This wasn’t a pretty game. It wasn’t overly pleasant to watch at times. But a win – even one as ugly as this – is still a win. At this point in the season, I’ll take it. The dream of the playoffs is still alive and the hope of Aaron Rodgers returning in a week is very real.
Nothing’s gonna stop us now.
Let’s get to the film.
I wrote about Aaron Jones’ game-winning run in overtime – as well as the pass to Jamaal Williams that came directly before it – in One Big Play this week. You can check that out here.
3rd and 6 on the Bucs first drive. I had a good feeling about this. I probably should not have had that feeling.
The Packers come out with 6 defensive backs, correctly looking for the Bucs to pass. They line up looking like they’re bringing 5 rushers, but Blake Martinez  backs up off the edge to pick up Charles Sims  out of the backfield. After giving a Cover 1 look pre-snap, Morgan Burnett  backs out at the snap, putting the Packers in Cover 2 Man Under.
There are weaknesses in every coverage. In Cover 2 Man, deep middle is one of those weaknesses. You can see how the safeties split wide at the snap, allowing for a hole between them. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix  has a wide drop to his side, keeping his eyes on the two receivers on that side. In the meantime, Cameron Brate  is running through the middle. Jermaine Whitehead  is in coverage on Brate, but he is playing underneath and bites a little too hard on Brate’s slight hesitation. I believe Whitehead is looking for Brate to run a dig, so when Brate gives a little stutter step at the 22 yard line, Whitehead slows too much, looking to turn and break underneath the route. That bit of hesitation is all Jameis Winston  needs. He tosses a beautiful ball over the top to Brate, who extends his arm to grab this ball with one hand.
This is a beautiful throw. Brate has a 6″ height advantage on Whitehead, so even if Whitehead had covered this perfectly, it’s doubtful he would have been able to do anything about it.
Let’s talk about Clinton-Dix’s drop for a second. I believe he should have seen Brate breaking through the middle and reacted a little quicker, but I don’t know what his assignment was here. He and Burnett both have incredibly wide drops, leading me to believe that was the call. Clinton-Dix could have reacted quicker but his wide drop takes him out of position to do much with this.
This was frustrating, but it also took a perfect throw to get into the end zone. I find it hard to be furious about this.
3rd and 6. The Packers run a curl/corner combo to the left side of the line, with Davante Adams  running a curl while Geronimo Allison  runs a corner route behind it. It works perfectly: Allison gets the outside angle on his defender, while the curl route pulls up the outside defender. That opens a nice area to throw this ball. To make matters even better, Allison’s defender falls down, leaving him wide open. Brett Hundley  sees it, releases the ball and completely overthrows him.
The defender is in the act of falling as Hundley is winding up, so Hundley has to throw to the sideline. But, given the position of the defender, it’s easy to see that Allison will have good separation on his man out of the break. This ball needs to be thrown to the sideline, but it doesn’t need to be thrown this far. Great call by the Packers, good decision by Hundley – even anticipating that Allison would be open – but a missed throw.
A couple more things to look at, and that’s the pass protection on the edges. The Bucs sent pressure and the Packers kept Lance Kendricks  and Randall Cobb  back to help protect Hundley. Cobb completely stones his man off the edge, while Kendricks is able to drop back and guide his man past Hundley. Great job by those guys – and the entire offensive line – for keeping Hundley upright long enough to make this throw.
While we’re on the topic of Brett Hundley  missing guys, here’s this gem to Davante Adams .
This one is a little different, so let’s talk about that aspect. Adams runs a tremendous post/corner route, completely selling the post route before cutting back to the outside on the corner. That route completely turns Brent Grimes  around, giving Adams separation.
Randall Cobb  is running a crossing route from the right side and pulls over Keith Tandy , while simultaneously drawing Lavonte David  to himself instead of dropping back under the route of Adams.
