Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ruthlessly Editing Tyler Dunne, Part I

I hate Tyler Dunne, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, on the Green Bay Packers beat. I've never met him, I know nothing about him as a person, but based purely on his articles and columns, I hate him. He's a bad writer, he rabble-rouses with things that aren't real issues in order to get clicks, and he rarely provides any insight that wasn't cribbed from one of his Journal Sentinel colleagues.

But those are just empty charges. To illustrate how he's so terrible at his job, and how he could be better at it, I've taken a column of his from Packer Plus Magazine and gone through it pretty much paragraph-by-paragraph, writing corrections as if I were an editor speaking to Tyler. Normal font is Tyler's article, italics are mine. The article can be found here (in case you think I'm exaggerating some of his errors). It was published on August 19, 2014, in Packer Plus.

Pass rushers flew off the board, one by one, the night of April 26, 2012.

This is minor, but Tyler tends to have a lot of nagging flubs. The only way anyone gets drafted is “one by one”. 'Pass rushers flew off the board on the night of April 26, 2012' is perfect.

Bruce Irvin at 15. Quinton Coples at 16. Melvin Ingram at 18. Shea McClellin at 19. Chandler Jones at 21. Whitney Mercilus at 26. You can almost picture a bead of sweat dripping down the temple of stoic Ted Thompson with each selection. A pull of the collar, a chug of the ice water.

(Tyler loves poetic imagery as much as he loves agitating. Who knows if Thompson was actually sweating or drinking ice water or pulling his collar. That doesn’t matter. Tyler’s idea of journalism isn’t painting the picture for a reader, but painting a picture for the reader.)

And at No. 28 overall, the Green Bay Packers general manager settled on USC's Nick Perry.

He didn't draft Perry to be good. He drafted him to be great.

Three years later, Perry remains more placeholder than playmaker. Injuries are to blame.... to an extent. In two exhibition games, the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder hasn't merely blended in. Penciled in as the No. 4 outside linebacker, not much at all has separated Perry from the likes of Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer.

(You could strike “at all” here, maybe put in a little bit more about how injuries have wrecked his first two professional seasons after six and seven games respectively, but overall, this is solid. The “more placeholder than playmaker” line is a nice touch.)

Is his roster spot in peril? Maybe not. But the Packers must be asking themselves behind closed doors if there's still hope for their handpicked savior opposite Clay Matthews.

(No, no, no, no. This is rank conjecture, Tyler! This is rabble-rousing! You know damn well that nobody cuts a first-round pick after two injury-riddled seasons, especially now that we’re in the new CBA and it costs nothing to keep him. His base salary this year is a million dollars. That's pocket change. Why don't you mention that in this article? Oh, right, because it undermines your argument.)

Last week, both defensive coordinator Dom Capers and linebackers coach Winston Moss acknowledged the linebacker — who missed the entire off-season recovering from injuries — has played catch-up but were optimistic overall.

(The “acknowledged” is a small thing, but it rankles me. It introduces implications that don’t need to be there—like someone was banging on Moss and Capers’s door, trying to get them to confess. The perfectly adequate “said” is the journalistic standard, and it doesn’t assign intention.)

"In working with Nick over the spring in the classroom, working with him on the field, I think he has all it takes to be a really great player," said Moss. "So time will only tell. That's what I'm looking forward to."

Capers calls Perry a "strong guy" that can take on tight ends and "walk them back because he's got that strength."

Three days later, he wasn't quite that threat.

Outside linebacker may be the position that has coaches burning the midnight oil later this month. But Moss and Capers were sure to give Perry an extensive look at St. Louis. Chances are, they weren't impressed by Perry's 18 uneventful snaps. He provided minimal, blasé pass rush, was OK vs. the run and, all in all, failed to excite at a position that screams excitement.

(I quibble with “minimal, blasé”—Tyler loves stacking words for emphasis where one would do—but otherwise, aside from the “midnight oil” cliché, this is okay.)

Take it play by play.

Perry entered the game with 5:56 to go in the second quarter. All four of his drives, he operated on his favorite right side and worked predominantly against journeyman Mike Person, of Montana State, who has played one game in four seasons.

