What You Might've Missed: Fancy footwork and clandestine communication

Jab steps, hand signals, pump fakes all played a part in keeping Packers' offense rolling in Dallas


GREEN BAY – There's never a shortage of little things that go into making any offense successful.

Amongst a myriad of items, the footwork by the Packers' receivers and certain communication signals – whether direct or designed to mislead – helped Green Bay roll up 34 points in the divisional playoff win in Dallas.

Here's a sampling.

Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Dallas 34, first quarter, 9:06 left

Result: 34-yard TD pass to TE Richard Rodgers

As QB Aaron Rodgers gets the Cowboys to jump offside for a free play, he has a matchup he likes on the left with his tight end against Dallas LB Sean Lee (50). The key to the play is the jab step to the inside that Rodgers the tight end makes at around the 28-yard line. It gets Lee off-balance and the rest of the route is academic, with an on-target throw for Green Bay's first score.

Play No. 2: Third-and-2 from the Dallas 49, first quarter, 1:04 left

Result: 32-yard completion to WR Davante Adams

This is one play after Adams is furious with the officials for not calling Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick for a jersey grab that pulled his No. 17 off the shoulder pad. Adams here takes it out on S Byron Jones (31), another favorable matchup for the Packers that is exploited when Adams' inside-out shake move at the 43-yard line leaves Jones grasping at air.

Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, third quarter, 15:00 left

Result: 25-yard completion to WR Randall Cobb

On the opening play of the third quarter, Rodgers escapes the pocket for a typical scramble drill. The thing to watch for – and you have to look very closely – is how Rodgers makes eye contact with Cobb deep downfield and signals with his hand for Cobb to come back to the ball. While the TV replays focused on the big hit Rodgers took as he throws another pinpoint pass, the on-the-fly communication with his receiver was what made the play work and got the Packers moving again.

Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Dallas 29, third quarter, 12:16 left

Result: 26-yard completion to TE Jared Cook

Four plays after the Cobb catch, the Packers are knocking on the door for another touchdown, and there's a ton of "communication" meant to fool the defense that's part of this well-designed play.

Rodgers' pump-fake to WR Geronimo Allison (81) helps to freeze Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne (24), but watch also how Cook (89) sells that the WR screen is coming by looking like he's going to block Claiborne. Cook comes off the line of scrimmage moving straight at Claiborne, as though he's zeroing in on his chest to throw a block. Then Cook turns his head, takes off upfield, and Claiborne has no chance as the big tight end sets up first-and-goal.

Play No. 5: Second-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, fourth quarter, 4:04 left

Result: 16-yard completion to Adams

The biggest improvement in Adams' game this season has been his footwork at the line of scrimmage, so it's worth showing another example of how he gets open to give Rodgers clean looks. These are the kinds of moves Adams simply couldn't make last year when dealing with his leg injuries. Here he's against Cowboys CB Brandon Carr (39), and his catch-and-run starts the Packers' drive to the first of two 50-plus field goals down the stretch. On the awkward tackle, Adams injures his ankle on the play, but he comes back in later to finish the game.

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