Rams show­ing in­ter­est in Van Pelt

McCarthy un­likely to re­lease him

Packer Plus - - Packers Notebook - By TOM SIL­VER­STEIN tsil­ver­stein@jour­nalsen­tinel.com

Green Bay — Green Bay Pack­ers quar­ter­back coach Alex Van Pelt’s ca­reer has been on an up­ward tra­jec­tory for a cou­ple of years, and it prob­a­bly won’t be long be­fore he’s an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor some­where.

But the chances of it hap­pen­ing with another team this year aren’t very good, even though he is draw­ing in­ter­est from at least one team.

The St. Louis Post-Dis­patch re­ported Mon­day that the St. Louis Rams had asked for per­mis­sion to in­ter­view Van Pelt for their open of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor’s po­si­tion. They need to ask per­mis­sion be­cause Van Pelt is un­der con­tract with the Pack­ers through next year.

It’s almost a cer­tainty that coach Mike McCarthy will deny Van Pelt per­mis­sion to in­ter­view with another team be­cause of Van Pelt’s value to the coach­ing staff. After coach­ing run­ning backs for two sea­sons, one of which he spent over­see­ing Ed­die Lacy dur­ing his rookie sea­son, Van Pelt be­came quar­ter­backs coach and helped Aaron Rodgers have one of his best sea­sons.

Van Pelt will have to de­cide if he wants to sign an ex­ten­sion for 2016 or let his deal ex­pire after 2015 so he can pur­sue other op­tions. In re­cent years, McCarthy has de­nied per­mis­sion for other as­sis­tant coaches such as Edgar Ben­nett, Joe Whitt, Ben McA­doo and Dar­ren Perry to in­ter­view for co­or­di­na­tor po­si­tions.

McA­doo de­clined to sign an ex­ten­sion after the 2012 sea­son and wound up be­ing hired by the New York Gi­ants last off-sea­son shortly be­fore his deal was to ex­pire.

Mean­while, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Tom Cle­ments may be re­ceiv­ing some in­ter­est from the Cleve­land Browns. The Cleve­land Plain Dealer quoted a source that Cle­ments is on the Browns’ radar for their open of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor po­si­tion.

The only dif­fer­ence for Cle­ments mov­ing lat­er­ally would be that he would be able to call plays in Cleve­land.

Headed to Glen­dale: The sea­son isn’t quite over for all the Pack­ers.

Now, seven mem­bers of the team are sched­uled to ap­pear in the Pro Bowl on Sun­day in Glen­dale, Ariz.

It was an­nounced Mon­day that re­ceiver Ran­dall Cobb and cor­ner­back Sam Shields, who were top al­ter­nates at their po­si­tion, have been named as re­place­ments for Dal­las’ Dez Bryant and New Eng­land’s Dar­relle Re­vis, re­spec­tively. Bryant won’t be play­ing be­cause of an in­jury, and Re­vis will be pre­par­ing for the Su­per Bowl.

The Pack­ers’ other five selections are Rodgers, full­back John Kuhn, line­backer Clay Matthews, re­ceiver Jordy Nel­son and guard Josh Sit­ton.

It doesn’t seem likely that Rodgers or Sit­ton will play as both are still bat­tling in­juries.

Spe­cial strat­egy: The Sea­hawks specif­i­cally tar­geted a ten­dency they saw in the way the Pack­ers rush on their field goal block unit when they com­pleted a fake for a 19yard touch­down in their stun­ning 28-22 vic­tory in the NFC Cham­pi­onship Game Sun­day.

Sev­eral mem­bers of the Sea­hawks told MMQB.com that spe­cial teams coach Brian Sch­nei­der had no­ticed that line­backer Brad Jones was overly ag­gres­sive pinch­ing inside on his rush and that if he lined up on the left side of the Sea­hawks for­ma­tion, they would fake to that side.

Jones, along with line­backer Matthews, crashed down as ex­pected, mak­ing it easy for holder Jon Ryan to pull the ball and run to the left. Ryan then tossed the ball over line­backer A.J. Hawk’s head to tackle Garry Gil­liam for a 19yard touch­down.