(“Operated on his favorite right side” is unnecessarily ambiguous, isn’t it? Couldn’t this sentence read something like “Perry spent all four of his drives at right outside linebacker, his preferred position, against journeyman tackle Mike Person”?)

On Series No. 1, Perry tackled Benny Cunningham, falling forward for four yards. Four plays later, on Mike Pennel's 9-yard sack, Perry tried to speed wide on Person and was swept away.

(On the one hand, it’s great that Tyler’s examining the plays; on the other, the lack of detail is maddening. How did he tackle Cunningham? Did he get off a block? Also, the sentence reads that Perry (the subject) fell forward for four yards, not Cunningham. Just say “Cunningham, who fell forward”.)

Coaches say Perry sets the edge, that he'll force action inside. Yet the next possession, Perry crashed down vs. the run and was taken out by the fullback, allowing Cunningham to skip by for nine yards. The ensuing second and 1 was Perry's best play of the night. He bench-pressed Person, veered the tackle inside, and tackled Cunningham for a loss of one — still this was created, first and foremost, by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix filling and forcing Cunningham to bounce.

(This one is just stupid. ‘Coach says this, but Perry did that.’ Well, perhaps Perry had a different assignment on that play? You know how players have different assignments at different times, Tyler? Also, “Skip by” should be “skip outside”. Also, besides the awkward sentence structure, you mention Clinton-Dix’s penetration like it somehow detracts from Perry’s good performance on that play. Yes. Cunningham had to move because C-D was there. That’s what happens in football. Players help other players make plays. Rarely does anyone do it by themselves.)

On Series No. 3, into the third quarter, Perry rushed right and tried to spin inside, instead slow-motion spinning right back into Person's waiting hands. The next play, he walked Person back for a solid bull rush and Shaun Hill got the ball out. The next, he again crashed down vs. the run and missed the back. And on third and 12, Perry tried taking Person inside, was blocked, spun and blocked again.

(Don’t say “right”. Whose right? Say “outside” or “inside”. This is what I mean by maddening detail—how did he miss the back? Did he get chipped? Have a shot at him and whiff? You’re paid to describe things adequately, Tyler. Do so.)

Series No. 4, Perry's final series, wasn't pretty.

When No. 3 quarterback Garrett Gilbert entered the game — not quite the Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan the Packers envisioned Perry tracking down — it didn't get any rosier for Perry.

(Tyler, I know you love stacking things for emphasis, but you only need one of these two sentences! Also, the Manning/Brees/Ryan thing adds nothing to the piece.)

On first and 10 from the Rams 41, the sixth-round pick from Southern Methodist carried out the run fake right and Perry (unblocked) crashed down hard. Gilbert pulled the ball, rolled left and easily hit Stedman Bailey for 14 yards.

(THIS IS GOOD. THANK YOU. Although, after saying “Series No. 4 wasn’t pretty”, you then mention only one play on the series—what about the others? This almost reads like “Series No. 4 wasn’t pretty” was left in by accident.)

After missing the entire spring, maybe Perry needs time to recharge.

He was not downright awful. This wasn't a Sean Hooey-like, dust-off-your-résumé performance. It was a plain, mediocre, invisible game from a player the Packers didn't draft to be plain, mediocre and invisible.

(Remove “downright” and the hackneyed Sean Hooey sentence, which appears only to be there for emphasis. Otherwise, this is fine, albeit making much of a meaningless preseason performance.)

Hope comes in the form of jarring memories. Moss brings up two plays specifically — 2012 at Indianapolis, 2013 at Baltimore. On the first, Perry demolished Andrew Luck for a Rated-R, sack-fumble that drew an iffy flag. On the second, Perry wasted Eugene Monroe for a sack-fumble.

(There are easier ways to say “violent” than “Rated-R”, Tyler. For example, “violent”. You so often reach for the absurd or overblown cliché, phrase or metaphor when one or two simple words would get your point across so much better! Also, not that I’m counting, but who the hell is Luck? Does he play a different position than Monroe? At the least, you could go “QB Andrew Luck” or “OT Eugene Monroe”. I may be reading a football supplemental, but I might not know these things—be good to your readers.)

