GREEN BAY — The players may have off until next Monday, but the Green Bay Packers coaching staff still has plenty of bye-week work to do before getting some R&R of their own.
After a 12-week grind resulted in a 9-3 start — including Sunday’s 36-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, leaving his team a half-game behind the Arizona Cardinals in the race for the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed and the lone first-round bye in the conference — head coach Matt LaFleur and his staff will be at the team’s Lambeau Field headquarters breaking down the team they know best: Their own.
“Our players are off until Monday, but we’ll be in tomorrow as a staff doing a lot of self-scout,” LaFleur said during his usual day-after-the-game Q&A session with reporters Monday afternoon. “And then we’ll give the coaches off until Monday.”
Bye-week self-scouting is the norm throughout the league, but in the Packers’ case, they have a treasure trove of film to review and discern tendencies through. While playing 12 games in a row without a week off was daunting, one of the benefits will be having so much to work with during the self-scouting process. Last year, for instance, the Packers’ bye week came after just four games.
“We’re going to look at first and second down, we’re going to look at third down, we’re going to look at the red zone, we’re going look at two minute, we’re going to look at explosive plays against us. And then, look at overall, what we’re doing well, what we need to keep doing, what we’ve been consistently getting hurt on and if there’s something that we need to drastically change or throw out or add,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said.
“We have a nice library. We have some volume to be able to go back and study and look and research 12 games. So then, when the players come back Monday, we’ll be able to present that to them — the good, the bad. And I think it’s important to point out what we’ve done really well, but then obviously point out what we need to improve on.”
It’s also important to get away and recharge the batteries — not just for players, but coaches, too. That’s one lesson offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, the son of a longtime NFL and college coach, learned at a young age from his dad, Paul.
“(Tuesday) we’ll definitely do a good job looking at the self-scout, just evaluate everything we’ve done up until this point. (But) my father, he always taught me, when you have a chance to unwind, you need to unwind,” Hackett said. “When you get home, you’ve got to leave football at (work). It’ll be a good time to catch up with the family, get to see my son play some basketball and my daughter play basketball. So I’m really excited about it.”
Cobb’s painful celebration
Neither LaFleur nor Hackett was sure just how veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb injured his groin during Sunday’s game, but they knew it happened on his 7-yard touchdown with 4 minutes, 21 seconds left until halftime. Cobb didn’t play another down after that and his availability for the Packers’ Dec. 12 matchup with the Chicago Bears is uncertain, as LaFleur said he didn’t have any updates “in terms of the severity” of the injury.
What he did know was that Cobb’s teammates unwittingly didn’t help the situation.
“Yeah, he got hurt on that touchdown catch, and it was big-time credit to him to be able to hang on,” LaFleur said. “Afterwards, I was kind of giving the guys some grief for, he’s in the end zone and they’re like pushing him around and he’s kind of hobbling and you can subtly see it on the tape (that he’s hurt).”
Said Hackett: “Everybody started banging him around and you could see him limping on one leg. It just shows how tough that guy is. He’s a stud. We’re so lucky to have him.”
Cobb finished the game with four receptions for 95 yards, including a 54-yard catch-and-run.
“He provided us with a lot of explosive plays and some big-time plays,” LaFleur said. “To have four catches for 95 yards in one half of work, that’s big time.”
Getting his kicks
Entering Monday night’s Washington-Seattle game, Packers punter Corey Bojorquez was second in the NFL in net punting average (43.8 yards per punt) and eighth in gross punting average (47.8) on 38 punts this season. Only 15 of his punts have been returned, for a 7.4-yard average.
Against his former team, Bojorquez punted five times, averaging 42.4 gross and 39.8 net yards in windy conditions, with a 61-yarder. The Packers also got a turnover off one punt when the coverage unit swarmed Rams returner J.J. Koski, who coughed up a fumble at the end of his 13-yard return of Bojorquez’s 53-yard punt.
“Anytime you have a punter that can flip the field the way that ‘Bojo’ has this year, it’s definitely a great feeling to have,” LaFleur said. “Because if you don’t convert (on offense), you’ve got a guy that can bomb it and get a 61-yard net and pin somebody (deep). You can’t really coach that stuff. It’s a credit to his talent and what he’s been able to bring here.”