Look at Hundley: he looks middle before coming back to his left and looking at Adams. I know I keep harping on this but it’s important: Hundley needs to anticipate Adams breaking open. Adams is open here, but that window gets tighter the longer you hold the ball. He can look and see David not dropping deep yet, while seeing Grimes turning inside to play the post route. Hundley should see all of that and he should also know where Adams is running his route. The ball needs to be out of his hand before Adams is fully out of his break.
Instead he waits. He waits until Adams is a few steps into his break. And, while Adams is still open, Grimes has recovered and David is in a deeper drop. In addition to that, Adams is closer to the sideline than he would have been if this ball is thrown earlier. Suddenly the window is tighter. Adams is still open, but there’s less margin for error on this throw. Hundley throws high and Adams can’t come up with the catch.
Lack of anticipation, man. It’s absolutely killing Hundley.
I say lack of anticipation is killing Brett Hundley , and that’s true. But that’s not what did him in here.
Hundley sees the safety alignment pre-snap – one deep safety, one halfway in the box – and reads them after the playfake. Chris Conte  flies down to help with the run, leaving the Bucs with Justin Evans  as the only deep safety, playing the opposite side of the field. Jordy Nelson  sells his route outside Brent Grimes  before cutting back underneath on the skinny post. Hundley sees this and lets loose.
The problem here isn’t anticipation. The problem here is accuracy or confusion on the route. Nelson is running straight up the field and Hundley throws this as if Nelson is running a post.
Evans covers a ton of ground to nab this throw. It’s a tremendous play by him, but it’s also a bad throw by Hundley. If this is thrown over the top on the skinny post, I don’t think Evans can get there. By throwing it inside, it gives Evans a chance at this ball.
He read the safety, anticipated the route and just missed the throw.
I want to mention Nelson’s route for a second because it’s lovely. Watch him slither down the field. Starts inside to get Grimes moving inside, then cuts outside, which puts Grimes into a recovery backpedal. While Grimes is still recovering, Nelson cuts it back inside. It’s a subtle route, but he sells it so well. Running a good route isn’t always about quick moves or speed: sometimes it’s about anticipating what a slight move will do to a defender and playing off of that. That little in-out-in slither forces Grimes to pick an angle, then makes him recover, then hits him coming off the recovery.
It’s stuff like this that makes me believe Nelson can still be an effective weapon without his top-end speed. In addition to his otherworldly skills catching back shoulder passes on the sideline, that is.
Mike Daniels  shoves Kevin Pamphile  into the backfield immediately, drawing help from Evan Dietrich-Smith . Daniels anticipates this and attacks Dietrich-Smith first, driving through his inside shoulder. And that, my friends, is how you split a double-team. Mike Daniels is so good.
But that’s not all! Clay Matthews  comes firing off the line from the left, driving Justin Trattou  back. Trattou recovers, but Matthews keeps driving, keeping at arm’s length. When he sees a hole, he disengages and heads to the backfield.
Daniels and Matthews have a nice, professional meeting at the quarterback, each registering half a sack. It’s hard to see from this angle, but Dietrich-Smith actually has Daniels in a headlock as he takes down Jameis Winston . Mike Daniels was sent to us from another planet.
Let us not overlook the effort of Kenny Clark , casually driving J.R. Sweezy  back into Winston, giving him no room to escape.
I love these men. I love all of them with all my heart.
This is the Dean Lowry  touchdown. Kenny Clark  gets hit with an immediate double-team, but he keeps fighting, spinning back to the inside when he sees a gap opening for Jameis Winston  to escape through. This season I get the feeling that Clark is just toying with everybody lined up across from him. He can do anything he wants, whenever he wants.
While Clark is doing that, Jake Ryan  waits a couple beats in the middle – three tiny hops – before coming through the middle on a delayed blitz. Winston looks like he wants to scramble, but between Ryan and Clark, he quickly rethinks this strategy, heading to the outside instead.
Meanwhile, Lowry shoves Caleb Benenoch  into the backfield and keeps driving. Benenoch turns Lowry out and assumes his job is done, but Lowry looks back to Winston and comes back to the play.
