The New York Jets defense dominated the Green Bay Packers offensive line in a 27-10 Packers loss at home on Sunday. For a team looking to rebound after a close loss in London, this could not have gone any worse for a Packers offense that is struggling to move the ball and score points and in general lacks any sort of identity.
After the game, Rodgers was asked by Ryan Wood of USA Today what this offense needs. Rodgers' response: “Simpler. Simpler. Simplify some things.” What needs to be simpler? “All of it.” As a follow-up, Wood asked about the protection issues. Rodgers’ answer: “A lot of it is simple mistakes. If we’re making simple mistakes on complex plays, to me we need to simplify some things.”
The quarterback and coach do not appear to be on the same page.
Asked #Packers coach Matt LaFleur if he was surprised to hear Aaron Rodgers says he wants to simplify the offense. "I don't know what that means," LaFleur said.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) October 17, 2022
LaFleur stressed execution. He says scheme doesn't matter if they don't block better than yesterday vs. Jets.
LaFleur’s response “I don’t know that means” in response to if the offense needs to be simplified sounds passively like a head coach passing part of the blame to his quarterback, who is not playing up to the level he knows he’s capable of. Both are right and wrong. The offense is making simple mistakes. Does it need to be simplified? It needs to be run the way it is called from the quarterback's perspective. It needs better execution.
But the Jets had a gameplan too, and they executed it well. How did they do it?
Overload front sacks
The Robert Saleh/Seattle scheme defense has been a plague to Rodgers and has given him trouble nearly every time the Packers offense has played a version of it since at least 2019. It is a scheme that the early 2010’s Seattle Seahawks used that put their best players in the best positions to succeed. One way the Jets currently do this is by using overload fronts that isolate Quinnen Williams in the interior.
Out of an overload front, essentially a 3x1 defensive line front that uses three defensive linemen to one side of the center and one defensive end to the opposite side outside the tackle, the Jets can then rush the passer in a variety of ways. They can run stunts, straight up pass rushes, and mug up linebackers in the opposite side A-gap to muddy the picture for the quarterback or use that linebacker to blitz.
On three of their four sacks, the Jets defensive line lined up in an overload front and ran stunt games on all three to muddy up the blocking assignments with just a four man rush and one had a five man rush.
In the first clip, the Jets stunt the 0-tech nose tackle around the left edge of the offensive line. Bahktiari (No. 69) and Runyan (No. 76) lose sight of Sheldon Rankins looping around the edge as the defensive end crashes the B-gap. Even if they had picked him up, it is likely that Newman’s defender still gets the sack.
On the second sack, the Jets mug the B-gap with a linebacker who drops into coverage under the short in-breaking routes from the right. Rodgers pulled the ball down to look for another receiver but Newman kicked too far inside and could not recover when John Franklin-Myers (No. 91) looped around inside on the stunt.
On the third sack, the Jets clogged the interior by stunting into the B-gap and around the backside A-gap. Newman should have slid to pick up Quinnen Williams, which would have allowed Myers to pick up the looper but Williams got free as Meyers tried to pick up the stunt while Newman was left blocking no one. As Acme Packing Company’s Tyler Brooke pointed out, it might be time to banish Newman from the right guard spot.
Packers ineffective play-action passing game
The Packers were ineffective on some of their staple play-action passing concepts. On two occasions, the Jets robbed the middle of the field with their linebackers to take away the dig routes and deep crossers, forcing Rodgers to make tough passes or errant throws.
The staple under-center play action pass in LaFleur’s offense, drift/strike, was rendered useless by the Jets, in part because they see it all the time in practice with their own offense, and in part because the Packers call it probably 3-4 times per game anyways. Teams like the Packers that spend so much time in shotgun giveaway their intentions when they get under center because one of two things happen: 1) they run the ball or 2) they go play action.
Those are the only two things the Packers do from under center as the traditional under-center drop-back passing game is seldom used. The Jets were already having success with the front dominating the line of scrimmage that when the Packers called this play, the Jets' middle linebacker did not come up to play the run.
Typically, linebackers have run cues they need to read first before they play the pass, but linebacker C.J. Moseley (No. 57) takes one step toward the line of scrimmage and then turns to almost “ROBOT” the dig route.
ROBOT means to “roll over and back”, a technique for linebackers to cover crossing routes that allows them to locate the route by “rolling over” their inside shoulder and turning to locate the route. Moseley is already at depth and does not fully roll over but he is able to erase the dig route from the progression, forcing Rodgers into an errant pass to Doubs on the backside.
Later early in the fourth quarter, Moseley again got into the throwing lane by turning to locate the deep crosser.
The Packers are running a deeper shot play here on third-and-1 with a skinny post and a deep crosser. The play call is sound and it is a throw Rodgers often makes in tight window coverage.
However, as Moseley turns and locates the route, he disrupts the throw by flashing into the throwing lane and forcing Rodgers to layer an even tighter pass to Lazard on the crosser by closing the throwing angle and forcing Rodgers to alter the trajectory to get it over him. The pass is slightly behind Lazard and Sauce Gardner is able to punch it out of his hands as he tries to secure it.
The Packers have a lot of offensive issues to fix as predictability is starting to creep up with an ineffective offensive line and play-calling tendency. We did not even touch on Rodgers missing throws and open receivers either. But the issues are many and the offensive staff has not had any answers in two weeks.
Also, the receiver room is even more depleted this week than it was for the Jets game. LaFleur and Rodgers need to find ways to elevate their talent with the scheme. If not, fans can expect more games like this in the future.