Cory's Corner: Keep Feeding Dynamic Weapons

The Allen Lazard "core muscle injury" is forcing people into a knee-jerk panic. 

First of all, Lazard is one of the toughest guys on that team for not only sustaining an injury like that, but also playing through it. And that's exactly what he did to the tune of career highs in receptions (6) and receiving yards (146) as the Packers remained unbeaten by winning in New Orleans. 

But now that Lazard has had surgery and will be lost for the forseeable future, many are asking when the Packers will make a trade for a wide receiver. That is something this team doesn't need to do. If the Packers brass really thought they were that thin at wideout, don't you think they would've grabbed one of the 37 drafted receivers?

Besides, there's no way this team is going to trade for Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown and what's the point of trading for Randall Cobb, Jamison Crowder or Golden Tate? I really like Allen Robinson, but there's no way that the Bears trade their top receiver to the Packers. 

The Packers may not have Davante Adams on Monday night but it's not like they are facing the stingy Chiefs defense. The Falcons are 31st in the league by giving up over 350 passing yards a game and they aren't very good at generating pressure by only notching six sacks. 

The answer has been there all along. Why has Aaron Rodgers been able to carve up secondaries so easily? It's because he is getting rid of the ball quicker and he is getting a clean pocket to operate. 

If you let Rodgers sit comfortably in the pocket, he could be throwing to me and my vertically-challenged painting neighbor and he would still be successful.

What helps is that Matt LaFleur is keeping defenses honest. The play-action bootleg is such a tough play to defend because the Packers are such a threat to run. Unlike Mike McCarthy, who has the Cowboys passing it 65 percent of the time, LaFleur is only passing it 54 percent of the time. 

But LaFleur still has two aces in the hole. He's got Aaron Jones and Tyler Ervin to use in just about any fashion. That could be anyting from running off tackle to splitting out wide. Those two are the most dynamic players on the team and now their usage is about to get a huge bump. Jones is averaging 20 touches a game, but Ervin is only averaing 2.6 touches a game. Maybe he wanted to wait to increase the workload of his fifth-year dynamo, but the time is now. 

Today's NFL is fluid and it's dynamic. Jones and Ervin are the epitome of what the NFL is nowadays. 

Losing the No. 2 wide receiver is something that a lot of NFL teams cannot bounce back from.

Now we will just get a taste of LaFleur's creativity — which is something that opposing defenses definitely don't want to see. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (46)

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

October 03, 2020 at 07:33 am

I agree Cory, although Tonyan/Sternberger/Shepherd will probably get more touches, I think Ervin is the guy who will see the biggest uptick. I think the offense will be fine IF the receivers make the catches (MVS I'm looking at you).

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fastmoving's picture

October 03, 2020 at 10:21 am

Offence will be fine and one of the reasons are the WRs. MVS had already good games this year and he made more than up for some drops. Pretty good group and when someone is out another one gets a chance, no problem at all.....

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rstain99's picture

October 03, 2020 at 07:56 am

I rewatched some of highlights NO game, Tonyan was really a factor and Sternberger makes 2, they will miss not having no.1 and no 2 for any extended time but I think TE position is certainly coming on. Finally ! Chumura and Jackson maybe never be but lets hear it for giving them time. Big Dog Mercades yeah! Now just an average defense somewhere around 18 and they can go deep. MLB needs to be addressed to help run defense

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rstain99's picture

October 03, 2020 at 07:56 am

I rewatched some of highlights NO game, Tonyan was really a factor and Sternberger makes 2, they will miss not having no.1 and no 2 for any extended time but I think TE position is certainly coming on. Finally ! Chumura and Jackson maybe never be but lets hear it for giving them time. Big Dog Mercades yeah! Now just an average defense somewhere around 18 and they can go deep. MLB needs to be addressed to help run defense

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rstain99's picture

October 03, 2020 at 07:56 am

I rewatched some of highlights NO game, Tonyan was really a factor and Sternberger makes 2, they will miss not having no.1 and no 2 for any extended time but I think TE position is certainly coming on. Finally ! Chumura and Jackson maybe never be but lets hear it for giving them time. Big Dog Mercades yeah! Now just an average defense somewhere around 18 and they can go deep. MLB needs to be addressed to help run defense

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stockholder's picture

October 03, 2020 at 08:11 am

I don't see Rodgers changing a thing. If Adams can go, he'll go. This game: it's MVS and Taylor deep. Jones and the TE's; will get the third down calls again. And I'll take Williams over Irvin this game. Irvins #1 job is to be a returner. He must show that ability first.

