On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions by the score of 34-27, and they did so despite trailing significantly in the time of possession battle and in the total number of snaps that the two teams’ offenses ran. However, the Packers were a bit more effective on a per-play basis (6.5 yards per play to 6.2) and had a far superior rushing attack, which allowed them to salt away the clock in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Mike McCarthy used much more variety in the Packers’ offensive formations this week than in the past two games, mixing it up from the standard “11” personnel that had been used so heavily in Jacksonville and Minnesota. The results speak for themselves, as Aaron Rodgers was able to record an impressive 129.3 passer rating and 8.5 yards per pass attempt - much more in line with his career average of 8.0 than what we had seen in the first two games.
Furthermore, the Packers scored on six of their first seven drives of the game, and the only one of those drives on which they failed to score was at the end of the first half.
Here’s a look at the snap counts for Sunday’s game.
First of all, the fact that the offense played just 54 snaps was a function of two things: first, the Lions dominated the time of possession late in the second quarter and throughout the third quarter, and second, Mike McCarthy went into game-shortening mode starting with Green Bay’s first possession of the second half. And believe it or not, the Lions actually had over 9 minutes of possession in EACH of the first three quarters, and won that battle 35 minutes to 25 overall.
LT David Bakhtiari 54, LG Lane Taylor 54, C JC Tretter 54, RG T.J. Lang 54, RT Bryan Bulaga 54
Thankfully, the entire line played together on every snap, maintaining the continuity that they have forged early on this season. Lang’s injury in practice this week had us a bit concerned, but he soldiered through and did not miss a play.
QB Aaron Rodgers 54, RB Eddie Lacy 38, RB James Starks 12, FB Aaron Ripkowski 11
Ripkowski looked good early on, but had to leave with an injury and did not return. That forced the Packers to use more tight ends in the fullback role (more on that shortly). Lacy got the bulk of the work on the ground (as usual) but converted his 17 carries into over 100 yards. Starks barely touched the ball at all, losing a yard on his only carry of the day and catching one pass on two targets for nine yards.
Jordy Nelson 49, Randall Cobb 42, Davante Adams 25, Trevor Davis 12, Ty Montgomery 4, Jeff Janis 3
Surprisingly, Jared Abbrederis was the only wideout who did not get any snaps on Sunday on offense, as even Janis took the field (though all of his snaps came in the victory formation). Perhaps most notable was the reduction in snaps for Adams, who was under 50% for the first time this year. Still, Adams caught both passes thrown his way for 23 yards and the game’s first touchdown.
Davis also was used on a couple of series, and he drew a 66-yard pass interference penalty (the longest on record) thanks to his deep speed over the top and Aaron Rodgers’ ridiculous heave. In fact, Davis probably would have come down with the football for a touchdown if not for that penalty. Meanwhile, Montgomery got just a single touch, a run out of the backfield for a loss of one yard.
Richard Rodgers 43, Justin Perillo 17, Jared Cook 14
This breakdown can be almost solely attributed to Cook’s injury in the first half, as he left the field and would not return. Rodgers picked up the slack and the team ended up using plenty of two-tight end sets featuring him and Perillo in the second half (especially with Aaron Ripkowski out with an injury as well). Each of the three tight ends caught at least one pass, with Rodgers taking one of them for a short touchdown.
Safeties: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 68, Micah Hyde 67, Kentrell Brice 12, Chris Banjo 2
Cornerbacks: Quinten Rollins 67, LaDarius Gunter 63, Damarious Randall 57, Josh Hawkins 7
As expected, Hyde filled in for the injured Morgan Burnett and played nearly the entire game at the strong safety spot. That necessitated a bigger role for LaDarius Gunter, as he played almost the entire game at Sam Shields’ typical right cornerback position with Quinten Rollins lining up mostly in the slot. Hawkins made his NFL debut, but gave up the big 73-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones at the end of the first half.
The Packers seemed to use little in the way of their dime package, preferring to stick to the nickel and five DBs. However, then they did, Brice came in at safety with Hyde moving to the slot.
Nick Perry 51, Kyler Fackrell 37, Julius Peppers 32, Jayrone Elliott 28
It was linebacker-by-committee on Sunday with both Clay Matthews and Datone Jones sitting out. It was perhaps surprising to see Fackrell end up with a few more snaps than Peppers, but the heavy rotation between those two players and Elliott helped keep each of them fresh throughout the game. Fackrell landed his first NFL sack on Matthew Stafford, but looked like he belonged through most of the game.
Jake Ryan 56, Joe Thomas 38, Blake Martinez 30
With Green Bay in the nickel most of the game, Martinez and Thomas rotated in and out frequently. It’s easy to see why Thomas was kept as the third linebacker - he continued his strong play with another nice game against the Lions and has earned every one of his snaps.
Mike Daniels 46, Kenny Clark 42, Christian Ringo 24, Dean Lowry 11, Brian Price 10
Letroy Guion’s absence pushed Kenny Clark into a bigger role, as expected. He largely played well, albeit without much fanfare, as did Daniels, who recorded a single tackle for loss. Price made his NFL debut after being promoted to the active roster as the team’s 53rd player shortly before the game. Thankfully, the Packers did not need Guion or the young reserve linemen much in this game since they played with a two-man front almost exclusively.