Both plays were exactly what the Packers pictured in projecting this hot-and-cold defensive end at outside linebacker.

On paper, he offers a different element.

"He can bring a powerful body to dominate the point of attack vs. the run," Moss said. "He can give you powerful pass rush that's different from the speed, explosiveness, agility of Clay Matthews, the skill, experience and athleticism and talent of Julius Peppers, explosion of Mike Neal. The quickness and get-off of Mike Neal. All those guys feature different skill sets. He will be able to bring a power.

"Those type of very tight-line, in-line powerful moves that can overwhelm an offensive tackle, I think he excels at."

"Nick Perry is a great pass rusher," said his teammate, Palmer. "He's real explosive, real powerful. I can see that just in his bull rushing. I've seen times when he'll just collapse tackles. As far as what's going on with him, I'm not 100% sure. But I know that when he's at his best, he's one of the best we've got."

(This is good. Let other people talk.)

The 4.5 speed. The 38½-inch vertical. The 35 reps. All at 265 pounds.

(Tyler, you have an annoying habit of assuming we already know what you’re talking about. Would “35 bench-presses” really disrupt the flow of this graf in a way that “reps” doesn’t? Reps on what, the stationary bike? Tell us things.)

Even as Perry himself was hesitant about playing linebacker back at the NFL scouting combine, the possibilities were endless. Not many pass rushers are built like this. So far, it hasn't translated to the field.

The Packers could theoretically shop Perry. Thompson did prove he's not afraid to admit a mistake. Jerel Worthy was taken only 23 picks after Perry and was shipped off to the Patriots. With so much depth at the position — hello, Jayrone Elliott — it wouldn't be a shock.

(Are you seriously saying that the Packers might cut or trade a first-round pick, with less than one full season of experience at the new position he had to learn in the pros, because some nobody unrestricted free agent rookie linebacker had a great (PRESEASON) game against an awful tackle? I just want to be clear here. Is that seriously what you’re saying????

Look, even if what you're implying wasn't completely crazy, the Packers just had a season where they lost their No. 1 and No. 2 OLBs to injury, and their No. 3 guy had nagging injuries all season. They started an undrafted rookie in the wild-card round against Colin Kaepernick. Do you seriously think they’ll cut Perry because… because… because he’s only shown flashes after two injury-riddled years? Seriously? Say it with me: DEPTH IS GOOD. TEAMS NEED DEPTH.)

Moss probably put it best. "Time will only tell." As an injury-prone first-rounder, Perry has been afforded more time, patience. The Packers will want to capitalize on those athletic, physical traits.

Expect another round of 15-20 snaps against Oakland on Friday.

Eyes will be on No. 53.

(Oh my God. First of all: Nobody gives up on a first-round pick while he’s still on his rookie contract and has no character issues. Find me a first-round pick in the last decade or two who’s been cut before the end of his rookie contract based solely on performance. Even Bobby Carpenter got four seasons. So did Justin Harrell. Worthy was traded because the Packers were deep enough that they were going to cut him at the end of camp anyway. They’re not legitimately deep enough at OLB to discard Perry, especially with Matthews and Neal (both injury-prone) and Peppers, an unknown quantity, in front of him. Second of all: “Time, patience”. “Athletic, physical”. Pick one. Third of all: “Eyes will be on No. 53” somehow manages to be bad in two different ways. It’s banal and uninformative because yes, duh, people will be watching him. It’s irrelevant because it’s the third preseason game and Perry is not fighting for a roster spot with Andy Mulumba and Jayrone Elliott. Tyler, I don’t have much evidence to support my hypothesis, but you can do better than this.)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Whitefish Island

Every year, on our way up to the Island, my dad stops at a little store in Gills Rock and buys a pound of smoked whitefish. It is wrapped carefully in white paper and carried up to our borrowed cabin, where my dad will sit at the kitchen table, painstakingly picking out every scale and bone. In between rehearsals, practice sessions and shepherding her offspring from place to place, my mom turns it into ceremonial Washington Island Whitefish Dip—all capitals, no abbreviations. This is eaten on Saltine crackers with the reverence that most people reserve for wine or caviar.

