Rams showing interest in Van Pelt
McCarthy unlikely to release him
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.
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.
Packers kicker Mason Crosby hits a 48-yard field goal during the fourth quarter.