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Packers Film Room: Red Zone Inconsistency

Despite a paltry number of run attempts, the red zone scheme was there. The execution was not.

Green Bay stayed alive in the playoff hunt, but some of their red zone woes stayed with them. The Packers had five red zone trips against the Miami Dolphins, which resulted in two touchdowns and three field goals even though two of those trips were due to short fields from turnovers and a kickoff return by Keisean Nixon. In those five trips, they ran 21 plays with five of those being designed runs. The run game was effective, but there were numerous execution errors in the passing game.

Redzone Trip 1 (Field Goal)

Green Bay’s first trip to the red zone was derailed by a sack of quarterback Aaron Rodgers followed by a drop from rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs. On the sack, the Packers were trying to get receiver Christian Watson into the flats with leverage. While he does have a little separation, there’s not much space for him to turn and run. With the Dolphins doing a good job in coverage, Rodgers eventually takes the sack.

Now, in third and goal from the 18, the Packers draw up a middle screen to Romeo Doubs against the Dolphins’ off coverage. With the secondary of Miami playing passively, the Packers are able to set up their blocks perfectly and at least give themselves an opportunity to get inside the 10. If Doubs is able to make someone miss, there’s the potential for a score. Instead, he drops the ball and the Packers settle for a field goal.

Redzone Trip 2 (Touchdown)

Rodgers was inconsistent on the day and that was no different in the red zone. Green Bay had some really good looks and opportunities for scores, but Rodgers just missed the mark. On second and eight from the 15, the Packers draw up a Smash concept with a corner from the #3 and routes in the flats from #2 and #1. The Dolphins are in man coverage and Watson immediately wins leverage to the corner. However, Rodgers short arms the throw and it ends up incomplete.

After a scramble creating first and goal on the five-yard-line and a jet sweep to Watson, The Packers draw up a winkle off of one of their favorite plays – running a quick arrow to the flats with blockers in front. Green Bay motions to get into the look, but instead of sustaining his block, receiver Allen Lazard sheds and is wide open with a chance to make a play for the endzone. It’s a great design building off their established tendencies, yet Rodgers isn’t looking at it. He eventually finds Lazard late, but the defense has reacted and closed the space causing the ball to fall incomplete.

Fortunately, the Packers would then punch the ball in on a play-action pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis on fourth down.

Redzone Trip 3 (Touchdown)

To start the second half, the Packers march down the field and run the ball twice in the red zone for a score from AJ Dillon.

Redzone Trip 4 (Field Goal)

On their fourth trip and on second and 15 from the 19, Green Bay dials up a rub route for receiver Randall Cobb with a screen option to Aaron Jones. With the Dolphins playing so much man in the red zone, the rubs and pick plays were open all day.

After gaining a first down to get into a goal-to-go situation, the Packers are faced with 3rd and goal from the 10 when Dillon fumbles the handoff mesh and Lazard is tackled in the flats. Green Bay calls another pick play to create space for Allen Lazard. The design is for Doubs to carry the man over him to the safety and create space underneath for Lazard to catch and run to the endzone. However, again, Rodgers isn’t looking at the concept side of the play and instead wants to take a shot to tight end Robert Tonyan on the corner route. By the time Rodgers gets off the route by Tonyan, there’s pressure and it turns into a broken play.

Redzone Trip 5 (Field Goal)

On their last red zone trip with a chance to seal the game with a touchdown, the Packers run the ball three times. Dillon was a fingernail away from breaking the game open and cementing the win but got tripped up on second down. Green Bay eventually settled for the field goal and the 6-point lead.

Green Bay’s red zone magic from 2021 isn’t with them this year. They don’t have a receiver that can just go win and they have to rely on scheme to help open players up. Rodgers needs to play better and trust the concepts. Head coach Matt LaFleur needs to trust the run game. The Packers have climbed back into the playoff race because of their ability to move the ball on the ground. The red zone isn’t the place to abandon that identity.