne. “We’re going to do more than we have because we know the first two teams we play run it. There will be a number of teams that have a little element of it in. How much it takes off, I don’t know. It’s like everything else. Things go in cycles. Over 28 years, I’ve seen a lot of cycles in the league.”
When the Packers’ coaches visited the Aggies, the two staffs spent an entire day drawing up plays and watching film. A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder told Dunne that he had watched the loss to San Francisco, and called it a “perfect storm.”
“They hadn’t done much of it,” Snyder said. “It’d be like any offense you haven’t prepared for all week. It makes it difficult. Us as coaches, anytime something like that happens to us, you learn about it. That’s what you do.”
And that’s what the Packers are doing. Outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene met with Illinois State assistant head coach/defensive line coach Spence Nowinsky, and Nowinsky told Greene that the third read in the progressions the 49ers used was the one that kept tripping them up. You read the tackle, then the back, then the tight end.
“The Packers were playing outside of that blocker. When you play outside of that blocker, that’s fine. But now you have to set the edge. If the quarterback keeps the ball, he can’t run outside of that blocker. With your inside linebacker, outside linebacker and your safety, you have to decide who’s going to slide inside and who’s going to slide outside.”
“You have to make the game of football a half-court game. It doesn’t matter what the backfield set is — if it’s the pistol or if he’s in the gun set strong or weak — you have to take one of the reads away.”
Another problem the Packers had, which other NFL defenses are starting to adjust to, is that when you task your pass rushers to pin their ears down on every play, they will often miss those option reads as a matter of course. The Packers have an additional handicap in that their cornerbacks play a high percentage of tight man coverage, in which the defender turns his back to run with his receiver. As a result — and this happened over and over in the 49ers game — the running quarterback has a distinct advantage at the second level, because his potential tacklers have to turn back, adjust, and pursue. You give a guy as fast as Colin Kaepernick that much time, and you get what the Packers got.
“In the NFL, you get paid a lot of money to rush the quarterback — going up the field,” Snyder told Dunne of the edge-rusher’s natural instinct. “That’s what these teams want you to do. That’s where the creases, the seams are created for the offense. It’s just a little bit different mind-set. You have to take a different mind-set into those games and play a little bit more at the line of scrimmage than up the field.”
That’s one of the many things that makes a well-planned read-option attack so dangerous at any level — coaches have to put their defenders in positions that are not natural to them, without sacrificing their primary attributes. It’s why the current schemes, as practiced by Kaepernick, Griffin, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and the next generation of NFL quarterbacks, will not fade away as the Wildcat did.
And it’s why you’ll most likely see more NFL coaches going back to school — literally and figuratively.
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It’ll be several more months until this film will be able to be seen in full, but here the film 300: Rise of an Empire begins its march with a full-length trailer. No teaser trailer, no news release for a teaser – straight into a two minute and thirty second epic. Here we’ll have essentially
One of the key defensive players on the Giants in undergoing the knife today, as Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting Jason Pierre-Paul is undergoing back surgery in Los Angeles.
Pierre-Paul, 24, played with the back injury last year and received multiple epidural injections to get through the season.
The belief is he should be ready for the start of the 2013 season and should be 100 percent, the source said.
The surgery is being performed by Dr. Robert Watkins.
The razors-by-mail service is experimenting with a new product. It is, in the polite terminology you might find on a drugstore shelf, a personal wipe.
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul undergoes back surgery, played through epidural shots in 2012
New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is undergoing back surgery Tuesday morning in Los Angeles, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.
According to Schefter, the procedure is being performed by Dr. Robert Watkins, the same back surgeon who will operate on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski later this month. Pierre-Paul reportedly played through his back injury last season, receiving “multiple epidural” shots to get through the season.
After coming off the bench as a rookie, Pierre-Paul, 24, has been a full-time starter the last two seasons, posting 23 sacks in his last 32 games. Pierre-Paul had a career-high 16.5 sacks during a breakout season in 2011, after which he was voted first-team All-Pro and named to his first Pro Bowl. Pierre-Paul returned to the Pro Bowl in 2012 after posting 6.5 sacks and returning his first career interception for a touchdown.
