The Green Bay Packers may have gotten off to a slow start offensively in their season opener, but the team was able to get back on track thanks to a dominant night rushing in the win over the Chicago Bears.
It wasn’t always pretty, particularly in the second half, but the Packers came away with a 27-10 victory over their NFC North rival on Sunday Night Football. The running game was particularly dominant, with the team rushing for 203 yards while averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
Aaron Jones was the player of the game, rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown on only 15 carries, adding another 38 yards and a score through the air. Dillon wasn’t as efficient, but picked up some hard-fought YAC on his 18 carries for 61 yards.
The Packers made it clear that they wanted to get the ball in the hands of their running backs more often heading into Week 2, and they accomplished that mission in a big way. However, the way the Packers got their running backs involved was a bit more creative than it’s been in the past.
For a team that has used so much zone in its ground game, the Packers ran a surprising amount of gap scheme in Week 2. The Packers had run a handful of “pin and pull” plays in the opener against the Vikings, but ran it more frequently with more success against the Bears.
The pin and pull concept is a simple one to understand. The blocking scheme features players blocking down and away from the direction of the run, with a couple of offensive linemen working as lead blockers after pulling across the formation.
It wasn’t always executed to perfection, and it asked a lot from players like Yosh Nijman, who were asked to cover a ton of space to execute their blocks, but the concept allowed the Packers to pick up yards in bunches on the ground.
The “Pony Package” featuring both Jones and Dillon made another appearance on Sunday night, much to the delight of Packers fans. After being used sparingly throughout the past couple of seasons, it was a huge staple of the offense in Week 2, with the Packers using that personnel package on 11 snaps.
A lot of the Pony looks were familiar, with one of the two players going out into motion before the snap, but this play to the outside with Dillon faking a play-action flat across the formation was an interesting one.
An interesting play out of Pony (Split).— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) September 19, 2022
No pre-snap motion so both guys stay in. Dillon holds the backside ILB with a PA flat look. Lewis blocks down with Jenkins and Myers blocking in space.
This wasn't even executed very well and it was still a good gain. pic.twitter.com/z4thU3lKvl
The execution was messy, but the concept has some real promise and is something that the Packers could try to work in again before the season is over.
Head coach Matt LaFleur had one of his more creative gameplans offensively in Green Bay, finding ways to freeze defenders with eye candy both pre- and post-snap. One play featured A fake jet sweep to Randall Cobb did a nice job of freezing the inside linebackers, forcing Chicago’s Roquan Smith to overcorrect and try to pursue the toss to Dillon.
A fake jet sweep to Cobb, then toss to Dillon.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) September 19, 2022
Watch how Cobb freezes the ILBs, then Roquan Smith (#58) tries to correct and overpursues.
Good vision by Dillon to cut back. pic.twitter.com/kaIqbitTAJ
Thanks to Dillon’s vision, he saw Smith over pursue, then go across the play to find the cutback lane for some extra yardage.
Although they’re technically throws, the pop passes were another great example of the creativity from the offense on Sunday. The Packers drew up one for rookie receiver Christian Watson for what was nearly a first down early in the game, then ran another one to Jones in the red zone.
Another pop pass, this time to Jones.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) September 19, 2022
Dillon lead blocks, Watkins cracks.
This is a VERY promising play going forward. pic.twitter.com/AKaOOWDlpT
Thanks to some solid blocks from Sammy Watkins and Dillon on the outside, Jones was able to coast into the end zone for a score.
Scheme aside, the Packers had some solid blocking from both their offensive linemen and skill players in the win. Tight end Josiah Deguara has been particularly effective as a lead blocker in limited action this season, and Jon Runyan Jr. showed a good feel for combo blocking to the second level on this play.
Deguara looks like a legit run blocker this year.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) September 19, 2022
Also a nice combo block by Runyan to get to the second level and wash out the LB. pic.twitter.com/sm6rHD4mjP
While the Packers had some good performances blocking, the Bears had some really disappointing effort tackling. This explosive play from Jones was the biggest example of bad tackling from the game.
Some of the worst tackling effort you'll see. pic.twitter.com/OOfn74coEs— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) September 19, 2022
A creative game plan, good effort from the blockers, and some terrible tackling from the Bears helped the Packers run all over Chicago to get back to 1-1. It will be much harder to get the running game going against Tampa Bay next week, but for now, fans can take a deep breath and enjoy the win.