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OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

October 03, 2020 at 11:18 am

Although I agree with you, we have to remember Ervin was practicing with the WRs a lot during camp. Could easily see him playing in the slot a dozen or so times. Jet sweeps, crossing routes, decoy, etc...but all of the TEs will play a lot Monday, that's for sure

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NickPerry's picture

October 05, 2020 at 05:04 am

I'm with you SH...I think Williams will be HUGE in this game.

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Coldworld's picture

October 03, 2020 at 08:25 am

It’s not good news by any stretch of the imagination, but this is football and these things happen. A good team has to have depth it believes in. Fans always want proven, but the sad fact is, in season gold is a rare find indeed. In addition, cap issues loom over this year. GMs aren’t paid (usually) to destroy the future for the now: it’s a balance. There really are not good receivers just sitting and even more so ones who could seamlessly cone in and really mesh immediately.

This offense did not go through Lazard, it merely gave him an opportunity to show what he can do given appropriate coverage. Lazard did well. Last week he clearly benefited from MVS having scared the Saints into scheming him out of the game, despite the absence of Adams. Lazard took those opportunities superbly but he did not create them. Rodgers and the alternative threats did.

Losing Lazard will likely affect some details of how the offensive plan. However, even without Adams, we still have the ability to do multiple things every snap.

At some point people have to realize that there is a reason why we kept certain receivers on the PS or roster. Is Taylor there purely because he can play gunner? I doubt it. Yes, all I know is that he is fast like MVS, but I’m not a coach who works with him every day.

Shepherd is one who a lot maybe wrong about. A little while ago a lot of us were wrong about a big slow quasi TE we picked up who did nothing for our overall speed or athleticism. He just ran good routes, blocked and caught the ball almost every time it was thrown to him in practice and then in games. I was one who did not see it.

Now that receiver is out. Shepherd is much smaller; totally different type of player, but he shares a couple of things with Lazard. He catches everything thrown his way, even ones he shouldn’t. He gets open when others doesn’t and, by all accounts, works his butt off inside and outside of practice.

A few years ago I was disagreeing here with many who wanted another receiver canned as garbage often dropping more balls than he caught and being blamed as the prime reason we lost to the Bears. His name was Adams and the vitriol was ferocious and convinced in its certainty that he should be gone.

Shepherd was someone I saw in camp last year. He did some things on both occasions that left me wondering how he could make his body do that and make a play. Not often I see that on multiple occasions in a practice or game from a no name. Then in a game he muffs a pass, has it bounce to an opponent and the screams of caterwauling linger till today.

Shepherd has something special athletically, particularly in a short area. I don’t know if he can be a real nfl regular, but watching him in practice it’s clear why the tryout player stuck against all the odds and in face of not fitting the Packers prototype for a receiver.

Practice is not the same as a game. That said, if he does things I saw in practice, he will catch balls against anyone. That’s what it takes to be a receiver. If you have ever played team sports you will know that even the greatest have plays where the body just doesn’t do what it normally does and where the mind caused physical discombobulation.

I don’t know how many of you have felt the mind racing as a ball swirls down for a few seconds or the hairs on your neck tell you half a ton of man flesh is racing at you from your blind side. Mistakes happen. Add in the fact that the ball wasn’t great and unfortunately caromed to an opponent and it looks worse. The fact that Shepherd not only survived with the team but came back to excel in camp is more impressive still in a world where players are cut all the time given the highlight reel nature of Shepherd’s only drop as a receiver.

Maybe, just maybe Rodgers has a reason to say Shepherd has earned his trust. Maybe he isn’t ever going to be a number 2 (probable), but just maybe the sky isn’t falling, Gute and LaFleur aren’t idiots and Rodgers isn’t full of hot air. Here’s hoping Shepherd can contribute positively and that we feel even half as good about keeping him around in Hindsight as we do about the receiver who cost us a loss to the Bears.

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murf7777's picture

October 03, 2020 at 10:12 am

Good thoughts CW....might shepherd be the X-factor in this game? I hope so and agree that with the coaches and ARod on his side means he will get opportunity to showcase his abilities in this game. Atlanta’s DB’s are young and banged up, if we get any kind of a run game going we will put up 40+ points. Our “pass catchers” are going to have a big game with some explosive plays. I’m really hoping MVS has a Hugh game so he can continue to build confidence. If we can get a good lead it would be a great game to get Dillon some reps.

This should be a good matchup for the Pack.....Score 42 - 24, possibly 31 if we give them one on prevent D.

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Demon's picture

October 03, 2020 at 01:37 pm

Remember coldworld Less is more.

