Green Bay came away from Buffalo with a loss, but they may have found pieces of their offensive identity going forward. The Packers totaled 208 yards on the ground for an average of 6.7 yards per carry on what was the fifth-ranked rushing defense in the NFL by DVOA. The Packers run game identity may be shifting away from the wide zone that Shanahan, McVay, and LaFleur systems are known for. Instead, the Packers have found success getting a stretch on the perimeter with toss stretch and pin and pull schemes. They counter that stretch with a dose of inside zone and gap scheme runs.
Stretch and Pin and Pull
The Packers’ stretch and pin and pull schemes have been some of their most consistent runs in recent weeks. By stressing the edge, they make the defensive line chase and the defensive backs tackle. The schemes get running backs Aaron Jones or AJ Dillon into space while allowing their offensive line to pin defenders inside. Jones has been good at reading the angles of defenders outside the tackles and finding space for cutbacks and creases to create explosive gains.
While the Packers’ offensive line is athletic enough to reach defenders and get the edge, they have had issues with their wide zone scheme where they typically have to take on first-level defenders one-on-one or with minimal help. As a result, they have leaned into inside zone. Inside zone emphasizes double teams to create vertical displacement on the defensive line while working up to the second level. That helps smaller guards like Zach Tom create movement with the help of another offensive lineman. Dillon and Jones are both decisive runners and read the concept well, with Jones’ burst being particularly lethal once he finds a vertical seam.
New to the Packers’ run game is G/H counter. They have occasionally run gap scheme concepts in the past, but dialed up this counter look four separate times against Buffalo. The first two times, the Packers got chunk plays out of it. Since the Packers like to stress the edges of the defense with stretch and pin and pull, counter exploits the defense if they start to flow hard to seal the edges. G/H counter uses the guard and H-back to kick out and then lead through the hole made by down-blocking on the opposite side of the line.
Green Bay’s coaching staff has proved that they’re willing to adapt and change things on the offensive line. They’ve shuffled guys around to create good lineups the last couple of weeks and are running schemes that are fitting their personnel. With the ground game coming alive, the rest of the offense can start to pick up steam and make things challenging for defenses.