By undergoing back surgery this late in the offseason, Pierre-Paul will likely miss training camp and the preseason, though Schefter adds that Pierre-Paul is expected to be ready for September. The Giants can be expected to guard against not having Pierre-Paul for the Sept. 8 prime time season-opener against the Dallas Cowboys by placing the 2010 first-round pick out of South Florida on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp.
If Pierre-Paul is not ready for the start of the season, linebacker/defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka would get the start opposite Justin Tuck. Kiwanuka has been working at defensive end during the OTAs while 2013 third-round pick Damontre Moore learns the same hybrid linebacker/defensive end role that Kiwanuka has filled the last few seasons.
“Getting back was only the beginning.” Not only the strapline for Hollywood sequel Back to the Future II but also a fitting description of Chelsea’s decision to reappoint Jose Mourinho on a four-year contract.
The return of the self-dubbed “Special One” after a six-year absence has prompted a euphoric response from the Premier League club’s fans, who are delighted owner Roman Abramovich has decided to go “Back to the Future."
Between 2004 and 2007, Mourinho’s Chelsea, for a time, dominated English football. The Portuguese coach guided the west London team to a first league title in 50 years as well as four other major trophies.
But his return is being greeted with caution by some who warn it is never wise to return to the scene of former glories.
Liverpool were forced to sack club legend Kenny Dalglish in 2012 after a largely disastrous Anfield comeback, while Zdenek Zeman failed to inspire on his recent return to Roma.
But just like Marty McFly in the 1985 hit film, Mourinho can count on a grey-haired old timer to prove returning to the past can be the key to saving the present.
Bayern Munich are currently the toast of world football, basking in the reflective glory of an unprecedented haul of silverware. The 2013 German title was won by a record-breaking margin as Bayern finished 25 points clear of Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern beat Stuttgart last weekend to lift the German Cup and, sandwiched in between those twin triumphs, the Bavarians defeated Dortmund in the first all-German Champions League final to become kings of Europe for a fifth time.
The mastermind behind this unprecedented treble was 68-year-old Jupp Heynckes, Bayern’s very own “Doc Brown” who returned to the club he previously coached two decades earlier to achieve historic success.
Heynckes, who won two Bundesliga titles during his first spell as Bayern coach between 1987 and 1991, returned in 2011. His arrival followed the departure of Louis van Gaal, who had presided over an unacceptable third-place finish in the league.
Heynckes’ first season back at the helm ended in heartbreak. Bayern finished second in the Bundesliga, behind Dortmund, and suffered a crushing Champions League final defeat to Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea team in their own Allianz Arena Stadium.
While the club’s players and fans plunged the depth of despair, Heynckes steeled himself for a monumental comeback.
The power of his all-conquering 2013 team was at its most apparent during a 7-0 aggregate thrashing of Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal.
Barca, the team roundly accepted as the best in the world up to that point, had seen their mantel stolen by Heynckes’ red and white juggernaut. The veteran’s return instilled a confidence and a swagger into a team which was in danger of going down in history as chokers.
Heynckes’ achievements were such that, rather than retirement, there is now talk he might now return to another old stomping ground – being hotly-tipped to replace Mourinho at Real Madrid, a club where he won the Champions League in 1998.
Chelsea’s decision to get back with an ex comes after six years which have seen seven managers try to work under the shadow cast by his departure.
Success has remained consistent. Since 2007 Chelsea have enjoyed a first Champions League triumph in addition to a Europa League win, a Premier League title and three FA Cups.
In the last two seasons, however, Chelsea have been nowhere near the top of the Premier League table.
The two Manchester clubs have battled for supremacy, while Chelsea floundered in sixth in 2012 and finished third in 2013.
