In his day after the game press conference on Monday, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur broke down some of the details that his team’s wide receivers are missing and why they are critical on a play to play basis. All season long, the receiver group has been dropping passes, running the wrong routes, and running routes incorrectly and that has led to a lot of the issues the offense is currently facing.
To be fair, the poor offensive performance is not just on the receivers. Jordan Love hasn’t performed to expectations in the last several weeks and the offensive line isn’t holding up its end of the bargain either with missing or blown blocks and blown assignments. But the receivers could alleviate a lot of issues with more consistent route running.
(The full quote for this article is extracted from the 4:50 mark to the 8:50 mark)
In that LaFleur press conference the day after a 24-10 loss to the Vikings, LaFleur gave some insight into the kinds of details the young receivers are still struggling with, discussing Jayden Reed’s 31 yard catch halfway through the 3rd quarter.
The play call was “All Go” (four verticals) with the option for the outside receivers to run 10 yard out routes versus off coverage corners. Typically that’s the adjustment if the receivers can’t get past the corners downfield.
The defense was playing cover-3 where the nickel defender had inside leverage (this will be a key detail later on). Inside leverage could indicate that the defense is going to play some form of a split safety two deep coverage shell. Outside leverage would indicate single high because the defenders want to funnel everything to the middle of the field safety
Against a single high safety/middle of the field closed coverage, the inside verticals should be straight up the field to put the safety in a bind. LaFleur stated: “The way we teach seams one high (safety) versus two high is totally different. When it’s single high, we expect those seam route runners to get to the inside edge of the numbers because you really want to disperse the field and put that middle third safety in a bind.”
Reed takes an inside release against a nickel flat defender playing “buzz reroute.” Buzz reroute is a way to make it easier for the defense to play over the top of an inside vertical route by making the receiver release inside. The receiver isn’t going to try to get back to his outside landmark because it will throw off the timing of the play. The hope is the reroute gets the safety over the top quicker. Harrison Smith, over Luke Musgrave up top, also gets a reroute on Musgrave’s vertical.
You can see Reed take his inside release and at that point, there is no reason to try to get to his landmark. Love is reading the safety, who opens to Musgrave, so he decides to throw to Reed. He helps adjust Reed’s route and throws slightly behind him to get him to throttle down and away from the safety coming over the top. If Reed had been able to get on top of the numbers, the play might have gone for a bigger gain than 31 yards.
LaFleur on the last key point on process over results:
“It was a successful play and I know we are, you know, in the results business, however our process wasn’t right. So I think over time that’s going to lead to more poor results than it will be for one successful play. So it’s all those little details that are so important that in my mind really separate good from great in this league.”