Two Key Fundamentals that Will Be Huge

Mike McCarthy Vince LombardiThere has been a good deal of talk about McCarthy’s intent to get back to the basics on offense. All this talk about fundamentals seems vaguely familiar to perennial Packer fans.

There was a reason that the Packer Power sweep was such an effective tool during the Lombardi era. It wasn’t because it relied on misdirection. It didn’t implement the element of surprise. Everybody knew it was coming and nobody could stop it.

The reason…


In the 60s the Packer offense practiced the power sweep until they could run it in their sleep. Every man won his one-on-one battle because the play was so deeply ingrained in their muscle memory.

If that’s what McCarthy means by getting back to the fundamentals, then this is going to be one seriously fun season for the green and gold.

From Disappointment to Dominance

When Lombardi took over the Packers they were coming off their worst season ever. They had posted a dismal 1-10-1 record the year before and Lombardi took that exact same roster to the NFL Championship. In that game the team suffered a heartbreaking loss as they watched a lead melt away.

The following summer in training camp, Lombardi got back to the very basics as he stood before his team and said, “Gentlemen. This is a football.”

Following that simple return to the basics, the Packers rebounded to appear in more than half of the NFL Championships in the 60s. In fact, they were 16 points away from being in every single championship in the seven years from 1960-1967!

A lot of that had to do with Lombardi’s relentless pursuit of hammering home the basics. When the defense didn’t tackle well on Sunday, they drilled on tackling on Monday. When the offensive line didn’t block well on Sunday, they labored over blocking drills on Monday.


From Disappointment to Dominance… Again?

There are so many aspects of the game of football and each has it’s own core of fundamentals. Improving on any one of them would improve the effectiveness of the team. However, if I were able to choose just two that I would have the Packers dial in during the coming season they would be the following.

Run Blocking

The Packer running attack struggled after the first six games of the season last year. While much has been made of Eddie Lacy’s drop-off in productivity and his weight (and a good deal of the fault does rest on his shoulders), it’s also true that the blocking in front of him was far from flawless.

I was watching some Montee Ball highlights from his final season in Wisconsin (yes, I grew up in Wisconsin and am still a big Badger fan), and one of the things I find most exciting about the monstrous amounts of yardage he chewed up was that they frequently began with immense holes to run through. I have always thought that a team could have an effective running game with a mediocre running back and an offensive line that blows holes big enough for a truck to drive through.

If the Packer offensive line can dial in their blocking and get back to the fundamentals, then it isn’t going to matter whether we put Eddie Lacy, or James Starks, or even John Crockett in the backfield. The running game will generate enough yardage to freeze defenses and unleash a Packer passing game that is looking forward to the return of Jordy Nelson and the emergence of a number three receiver amidst a very good receiving corps at that position.

Now, I will say that I think injuries heavily impacted the offensive line’s ability to execute in a fundamentally sound manner. The fact that Bakhtiari’s knee injury, Sitton’s back injury, and Lang’s shoulder injury impacted their ability to properly execute the fundamentals is without a doubt.

So, I fully expect the Packer offensive line to be back to efficient execution in 2016 which will, once again, make the Packers’ offense the most feared in the NFL.

Inside Linebacker

I’m seriously pumped about Clay moving back to the outside, but the fact that his presence will no longer be felt on the inside means that whoever replaces him on the inside must be extremely sound fundamentally.

We all remember what the run defense was like before they moved Clay inside and there isn’t a single one of us who wants to go back to watching teams run all over us. The problem is that, in the current NFL, an inside linebacker needs to be fundamentally sound in both the run and the pass.

ILB was traditionally a run-stop position in the past. That’s no longer the case as offensive coordinators have found ways to capitalize on mismatches against ILBs. So, while I think a guy like Jake Ryan could make some huge strides plugging up the running game, I’m just not convinced that the guy can be reliable defending passes. Nor am I yet convinced that Sam Barrington will be able to do the job coming off an injury.

This is one of the biggest questions going into the coming season for me.

I think we have inside linebackers who can consistently defend against the run. And, that’s important in a division where beating our primary rivals this season will entail shutting down Adrian Peterson. However, I’ll be crossing my fingers that teams won’t eat us alive with running backs out of the backfield and tight ends on crossing routes. Hopefully, by the end of the season, I’ll find out that I had nothing to worry about. But, that will take extreme attention to the fundamentals by an, as yet unproven, group.

Run It Until You Can Do It In Your Sleep

I believe this team will make a return to the necessary fundamentals. I believe they will execute with such precision that teams will wonder how they’re going to stop the green and gold.

I believe 2016 is our year.

Two Key Fundamentals that Will Be Huge

2 thoughts on “Two Key Fundamentals that Will Be Huge

  • July 7, 2016 at 7:00 am

    I just watched Jerry Kramer explaining that Lombardi’s Packers didn’t run wind-sprints, they ran power sweeps. Fundamentals is right. I expect a more disciplined offense this year.

    • July 7, 2016 at 10:36 am

      I agree. In addition to McCarthys focus on fundamentals, guys like Jordy and Eddie will be much more focused this coming season. Jordy because he wants to make a big splash in his return, and Eddie because he wants to put the criticism to rest and show that he’s back.


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