I mention this because over the past two decades (!!), my family’s annual two-week trip to the Island has gone from work-vacation to a kind of extended ritual. As members of the Washington Island Music Festival, my parents—Scott Tisdel (cellist) and Stefanie Jacob (pianist)—have their duties: practicing, rehearsals, several concerts, social events and all the rest. But we have all our old familiar activities too. There’s golf to be played (and a water hazard to hit things into), the Albatross to visit, trails to be biked and a tower to be climbed.

 My sister, Emmy, and I visit the library and check out fifty or so books; my dad sets aside one day to bike around the entire Island like a crazy person. I solicit off-island orders for Mann’s Mercantile fudge, and usually return home with enough chocolate-y product to sink the Karfi. We do these things every year, and they never lose their charm! Coming back and visiting the Art and Nature Center, staying out late to watch for meteor showers, all that tradition feels like sinking into a warm bath.

Here’s one of my favorites. My family used to host the annual orchestra party on the second Monday of our visit, and the household was traditionally exiled to Rock Island for a day so that my mom could cook in peace. That place is lovely, but the payoff was even better: we negotiated party-hosting duties in exchange for the Carr-Stoltz cottage near Little Lake, still one of my favorite places anywhere in the world. Even though I only spent two weeks a year there, it feels like I grew up in that spot; I picked blackberries and raspberries with my sister, built mountains on the rocky beach, paddled the long green kayak with my dad north, past the pockmarked cliffs to where we could see the slope of Rock Island ahead.

Sorry. I’m getting mushy. The Music Festival and its environs kind of do that to you. The magic’s in the little things, the little pieces of family lore: learning to skip stones at Carr Cottage, the precise color of the water at Schoolhouse Beach. My dad, after an evening round of practicing, sitting at the kitchen table and picking out a different set of scales.  I won’t be back for the Tisdel family’s twentieth appearance, but the Island is in my blood—as much as it can be for a seasonal visitor, at any rate. I don’t think anyone ever truly leaves the place.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Tribute to Johnathan Franklin

To commemorate his brief career, I went back and watched every Franklin carry or reception from Week 3, 2013, where Franklin came out of nowhere and rushed for 103 yards on 13 carries, and caught three passes for 23 yards. Every play is underneath, but first, the verdict:

Based on this game, Franklin had all the makings of a terrific running back. He had excellent speed, and more importantly, he was decisive in the hole and when making his cuts. Nobody ever came close to catching him from the back side on a running play. He was splendid at making people miss; he feinted at George Iloka and ruined him, ran through Reggie Nelson, ran around Vontaze Burfict, dodged Rey Maualuga, slipped Leon Hall in the backfield when Hall had him dead to rights, ran through Domata Peko’s ankle tackle, ran through Iloka again, and I’m sure there’s others I missed. He had an uncanny ability to get low, shoot forward and get extra yardage, even in a huge scrum. He even helped out on blitz pickup and really threw his body around. Fast, instinctive, good vision, had moves, decisive, was able to create on his own when the blocking was poor.

Play #1: 14:12 in Q3, 2-3, shotgun, run off LG for 5. End Michael Johnson is suckered inside by TE Ryan Taylor, lined up tight left, while LG Josh Sitton and LT David Bakhtiari get out in space and seal the linebackers off towards the middle of the field. The thing that stands out immediately is how fast Franklin is. He’s too quick for the backside DT, who was pushing center Evan-Dietrich Smith (EDS) into the backfield, and explodes through a tiny hole between Bakhtiari and Sitton on the second level. He’s brought down by Burfict, but that was really impressive speed.

Play #2: 13:13 in Q3, 1-10, under center, 3 WR-TE-RB, run off RG for 5. An expert double-team by EDS and RG T.J. Lang on the DT opens up a huge hole for Franklin. He probably should have cut outside instead of taking it straight up the field, there was plenty of daylight to the right of that LB, but his speed is such that he’s five yards upfield before Burfict knocks him down.

