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Packers Film Room: Run game struggles with wide zone but finds success on the perimeter

Green Bay struggled with its base run scheme, but found success stressing the edge of the defense with Aaron Jones.

The Green Bay Packers offense has been all but dormant for close to a month now. There was a clear plan to get Aaron Jones involved early on in Green Bay’s week 7 game against Washington, but his touches tapered off as the game went on. Still, the first four plays of the game involved getting Jones the ball with the goal to get him into space.

In those four plays, the Packers ran him on two pin and pull concepts, a screen, and wide zone. Washington’s defense continually struggled to defend the Packers’ toss stretch and pin-and-pull run schemes on the perimeter and yet, too often, the Packers ran straight into the teeth of the Washington defense. Missed assignments on their wide zone scheme against the Commanders’ strong front four limited their ability to get the run game going. Without their base run and RPO game, the Packers offense struggled.

Issues with Wide Zone

Jones only got three carries on Green Bay’s wide zone scheme. Those three runs netted negative yardage after an initial gain of two yards.

On the first wide zone call, right tackle Yosh Nijman has three steps to decide whether he is going to push over, overtake, or climb on the defender in his play-side gap. Nijman is late on his pushover which makes him late to pick up the linebacker fitting inside. Jones also has three steps to decide on his cut (and five steps to make that cut). By the time Nijman has pushed his man over to go pick up the linebacker, Jones has already committed inside.

On the second play of wide zone, Marcedes Lewis misses on his cutoff block and the defender is able to chase down the play from behind.

On the third and final wide zone, center Josh Myers and left guard Elgton Jenkins leave the 3-technique defensive tackle unblocked as both look to climb to the linebacker. With the defender spiking inside, Myers needs to stay flat on his track to overtake and pick the defender up. However, Myers bypasses the first-level defender to climb to the linebacker.

Success on the Perimeter

Pin and pull, as its name describes, is a run scheme that stretches to the edge with one blocker pinning down the edge defender while interior linemen pull around to the outside. It’s a play the Packers have had a ton of success with through the course of the season. It’s a particularly good scheme against the strong Washington front. Pin and pull eliminates the need for the Packers to win battles at the line of scrimmage straight ahead and instead utilizes Jones’ ability in space outside.

Toss stretch is a blend between both wide zone and pin and pull. There is no pinning, but the Packers are tossing the ball outside to stress the edge of the defense. Now, the offensive linemen are working hard to gain the edge and wall off pursuit to the outside.

Washington was able to shut down Green Bay’s base run scheme in the wide zone. The Packers didn’t utilize their counter enough to make them pay. Despite gaining big chunks whenever stressing the perimeter, the Packers only ran pin and pull or toss stretch five times with Aaron Jones. That’s simply not enough opportunities to get the ball to your best player on what was your best run scheme on the day. There is lots of work to be done on Green Bay’s offense, but Aaron Jones is a clear bright spot.