Despite their best efforts, the Packers dropped their second game in a row, this time on Monday night to the Raiders by a final score of 17-13. They head into the bye week with more questions than answers and have time to figure it out but with the previous 10 days to figure something out for Monday night’s game, it remains to be seen what other answers they can come up with.
The defense held up its end of the bargain, holding the Raiders to 17 points and former Packers receiver Davante Adams to four catches for 45 yards. It took the Raiders until late in the 3rd quarter to find ways to scheme Adams open for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the defense intercepted twice and nearly came down with a third.
Although Adams had some key catches on the go-ahead touchdown drive, defensive coordinator Joe Barry had a solid game plan, one that he’s employed in the past and one the defense is usually very good at executing, but on the go-ahead drive, just couldn’t quite get the job done. Nonetheless, it’s worth looking at how the defense was able to hold the Raiders to 17 points.
The Packers' defense was able to sack Garoppolo three times in this game with Preston Smith, Kingsley Enagbare, and Kenny Clark each recording sacks. Rudy Ford also added an interception while Rasul Douglas dropped another would-be interception. This was all made possible but the Packers bracketed Adams for much of the game and forced Garoppolo to find other options.
1st quarter, 3rd-and-5 @ GB 40, :15 remaining
All three Packers sacks came on third down in this game. Here on 3rd and 5 at the end of the first quarter, Preston Smith recorded the Packers' second sack of the game with a nice “2-hand shuck and swim” move to beat the left tackle and get to Garoppolo for the sack.
In the “2-hand shuck and swim,” it sounds just as it’s written. Smith engages the tackle by first shucking or swiping away the hands of the blocker when his arms are extended as the rusher closes the gap. Once Smith wins leverage outside, he executes a swim move over to get around and close the pocket.
The coverage on the back end (more on that later) eliminated Adams pre-snap and the pass rush didn’t allow Garoppolo to get to his 2nd and 3rd reads before being sacked.
Here’s all three sacks recorded by the defense, where at least two were the result of forcing the quarterback to move on in his reads away from Adams and one was because Garoppolo is a slow processor.
Rudy Ford interception
On Rudy Ford’s interception, they baited Garoppolo into looking off of Adams on the deep corner route on this play action.
The defense is playing a 3-under/3-deep fire zone with the safety shaded over toward Adams to help provide a bracket over the top with Rasul Douglas. Ford, the backside safety, is the 3-receiver hook/hot to 3 defender meaning he has any final #3 receiver in the pattern and/or has to run with crossers.
Ford sprints across the field with Jakobi Meyers while Douglas has the underneath trail coverage on Adams with Savage helping over the top. This discourages Garoppolo from taking the explosive pass downfield to Adams and he ends up forcing a throw out to Meyers on the crosser where Ford undercuts it and intercepts it. Had Ford not been able to create this turnover, Douglas, who fell off of Adams after reading Garoppolo’s eyes, would have likely intercepted the pass.
Bracket coverage and zone match coverages on Davante Adams
Joe Barry makes no secret about his game plan any time the Packers face a true #1 receiver threat. He usually has great game plans to bracket and take away the primary weapon of the opposing offense. The Packers' defensive game plan in this one was simple: limit the explosive plays from Adams and make Garoppolo use the rest of his options. It’s not really something Garoppolo can do consistently or do well.
It was a sound game plan. The Packers were not letting Adams run through the defense freely. There were a variety of cover-2 zone brackets, fire zone brackets, and defenders passing off receivers and kicking their coverage to Adams if he ran into their zone.
In the next article, we’ll take a look at the one drive where the Raiders were able to get Adams and it proved to be the defining drive in the game. Adams ended the drive with three catches for 33 yards and the Raiders were able to exploit a weakness in the scheme they saw repeatedly in this game before that point at the end of the third quarter.