Smart Play Calls You Don’t See the Packers Make
If you’re a fan who watches mostly Green Bay Packers games and playoff games, you’ve seen some great plays, and some colossal blunders, the last two weekends. I’ll bet you’ve seen several effective plays that you just don’t see the Packers run. Here’s a few of them.
Multiple Option Patterns
I can’t let this play go by without a mention. When the Patriots found themselves at midfield, down by a touchdown, they perfectly executed a double fake. QB Tom Brady first faked a handoff to the running back going up the middle, then he pretended to handoff to speedy receiver Brandin Cooks, who proceeded to sweep around the left side.
With the defense drawn to Cooks, Brady then tossed a short screen to Dion Lewis, who took off down the right side. You could tell by the play’s precision and the way the fakes were executed that the Patriots fully expected this play to fool the defense and go for big yardage.
The play was originally called a touchdown, but was changed to being a 31-yard gain. This led three plays later to the tying touchdown, and the Patriots never looked back as they cruised to a 21-point win.
Wide Receiver Sweep
Almost all the top teams resort to this play at least once per game, and they fake to the play another three or four times. The play usually can be relied upon for five to 15 yards, and on occasion it can get you into the end zone.
Even when the sweep is only faked, it forces the other team to defend against it – except for Packers’ opponents. Though they often fake the sweep, Green Bay almost never actually hands the ball off.
When the Patriots were trying to even the score against the Titans, after that double-fake play they got down to the 5-yard line. They simply sent James White in motion, and Tom Brady shoveled the ball to him – White swept wide and went untouched into the end zone.
Here’s how announcer Tony Romo described it: “This is a (Patriots’ offensive coordinator) Josh McDaniels special…. That’s why Josh McDaniels is getting courted by these other teams right now. Tom Brady didn’t need to do anything, the running back didn’t have to do anything for that play to be a touchdown. (McDaniels) is special – for those teams out there, you want to go get him if you have the opportunity.”
Last year, the Packers used Jeff Janis on two wide sweeps, and they garnered 38 yards and a touchdown. So Mike McCarthy apparently erased it from his play sheets. The play does call for a speedy receiver.
The Saints’ Ted Ginn Jr. gets good results from the play almost every game – he gained 11 yards on a sweep against the Vikings. In 11 years, receiver Ginn has rushed 62 times for an average of 7.1 yards per carry.
Should the Packers follow my advice and draft a speedy receiver in the first round, this is a play that should be added to Green Bay’s play book.
Drew Brees, along with several other QBs, routinely goes to this play on 3rd-and-1 or 4th-and-1 situations. Though he’s neither big nor strong, Brees picked up first downs with ease using this play on both of the last two weekends. With a yard or less to go, it’s the simplest and most sure-fire play you could ask for.
Running Back Leap/Dive
I’ve previously advocated for this play. It’s useful whenever you need up to two yards. When the Jaguars were on the 2-yard line and had a fourth down, instead of settling for a field goal, they simply handed the ball to Leonard Fournette and the big guy went airborne for the first touchdown of the game.
It wasn’t an ideal play, as Fournette was lined up too deep, so by the time he reached the line of scrimmage a linebacker had arrived to partially fill the gap. I’d have the back line up almost to the side of the quarterback and get him to the line more quickly.