Winston decides to throw the ball while being taken down by Clark and Ryan. It looks like his hand hits Benenoch, knocking the ball free. Lowry simply puts his hands out, snags the ball and runs for glory. (I love Morgan Burnett  in the lower left corner pointing the way.)
Great play by the defensive line to not give Winston any breathing room.
I don’t really have a lot to say here, but I wanted to show Clay Matthews  doing Clay Matthews things. He is set up wide and easily gets around Caleb Benenoch . Benenoch tries to get his hands on Matthew, but Matthews takes his hands, pulls them back and uses that momentum to drive himself into the backfield. Jameis Winston  tries to escape through the middle, but it’s too late. Matthews is able to take him down before he can get across the line of scrimmage.
The numbers haven’t been there for Matthews on the season, but I think he has played pretty well.
3rd and goal from the 1 yard line. Packers offensive line slanting to the left while Jamaal Williams  looks for a hole to put his head down and run through.
Aaron Ripkowski  is the lead blocker. And, while he doesn’t exactly open a hole, he does aid greatly in getting Williams to the end zone. Richard Rodgers  does a good job blocking out on the end, allowing Ripkowski to hit Chris Conte  in the gap.
Williams doesn’t have a ton of room to run. Rodgers blocks Brent Grimes  out pretty well, but Grimes still has the edge and Williams doesn’t have the speed to try to get around him. So he drives through the C gap. Ripkowski has the inside shoulder of Conte, so Williams puts his head down and drives through the outside shoulder. Look at the angle of his body. He puts himself in a great position to use his leverage to drive through Conte. Grimes tries to jump over the block of Rodgers and grab the legs of Williams, but it doesn’t matter. Williams drives through and finds the end zone.
Let’s look at it from another angle.
That’s a power move from Williams, who drives through 2 yards of contact to get to the end zone.
Totally unrelated, but check out this move:
I’m really excited about Jamaal Williams.
3rd and 2, less than 5 minutes to go in the game, Packers down 20-17. Tim Rosen and Greg Jennings were debating as to whether or not this was four-down territory, while all of us yelled “OF COURSE IT’S FOUR-DOWN TERRITORY.” I think Mike McCarthy would have gone for it if it came to that decision, but I’m certainly glad it didn’t come down to that decision.
Nice read-option from Brett Hundley . He’s reading Ryan Russell  on the end. Russell bites hard, so this is an easy read for Hundley: pull down the ball and run around the corner. Lance Kendricks  keeps a nice block on the outside, allowing Hundley to gallop for 14 yards.
Meanwhile, the offensive line has wiped out the entire defensive line, so it’s quite possible Jamaal Williams  would have been able to pick up 2 yards if Hundley handed it off.
Now just imagine the Packers working more of this type of play in. That’s an RPO that can double as a read-option. Here, Carson Wentz  pulls it down and throws it to Nelson Agholor  on the quick slant. But, with the way that defensive end is rushing, he could have pulled this ball down and run around the end.
To put into a little more detail, this is a read-option wrapped in an RPO with a levels passing concept to the play side. Something like this could really help Hundley a bit. There’s some quick-thinking involved, but he seems to struggle most in anticipating when a receiver will break open. If that part is out the window, I think he could do really well. On a play like this, he could hand it off, run himself – depending on the defensive end on the right – or throw a quick-hitting pass. Again, it’s quick-thinking, but this helps to eliminate his issues with anticipation. If he pulls the ball down and the quick-hitter is open, throw it. In this instance, he has two receivers, but it’s essentially the same read. If he doesn’t like what he sees there, he can take it himself.
You can’t craft an entire offense out of this, but you can throw in enough to make Hundley feel comfortable and keep a defense off-balance.
Albums listened to: Metric – Pagans in Vegas; U2 – Songs of Experience; Son of the Velvet Rat – Dorado;