Every team in the NFL at this point in the season is relying on what they do well and discarding the plays and concepts that don’t work. The Green Bay Packers on Sunday versus Dallas went back to their core concepts that worked for them in the past and the result was a 31-28 win in overtime. They relied more on under-center play action and under-center runs and stuck to their bread and butter run-pass option (RPO) concepts.
One concept that they have had tremendous success on in the past and did in this game is the bubble/swing pass RPO and, off of the flow of that action, the bluff slants RPO concept. To set it up, the Packers have a couple of different variations and formation and personnel they run with it.
The first time the Packers showed this action was running a basic bubble RPO with an inside zone tagged to it.
The offense is in 21 pony personnel: two true running backs and one tight end. The read for Rodgers becomes the outside linebacker, who chases the motion of Aaron Jones out of the backfield to the two receiver stack on the left.
That defender is unblocked, leaving the offense 6-on-6 in the box plus the running back. The corner is not typically counted in the box count as that is hopefully the defender the running back gets 1-on-1 with in the open field. To the bubble side, notice how the receivers shuffle and widen on their stalk blocking. Rodgers gives to A.J. Dillon and gets to the edge and gains eight.
Similar to the video in the play above, Dillon gets a handoff again and gains a hard fought five yards as the Cowboys roll their coverage down with a safety to fit the run instead of chasing Jones on the backside.
Later in the game, the Packers run a similarly designed concept except this time it is run out of 11 personnel with a jet motion across the formation from the tight end.
Rodgers read is the end man on the line of scrimmage Sam Williams (No. 54). If he closes the run or comes up field, Rodgers will throw. If he flies out to chase the jet motion, then Rodgers will give the handoff.
Williams stays tight to the line of scrimmage and does not chase the fly motion so Rodgers pulls the pass and throws to Lazard on the bubble where he gains seven yards. The Packers simulate a similar flow with the jet motion to a 3x1 as the previous plays above this one, just another way to add layers to their concepts with all the eye candy.
In overtime, these plays set up a 36-yard catch and run to Allen Lazard that ultimately set up the game-winning field goal.
This is a play the Packers break out in case of emergency and use sparingly and to great effect. The reason it is rarely used is because it is typically a red zone concept they stick to occasionally and they have a plethora of red zone RPO’s they can rely on as well.
The other changeup here is Rodgers pump faking the flat route, which influences the safety to bite and clears the middle of the field for the short bluff slant. The bluff slants and pump fake are meant to sell the flat throw with blocking receivers and open the middle of the field.
The changeup here is the flat route, which Rodgers usually pump fakes to if he needs to influence the safety to bite to clear the middle of the field for the short bluff slant. The bluff slant, where the receiver bluff blocks the defender in the slot, is meant to sell the flat throw with blocking receivers and open the middle of the field.
The Cowboys are in cover-1 “dog” with a 5-man rush. Lazard, the #2 receiver in the slot, takes an outside release on the defender to sell the block as Watson runs the flat route behind him. Rodgers is reading the coverage here and knows right away that this pass is going to go to Lazard because the middle of the field is open due to the run fake and man coverage on the outside. All Lazard has to do is sell the block and get open.
He caught the pass over the middle and raced to a 36-yard gain to set up the game winning field goal.
Here are a couple of clips from 2021 of the Packers running the same concept for touchdowns.
Arizona week 8:
Chicago week 14:
The Packers hopefully found new life by beating a team considered to be a top team in the NFC and the NFL. The Packers will face their toughest test of the season and we may find out exactly who they are when the Titans come into Green Bay Thursday night with the league’s ninth most efficient defense per Football Outsider’s DVOA plus a running game anchored by Derrick Henry.