Well, this week’s film is going to be fun.
One week after their unfortunate but understandable loss to the impassioned Colts, the Packers dismantled the formerly undefeated Texans in a 42-24 Sunday Night showdown.
It was a good night.
The touchdown that started it all was a 41 yard bomb to Jordy Nelson. Let’s take a closer look at that play:
It’s so beautiful, right?!
Ok, so scoring team aside, let’s break down the fundamentals of the play:
Let’s set the stage. It’s early in the 1st quarter. The down and distance is 1st and 10. Most teams that are going to take a shot into the end zone are going to do so on 2nd or 3rd down, not 1st down, but the Texans were not fooled. They must have seen something that made them believe that the Packers were going to pass because they’re showing blitz – they’re going to bring a whole lot of pressure on the quarterback as soon as the ball is snapped. We see this in their alignment – they have 5 men up front on the defensive line and 3 of them are coming from the right side.
That was a little unclear to me on the film at first, so I took a screen shot and mapped it out:
So there are five guys on the defensive line on this play, and three of them are lined up to the right of the center. That means those three rushers are “coming from the right.” The linebackers are hanging out a few yards back to prevent any significant gains should a run be attempted, and the cornerbacks and safety are guarding against the pass.
Ok, let’s move on.
1. 1-on-1 Pass Protection
Since there’s going to be a lot of pressure coming from the right, the Packers put a running back and a tight end on the right side of the formation. That means that the left side will have to fend for themselves with no extra help. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse and left guard T.J. Lang each have to handle their own lineman in order to give Rodgers enough time for this play to be effective. And they do so beautifully. They each kick back and block toward the outside so that Rodgers has plenty of room to work with in the pocket.
Good job, guys.
2. Nelson’s Go Route
Let’s scroll up to that screen shot and take a look at the coverage. The cornerback is right on top of Nelson, which means he’s playing man-to-man coverage. The linebackers aren’t going to get involved in defending Nelson – they’re focused on securing the middle of the field, not the outside. And there’s just one safety playing the middle of the field. Man-to-man on the outside + a single free safety in the middle = Man Free Coverage.
Next: his route. A go route (or a fly/seam/streak route) is when a receiver runs straight upfield toward the end zone. Nelson runs his route expertly in this situation by lining up close to the numbers and allowing for only a little bit of width to the outside as he runs so that he has plenty of room to adjust to the flight of the ball and still stay in-bounds.
3. Leading the Receiver
Rodgers knows he’s got a good thing going on here. The left side of the offensive line is securing the pocket (so he has protection and time) and Nelson beat the cornerback up the field (so he has space to throw the ball safely). He makes a perfect throw – just outside enough so that it isn’t in danger of being reached by the cornerback but not too far outside that Nelson can’t reach it – and Nelson takes it to the house for a TD.
And then did that 5 more times over the course of the game. What a guy.
If you thought this week’s film break down was good, just wait until next week. We get to see the Bucs in their creamsicle uniforms.
It’s the best.
But until then, I’ll see you back here tomorrow for a little trip back in history!