GREEN BAY – Matt LaFleur's offense spends a lot of time distracting the defense.
Whether it was motions, play fakes and/or route combinations, the Packers created space for their offense to make plays last Sunday by getting the Eagles to pay attention to a lot of stuff going on at once, in various areas of the field.
The scheme gets the defense to constantly ask the question, "Who's going to hurt us on this play?" And when the Packers' execution is on point, somebody usually does, and not always who everyone thinks it might be.
Here's a small sampling from the 30-16 victory over Philadelphia:
Play No. 1: Second-and-9 from the Green Bay 13, first quarter, :35 left
Result: 24-yard completion to WR Davante Adams
It takes until the last play of the first quarter for the Packers to get going, and this is the play that jumpstarts them. There is a TON going on here that creates a void in the defense for QB Aaron Rodgers to find Adams for a relatively easy pitch and catch, so here's the step-by-step.
First, the motion by RB Tyler Ervin (32) pulls CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (31) from one side of the field to the other. Second, the play-action fake to RB Aaron Jones (33) draws LBs Alex Singleton (49) and T.J. Edwards (57) multiple steps forward, about four yards. Third, that play-action fake also catches Adams' man, CB Darius Slay (24), peeking in the backfield, and he slips and loses track of his guy. Fourth, the go route by WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) keeps S Rodney McLeod (23) deep to help CB Avonte Maddox (29).
When it's all said and done, as Adams runs the crossing route, Slay is nowhere to be found, Singleton is a full five yards in front of Adams, and the two deep DBs are at least 15 yards behind him. It's a huge amount of space.
Play No. 2: Second-and-9 from the Green Bay 19, second quarter, 4:00 left
Result: 36-yard completion to TE Marcedes Lewis
This is another play-action fake, but it's a completely different concept that distracts the Eagles in new ways. Lewis (89) comes off the ball heading for Singleton like he's going to run block, only he gives him a little shake move and lets him go. But how does he get so wide open? Well, when TE Robert Tonyan (85) comes off his initial run block to release for a short route, he draws the attention of three Eagles simultaneously – Singleton, Edwards, and McLeod, who's down in the box this time. They get distracted, leaving Lewis running free.
The similarity to Play No. 1 is the deep route to occupy a safety. This one is run by Adams, to pull Slay's help defender, S K'Von Wallace (42), away from Lewis' area. Wallace gets so turned around by Adams' route that he has his back to Rodgers when the ball is released, and he's 25 yards away from Lewis when the catch is made.
Play No. 3: Second-and-10 from the Philadelphia 45, second quarter, 2:27 left
Result: 14-yard completion to WR Malik Taylor
Not knowing all the ins and outs of LaFleur's offense, it's hard to say whether this play features a ruse or a legitimate option for Rodgers. Either way, the screen pass becomes the fake here, and the release of RB Jamaal Williams (30) and LG Lucas Patrick (62) to run the screen pulls Singleton out of the middle of the field – right where Taylor is running his cross off a nicely executed rub route with Tonyan to leave Maddox in a trailing position. The Eagles also hurt themselves here by having McLeod run a futile blitz from the high side as a fifth rusher, creating even more space where Taylor is headed. Last but not least, WRs Equanimeous St. Brown (19) and Allen Lazard (13) on the outside do enough blocking to get Taylor the first down.
Bonus play: Second-and-7 from the Green Bay 23, fourth quarter, 2:51 left
Result: 77-yard TD run by Jones
This play has nothing to do with distracting or fooling the defense, but it's worth showing the long, game-clinching TD run to see the block no one seems to be talking about. While LT David Bakhtiari (69) is getting a lot of attention for running the length of the field with Jones, and Valdes-Scantling is getting props for his downfield blocks – both deservedly so – don't sleep on the Big Dog. Lewis' block absolutely buries LB Duke Riley (50) and subsequently takes out the legs of DE Vinny Curry (75), too. What's interesting as well is that after Bakhtiari initially gets in Curry's way to help spring Jones, that full-out sprint down the field doesn't even require him to block anybody. Rest assured he would have if needed.