Play #3: 12:46, 2-5, Shotgun, off RE for 8. Three wides, a TE in the backfield with Franklin. The Bengals have this thing stacked up. Everything’s moving to the right sideline, and the FB is helping with RE Carlos Dunlap, but he’s refusing to be blocked; he’s right in Franklin’s face, blowing the whole thing up. There’s Bengals all over the place, including Domata Peko, who’s just gotten through EDS. So what does Franklin do? He cuts back to the left, avoiding Peko, and shoots ahead through some open space until he’s brought down by the safeties. Dunlap was right in his face, and so was Peko, but Franklin cut back and just weaved his way through for 8.

Play #4: 12:19, shotgun, 1-Goal at the 9, Rodgers pass to Franklin for 7. This is a designed play for the RB. There are two WRs and a TE on the left side, running straight at their defenders, while Franklin curls out behind them for a swing pass. It’s an interesting screen concept, and probably should have scored, but something weird happens. Either Rodgers’s throw comes up short, or more likely, Franklin’s timing is a bit off, because he has to dive backwards to come up with the pass. No matter. He catches it, rolls over, gets up and charges straight for any space in front of him and shoots ahead for 7. He’s just so decisive, and it’s working for him.

Play #5: Why mess with a good thing? Right after #4, 2-2 at the 2, Franklin carry off LT, and it’ll go down in history as an easy TD. Bakhtiari initially gets pushed into the backfield by Johnson, but Franklin has the speed to get around him, and then TE Andrew Quarless and Nelson beyond him (Quarless was tight, Nelson split wide) are dominating their respective blocks. He’s never touched. Bakhtiari recovers eventually to pancake Johnson. In fact, both Quarless and Bakhtiari put their men on the ground.

Play #6: 6:16, 2-5, off LE for 51. Toss left. EDS gets collapsed into the backfield, and Franklin has to dodge him. He gets around that mess and turns upfield, where RG T.J. Lang has pulled to the second level and Barclay blocked down on Dunlap, creating a huge hole. He darts forward, feints to the right and charges upfield. He outruns George Iloka, and Leon Hall only gets to him 51 yards later. That feint made Iloka hesitate, and another dodge got rid of Reggie Nelson in the hole;—he juked to avoid a big hit, then shook off Nelson’s attempted tackle around the legs.

Play #7: 1-Goal at the 6, 6:00 remaining, Franklin off RE for -1 yards. Franklin slips as he tries to cut back on a toss off RE.

Play #8: 3:19 remaining, 1-10, Franklin off LE for 7 from the shotgun, three WR, one TE offset. My goodness, this guy is exciting! There’s nothing doing on the toss off LT—nobody’s getting beat, but nobody’s moving either. So he cuts back to where Lang has walled off a guy to the inside, dodges Peko, cuts behind the block of RODGERS, of all people, who gets taken down in a heap, runs right, cuts upfield, runs through a tackle, and motors ahead for 7. He beat Iloka again.

Play #9: 14:29, 2-3, Rodgers pass short middle to Franklin for 7. Nothing exciting here; Rodgers dumped it off as a check-down and Franklin got a few more yards before the linebackers converged on him.

Play #10: 10:49, 1-10, Franklin RG for 12. Three wides, Quarless in the backfield. It’s a delayed handoff out of the shotgun, and Franklin has the benefit of a huge hole created by a double-team of Lang and EDS on a DT. Dunlap takes himself out of the play and nobody else is close enough. However, Lang doesn’t bounce to the second level, and Quarless misses his block on Burfict, so there’s unblocked linebackers everywhere. Not a problem. Franklin cuts to the right, finds open space and darts upfield, outrunning Burfict, embarrassing Maualuga in the open field by whipping by him, and gets twelve yards through a swarm of Bengals.

Play #11: 10:06, 1-10, up the middle for 3. Same formation. Franklin dodges around an unblocked Leon Hall in the backfield, then darts ahead for 3 off left tackle. Not much room there.

