Welcome to the third Super Bowl installment of Packers Play Study. Again, the idea is to get the uneducated, average and even highly knowledgeable fans thinking about formations, audibles and the reasons why certain plays are called.
In this study, I'm breaking down a play the Green Bay Packers need to turn to early to show the Steelers' defense that they can be physical. In other words, it's an opportunity for the Packers offense to hit them in the mouth. Let's draw it up.
What you see is a basic single-back, three-receiver, one-tight end formation. You also see a Base 3-4 being run by the defense.
The breakdown of the play on paper is simple — the running back is going to shoot the A-gap and gain as many yards as he can. However, there's more to it than just running up the gut.
Take a look at the safeties. Their first movement is back. Why do you think that is?
It's because the Packers are known for motioning the tight end and having him stand in a two-point stance behind the line as an extra blocker for pass protection. The safeties fall for the deception, and the runner has a 5- to 10-yard start once he breaks the first wave of defenders.
Now take a look at the center and left guard. What do you see?
The center is trying to turn the nose tackle out of the hole. The left guard's job is to quickly help the push sideways with a combo block so the hole opens up wide, then try to take on the linebacker in the hole. This is the second key movement.
Lastly, look at where the left tackle ends up along with the tight end's motion after the snap. What's happening?
The left tackle is going to the next level right away to pick up the outside linebacker because he knows he'll get to the running back first if the hole opens up. The left tackle also knows that the right defensive end will fall for the pass deception, as well, so he‘ll leave him behind. The tight end's job is to come down and get in the right defensive end's way and impede any sideways movements he may take toward the ball carrier.
Still confused, or not convinced? Take a look at James Starks in action against the 49ers' 3-4 defense in early December. There was a missed block, but because the hole was so wide and Starks was running with so much power, he was able to make a slight move to his left and bounce off of Patrick Willis' arm tackle for the big gain.
Yes, the Steelers were the best run defense during the regular season, but after looking at some game tape, I found that they can be gashed with this kind of formation. In fact, during the Patriots' rout of the Steelers in mid-November, New England used a formation very similar, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis scooted for 17 yards. Again, the key is deception. If the Packers want to have any kind of success running the football, Mike McCarthy has to utilize looks like this to keep the safeties and linebackers guessing. If not, then they'll become too one-dimensional way too early.
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Eric Huber is a contributing writer for OnMilwaukee.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org