This is not the One Big Play you’re looking for.

If we’re being honest, there’s only one play that truly mattered in this game. It has huge, wide-reaching effects, both for the Packers and the rest of the NFC this season. If you want the true One Big Play, I will not be writing about that here, simply because there wasn’t much to the play itself. Aaron Rodgers released the ball, took a hit and broke his collarbone. Also, Martellus Bennett dropped another pass.

It was a huge play. Possibly a season-changing play. But it was also relatively mundane.

So I’m going a bit later in the game. I’m taking us all the way to the 4th quarter.

Even though they lost Rodgers early, the Packers were still hanging around. With 12:27 left in the game, the Packers were down 20-10, facing 3rd and 2 at their own 46.

Brett Hundley [7] playfakes to Aaron Jones [33] and immediately turns to locate Jordy Nelson [87], running a crossing route from right-to-left.

Take a look at Harrison Smith [22]. He is lined up over the left side of the offensive line. Where the interior of the defense is drawn in by the fake, Smith doesn’t bite. He takes a couple steps in, then pauses to read Hundley. Since Hundley never looks anywhere other than at Nelson, Smith is able to get into great position to make this play.

Given the way Hundley’s shoulders are turned after the fake, I believe this was a called bootleg. The problem is that Danielle Hunter [99] easily beats Justin McCray [64] inside, forcing Hundley to pull up instead of carrying out the bootleg. If Hundley is able to get out on the edge, the Packers would have had a good chance to pick up this first down. If Smith stays underneath Nelson, Hundley would be able to run. If Smith peels off Nelson to close out on Hundley, Hundley would have a window to throw to Nelson.

Instead, Hundley is forced to pull up. But, again, his shoulders are turned for a rollout. So he has to take a beat, step up, reset and throw, all while staring at Nelson. All this does is give Smith more time to drop under Nelson’s route.

The Packers basically had a two man route, with Nelson on the crosser and Davante Adams [17] running a go route on the outside. The Packers called a max protection rollout, but McCray got beat so badly and suddenly that the max protection didn’t matter. Given the situation he was in, Hundley’s options came down to throwing to Nelson or taking a sack.

Martellus Bennett [80], Aaron Ripkowski [22] and Aaron Jones [33] are all blocking to the fake side, while McCray and Lucas Patrick [62] are left all alone to the rollout side. I get it: the Packers go heavy and are trying to sell the fake, so they keep their blockers to the side the run is faked to in a further attempt to sell the run in order to open up the bootleg to the opposite side. But you’ve got a quarterback with minimal in-game experience rolling out to the side featuring two linemen with minimal in-game experience. It only takes one man to blow up a play in a situation like this, and today that man was Danielle Hunter.

Of course, Smith also makes an unbelievable catch on this dart from Hundley, because he is very good.

I know no one cares what I would have done in this situation with similar personnel, but I’ll tell you anyway. Here’s a diagram I drew up entirely too late at night.

I would put Ripkowski on the sideline and replace him with Lance Kendricks [84] on the end of the line on the bootleg side. Martellus Bennett [80] is on the end of the line on the run side. My reasoning for this is fairly simple: Bennett is a better blocker than Kendricks, so putting him on the run side would help to sell the run a little more.

Instead of having Davante Adams [17] run a go route, I would have him run a slant/corner. Jordy Nelson [87] would run his same crossing route, while Lance Kendricks [84] would chip the edge rusher then run a delayed route in the flat. This way, instead of giving Brett Hundley [7] one or two options, he has three. This sets up a levels concept as well, so all three options are in his same line of sight.

So there ya go. I expect the job of Chief Route Drawing Specialist Guy to be offered to me any day now. I will be waiting patiently by my phone.


Album listened to: St. Vincent – Masseduction

 

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