This is the first time in the history of this column that I will be looking at a play that helped the Packers secure a victory. I’m excited. Are you excited? You bet you are. Let’s hit it.
Let’s set it up. This play took place on 3rd and 10 with 14:55 remaining in the game. The Packers were up 17-13 at the time. If the Packers had not picked up this conversion, they would have trotted out the field goal unit with an eye on taking a 20-13 lead. It would have been a 43 yard field goal. Mason Crosby has been good, but that’s not exactly a chip shot. Beyond that, I’ve seen enough of this defense to know that a 7 point lead in the 4th quarter is not something I would feel comfortable with.
Needless to say, this conversion was huge. They picked up a first down and Aaron Ripkowski punched in a touchdown 3 plays later, giving the Packers a 24-13 lead.
All game, the Packers had been driving down the field on a series of short, sharp throws from Aaron Rodgers . If you can continue to do that, it can have the same effect on a defense that a good running game can: it forces the defense to play closer to the line in order to snuff out those plays, opening up holes in the secondary.
It also opens up some opportunities for big plays down the field, which is also important to note in regards to this play. Up until this point in the game, Rodgers was 2/4 for 70 yards and 1 touchdown when throwing deep.
All of that is important. If you look at the Eagles pre-snap alignment, you’ll see that they have man coverage on the outside wide receivers and one deep safety. Everyone else is in the box. If the Packers weren’t able to open up the deep game, that safety is probably a little closer to the line. As it is, he has to respect the deep pass, so he starts this game 18 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Even though Rodgers know he has Davante Adams  on an island with Nolan Carroll , deep safety and a crowd near the line of scrimmage, he still doesn’t want to take any chances. Rodgers takes a glance over at Adams before turning his head to the middle of the field. This ensures that the middle linebackers will hold close to the line instead of dropping back to play underneath Adams. When Rodgers turns his gaze back to Adams, he waits a second to make sure Adams is truly open before unleashing a rocket. Adams catches the ball, has some room to run, then fights hard for extra yardage. He really wanted that third touchdown reception.
There’s something else to bring up here: the route of Adams. Rodgers reading the pre-snap alignment and looking off linebackers doesn’t matter if Adams runs a lazy route. But he doesn’t. Adams runs a terrific route here. He gives a little head fake to the outside, then sharply cuts inside, spinning Carroll like a top. That’s something we weren’t seeing from him with consistency throughout his first two season, but his route running has dramatically improved over the past month and a half.
This play was set up by the quick-hitting passing game the Packers had been running all game. They established their offense and forced the Eagles to react. The Eagles reacted and the Packers were able to make them pay.
Establishing the offense you want to run and then making the defense pay once they adjust is something the Packers haven’t been able to do much of this season. They were able to do it extremely well in this game. Let’s hope they’re able to keep it rolling.
Albums listened to: The Casket Girls – The Night Machines