Chelsea have suffered an identity crisis without Mourinho and he will be pleased some of his most loyal disciples remain stationed at Stamford Bridge.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech, defender Ashley Cole and stalwarts John Terry and Frank Lampard will know what it takes to succeed under Mourinho and they could be key in creating a sense of togetherness in what often seems a fractured dressing room.
For Chelsea owner Abramovich, he will be hoping the rehiring of a man he sacked six years ago can lead to more European Cup success.
The second coming of Jose will be judged on whether he can finally lead the team to Champions League success after failing to get beyond the semifinals during his first spell in charge.
Mourinho will have an early opportunity to demonstrate he is capable of filling the only gap in his Chelsea resume when his team head to Monaco for August’s European Super Cup final.
Their opponents? Bayern Munich.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski spent his 2012 offseason filming commercials, being the subject of photo shoots and making special appearances. Gronkowski, who famously coined the phrase “Yo Soy Fiesta” following the team’s win over the Baltimore Ravens in the 2011 AFC championship game, was everywhere during a period affectionately known as the “Summer of Gronk”.
While Gronkowski has surely found time to unwind after the 2012 season, this year’s version of the “Summer of Gronk” will likely be known more for the amount of time he’s spent on operating tables.
Since last November, Gronkowski has undergone four surgeries to repair a left forearm that he broke twice during the 2012 regular and postseason. The latest of those procedures took place last week and Gronkowski will not have to wait long before he’s back on the table.
According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, Gronkowski will undergo back surgery in mid-June, which will keep the two-time Pro Bowler out for at least part of the Patriots’ training camp.
Mike Garafolo of the USA Today reported on May 17 that Gronkowski had undergone an MRI on his back and was scheduled to meet with Dr. Robert Watkins, a Los Angeles-based back specialist, to determine if surgery was necessary to repair a disc issue that bothered Gronkowski during the 2012 season.
Back issues are nothing new to Gronkowski, who missed the 2009 season at the University of Arizona due to a disc issue that required surgery. That particularly back surgery prompted speculation — which was refuted by Gronkowski and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus — that Gronkowski had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which may have contributed to him falling out of the first round of the 2010 NFL draft.
According to Garafolo, the current disc that requires surgery is not the same one that was shaved down in 2009. The need for surgery does raise concerns about the availability of Gronkowski for the regular season-opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8. While the hope is that Gronkowski can simultaneously rehabilitate the forearm and back surgeries and be on the field for Week 1, the Patriots may want to play it safe with Gronkowski, if for no other reason than to protect him from himself in terms of returning to action before his injuries have completely healed. The Patriots’ last playoff game in each of the last two seasons — Super Bowl XLVI and the 2012 AFC championship game — serve as examples of how having Gronkowski on the field in January and February is far more important than having him in September.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will miss his team’s OTA practices after undergoing a minor surgical procedure to remove a cyst from his back, Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas reports.
The Cowboys’ three-week OTA period begins on Tuesday and end on June 6. The Cowboys have a mini-camp scheduled for June 11-13, but the report suggests that Romo will be on the shelf until the team opens training camp in Oxnard, California on July 19.
Romo, 33, had a career-high 4,903 yards and his 28 touchdown passes were the third-most in his seven seasons as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. Romo also equaled a career-high and led the NFL with 19 interceptions. Those turnovers.
This is a big offseason for Romo, who signed a six-year, $ 108 million extension that included $ 55 million in guaranteed money on April 1. Following the 2013 NFL draft, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that Romo was going to be putting in “Peyton Manning-like hours” at the team’s facility as Romo will have greater input in the team’s offensive game-planning.
Romo, who cut back on the time he spends on the golf course in the offseason, can still put in that time at the facility, but the surgery means he will not get on-field work with the first-team offense until training camp.
With Romo on the mend, Kyle Orton will work with the No. 1 offense. First-year quarterback Nick Stephens, who went to training camp with the Tennessee Titans last season, and undrafted rookie Dalton Williams will get more work, as well. The Cowboys are currently at their 90-man roster limit and would need to release a player to add another quarterback for the OTAs and mini-camp.
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