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Ten Critical Plays vs. the Saints

After reviewing tape of the Packers flop in Jacksonville, ten plays stand out as critical failures.

Sep 12, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; The New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers huddle at the goal line in the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

First Saints Drive:

Play 2; second and nine from the NO 26. Result: 14 yard completion to the NO 40 yard line. The Saints threw to the slot receiver who ran a square in across the field. The Packers seem to be in zone coverage that is very soft. Sullivan lines up 7 yards off the line of scrimmage and back peddles to ten yards. He seems to know the receiver’s route and communicates to his left following the receiver all across the field but never gets closer than two yards to Callaway, the Saint’s receiver on the play. Callaway crosses behind LB Krys Barnes who has his eyes locked on the Saints QB Winston. Barnes lets Callaway run past him and Sullivan seems to trail at a distance. No other Packer defender recognizes Callaway’s route or attempts to close on him. Callaway is wide open when he catches the ball and is finally tackled by Alexander. Also open on the play was RB Alvin Kamara in the right flat. A third Saint receiver, Deonte Harris does a 15 yard square in that turns DB Kevin King around leaving him wide open on the top half of the field. This play combines all of the Packer defensive problems against the pass in week one. Linebackers and DB’s not working together. Soft coverage, and a failure to anticipate and then drive on route breaks.

Play 3; first and ten at the 40 yard line. Result: 11 yard scramble by Winston for a first down. Winston’s scrambles were a recurring unresolved problem for the Packers. On this play Rashan Gary lost contain allowing Winston outside the tackle. On the next scramble of that drive Kenny Clark whiffed on a sack and Winston made the Packers pay to the tune of a 16 yard run. The scrambles were in part gap integrity and QB awareness by the D-line and part lack of an effective plan by the Packers to shadow or contain Winston. This containment failure by OLB’s reappears on a number of run and pass/scramble plays.

Packers first drive:

Third and seven from the GB 28. Result: Six yard pass completion to Aaron Jones. This play had Jones open in the middle of the field but Rodgers waited to release the ball. By the time the catch was completed Jones momentum put him into the sideline. This hesitancy by Rodgers to take the underneath option reoccurred on later plays.

Saints second drive

Second and seven at the NO 27. Result: gain of six setting up third and one. On this play De’Vondre Campbell is the single LB and at the snap he vacates the middle of the field shadowing Alvin Kamara, apparently playing pass, leaving a huge open space for RB Justin Hardee. Campbell doesn’t even seem to be looking at the QB or the exchange when it occurs and is too late to recover to make a play. Luckily, Adrian Amos trips him up to save a big play.

First and ten at NO 46. Result: Seventeen yard completion to Harris for a first down. Again Kevin King is turned around and has no closing burst on the ball. This play set up the long TD against King later in the game. The Packers either have to bring King off of speedy receivers or give him safety cover help. This coverage weakness was exposed by Tampa last year and will be a recurring theme until the Packers find a winning countermove.

Packers second drive

First and ten at the GB 37. Result; Sack for minus 11 yards. This play seemed to scheme leaving DE Marcus Davenport unblocked. That required Rodgers to outmaneuver Davenport to make a throw. Rodgers is at the age/stage of his career where failure to execute could be career ending. This was not a failure of the o-line. It was a failure of game plan and execution. The Packers had just had back to back positive run plays by A.J. Dillon for a first down. After this sack Dillon seemed to disappear. The Packers might be better off starting Dillon to soften a defense up and then unleash Jones’s quickness. The run sets up the pass but play action needs a blocking scheme that does not allow free runs on your QB.

Saints third drive

Fourth and seven at the GB 41. Result; screen pass completion to Johnson for 12 yards. This back breaker play was a lack of awareness/diagnosis by Gary, L. Smith who lined up inside Gary, and LB Campbell. Nobody anticipated the TE screen. Smith made no impact or pressure on this play. His only plays of notice was a play he lost contain on a run and the penalty for roughing the passer. Gary is athletic but lacks awareness at times. He must also improve his closing burst on the QB.

Packers first drive of second half

Second and seven at the NO 9. Result: interception. Rookie Royce Newman picked a bad time for his worst play of the game. He whiffed, allowing Cameron Jordan a free shot at Rodgers. Rodgers hurried a short toss off target. Adams had a step but it would have been a minimal gain.

Packers next drive

Third and eight on the GB 8. Result: interception. The pass was so far away from MVS that it seems Rodgers was throwing it away. If he was, it made no sense to throw it in bounds. If he was trying to hit MVS there was a serious miscue by one or both. Poor play selection and execution.

Saints 4th quarter drive

Second and ten at the NO 45. Result; 55 yard TD pass. The hard part of comprehending this play is the failure of the Packers to adjust. Until they do, every team will scheme their speedy receiver to King’s side.

