This is my first season with Directv and the wonder of DVR. Using my newfound powers, I played back through the Packer game following Chad Clifton's injury and took a look at Derek Sherrod's performance at right tackle. Overall, I was impressed with his first extended effort.
The Packers ran the ball 13 times and threw it 36 with Sherrod in the lineup.
In the running game, I scored Sherrod with 12 pluses and one minus. On a number of the plus runs, the ball was carried to the offense's left side, leaving Sherrod with not much to do but hit his guy. Derek did hustle across the field numerous times looking for downfield blocks. Sherrod's one negative score seemed to be a blown assignment on the last play before the two minute warning. The Packers lined up in the I formation with Kuhn at FB and Grant at HB. At the snap, Sherrod pulled left behind Sitton, leaving the DE and LB unblocked. Kuhn led Grant right into that unblocked opening and the play was stuffed for no gain. My impression was that Sherrod must have thought the play was to be run to the left side and he moved left to block down. It's possible his pull move was meant to influence the DE to slide down the line also, but I've never seen a Packer tackle make that kind of move. I scored it a negative for a likely assignment bust. Other than that busted play, the Packers didn't run much behind Sitton or Sherrod to see if Sherrod could move his man out of the hole.
I thought Sherrod played extremely well in the passing game. I scored Derek with 33 pluses and 3 minuses. Sherrod got to his set point quickly, kept his hips low and engaged his man with extended arms, keeping his opponent off his body. At times, he was on the verge of losing control of his man, but the Packers' quick passing game meant the ball was gone on nearly all of these plays.
On Sherrod's first negative play, he actually performed well but didn't finish. In the second quarter, his DE counterpart took a deep outside rush. Derek pushed the DE well past Rodgers and put his man to the ground. Rodgers, however, held the ball longer than usual. Sherrod's man scrambled to his feet and brought down Rodgers as Aaron moved forward in the pocket. Had Sherrod simply fallen on his man rather than ease up when his man hit the ground, he would have prevented this sack quite easily.
On his second negative play, Sherrod made the correct decision but too slowly. With Rodgers in the shotgun, Sherrod was positioned with the DE in front of him and the OLB to his right. On the snap, Sherrod set backwards. The DE took an inside rush to Sherrod's left while the backer blitzed to Sherrod's right. Sitton had blocked down on the tackle, leaving Sherrod facing two men. Sherrod set for the inside DE, but took a look to the blitzing backer. During that brief hesitation, the DE got inside Sherrod and Derek had to scramble to push the DE to the center of the pocket. This flushed Rodgers out of the pocket towards the unblocked backer, but Rodgers deked the LB, rolled right and threw downfield to Jones for a big gain and a first down.
On the final negative score, Sherrod's man just beat Derek off the line with a hard upfield rush and quickly got around our tackle. Fortunately, Rodgers took a quick drop and threw a slant to Cobb for a first down. The DE's quick upfield rush actually opened the passing lane for Rodgers. While Derek was definitely beat off the snap, it had no impact on the play.
This may not have been the best test for Sherrod. Reviewing the game, I was surprised that the Falcons did not test the Packer tackles with any blitzes, crossing stunts, or zone blitzes where Sherrod's man might drop, leaving Sherrod to figure out where the pressure was coming from. On nearly every passing down, Sherrod faced one easily identified opponent who came at him one on one. Sherrod handled himself quite well.
Even if Sherrod returns to the bench upon Bulaga's return, Packer fans, teammates, and coaches can relax knowing a capable backup is ready to step in. TT hit another home run with #78.