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Packers film room: Screen game simplicity, A.J. Dillon opens up the running game

A look into the offense through the use of the screen game and how A.J.Dillon as the number one running back might open up new opportunities in the running game.

Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Author’s note: I apologize for the lack of drawings/diagrams in the videos but I am traveling for work this week and did not have time to do my normal videos.

17 points was all the Green Bay Packers offense needed against the Seattle Seahawks to secure their eighth win of the season. However, for the much the game, it was a tough slog for the offense. At halftime, the Packers led 3-0. In the end, they added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter on runs by A.J. Dillon, who carried the offensive load after Aaron Jones left the game with a knee injury.

Aaron Rodgers finished the game 23-of-37 for 292 yards and one interception. Dillon had 66 yards rushing and added another 61 receiving, the bulk of which came on a 50 yard screen pass. The screen game was big for the Packers in this one and head coach Matt LaFleur confirmed after the game that they saw an opportunity on film to possibly hit the Seahawks with some well-timed and well-placed screen plays.

Of the three biggest passing plays for the Packers, only two led to points. Otherwise the offense felt sluggish with Rodgers’ return from the COVID-19 list and after not getting any practice reps with the first team offense all week in practice.

Packers screen game

The Packers screen game was successful for a variety of reasons. First, Seattle does not have anyone in the front four that causes opposing teams to scheme around and as a result, they’re not equipped to snuff them out before they happen. Second, the Packers did a great job disguising their intentions after the snap but pre-screen dump off. Third, the screen game was effective versus single high coverage by isolating blockers on one defender and against two high coverage when there is more space to run.

The Seahawks only rush three here on 2nd-and-10 versus the Packers screen to Dillon. They’re playing a cover-3 shell with Adams down in the hook zone. The Packers do a good job of hiding their intentions on the screen by allowing at least two rushers to generate a pass rush against two blockers. The left side of the offensive line passes off the third rusher as the interior offensive linemen release down field.

Rodgers also looks off the defense to simulate a drop back pass. Linebacker Bobby Wagner reads that pass cue and widens away from the screen while the linemen get out on the edge versus linebacker Jordyn Brooks. Dillon goes for 12.

Later in the game in the third quarter, the offense called another screen pass to and went directly at linebacker Jordyn Brooks again.

Rodgers dropped back and simulated pass again by looking to his right at the trips receivers. This moved the defense that direction. As he did, Jones slipped out of the backfield as one offensive lineman released to lead block for him. Rodgers dumped it off and the play went right at Brooks again, who was unable to get the stop. With the safety coverage in a two deep shell, they were unable to make an immediate stop as Jones went for 24 yards.

In the fourth quarter, the Packers hit the Seahawks for a 50 yard pass play by leaking Dillon out of the backfield.

Rodgers sells the screen and slows the pass rush down with his drop back as he keeps drifting back. The Seahawks defense is cleared out to the left side by switch vertical routes from the receivers, freeing up Dillon to be go 1-on-1 with Brooks again. Dillon catches the pass out in the flat and rumbles for 50 yards down the sideline after Brooks is unable to tackle him.

More gap scheme runs?

With Aaron Jones sidelined for a few weeks with a knee injury, A.J. Dillon will see increased work load as the primary running back. On Sunday against Seattle, the Packers showcased Dillon in a few more gap scheme runs that could pave the way for more of those types of runs while he’s the primary back.

They will still be a predominantly zone running team but if they feel teams are aggressively setting the edge and aligning wider than normal, they could go to a more gap-based running game with Dillon, who has the power to jam it up the middle as well.

More 12 personnel gap scheme runs would be an ideal complement to the zone running game and Dillon is the ideal running back to run between the tackles as he can barrel forward and gain that extra one or two yards at the end of every run.

Outlook

The Packers are finding unique and interesting ways to win games and Sunday against Seattle was no different. The next few weeks will give Jones’ knee injury the opportunity to heal with the bye week in there and get back to normal. His absence is potentially huge, but I think the offense will be just fine with Dillon carrying the load.

It may give Green Bay the opportunity to showcase a few more running scheme designs they don’t normally show and that’s a good thing heading into the playoffs as teams will have to prepare for nearly everything they might do. The Packers have all the leverage right now over their future as the #1 seed in the NFC.