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Packers Film Room: Ground Game Exploits the Minnesota Front

Wrinkles in the run game took advantage of how tthe Vikings reacted to motion and heavy sets

The Green Bay Packers ran for 163 yards and 4.9 yards per carry against Minnesota Vikings on New Year's Day. They kept their playoff hopes alive with a win-and-in scenario against Detroit and continued to build on an increasingly diverse and difficult-to-stop run game. Green Bay used a couple of new wrinkles while incorporating backfield motion to help move the Minnesota front and create holes for a healthy-looking Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.

Pony Speed Option

Early in the game, Green Bay integrated their Pony package with both running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon in the backfield. On this play, Green Bay is creating a speed option look with a lead blocker in motion for the pitch. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is reading the defensive end to the bottom of the screen. When that player comes down to chase AJ Dillon inside, Rodgers pitches the ball outside to outflank the defense with the motion man blocking on the perimeter.

Jet Lead Split Zone

The Packers continue to find inventive ways to get to their run schemes and build off of previous looks. Since Green Bay has started to use their rocket motions as lead blocks for their running backs, they can now punish teams for over-pursuing to that motion. Here, the Packers use motion with the back chasing behind while they run split zone upfront and kick out the backside defensive end. The defense pursues hard to the motion and the track of the running back. As a result, the kick out behind it opens up a nice seam for Jones.

Fake Sneak Pitch

On a 3rd and short, the Packers do a great job of breaking the tendency of league-wide trends. It has become increasingly popular to set up a player right behind the quarterback to push them on quarterback sneaks and create movement to pick up short yardage. The Packers motion to this exact look with tight end Josiah Deguara aligning right off of Rodgers’ left hip – indicating a sneak is coming. The Vikings in turn, respond by bumping inside to protect the inside gaps and the quarterback sneak. However, Green Bay is planning for exactly that and instead pitches outside to outflank the defense. Deguara now shoots outside and lead blocks as Jones is able to round the edge for an explosive gain.

Return Motion Split Zone

Through the day, the Vikings shifted their front to protect against H-backs and tight ends. And the Packers took advantage. Here, Green Bay uses a return motion from Deguara to threaten the perimeter pre-snap. He then returns to kick out the backside end post-snap. The initial motion bumps interior defenders over which again creates a cutback lane for Jones.

Green Bay’s run game is rolling. They’re becoming increasingly inventive and are building their offense from the ground up. Perhaps this is the year where their physical play matches the cold weather of the playoffs and they can capture magic on their way to a Super Bowl.