Ac­cord­ing to cor­ner­back Jar­rett Bush, the Sea­hawks ap­peared as though they were try­ing some other trick­ery on the same play. Bush said they left a player or two on the field near the side­line be­fore the kick and may have been con­sid­er­ing a de­cep­tion play where they only line up with 10 play­ers in the mid­dle of the field and keep the 11th near the side­line where the Pack­ers wouldn’t see him.

If the Pack­ers don’t no­tice him, the Sea­hawks can fake and throw it over to him. Bush said he gave an alert, but the play­ers he saw went to the side­line.

Sher­man sticks it out after in­jury: Sea­hawks cor­ner­back Richard Sher­man said that the left el­bow in­jury he suf­fered early in the fourth quar­ter was le­git­i­mate and that he had to suck it up and fin­ish the game play­ing with one arm.

Ap­par­ently, the Pack­ers didn’t get that in­for­ma­tion de­spite the fact Sher­man played with his arm locked in a 90-de­gree po­si­tion and never seemed to use it at all when he was play­ing bump cov­er­age.

“I was just try­ing to win the

ball game, hon­estly,” Sher­man said. “It didn’t feel great, but I’m not go­ing to let my team­mates down. We didn’t bat­tle this far (for noth­ing). I might as well give them un­til the last sec­ond.”

Sher­man said there was no way he was com­ing out of the game after be­ing run out of bounds at the end of run­ning back James Starks’ 32-yard run. He was clearly ail­ing when he went back into the game.

“They kept telling me it could get worse, but you know, it is what it is,” Sher­man said. “You play for your team­mates.”

The Pack­ers had to know that Sher­man was hurt­ing, but on their fi­nal four se­ries, they never re­ally tested him. It could have been some of what Rodgers was talk­ing about when he said the Pack­ers lost their ag­gres­sive­ness.

How­ever, when asked if he was aware of the in­jury, Nel­son said, “No.”

After Sher­man got hurt, the Pack­ers ran three times and threw short passes to tight end Richard Rodgers and Starks (twice). On the next se­ries, they ran Starks twice and threw to tight end An­drew Quar­less on the side­line on third and 4.

Line­backer K.J. Wright came in and ei­ther broke the pass up or cre­ated enough in­ter­fer­ence that he made Quar­less drop the pass.

On the drive in which the Pack­ers went 48 yards in seven plays to send the game into over­time, Rodgers hit Nel­son over the mid­dle for a 6-yard gain with Sher­man mak­ing the tackle.

“How do you play bump and run with one arm, but he did,” Sea­hawks coach Pete Car­roll said.

Sher­man fin­ished with four tack­les and an in­ter­cep­tion.

Queasy feel­ing: Cobb said he was fine in time for the start of the game Sun­day and not feel­ing any ef­fects from an up­set stom­ach.

Fox re­ported that Cobb ini­tially thought he had ap­pen­dici­tis and was taken to the hos­pi­tal on Satur­day, where he spent three hours. But what­ever it was, he was cleared.

“Yes­ter­day I was (suf­fer­ing),” Cobb said. “I woke up to­day and felt pretty good.”

Cobb caught seven passes for 62 yards and a touch­down and car­ried once for 3 yards. He was used oc­ca­sion­ally in the back­field, but spent most of the day in the slot.

Cobb is a free agent this off­sea­son, so this could have been his last game with the Pack­ers.

“I am at a loss for words,” he said. “To be so close, to be right here and see ev­ery­thing that you’ve worked your butt off for to get to this point to be able to cap­i­tal­ize on this op­por­tu­nity — th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties come few and far be­tween.

“We didn’t get done what we needed to get done.”

Mr. Au­to­matic: On any other day, kicker Ma­son Crosby is a hero.

When you hit 5 of 5 field­goal at­tempts, in­clud­ing a 48yarder that sends the game into over­time, you should be the MVP.

“I def­i­nitely don’t like com­ing to Seat­tle right now,” Crosby said. “It’s not one that has good feel­ings after the game as of late. This one I thought we pulled a re­ally good game to­gether, and we just kind of let it slip there at the end.”

Crosby said he felt great on the game-ty­ing kick.

“The op­er­a­tion was great to­day — snap, hold, kick — the pro­tec­tion was ex­cel­lent, so I was re­ally happy to hit it through.”

Out of gas: Matthews was out of the game for part of the fourth quar­ter be­cause of what he said were a cou­ple of in­jury and fa­tigue is­sues.

