The Green Bay Packers have had a down year by their own standards. Riddled with injuries, the NFC North squad has struggled finding their groove on offense but with Aaron Rodgers under center, this team always has a chance. I've watched a lot of Packers film this week and underneath the inconsistencies from week-to-week, there are three main keys the Redskins should be focused on stopping in order to increase their chances for a Wild Card round victory.
1. James Jones Isolation
1. James Jones is Aaron Rodgers' most trusted receiver. Jones has had multiple stints with Green Bay and the on-field chemistry with Rodgers jumps off the screen. Because of this, Packers like to run a lot of X-Iso much in the same manner the Redskins do with Jordan Reed. Jones can run a couple of different routes based on the coverage he is seeing and Rodgers is usually on the same page. On this play, a run is called but pre-snap Rodgers looks out and sees the cushion Jones is receiving.
While the running backs and the offensive line carry out the Outside Zone Right, Rodgers whips the ball to Jones quick. Notice how much room with which he has to operate.
Jones makes a move in the open field and gets a big gain.
2. Remember how I mentioned the isolation like Jordan Reed? Here is TE Right Trips X-Iso. It puts three receivers (including the tight end) to the right and leaves Jones on the left to read coverage. When Jones receives 1-on-1 coverage like this, the most likely scenario he has is a fly/comeback option. Jones will run down the field as a fly route and if the CB bails or he can't pass him, he'll break off the route to the comeback.
Rodgers had to bail away from the read because the Vikings get a free blitzer.
Jones is open but Rodgers can't get the ball to him.
3. This time it's TE Left Trips X-Iso. Jones has been on both sides so chances are Bashaud Breeland and Will Blackmon will see him (Quinton Dunbar too if healthy). Same concept being run here as before.
This time Rodgers isn't flushed and is delivering the ball before Jones even breaks.
Good coverage by the Vikings CB to knock the ball away. On back to back clips, the Vikings were able to stop this concept with a good pass rush and then good coverage. Redskins will need both as well.
4. Of course, all those comebacks are eventually going to set up their shot for the double move. Here the Packers have Twins Stack Right X-Iso.
James Jones runs a fantastic route. The CB stays over top of him like he has been doing so Jones chops his feet for the comeback like he's been doing then bursts upfield on the fly route. The CB loses a couple of steps, but is still next to him.
When Jones sees he hasn't gotten on top of the CB, he chops his feet again like hes breaking on a deeper comeback route. At this point, you see the CBs feet are all out of whack. This is all Jones needs to create the separation. This is an extremely hard route to cover 1-on-1.
Jones has enough separation but Rodgers floats the ball in the air too long.
The CB recovers and knocks the ball away.
2. The Many Faces of Randall Cobb
1. With the recent loss of Kyshoen Jarrett, this task is a little scarier than the previous one. Randall Cobb is the Packers swiss army knife. They use him in a ton of different ways. Cobb is the Packers slot/utility guy that works the middle of the field and the Redskins had been using Jarrett down in the box to account for guys like Cobb. The Packers will use Cobb everywhere. On this play, he's lined up as your traditional outside receiver. He's running a slant route.
The Vikings cover him with man coverage and Rodgers has to go elsewhere with the ball.
2. They will use Cobb in the slot to try and exploit match-ups against safeties, linebackers and slot cornerbacks. Here, is running a slant again.
Once again, the Vikings have Cobb covered and Rodgers goes elsewhere with the ball.
3. A play-maker with the ball in his hands, the Packers will use Cobb in the backfield for screens and even hand-offs. On this play, Cobb is running a pitch right.
Rodgers flips the ball to Cobb immediately giving Cobb the maximum amount of time to see what is in front of him to make a play.
Poor blocking leads to Cobb getting crushed by a Vikings defensive lineman and a minimal gain.
4. The Packers will also use Cobb to run routes out of the backfield. Not just screens, but flat routes and long wheel routes as well. Here, they fake the hand-off to Cobb and he runs a flat route.
The Vikings are in quarters coverage and don't really bite on the play-action.
Rodgers scans the field and when he doesn't see anything he dumps the ball off to Cobb who is immediately tackled for a minimal gain.
3. The Ad-libs of Aaron Rodgers
1. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best ad-libbers in the NFL. His ability to extend a play is well documented. With a battered offensive line, he has had to use it more than ever. The availability of Left Tackle David Bakhtiari will be a huge factor in this weekend's game. Aaron Rodgers' ability to extend a play with his feet is his most dangerous trait. On the play above, James Jones is running a simple hitch route at the top of the screen.
The defensive back falls down and Jones is wide open. The only problem is the breakdown in pass protection had forced Rodgers to slide to his right. Once he sees Jones is open, he takes the back door out of the pocket and rolls left.
When Jones sees Rodgers scramble his way, Jones turns up-field for the big play.
Rodgers lets go of a back shoulder throw at the same time Jones breaks off his route again. Jones makes the catch for the big gain. It is imperative that Preston Smith and company contain Rodgers or he'll make them pay. They need to collapse the pocket around him with no escape routes.
2. The ad-lib list wouldn't be complete without the most famous Rodgers ad-lib of all: The "offsides Hail Mary." Rodgers has one of the better cadences in the league and he's just hoping to draw you offsides so he can try the deep ball. I don't know why all offenses don't do this but that is just me. The worst-case scenario is you only get a five yard gain and replay of down. The best-case scenario is you hit the deep ball or draw a defensive pass interference call which would trump the offsides penalty. The same concepts apply on the outside; run for the end zone and if you aren't going to beat the guy ahead of you, push him up-field as much as you can before you break the route off.
Rodgers job on this play, like any hail mary, is to just survive in the pocket long enough for receivers to get down field. The opponents already have a head start because they were offsides so Rodgers just uses his feet to extend the play.
Rodgers holds on to the ball as long as he can before he lets it go. The Vikings have it well covered though and the ball falls incomplete.The Packers only get the five yards offsides penalty.
It is no surprise Minnesota won this game. As you can see above, the Vikings had a pretty good handle on all the things that make the Packers dangerous. If the Redskins offense can continue their attack and the defense can mirror this kind of performance, there is a good chance they can advance past the wildcard round.
Paul Conner is the Film Analyst at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr
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