The Green Bay Packers want to get back to the Super Bowl, and the first place to look for areas of improvement is pretty simple: the game that sent them home from the playoffs. That game was against the San Francisco 49ers, who burned the Green Bay Defense for 579 yards en route to their 45-31 victory in the divisional round.
Now, the Packers are taking steps to better learn how to deal with what the 49ers threw at them, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. It looks like head coach Mike McCarthy is sending some of his staff to Texas A&M to study how to stop a mobile quarterback.
It was the read option offense under Colin Kaepernick that hurt the Packers big time, as he ran for an NFL quarterback rushing record of 181 yards. Kaepernick also added four touchdowns -- two in the air and two on the ground.
"Definitely there's a lot of conversation about the read option - rightfully so," McCarthy said. "Five hundred seventy-nine, that's a number that will stick in our focus as a defense throughout the offseason. We're studying the read option, the teams that are doing it in the NFL."
While McCarthy stops short of suggesting that he has occasional nightmares about Kaepernick and the read option, it's a pretty significant quote nonetheless. He stated that he's sending his defensive staff to Texas A&M to learn about the read option offense from Kevin Sumlin.
Texas A&M isn't the most option-heavy team in the SEC -- it ran more of an Air Raid under Kliff Kingsbury -- but it appears McCarthy is looking for any insight on running quarterbacks.
McCarthy said the move is something they're doing from an "education, preparation" standpoint and that they're doing it to be better prepared for the future.
With the rise of quarterbacks like Kapeernick, Seattle's Russell Wilson and Washington's Robert Griffin III, making such a move really does seem like a good idea. Kaepernick was constantly considered the "x-factor" in pre-game talks for every game he started this season. Wilson led the Seahawks from relative obscurity to the playoffs, and Griffin did the same thing for the Redskins.
Wilson, RGIII and Kaepernick can each run the ball effectively, and throw it just as well. That's what gives them the edge in the read option. Watching the game between Green Bay and San Francisco, it was immediately clear that the Packers were tired out early on from having to pursue Kaepernick and the 49ers' running backs from sideline to sideline.
Will it be a new era for NFL quarterbacks? That's really up in the air, but it won't hurt the Packers to be prepared.
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