On Monday, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur met with the media for his weekly post-film review presser. In what seemed to be an unusually long press conference, LaFleur doubled down, multiple times, on his team’s game plan in their eventual loss against the New York Giants.
The first thing LaFleur mentioned that the team needed to fix was “the urgency to get lined up and ready to play,” which set the tone that he believed that execution, not scheme, was responsible for the loss. The “get lined up and ready” comment stemmed from a question regarding the Packers’ off-coverage defenses and most likely referred to the play below where cornerback Eric Stokes allowed a first down on a crossing route.
The Packers are going to keep getting crossers until they stop playing so much off coverage. Eric Stokes runs a 4.2. Reroute someone this season @packers pic.twitter.com/xIvQZi4zHT— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) October 10, 2022
Stokes famously ran a 4.2-second 40-yard dash time, one of the fastest recorded at any position for a draft prospect, but was looking at Giants quarterback Daniel Jones until right before the snap. Due to the late reaction, New York receiver Darius Slaton, who himself ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, was able to pull away from Stokes for an explosive gain.
When asked if playing off coverages was a problem for the Packers, LaFleur mentioned that pressing corners, particularly against receivers in reduced splits, can cause issues with crack blocks in the run game. In LaFleur’s words, “We thought they were going to come out and lean heavily on the run.” Giants running back Saquon Barkley entered the game as the league’s premier back in 2022 but only received 13 carries for 70 yards and a long of 40 yards. This meant that Green Bay did hold Barkley to just 12 carries for 30 yards (2.5 yards per carry average) sans the one explosive run.
Just as he did on the defensive side of the ball, LaFleur defended the offense’s play-calling in the game. When discussing the three-and-out drive that followed the Giants tying the game at 20 all, LaFleur claimed that the first two plays passed the sniff test. On first down, New York was in Cover 1, which is man coverage with a post safety. LaFleur stated that receiver Allen Lazard was bumped into on the play and that the officials could have called a penalty on the coverage attempt. On the second and 10 play, the Packers called a run-pass option on a play that LaFleur said the team had thrown to receiver Romeo Doubs earlier on in the game and they also hit against the New England Patriots in overtime in the prior week. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers chose to throw the ball instead of handing it off on a run, which the head coach said was the right decision. After that, the team was in a third-and-10 situation, which made their final pass call of the drive an obvious one.
Awesome sequence. #Giants picked up on Rodgers’ tell. When he touches his right shoulder, Crowder and Love immediately signal to McCloud that the ball is coming his way. They’re then able to get in his throwing lane and essentially end the game with a deflection #TogetherBlue pic.twitter.com/gWnGvaD1qI— Will Presti (@WillPresti) October 9, 2022
LaFleur also stated that he didn’t “fault the decision” on the goal line by Rodgers on the subsequent drive, either, when the offense stalled out with back-to-back deflections on run-pass options. LaFleur said that Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale called “all-out pressures” on the final two plays of the drive, which is why the Packers tag “run solution” passes to some of their shotgun runs.
The results were horrendous on Sunday. The Packers lost their first game as touchdown favorites in the LaFleur era. Still, though, Green Bay’s coaching staff doesn’t seem to think that much should change from an Xs and Os perspective.