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What You Might've Missed: All-around games

Smiths do a lot more than get after QBs


GREEN BAY – The pass-rush exploits of Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith have been on display for everyone to see.

The Packers' outside linebacker duo has combined for 16½ sacks in nine games this season, and the two stars account for all but 5½ of Green Bay's sacks overall.

But there's a lot more to their games than getting after quarterbacks, and the film from the Chargers game showed that, even though it was an otherwise rough day for the defense, and in all three phases, out in Los Angeles.

Here's a sampling.

Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Los Angeles 17, first quarter, 13:57 left

Result: 2-yard run by WR Mike Williams

Preston's run defense gets put to the test early as the Chargers go at his side with an end-around to Williams. The hope for the offense is an edge player like Preston will crash too hard to the inside with all the initial action flowing that way, and then Williams can turn the corner on him. But Preston stays home, making the tackle for a short gain, and then popping up to give a small pistol salute to signify he did his job. It's a good thing, too, because the Chargers had a blocker for all the other defenders on that side of the field converging on Williams.

Play No. 2: Third-and-goal from the Green Bay 11, first quarter, 7:05 left

Result: Incomplete pass

Preston can also drop into coverage effectively, and he does so frequently. One play after Za'Darius and Tyler Lancaster share a sack of QB Philip Rivers, setting up third-and-goal, Preston is the key coverage defender to Rivers' right, responsible for RB Austin Ekeler (30) leaking out into the flat. Preston takes away that option and then almost gets a hand on Rivers' pass for TE Hunter Henry (86) in the end zone as well. The Chargers settle for their first of many field goals.

Play No. 3: Second-and-4 from the Los Angeles 14, second quarter, 3:46 left

Result: 2-yard completion to Ekeler

Much like the first play, discipline pays off, this time for Za'Darius. He doesn't get drawn in too far on the play fake to RB Melvin Gordon (25), allowing him to react quickly and efficiently to the quick screen outside to Ekeler. He chases him down for a minimal gain.

Play No. 4: Second-and-4 from the Green Bay 26, third quarter, 10:20 left

Result: 1-yard run by RB Justin Jackson

Za'Darius can set the edge pretty well against the run, too. On this play, the action from motioning WR Keenan Allen (13) is intended to draw the defense that direction and clear space for a naked pitch to Jackson (22). WR Mike Williams (81) is supposed to pin Za'Darius inside with a block, but he whiffs as the savvy veteran defender spins away and helps CB Tony Brown (28), who does a good job beating the block of LT Russell Okung (76), string Jackson out to the sideline for very little.

Play No. 5: Third-and-goal from the Green Bay 2, fourth quarter, 11:20 left

Result: 1-yard run by Ekeler

Speaking of whiffs, two-time Pro Bowl LT Okung gets nothing done against Za'Darius here, as a deft swim move allows him to swallow up Ekeler short of the end zone to set up fourth-and-goal.