The Packers have ways to right this ship. Can they up their game against Detroit? Monday night is coming fast. Let’s hope this team learns quickly.

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Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is a lawyer, victim advocate, writer, and long term Packer fan and Packer history enthusiast.

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12 Comments

  1. Dean September 17, 2021

    Good article Paul. I agree that they need to run Dillon early and often.

    Reply
  2. PF4L September 17, 2021

    Yea…i’m not quite ready to relive any of that…ever.
    .
    I can’t remember deleting a game from my dvr faster than that game.

    Reply
    1. Mick September 18, 2021

      I hear ya, PF4L! I would file that game in the “TURD” category——— but that would really disrespect the TURD. BTW, good article,,,, Paul!

      Reply
  3. PF4L September 18, 2021

    totalpackers.com have addressed readers rights to post whatever they want.
    .
    They almost directly speak to the likes of killer and tommy directly (if you see a distinction between the two).
    The disclaimer refers to them as follows….
    .
    “We have always wrote exactly what we felt with little to no filter and we’ve let you say exactly what you wanted to, even when you’re a total douche.” – totalpackers.com

    Reply
  4. Big B September 18, 2021

    Play 2 sums it up; 2nd and 9 so Sullivan drops back 10 yards……doesn’t that concede the first down? Packers tradition of soft as Charmin CB coverage continues under Joe Barry. When asked at his press conference for the rationale, his evasion and confabulation were befitting a consummate politician. If a CB has to play a distance back greater than the amount needed for a first down why is he on the roster? Joe Barry- you got some ‘splainin’ to do.

    Reply
    1. Mick September 18, 2021

      Right on, Big B! It’s the same old “playing not to lose” theory that has hampered this team for years. “Bend, but don’t break defense.” Every team in the league is going to go after King and Sullivan, until the Packers find a way to stop it. Another anomaly, what the hell ever happened to in-game adjustments?

      Reply
      1. PF4L September 18, 2021

        Is this the famous Big B from down the hall who Nags swoons over?

        Reply
  5. PF4L September 18, 2021

    Barry brings the energy.
    .
    But listen, it’s one game. I don’t think MLF’s offense did any better than Barry’s defense, so i’m going to cut him a little slack.
    A little….

    Reply
  6. Tom M September 18, 2021

    I watched the 49er/Lions game. Kyle Shanahan likewise rested most of his starters in preseason. The 49ers also started sluggish fumbling their opening snap. They however were able to right the ship then hang on and win. The heat was the Packers third opponent. Forget points, not being able to move the ball and get first downs thereby giving the defense a break in the first half was a major factor. If Jordan Love throws that first INT he’s crucified. Aaron Rodgers does it and it’s Royce Newman’s fault. Rodgers blaming that first INT on getting hit in the nuts. Little Aaron, you do realize football is a contact sport? These things happen. If Newman missed a block, throw it away or take the sack. It wouldn’t be the first time. Throwing the ball into double coverage to Adams is on you sweetheart, not on Newman. Neither Newman or Lucas Patrick played very well. And despite what the clueless PF4L, “Mr Catch Rate”, says, Josh Myers played well in his first start. While Jenkins is looking more and more like a RT when Bahktari returns. In many ways the game in Jacksonville was similar to the NFCC game in January. Despite all the adversity and finger pointing Packer fans love to do that occurred in the first half. It was still Michael Jordan, I mean Aaron Rodgers, game to win or lose in the second half when he had second and goal at the 8 yard line. Sound familiar ladies? Back to back INT’s killed any chance of the Packers coming from behind to win. That second INT was so bad, it looked like it was thrown by a soon to be 38 year old QB that didn’t bother showing up to work this summer. A big helping of humble pie is just what tinker bell needed. Maybe Rodgers should focus on his job and stay the hell out of Brian Gutekunst’s way while he does his.

    Reply
    1. PF4L September 18, 2021

      Any other [expert] viewpoints you want to share Tommi?
      We’re eager to learn from you….lol
      .
      How about you tell us more about when Mark Murphy was a NFLPA attorney.
      .
      You ready to talk about that yet, or does being a coward still rule your day?

      Reply
  7. Tom M September 18, 2021

    So if Rodgers lays another egg Monday night, how soon before Jordan Love starts? Theoretically we could trade Rodgers before the deadline in October. His contract may prohibit it. But if your going to trade him in March anyway, how many more of these “Michael Jordan” performances must we endure before it at least becomes an option? Don’t think for a minute management isn’t having these discussions. If I were an Aaron Rodgers fan, I’d watch every start from here on out. You never know if it could be his last.

    Reply
    1. PF4L September 19, 2021

      Any other [expert] viewpoints you want to share Tommi?
      We’re eager to learn from you….lol
      .
      How about you tell us more about when Mark Murphy was a NFLPA attorney.
      .
      You ready to talk about that yet, or does being a coward still rule your day?

      Reply

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