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Tom Clements has plan for offensive improvement

May 23, 2013
 
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, left, and offensive coordinator Tom Clements.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, left, and offensive coordinator Tom Clements. / File/Gannett Wisconsin Media

Here are highlights from my interview with Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements this week:

On what areas he most wants to see improved this season: There are probably two things, probably a little bit related. We gave up too many sacks, we talked about it (Monday). That’s not just the line, that’s everyone that has responsibility for that. The backs, the quarterback and the receivers, so we’re going to try to eliminate the ones that are truly the bad sacks. We have Aaron, he’s a very good scrambler, but we’ve always said it’s a fine line between ‘should I throw it away’ or ‘should I try to scramble?’ Sometimes a scramble makes a big play, sometimes a scramble can get sacked. So we’re never going to give that up. We want to avoid the big hits and avoid the sacks that are very avoidable. If we can do that it will help us.

"The second thing we need to do is we played well in the red zone (but) we did not get there as much as we wanted. We were third as far as touchdown rating, we were about 19th as far as number of times down there per game. If we get down there a couple more times per game ... that’s a big plus for us. We want to continue to play as well as we did, but we need to get down there more often.”

On the offensive linemen adjusting to their new positions: “I think initially it took some getting used to. In the IPWs (individual player workouts) they worked on it. Bryan (Bulaga) played the left side before. I think Josh (Sitton) played the left side in college. They just had to get re-acclimated. It wasn’t as if it was entirely new. … We just thought it would make us an overall stronger line to re-position the guys the way we did.”

On how the decision to make the line changes occurred: “During the course of watching cut ups from last year, just discussing how we wanted to move forward, I don’t know who initially threw it out, it might have been Mike (McCarthy). We talked about it, then thought it made sense and would solidify the line.”

On if the right tackle position is up for grabs: “You like to say at this point there’s open competition everywhere. There’s obviously some guys established like Aaron (Rodgers) and some other guys, but Marshall (Newhouse) has been a starter for a year and a half. He’s played well at times, and he’s struggled at times a little bit, but overall he’s played pretty well. He’s gotten better every year. I’m sure he’s taken the approach that that’s his job and he’s going to work to keep it.”

On the potential of rookie lineman David Bakhtiari: “This was really the first day we went against a defense … From watching him on film, he’s athletic and he does a good job of playing the position, so right now we’re happy with him. But it’s early. We’ve got to see how he does against competition.”

On the potential for receiver Randall Cob’s role to be elevated this season: “He’s one of the top three receivers. It depends on how teams try to play us. We’re going to try and get it to the guy who is the most open. We’ll design some plays for specific guys but we’ll look for each of those three starters to be very productive.”

On the potential for more emphasis on the running game this season: “We’re going to do whatever we need to do to move the ball. We have weapons both in the running attack and the passing attack. If teams want to try to play us the two-shell defense, we’re going to have to be able to run ’em out of it and if we’re able to do that, and get some one-high looks, that’s to our advantage.”

On the battle for jobs at running back with the addition of rookies Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin: “There’s competition at that spot, no doubt. James (Starks) and Alex (Green) and DuJuan (Harris) from last year, it’s a talented group. It will make our team better and that position better.”

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