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Cheesehead TV Matchup: Week 5 Offense

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Cheesehead TV Matchup: Week 5 Offense

Set Finley To the Left To Make the Right Side "Weak"

This weeks opponent, the Washington Redskins, hopped on the 3-4 bandwagon this summer. Head coach Mike Shanahan brought in Jim Haslett, who coordinated a wicked 3-4 for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1997 through 1999. Haslett started out the 2010 season blitzing 50% of the time through the first three games but then last week, against the Eagles, Haslett switched to a much more conservative approach, sitting back in a two deep shell almost the entire game.

Where have we seen that before?

I would prefer McCarthy follow his quarterback's advice and spread the Redskins out to work the ball up and down the field with the short passing game against that look. But I have a strong suspicion McCarthy is going to come out and "prove" his team can run the ball. If that is the case, he'd do well to work behind the right side of the line, which should include rookie Bryan Bulaga at right tackle.

There's an old axiom in coaching that says the best way to attack a 3-4 defense on the ground is to run weakside in the B gap or at the 3 and 4. For an example of a hole-numbering/lettering system:

To get John Kuhn going, McCarthy would be wise to set his strong side to the left side of the formation this week and attack the Skins' run defense with Wells, Sitton (who grades out as the NFL's strongest run blocker at his position according to Pro Football Focus. Thanks to Chris Squire for pointing out the link) and Bulaga on the weak side working against nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu, left end Adam Carriker and outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who took over for Andre Carter on run downs last week. If Haslett is going to dare McCarthy to run, this is the way it should be done. An occasional stretch play out of a two tight end set would work well against the Redskins' aggressive front as well, where Bulaga should do a much better job of either kicking out playside or cutting off backside pursuit. Also look for Rodgers to bootleg out of that same look and action.

  • Look to Driver, Nelson and Jones early to open up Finely and Jennings

You can bet Aaron Rodgers and company will want to make up for lost time, as it were, on Sunday afternoon. And you can also be sure that the Redskins will make it priorities number one and two to try and take away Jermichael Finely and Greg Jennings. The two deep look I expect to see from the Redskins will certainly help against the deep stuff that Jennings is most often used for, but we saw against Chicago that the Packers can exploit the middle of a two deep zone with Finley, which is why I expect an extra dose of attention to the third year tight end.

Rodgers should open the game much as he did the second half of the Chicago game - controlled, short passes to the likes of James Jones and Jordy Nelson - and use Driver on those killer 3rd and short slants (rather than, say, running John Kuhn on a stretch play). If combined with a few running plays like the ones mentioned above, you'll see Haslett start to bring guys down. He is no Lovie Smith, who will stay in Cover 2 until the hearse comes to haul him away. Haslett is much more prone to trying to bring heat if his club is having trouble with an offense. One of the reasons he was able to stay in his two deep look last week was because Vick and Kolb couldn't make him pay for it. Rodgers can and will. Once Haslett starts sending guys, things will open up for Finley, but especially Jennings on the skinny post and deep 'In' routes he runs so well.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (8) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Rich's picture

i hope i see kuhn pounding the ball i wanna pray he plays like hillis... everytime he touches the ball he's making something happen

PkrNboro's picture

That sounds good!
Let's do it.

and beat an opponent, on the road, by 3 touchdowns!

PackerFanJon's picture

Great diagram for those of us who don't understand the different between A B & C gaps.

This weekend I would love to see MM spread the offense out 5 wide and let #12 do work! And a few touchdowns to Finley would certainly help my fantasy team.

glorious80s's picture

Three or four yards and a cloud of dust. Ball control offense by land or by air. Love it. Great analysis.

hoogus's picture

3yds and a cloud of dust gives you 3 and outs and punts.

fish's picture

Nice writeup Aaron, I predict Jennings bumbles at least two important passes and unless Driver recently taught him how to High Step while a defenders on his heals, he comes up short of a running TD.

davyjones's picture

I think another way to get Haslett to bring guys up is for Rodgers to run a couple of times out of the spread--as long as he's smart about it and gets out of bounds or gets down. Maybe a couple planned QB draws? I hope he isn't shy about tucking it away and taking off if he doesn't find his guy. He is an excellent runner who can augment the rest of the ground game nicely...just don't want him killed doing it.

Rich Beckman's picture

"(rather than, say, running John Kuhn on a stretch play)"

I'm beginning to get the feeling that play call is not among your favorites.

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