Play #12: 8:48, 3-3, Rodgers passes short left to Franklin out of the shotgun. (He also sells out in blitz pickup on the previous play. Knocks #95 down.) This is another designed flip to Franklin all the way. This time the throw hits him in the body, and he’s going backwards, catches it, turns around, and there’s open space in front of him. Lots of borderline holding by the three WRs blocking on that side, and he is tripped up by a diving Pacman after a 10-yard gain. (Another good blitz pickup by Franklin on another play—he may not have the size or the technique, but man, he’s got heart.)

Play #13: 6:01 left, Franklin left end for 4. Three wides, one TE, Franklin in the backfield. Rodgers turns and hands it to him going left from under center, and Franklin follows Sitton’s block, but when he turns upfield there’s a nightmare mishmash of orange and green. Somehow he gets four yards out of it. He has an uncanny ability to get low and get more yardage where other backs would get stonewalled.

Play #14: 4-1, 4:01 left, run off right guard, fumble, touchdown, death. Three WR, one TE, and the Bengals stack the line. There’s six men there and they all attack the line; there’s NO room inside. Franklin sees it, is running towards right guard, tries to dive, is hit, ball stripped away, ugh ugh ugh. It looked like someone put a helmet on his arm as he was diving and bloop, there went the ball. “A revolting turn of events.”

Play #15: 3:21 remaining, 2-3, shotgun, run up the middle for 5. There’s one hole, created by Sitton, and slices through a tiny opening for five yards before being taken down by a LB.

Play #16: 2:15 remaining, 1-10, shotgun, run for 2. Franklin is smeared by a DT who destroyed EDS in the hole. Promising head of steam, but he got only two.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Breaking Down the Packers' Nick Perry vs. Detroit

A while back, I spent about six hours on a Saturday watching tape of Green Bay vs. Detroit, in Week 4 of the 2013 NFL season. Whether and how much Perry develops in 2014 is going to be really important to the Packers' season, so I wanted to see what his potential was by cherry-picking his best game. So sue me. Here's what I found. 

Perry played 38 snaps, including 20 at left outside 'backer and 16 at right outside 'backer. The Packers' plan seems to have been to rotate him with Mike Neal at LOLB, but after Clay Matthews went out with a broken thumb, they moved Perry almost exclusively to ROLB with awesome results.

Here's my scouting report on Perry, and then I'll provide more details below. 

Perry looked much, much more comfortable at ROLB than LOLB. He showed great footwork, a strong dip 'n' rip move and a considerable amount of power when rushing against Riley Reiff, the Lions' overmatched left tackle. However, when rushing at LOLB, he was anonymized. He didn't look nearly as natural or as comfortable there, and never got any sort of pressure. Physically, he's a big, strong, somewhat slow guy who is best when moving in a straight line towards the QB. He held up fairly well in coverage in limited opportunities, but is slow to turn his hips and very bad at changing direction. While he's solid when the other team is running directly at him, he's slow to pursue down the line of scrimmage on runs away from him, and was fooled several times by juke moves or misdirection plays, regardless of side. A pure rush linebacker who can be exploited in space. Plays with commendable violence at times. Needs to be on the right side.

Perry at ROLB: 

This was the BEST PART. Perry’s first rush from ROLB, snap #38, was also his first sack. It was one of the most beautiful plays I’ve ever seen.

Perry looked SO much more fluid, more natural, on the right side. He did his little hesitation again, took a couple of steps and then the one HUGE step that got him to [LT Riley Reiff’s] outside shoulder… Looking at the replay, he punches with both hands and grabs Reiff’s outside shoulder and just moves him, and as he’s doing that he dips his left arm under Reiff’s left shoulder and rips upward and through him. Reiff had no choice but to drag him down with a blatant (uncalled) hold, but Perry not only had the strength and ability to shake him off—even as he’s going down to the ground—but he has the awareness to keep moving forward and smack right into the back of Stafford’s legs and take him down.

Snaps #51 and #56 were excellent, too. He made it around the corner both times, nearly slapping the ball away in #51 and recording a hurry in #56 that could easily have been a holding call. Perry experimented with a spin move (#52) and attacked the inside shoulder for the first time (#52, #53). On snap #64, he notched his second sack; here’s the tape.

