clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Packers Film Room: Jayden Reed’s emerging role in the Packers running game

Jayden Reed is adding an element of versatility the Packers' offense needs at the right time for a playoff push.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed emerged throughout the course of the 2023 season as one of the Packers' more reliable receivers for quarterback Jordan Love. As a receiver, he’s caught 36 passes for 497 yards and five touchdowns. Recently though, the Packers are using him in the run game to get chunk yards, showing that he has a coveted versatility as a player who can move well in space in a Shanahan-style offense.

As a runner, he’s gained 81 yards on just seven carries, 11.6 yards per attempt. He’s averaging an explosive run of 10+ yards every time he gets the ball on a zone run or end around. He’s not close to the level of 49ers “wide back” Deebo Samuel, but he gives Matt LaFleur’s offense another versatile weapon to use just like the 49ers use Deebo.

The play that gained Deebo the notoriety as a runner is a fake counter blocking action reverse.

Shanahan’s counter reverse took the league by storm in 2019 and became an almost weekly thing in the NFL in 2020 with a half dozen teams running the play for explosive plays.

In 2019, the 49ers ran the play with Deebo just three times for 93 yards and one touchdown. The 49ers have used it very sparingly since then but used it twice this season in Week 10 versus Jacksonville.

The play starts out looking like “36-37 Stutter,” a gap scheme counter GF or GY (guard/fullback or guard/tight end) running play in Shanahan’s offense. They actually call the play “Fake 36-37 Stutter Z Dope.”

Deebo, as the single receiver to the right, is the ball carrier after Purdy faked the counter run action handoff from the shotgun to running back Elijah Mitchell. On “counter GF,” the guard and fullback pull around to the play side to lead block for the running back.

Left guard Jon Feliciano (No. 55) and tight end Charlie Woerner (No. 89) move in the direction of the counter to sell the motion to the right side of the formation as the defense crashes toward what appears to them to be the point of attack. Left tackle Trent Williams (No. 71) and Woerner are lead-blocking around the perimeter for Deebo. Deebo also gets a nice crack block from receiver Jauan Jennings on defensive end Josh Allen to seal him inside. Deebo does the rest and sprints to a touchdown.

The Packers' own version was unveiled in Week 9 versus the Rams when Reed carried the ball around the left end for 21 yards across midfield.

The Packers used the play with a power run blocking scheme instead of a counter run scheme. Left guard Elgton Jenkins is the puller to the right simulating a power run lead blocker into the C-gap while the rest of the offensive line blocks down.

A.J. Dillon is the running back offset to Jordan Love’s left side with Josiah Deguara offset to his right in a split-back backfield. Reed is in a cut split to the right. Luke Musgrave is split out wide left and motions into the formation as the kick-out block to the right. This helps sell the run action to the offense’s right side. The Rams never moved with his motion to stay balanced.

At the snap, at the snap, center Josh Meyers blocks down and then pulls out to lead block for Reed. Deguara is out in a convoy too. Reed gets to the edge and turns upfield behind his convoy and gains 21 yards.

The second way the Packers use Reed in the run game is on a regular wide zone running play from the shotgun known in the Shanahan tree offense as “38-39 Force.” “38-39” is the wide zone run from shotgun designation. “8” runs go to the right, “9” runs go to the left.

“Force” is a two-back wide zone running play to the strong side that tells the lead blocker, usually the fullback, but can be a tight end or extra running back, to block the first run support defender on the perimeter. In split safety/two high coverage shells, this puts the lead blocker on the force defender, usually the cloud coverage corner to the play side.

The receiver to the play side can either dig out of the safety (“Force CAT” designation) or block the overhang defender. The lead blocker blocking the first force player creates an advantageous blocking angle for both the lead blocker and the receiver in this situation.

In the first clip, Reed comes from the backside in a 2x2 to the tight end side. In the second clip, Reed starts on the tight end side and takes the handoff to the two receiver side, a nice wrinkle from the previous game against the Chargers.

The last way the Packers have used Reed in the running game is on a basic end-around run with a lead blocker.

The running play simulates a split zone inside run while sending the tight end on a simulated sift block around the edge where he ends up lead blocking for the end around from Reed.

The intent of the play is to get the defense to hit their interior run-fit gaps so that the offensive blockers can seal them inside the formation while the tight end bluff blocks and leads around the perimeter. The Chargers are in man coverage so Asante Samuel Jr. has to travel with Reed post-snap and takes a very poor angle after the snap while chasing Reed. Reed sprints untouched to the end zone.

Outlook

Reed is emerging as a versatile weapon for the Packers offense and quarterback Jordan Love, enabling them to expand their playbook at a critical time in the NFC playoff race. He’s also being counted on to contribute in the passing game, which has led to him being the team’s leading receiver just ahead of Romeo Doubs. Down the stretch, we should expect to see an expanded role and timely usage of Reed in the running game.