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10/22/2017

What’s Wrong With Spriggs?


Ted Thompson traded up for Jason Spriggs in the 2016 draft – something he does about as often as a Kardashian reads a book. That’s how much Green Bay’s conservative general manager liked the left tackle from Indiana. But after a pair of preseason games, it’s fair to wonder if Thompson is regretting that decision.

Spriggs, who struggled at times but showed promise as a rookie, has been awful off the bench against Philly and Washington. In fact, he’s been so ineffective that the coaches might have to move slow-footed Kyle Murphy to left tackle and Thompson might be forced to  go outside for a replacement.

So what’s wrong with Spriggs? In order to try and find out, I rewatched all 30 of his snaps from last Saturday night – paying very close attention to the 20 times he was asked to pass protect. What I saw wasn’t quite the shitshow I remembered, but it sure wasn’t pretty. Here’s the first of the two sacks allowed by Spriggs:

 

It’s 3rd and 23, so Spriggs needs to give Brett Hundley enough time to allow the receivers to get down the field. He doesn’t. Chris Carter (#55) gets to the QB in 3.8 seconds. What’s most concerning about this play is just how easily the 240-pound backup linebacker pushes an off-balance Spriggs aside on his way to Hundley. 

This was the worst and easily the most embarrassing play of the night. Spriggs doesn’t lay a hand on Pete Robertson (#45) as he beats him with an inside move and gets to QB Joe Callahan in 2.48 seconds. This would be disappointing against All-Pro Von Miller; it’s inexcusable against a fourth-string outside linebacker. Spriggs, whose feet were considered an asset coming into the draft, moved like Herman Munster.


On the other 18 pass plays, Spriggs managed to keep the rusher from getting to the QB – oftentimes just barely.

The video below is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. While Carter (that guy again) doesn’t get to Hundley on the play, he has no business being so close. The career special teamer is exactly the type of opponent Spriggs should have no trouble handling, but on this night he looked like Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor.

The video below is actually one of Spriggs’ more successful plays of the night, but take a close look at his technique. After allowing Lynden Trail (#48) to easily get a shoulder into his chest, he actually puts both hands down to his side and uses his belly to wall off the third-string outside linebacker. It’s one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a very long time and it’s a perfect example of just how sloppy Spriggs’ has gotten lately.

Is it fair to call Spriggs a bust? Of course not. He showed potential as a rookie and he possesses the skill set to play the challenging left tackle position. Is it fair to be worried? Absolutely. It’s one thing to struggle with a No. 1 pick like Philly’s Derek Barnett; it’s another thing to struggle with fringe players like Carter and Robertson. Right now, Spriggs looks like a player who’s thinking way too much and who’s totally lost his confidence. 

I liked Spriggs coming out of college and was fine when Thompson traded up to get him What I saw on tape was a natural left tackle with long arms, good feet and a nasty streak. I also saw a player who needed to get a lot stronger, but who was capable of being an effective starter by his second or third season. I still feel that way even after the past few weeks. I’m just not quite as confident as I was a month ago.

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About Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for close to 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2006. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.