“Reiff appeared to be playing to the inside; he set his hips pretty early. Perry didn’t do anything unusual; he slapped Reiff’s outside shoulder and moved himself around, got his shoulders turned around Reiff’s, and was in perfect position to smash the ball away. He didn’t just hit the ball, he hit Stafford’s entire arm, coming down like he was breaking a branch off of a tree, and the ball went flying.” Stafford held it just a half-second too long, and that was the difference.

Perry rushed the passer eleven times from the ROLB spot, and had two sacks and two hurries. That’s an awesome ratio.

Perry at LOLB: 

Perry looked below-average at LOLB. Against Lions right tackle Jason Fox (and possibly Ike Hilliard), Perry was poor. On snap #13, he showed the beginnings of a dip-and-rip move; he took two steps, made a little hesitation move to the inside, and then tried to take Fox around the corner. It sort of worked, to the extent that he got his hips turned and aimed himself at the QB, but he wasn’t able to make it around the corner completely—that is, he never got his inside arm underneath Fox’s outside arm. On most of his other rushes, he tried to beat Fox to the outside, either by attacking Fox’s outside shoulder with speed or trying to go right through him with power. Neither really worked. Perry did consistently get his hands on Fox’s pads, keeping him off his chest, but Fox was able to consistently grab him by the shoulders and keep him from going anywhere. 

Perry vs. runs directly at him: 

With the exception of a reverse, which I’ll get to later, only one Lions designed run went to his side. That was snap #40, and it was one of Perry’s more impressive plays, especially at LOLB; he fought off Fox/Hilliard’s attempt to take him towards the sideline—Fox got his hands up high on Perry’s pads but Perry appeared to stay low and shed him—and stayed in the gap. The back actually cannoned into him and bounced off for two or three yards, but Perry shed the block and helped on the tackle. Detroit much preferred to run away from Perry.

Perry in coverage: 

I did not expect this. Perry dropped into coverage on snaps 30, 37, 39, 49 and 63. Snap #37 was nullified because of a delay-of-game on the offense, and in #49 he was actually in the middle of the field and covered TE Brandon Pettigrew on a four-yard out. During #63, he dropped into a shallow zone and nobody was around. The one really respectable one was #30. He was off the line opposite Pettigrew, the inmost of three wideouts to the right side, and did a nice job of turning his hips and running with him. As far as I could see, he stayed with him for 10-12 yards, by which point the ball was on its way to somebody else (it eventually hit Kris Durham in the head). Perry definitely looks clumsy and not very fluid in the open field, but he did enough to get by.

Well, except for snap #39. I have no idea what Dom Capers was thinking, but he split Perry out to the defense’s extreme right and had him try to jam a wide receiver, then drop into coverage on the back leaking out of the backfield. He jammed the WR, in the kindest, loosest sense in which you could call something a jam, and did okay on the back. I almost wonder if he was late getting off the field or something and had to settle for that, but it appeared to be a designed play.

Perry's mental mistakes: 

Reggie Bush froze him on his second snap of the game. Bush was running off LT, and Perry was unblocked on the back end. He was pursuing down the line and Bush gave him a little nod, not really a juke, but enough to freeze Perry solid. I counted three times where Perry was fooled by a hard-count; he would twitch before the snap, and Stafford would straighten up and point at him, presumably calling or changing the protection. One was probably a false start, but went uncalled. Snap #14, a play-action pass, was designed to fool Perry and get him to charge down the line and inside, which it did, allowing Stafford to get outside him and complete the pass. And on Reggie Bush’s twenty-yard reverse (#43), Perry was completely fooled into chasing Joique Bell down the line. When Bell tossed it to Bush and Bush came sweeping around Perry’s side, Perry was totally out of position and the run went through his gap for 20.

Now, most of these are minor, minor things. Mike Neal smeared Bush for -4 on the Bush juke, and most of Perry’s other sins didn’t hurt the team as a whole. It’s also worth pointing out that I don’t really have a baseline for how often linebackers do this, so this might just have been a normal game. It was something I noticed throughout the game, however.