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Green Bay Packers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Packers Film Room: How the Packers third down defense suffocated Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offense

The Packers defense was stingy on third down in week three. Here’s how.

Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry and the Green Bay Packers defense did a fantastic job of holding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense to just 12 points in a 14-12 win. The Buccaneers were without receiver Mike Evans due to a suspension, but the Tampa Bay offense hasn’t exactly been lighting the league on fire through three games anyways.

Barry and the defense made sure to keep that trend going, holding them to their lowest point total of the season and their defensive success started on third down. Here’s how.

First play, 1st quarter 1:21, 3rd-and-12 at TB 21

Tampa Bay’s first third and long attempt came while facing the Packers' cover-5 defense, which is cover-2 with man coverage underneath the safeties playing their deep halves.

The Buccaneers are running a slot fade to the left with an in-breaking dig route underneath at a depth of about 12 yards. Usually in that range, the defense is declared because defenders cannot let the receivers get free access into the seam. They have a shallow crosser checkdown underneath coming from the offense’s right to the left side of the field.

In cover-5 however, the defenders are in man coverage with leverage underneath as they work to funnel the receivers to the middle where the safeties are sitting. Brady looks for the seam route but it is leveraged underneath and over the top by the defense so he comes back to the shallow crosser checkdown for a gain of six.

Second play, 2nd quarter 6:55, 3rd-and-12 at TB 23

The Packers are showing two deep safeties that rotated into…two-deep coverage, cover-2. It is just another way to spin the coverage and muddy up the picture for the quarterback. The coverage is essentially cover-2 invert or cover-2 robber.

The Bucs are running a double digs concept to the right from a 2x2 formation. The invert safety here is actually cornerback Keisean Nixon (No. 25) who is lined up in the slot and the robber safety is Darnell Savage (No. 26). The coverage is meant to rob the middle of the field of the dig or in-breaking routes that more and more teams are starting to run versus two-deep coverages.

At the snap, the Packers rotate Savage down to rob the dig route that Brady wants to throw to the slot. The Packers showed a similar pre-snap shell on the previous 3rd-and-12 above so Brady probably assumed the dig would come open this time since there was no middle-of-the-field help on the first play. But Savage caps the route from top-down and Brady has nowhere to throw. Rashan Gary records the sack.

Third play, 3rd quarter 9:52, 3rd-and-10 at TB 2

Tampa Bay is backed up on their goal line here and running a drive concept on 3rd-and-10 to try and get some space for receiver Cole Beasley to run after the catch on a shallow crosser.

The defense is in a cover-2 match zone again versus a 3x1 from the Buccaneers. Cornerback Rasul Douglas is pressed up tight to the receiver and has to run with any vertical from the single receiver. The zone indicator is how the defender bumps over with the short motion rather than man-to-man following.

Beasley releases under the tight end and as soon as he goes shallow, DeVondre Campbell angles his zone drop with the dig route inside and passes him off to the nickel defender before dropping off to trail the shallow crosser. Brady is already into his delivery when this happens but the pass is behind Beasley anyways.

Fourth play, 3rd quarter 6:32, 3rd-and-9 at GB 27

On their next drive, the Buccaneers drove all way to the Green Bay 27-yard line and only came away with a field goal.

They are running two clear out routes with a deep out underneath them that gets open past the line to gain.

The defense is playing cover-1 “rat” or “hole” disguised as a cover-0 pressure. The disguise is all defenders around the line of scrimmage with just enough defenders back to cover the four receivers.

At the snap, the defense rotates to cover-1 and the “rat” zone drops to the sticks to undercut the deep out. Brady either did not see the rotation or he thought he could hit a 1-on-1 matchup with Keisean Nixon (No. 25) covering Breshad Perriman. Savage works underneath the route distribution and creates a tight throwing window for Brady who has to try and fit the pass over Savage but in front of Nixon. He almost does but in doing so he passed up a wide-open deep out route that would have converted the 3rd down.

The Packers' defense has found solid footing the last two games as Joe Barry mixes and matches his personnel and plays to their strengths. As a result, the Packers' defense was able to hold Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to just 12 points and they did through a variety of coverages and disguised rotations. The Patriots are in town this weekend and the defense should comfortably hold a Brian Hoyer-led Patriots offense as they will be without Mac Jones.

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