GREEN BAY – Yes, it's back.
Another season has arrived, and so has "What You Might've Missed," a weekly look at little things on the game film that helped make certain plays successful for the Packers.
There was plenty to pick from on offense in the 43-34 victory at Minnesota, but this segment will focus on how misdirection was effective early on for Green Bay, which helped keep the Vikings' defense on its heels all game long.
A couple of bonus plays featuring the blocking of WR Allen Lazard are tacked onto the end for good measure, too.
So, without further ado …
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Minnesota 36, first quarter, 11:03 left
Result: 9-yard completion to Lazard
The Packers attacked the Vikings early and often with a combination of misdirection and jet-sweep motion, and the film shows how catching one key defender off-guard can create positive plays. This is a simple tap pass to Lazard (it goes as a pass completion because QB Aaron Rodgers flips the ball forward), and the player to watch is Vikings DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (95). Notice how the entire offensive line moves to the left to sell the outside zone run going that way. The blocker across from Odenigbo, TE Robert Tonyan(85), even takes a jab step that way, and Odenigbo gets lost on the play. That allows Tonyan to get outside for a solid block on LB Anthony Barr (55), and Lazard nicely slips one tackle to get near the first down.
Play No. 2: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, first quarter, 3:24 left
Result: 14-yard completion to WR Davante Adams
Here's another form of misdirection, with play-action and a throw behind the flow. The entire offensive line sells the outside zone run to the right, but when Rodgers fakes the handoff, this time the defender in no-man's land is LB Eric Kendricks (54). He has no impact on the play. Rookie TE Josiah Deguara (81) picks up Barr crashing down, Adams cuts across the field from the back side and the throw is on the money to get the Packers' second possession of the game started right.
Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Minnesota 44, first quarter, 1:14 left
Result: 19-yard run by Lazard
There's a lot going on here, so this play will be presented with two different looks.
The misdirection here is with the fake on the inside run, turning it into an end-around. Initially, two things help set this up to work. First, Vikings DE Jalyn Holmes (90) bites so hard on the inside run action that WR Malik Taylor (86), lined up slot right, doesn't even need to block him. Also, RT Elgton Jenkins (74) gets an unimpeded charge at LB Eric Wilson (50) and takes him out of the play.
Two other things to note. Vikings S Harrison Smith (22) figures out what's coming and points to where the ball is headed. Unfortunately for him, he's not in position to do much about it, and with Holmes and Wilson already out of the play, it's up to CB Mike Hughes (21) and S Anthony Harris (41) on that side of the field. This is where Deguara, lined up at fullback, makes the block of the day. Anyone who watched the game didn't "miss" this, but it's worth seeing again anyhow. Be sure to catch how Deguara helps sell the initial run action by moving to the left out of his stance, before cutting back to the right to get outside Hughes and Harris, managing to take both out with one cut block.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 22, third quarter, 9:50 left
Result: 15-yard run by RB Aaron Jones
So what does all that misdirection early in the game buy you later? A nice crease on a fairly simple, straightforward handoff. This is a give to Jones that opens up nicely, partly because it appears the motion of TE Jace Sternberger (87) coming across the formation for the backside cut-block on DE Yannick Ngakoue (91) gets Kendricks thinking too much and stops him in his tracks. The hesitation is such that RG Lane Taylor (65) doesn't even need to block him. After the tackle is made, watch closely as Kendricks talks to Barr, making a pointing/sweeping motion with his hand, indicating he got thrown off by Sternberger.
Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a wide receiver executing blocks on back-to-back snaps as well as Lazard does here.
Play No. 5: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, fourth quarter, 13:53 left
Result: 8-yard run by RB AJ Dillon
The blocking all across the front is outstanding here on the rookie Dillon's second career carry to begin the Packers' first drive of the fourth quarter. But it's Lazard's block on Harris, providing the cut-back lane for Dillon, that takes the cake.
Play No. 6: Second-and-2 from the Green Bay 33, fourth quarter, 13:09 left
Result: 21-yard run by RB Tyler Ervin
On the very next snap, Harris reads and anticipates this jet sweep to Ervin, charging up from his deep safety spot even before the handoff is made. But look who's right there to spoil his fun – it's Lazard again – and when CB Holton Hill (24) doesn't figure out until it's too late that Lazard isn't running a pass route, Ervin is around the corner for a big gain.