GREEN BAY – Packers running back Jamaal Williams didn’t just touch the ball 21 times for 156 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against the Jets, though there’s no disputing the value of those contributions.
What rounded out Williams’ stellar performance was all the other things he did so well – carrying out play fakes, picking up blitzing linebackers, blocking downfield, and the like.
The second-year running back played 86 of a possible 91 snaps (including penalty plays) in Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium, and he was a factor in a significant gain for the offense on a regular, every-down basis.
Here’s a hefty sampling of all those “other” things.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 33, second quarter, 7:36 left
Result: 12-yard completion to WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
One play after Williams ran for 13 yards, the Packers run play-action, and it may seem like a little thing, but the way Williams sells the fake has an impact. He does this throughout the game – not just going through the motions, drifting to his right as QB Aaron Rodgers extends the ball, but putting both arms in the handoff/transfer position and pretending to close them and bob his head like he’s actually getting the ball. That draws two Jets linebackers, Avery Williamson (54) and Neville Hewitt (46), into the run action, creating a void in the middle of the field that Valdes-Scantling quickly fills, flashing across from where the run appeared to be headed. It’s a pretty easy pitch and catch for another first down.
Play No. 2: Third-and-4 from the New York 49, second quarter, 5:14 left
Result: 49-yard touchdown pass to WR Jake Kumerow
As with the effective play fakes, Williams picked up blitzes against the Jets several times, almost too many to count. On his numerous pass protection assignments, Williams failed only once (maybe twice, depending on how the coaches grade it) throughout the game. Here’s a textbook success, as Williamson charges between the center and right guard. Williams not only runs interference but finishes the block and takes him completely out of the play, allowing Rodgers to find Kumerow wide open deep for the Packers’ first score of the game.
Play No. 3: Third-and-3 from the Green Bay 42, second quarter, 3:34 left
Result: 34-yard completion to WR Equanimeous St. Brown
A different type of pass protection duty here, as Rodgers rolls right and the offensive line slides that way, leaving Williams responsible for LB Frankie Luvu (50) chasing from the back side. Williams squares his shoulders before contact, doesn’t let Luvu anywhere near the QB, and Rodgers gets the throw away just before the pressure in his face arrives. Take note also of St. Brown, who dekes the Jets by pretending to just muddle things up with a block before escaping the traffic for a big gain.
Play No. 4: Second-and-15 from the New York 29, second quarter, 1:54 left
Result: 14-yard completion to St. Brown (plus an 8-yard penalty)
A few snaps later after a holding penalty puts the Packers behind the chains, Williams again does a couple of small, but effective, things. First, he helps RG Lucas Patrick (62) with a chip block on LB Brandon Copeland (51), who runs a stunt from the outside, looping around teammate DL Leonard Williams (92). Patrick then finishes off Copeland no problem, and the Packers’ Williams leaks out as a potential pass catcher just in time to occupy Williamson, which helps create the space St. Brown needs cutting across the field. The gain comes up a yard short of the first down, but a personal foul and ejection of the Jets’ Williams moves the ball half the distance for first-and-goal, and the Packers’ Williams scores on the next play.
Play No. 5: Second-and-13 from the New York 37, third quarter, 10:41 left
Result: 18-yard completion to St. Brown
Often when the Packers went empty in the backfield, Williams was split out wide, and that’s the case here, but he’s still an important piece of the action. On a quick flip to the right to St. Brown, the blocks by RT Bryan Bulaga (75) on Hewitt and by TE Jimmy Graham (80) on CB Buster Skrine (41) – who effectively takes out his own teammate as well, LB Tarell Basham (93) – get St. Brown past the line of scrimmage. Then it’s the block on the outside on CB Trumaine Johnson (22) by Williams, who maintains the block for several seconds, which springs St. Brown for the first down.
Play No. 6: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 6, fourth quarter, 9:34 left
Result: 24-yard completion to St. Brown (plus a 15-yard penalty)
Other than the Kumerow TD described earlier, from all of Williams’ blitz pick-ups, this one was the most significant. The Packers are down 12 points midway through the fourth quarter and 94 yards away from the first of two touchdowns they need. This time it’s Hewitt attacking between the center and left guard, but there’s Williams to stop him cold in the hole. Rodgers’ throw to St. Brown becomes an even bigger play with the penalty for the helmet hit tacked on, moving the Packers from the shadow of their own goalpost out to the 45 in a jiffy.