The Pack­ers line­backer could be seen on the side­line try­ing to loosen up with knee kicks dur­ing Seat­tle’s drive to take the lead in the fourth quar­ter. He did re­turn for the fi­nal drive in over­time.

“Men­tally, emotionally, phys­i­cally drained,” Matthews said.

Con­ser­va­tive claim: There are go­ing to be a lot of peo­ple who are go­ing to crit­i­cize McCarthy for be­ing too con­ser­va­tive with his play-call­ing in the fourth quar­ter when the Pack­ers were try­ing to run out the clock.

Two se­ries in the mid­dle of the quar­ter re­sulted in five runs for 2 yards. The two se­ries ate up 2 ½ min­utes and two of Seat­tle’s three time­outs.

“Any team would do that,” Seat­tle end Michael Ben­nett said. “In a sit­u­a­tion where you’re up 19-0 (ac­tu­ally, 16-0), you def­i­nitely want the game to be over re­ally quick so they started run­ning the ball. But we were stop­ping the run. They got a cou­ple big plays, but we just kept go­ing and they never re­ally got any mas­sive yards. ”

Must haves: Two of the big­name free agents the Pack­ers will be look­ing to sign this year are Cobb and right tackle Bryan Bu­laga.

Right guard T.J. Lang said the Pack­ers need to re-sign both.

“You don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen un­til March or April,” Lang said. “Bryan and Ran­dall are just huge pieces. Bryan is one of my best friends on the this team. He’s a hell of a player. Ran­dall had an out­stand­ing year.

“I don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen with them, but it would be hard to see them go.”

De­ci­sions, de­ci­sions: After Rodgers was in­ter­cepted by Sher­man in the end zone on the Pack­ers’ first pos­ses­sion, McCarthy said he felt he had to get some points on the sec­ond pos­ses­sion.

That’s why he chose to kick the field goal on fourth and goal at the 1.

“I didn’t think a lot of points would win this game,” McCarthy said. “That was my think­ing com­ing in. I felt great about our de­fense all week just the way they’d been build­ing here in the last eight, nine weeks. So, that’s why we had to take the field goals.”

Fines: The NFL fined guard T.J. Lang $8,268 for the un­nec­es­sary rough­ness penalty that he re­ceived for knock­ing down Cow­boys nose tackle Nick Hay­den in their di­vi­sional play­off game. Lang dis­puted the penalty.

JC Tret­ter, a sec­ond-year of­fen­sive line­man, made a par­tially suc­cess­ful ap­peal of his $16,537 fine for leg-whip­ping line­backer Trent Cole in a game Nov. 16 against the Ea­gles.

Tret­ter pleaded his case by phone with league of­fi­cial Derrick Brooks, the for­mer Tampa Bay line­backer.

MVP vote: Rodgers was named most valu­able player by the Pro Foot­ball Writ­ers of Amer­ica in a rel­a­tively close fin­ish over de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt of Hous­ton.

Rodgers re­ceived 48 of the 84 votes cast, or 57.1%, for a 19point vic­tory over Watt, who gained 32 votes, or 38.1%.

The pool of vot­ers for the PFWA awards is sim­i­lar to the 50-per­son panel that voted on The As­so­ci­ated Press awards. The AP MVP award will be an­nounced Jan. 31.

Mean­while, gen­eral man­ager Ted Thomp­son fin­ished tied for sev­enth place in PFWA vot­ing for ex­ec­u­tive of the year. He had three votes.

Owner-GM Jerry Jones of Dal­las won with 17.

Even though the Pack­ers tied for the NFL’s best record at 12-4, McCarthy didn’t get a vote for coach of the year.

Ari­zona’s Bruce Ari­ans ran away with the award.

Mur­ray nipped Rodgers, 37-32, for of­fen­sive player of the year.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sea­hawks holder Jon Ryan runs with the ball on a fake field goal as he pre­pares to throw a touch­down pass to tackle Garry Gil­liam dur­ing the sec­ond half of the NFC Cham­pi­onship Game against the Pack­ers.

Van Pelt

MARK HOFF­MAN / JOUR­NAL SENTINEL

Pack­ers kicker Ma­son Crosby hits a 48-yard field goal dur­ing the fourth quar­ter.

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