Aaron Jones, Danny Vitale, Darren Waller, Green Bay Packers, Jamaal Williams, NFL, Nicholas Morrow, Oakland Raiders
For this week’s Amateur Adventures in Film I decided to take a look at Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ offence once I heard how well he had played, and certainly throwing for over four hundred and twenty yards and five touchdowns with a perfect passer rating of 158.3 counts is impressive.
Aaron Rodgers has been recognised as an elite quarterback for a number of years now, one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks of his generation his ability to improvise and throw on the move was great, but he is also a heady player who is also one of the best players at drawing defences offside with the snap count and getting free plays. However, in this game he actually didn’t play up to that reputation of him as a player. Yes, he had to escape the pocket once or twice, but he was only sacked one and for the most part was operating within the structure of the offence. We need to be careful about taking too much from one game, but it seems that the Packers are now finding their way with the first new offence in something like a decade and there was a lot more 21 personnel and Rodgers taking snaps under centre than I remember seeing in previous years.
I like the way the Packers used two running backs as it was not just to plough Aaron Jones into the centre of the Raiders offence. In fact, the Packers would often come out with 21 personnel but line up in a shotgun formation and either motion a running back out to a receiver or bring them in having started that way. That said there were also run and play-action pass with this personnel group and one of my favourite plays was a simple I formation play-action pass where the receiver was fullback Danny Vitale, who the defenders simply ignored as they playing the run while he fake lead blocking, leaving Vitale unmolested to get open and pick up a nice chunk of yardage. That said, a lot of the time in the shotgun formation using 21 personnel it would be fellow running back Jamaal Williams who would be motioning around the formation and both he and Jones ran routes lined up as a receiver. On the Packers’ last touchdown play, Jones ran up the field as the outside receiver whilst Darren Waller ran an out pattern from the slot and then took the ball up the sideline for a touchdown. The reason he scored was because the Raiders were running a rare blitz, sending six and moving their single high safety into coverage and so when Jones turned his route into blocking his corner, Waller was able to get past and into the end zone with no deep safety to stop him.
I came into this game expecting excellence, and I was not disappointed, with the Packers taking shot plays at the right times such as the opening play of the third quarter when they lined up with 21 personnel in the I formation, and executed a play action deep shot with only two receivers running deep crossing routes, but it was enough to get fifty-nine yards. It was the timing of those chunk plays, their use of play action whilst only running for sixty yards, and the way they used their personnel groupings, particularly 21 and 12 that kept the Raiders defence at bay. Aaron Rodgers had all day to sit back in the pocket, and was not phased by the double A gap blitz looks the Raiders frequently used, which only really resulted in one big pass disruption. It was a lovely setup as Nicholas Morrow dropped out of the A gap like he had done many times before to go into coverage, only this time be blitzed round the right guard disrupt Rodgers pass. However, such pressure was rare and the ominous sign for the league is how well Rodgers played and how productive he was without displaying any of his legendary heroics. If Rodgers can be this efficient and so only have to delve into his bag of tricks occasionally then when coupled with their improved defence, well the Packers can go all the way. There are much tougher defences out there, in the league but it would not surprise me at all if this offence continues to improve as everyone becomes increasingly familiar with the way to run it. Now tell me that isn’t a scary proposition.