After going 12 months without losing a game, the Green Bay Packers fell to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday 19-14. We take a look at the film from that contest to see what the Chicago Bears might be able to replicate in attempting to pick up a road win on Christmas evening.
Packers on offense
-The Chiefs used mostly press coverage in passing situations. They lined up with three to six corners whenever Green Bay brought three or more receivers. The corners played tight to the receivers and trailed them underneath throughout the play. The safeties typically split the middle of the field, each roaming the deep zone.
TE Jermichael Finley
This coverage put a jam on almost every pass catcher at the line, never allowing the offense to fully find its rhythm. It also never gave up the quick, easy slants and out patterns, which the Packers typically run with precision timing. The press coverage and safety help also never offered any yards after the catch.
-Whenever the Chiefs shaded a safety up to the line, it was typically in the area of TE Jermichael Finley. Kansas City's game plan was obviously to take away Finley and force the wideouts to beat them. When split out away from the line, the Chiefs often bracketed Finley with a safety over the top and a cornerback underneath. Linebackers were not tasked with covering the big tight end, which is a very smart move, since Finley is a matchup nightmare for any LB. Instead, KC surrounded him with quicker defenders. He caught just three passes on 10 targets.
-The Green Bay wide receivers did the Chiefs a favor by dropping a number of completions. Yet QB Aaron Rodgers seemed just a hair off for most of the game. This may have had a lot to do with the injury to Greg Jennings. Without his top receiver, Rodgers looked hesitant and could not find a groove with his other wideouts. With KC also limiting Finley, Rodgers was forced to look toward Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, none of which were able to consistently create separation from the Chiefs' press coverage.
-Throughout almost the entire game, Kansas City used just two defensive linemen. The other nine players were a differing combination of linebackers, corners and safeties. Basically, they weren't afraid of RB Ryan Grant and Green Bay's 25th-ranked rushing offense. Instead, they put faster players on the field that could help in coverage. Pressure was brought from the linebackers off the edge, specifically from Tama Hali, who sacked Rodgers three times.
Within this formation, the Chiefs often rushed just three players, dropping eight into coverage. The Packers lost both starting offensive tackles in this game, which allowed KC to still get good pressure even with just a three-man rush. This gave Green Bay's offense fits for most of the contest.
-Rodgers is deadly against the blitz. He's the best in the game at recognizing the extra rusher and getting the ball out quickly. KC knew this and chose not to bring a ton of pressure. Instead, they chose to flood the passing lanes, which worked beautifully.
-The Packers love to use FB John Kuhn in goal-line and short-yardage plays. Kansas City was obviously aware of this and stacked the middle of the line in these situations, stuffing Kuhn on every attempt.
Packers on defense
-The Chiefs relied heavily on the run. They rushed the ball 39 times compared to just 31 passes. They were most effective on off-tackle plays. NT B.J. Raji was strong inside and KC had a hard time moving him in the middle of the line. As such, they found much more room off the edges, where they exploited the tendency of Green Bay's outside linebackers to immediately rush upfield. This was especially effective against Clay Matthews, who was non-existent for most of the contest.
LB Clay Matthews & QB Kyle Orton
-The Packers pursue well from the backside, so the battle up front for running room needs to be won at the point of attack. To that end, the Chiefs utilized a power rushing game that deployed a lot of pulls and traps to create holes. They did not rely on the cut back and chose instead to pound it down Green Bay's throat. They ended the day with 139 rushing yards as a team.
-Kansas City's commitment to the run helped them sustain a number of clock-chewing drives, keeping Green Bay's offense off the field. The Chiefs won the time-of-possession battle 36:11 to 23:49.
-The effective rushing attack also helped set up the play action pass. Kansas City's biggest gainers through the air came after play fakes. Packers linebackers, and even cornerbacks, have a strong tendency to break quickly to the line on rushing plays. The Chiefs exploited this with play action and throwing over the top.
-KC was able to create a lot of room for QB Kyle Orton on rollouts and bootlegs. Matthews is so aggressive in pursuit that a play fake will bring him down the line. Orton would then roll out to the vacated area with plenty of time and room to throw.
-The Chiefs were deadly against Green Bay's Cover 2 packages, exploiting the holes in the zone coverage. In Cover 2, the area 15-20 yards down the field near the sideline, between the corners and safeties, is very soft. When the Packers ran Cover 2, KC successfully attacked that weak spot.
-Orton chose to pick on CB Tramon Williams and CB Sam Shields in the passing game. He wisely stayed away from CB Charles Woodson, who is one of the biggest playmakers in the game. As such, the Packers weren't able to force any turnovers.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.