The Packers scored on their first two drives of the football game against the Buccaneers on Sunday and it would be all they needed to win by a score of 14-12. The offense struggled to move the ball after that but the defense put the clamps on Tom Brady and his Mike Evans-less offense. Make no mistake though, Joe Barry had his number and earned high praise after the game from head coach Matt LaFleur about scouting the Buccaneers' tendencies on two-point conversion plays.
But for now, the Packers' two scoring drives are a blend of getting into the right calls at the right times and taking advantage of matchups that present themselves. Whether it is running the ball versus lighter boxes or throwing the ball against favorable coverages, the Packers show why they are so skilled and among the best that do it week after week.
Play No. 1, 1st and 10 @ GB 25
The play call is a standard run-pass option (RPO) the Packers like to run with a quick out route to the flat by the tight end.
The read for Rodgers is likely a pre-snap box count based on the number of blockers versus the number of defenders in the box plus the pass coverage on the back end and his determination of what the coverage is.
Rodgers is looking for man coverage to throw and zone coverage to run against and determines this by reading the drop of the defensive end.
The Buccaneers are in zone coverage, confirmed by how the corner to the top is looking inside and how the defenders playing the back side are all looking inside at the snap. The drop of the defensive end confirms this as he sees the tight end release. This gives the Packers a 6-man box to run against with six blockers for a gain of three.
Play No. 2, 2nd-and-7 @ GB 28
The Packers called another RPO out of the shotgun, this time from their “pony” personnel package. Pony is a 21 personnel package (two running backs, one tight end) but instead of using a traditional fullback on the field, the offense uses two halfbacks.
This is a staple RPO concept the Packers will turn to give themselves another blocking advantage in the box and allows them to build other concepts off of. Rodgers is reading linebacker Lavonte David (No. 54). If he stays in to play the run and does not chase the swing, Rodgers can throw the swing pass to the flat.
If he chases the swing, Rodgers will hand it off because there’s no one to block that defender in space.
David widens with the swing, giving the Packers a 6-man surface to block six defenders. Rodgers becomes the 6th blocker for the offense as he holds the backside defensive end with the running back mesh point. Jones runs for a gain of 10 yards.
Play No. 3, 1st-and-10 @ GB 38
This is another staple of the Packers' passing game, a quick game passing concept called “Lambeau.”
The play is a designed quick out by the inside receiver in this 3x2 empty formation, in this case, Aaron Jones.
A quick snap and throw gets the ball into the hands of one of the best players on the offense and nets eight yards while the receivers block on the perimeter.
Play No. 4, 2nd-and-2 @ GB 46
With Sammy Watkins out, the Packers offense needs to find that receiver that they can try to replicate some of the efficiency of the concepts called for him that they previously also called for Devante Adams. That receiver was Romeo Doubs in this game.
The play call here is “drift,” which I have covered extensively as part of the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree and is a staple play action concept in the Packers offense. Briefly, “drift” is a quick-hitting pass concept that hits in the zone vacated by linebackers flowing toward the run action.
Often the window the quarterback hits is relatively large because the drift/strike route is typically run versus single-high safety coverages and behind the linebackers closing the line of scrimmage.
Rodgers “cans” the call to drift versus single high coverage, which is the most favorable coverage to throw this route against. He hits Doubs in stride for a gain of 21 yards.
Play No. 4 and Play No. 5
Both of these plays netted four total yards, setting up a 3rd-and-6 situation, a high leverage situation for the defense.
Play No. 6, 3rd-and-6 @ TB 29
The Packers are running a drive concept to the left with a quick hitch/slot fade to the left.
The Buccaneers send a fire zone blitz from a 2-deep/4-under fire zone to the offense’s right side making Cobb the hot receiver on the quick hitch.
Rodgers likely could have hit the shallow crosser to the left on drive but the coverage is backed off to the right, giving him an easier read and throw. Plus the middle hook dropper on the drive concept side opens to the route combination and is positioned to drive on the route. Cobb catches the pass and gets upfield for 17 yards.
Play No. 7
Two-yard loss on a run play sets the offense back to 2nd-and-12.
Play No. 8, 2nd-and-12 @ TB 14
The Packers are in an 11 personnel 3x1 formation with the tight end to the left.
The play call is a double stick by the tight end and the slot receiver, Doubs, to the left and the Buccaneers in quarters coverage shell rushing three defensive linemen.
The Buccaneers drop eight into coverage.
Rodgers is reading the defenders over the stick routes and sees the inside leverage over Doubs with the ability to work away from it since the go route occupied the cornerback to that side. Doubs keeps working away from the leverage and Rodgers hits him outside the numbers with the ability to get upfield. He gained nine yards.
Play No. 9, touchdown pass to Romeo Doubs, 3rd-and-3 @ TB 5
Hopefully, the Packers have found an answer to getting back some of the production they lost with Adams and then recently Watkins. In the long term, it may be added production with Watkins' uncertainty in remaining healthy, which is unfortunate, but fortunately, the Packers may have an answer.
This is the Packers' staple red zone RPO concept, the shield slant, and it has been in the Packers offense since Matt LaFleur came to Green Bay and was a favorite call of his with the Rams in 2017 with Watkins.
The shield slant RPO is run out of a two-receiver stack to one side where the off-the-ball receiver runs a “now” slant (1-step slant) underneath a receiver running interference on the defenders or creating a sort of pick or rub on the defenders.
Rodgers sees the box count is 7-on-7 with the safety who can easily fill and the defensive end, who becomes the pass or throw indicator. Post-snap he confirms what he sees from the defensive end backside and pulls to throw as he comes up the field. Doubs barrels into the defenders for the touchdown.