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Coldworld's picture

October 03, 2020 at 02:49 pm

More or less

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Bure9620's picture

October 03, 2020 at 08:37 am

I noticed Shepperd had more snaps than Malik Taylor which is interesting considering Taylor made the original 53, one of those guys needs to step up....

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dobber's picture

October 03, 2020 at 08:59 am

My guess is that was based on Taylor not playing the slot.

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mnbadger's picture

October 03, 2020 at 08:38 am

Time for a large dose of running game. Dillon needs 10 to 15 touches while teaming with AJones in the same backfield. AJones catching passes and AJDillon pounding the rock. Keep them guessing, MVS over the top, just for fun. MLF is having the time of his life. AR = GOAT.
GPG

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Archie's picture

October 03, 2020 at 10:08 am

MLF is so hot he's on fire. I would not presume to tell him how to change things. It seems he is more capable of doing that week-to-week than any of us here. I know we are all anxious to see Dillon have a big week but trust MLF to pick the time. Were Dillon to get Rodgers hurt or even fumble on a short yardage carry that leads to a defeat, it could significantly affect his career development, not to mention the Pack's W-L record this season.

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murf7777's picture

October 03, 2020 at 10:16 am

I’d like to see Dillon get reps but not unless we have a good lead. Keep in mind, Williams is an excellent blitz blocker and is running the ball very well. He’s also very good pass catcher, which gives their D more to think about. Why the hurry? Dillon’s time will come.

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Coldworld's picture

October 03, 2020 at 11:38 am

Exception might be short yardage plays.

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murf7777's picture

October 03, 2020 at 12:31 pm

CW, with two very capable RB’s at scoring TD’s I’m not in favor of using Dillon in key situations until proven himself. Just my thoughts. Here’s an interesting note: seems like everyone thinks Seattle should’ve used Beast mode on the goal line INT by NE in the super bowl, but stats state otherwise. Most people don’t realize, in that year and maybe other years, he was a below average RB in short yardage situations.

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Coldworld's picture

October 03, 2020 at 02:53 pm

If it’s clear that the beast is in to beast, I agree. If it’s an option with him the big back and Ervin or Jones or TEs etc, I think it helps make both threats more potent.

I do concede your overall concern though. Just don’t want Jones plowing into a line 5 times a game either.

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CheesyTex's picture

October 03, 2020 at 03:27 pm

Right on. Short yardage plays would allow Dillon to get his feet wet, and also take some of the pounding off Jones and Williams. Curious as to why he has so few touches.

Hope the plan is to bring him along slowly (no Training Camp, etc.), and develop a 3 headed RB monster for the cold weather.

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Oppy's picture

October 04, 2020 at 07:50 am

Dillon has so few touches because he's a rookie and behind Aaron Jones (Who is going to get his snaps), Williams, and Ervin.

I was actually surprised we got to see Dillion at all in the first few weeks.

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Guam's picture

October 03, 2020 at 09:01 am

This will be an interesting test of talent versus scheme. I recall WRs getting injured during McCarthy's tenure and the offense dropping off when less talented replacements couldn't get separation in their one-on-one battles. LaFleur seems to be better at scheming receivers open and this will be a stern test of that philosophy if Adams can't go. If the Packer offense continues to roll, it will be a pretty strong indictment of McCarthy's offense.

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Coldworld's picture

October 03, 2020 at 09:45 am

MM overtly came to believe that a receiver must beat his man not the scheme. The scheme was sacrosanct. If someone went down, it barely changed. That was fine when we had perhaps the best receiver corps overall in the league in terms of depth plus Aaron Rodgers. At other times it made decent receivers play to their weaknesses and look awful, allowing the D to focus on remaining weapons.

LaFleur’s approach is diametrically opposite. Scheme players open, confuse and help even those who don’t need it (Adams, Jones) on the principle that improves the odds of success even for them. Apart from appearing logically more sound, this should help when we have injuries. If Adams doesn’t play, teams will probably focus on MVS and the run. The scheme will open the TEs and whomever is on at the other receiver positions. Up to them to take it from there.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 03, 2020 at 10:09 am

Agree Guam. MM was very stubborn to run the same offense and dare defenses to stop him....and when the WR talent slid and MM continued to pass 70% of the time with predictable plays defenses DID stop him.

ML seems intent to run many different plays out of Similar formations and scheme to his player strengths...and runs a close to 50/50 Run Pass.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 03, 2020 at 09:57 am

MLs use of 12 personnel sets has steadily increased and with Deguara likely returning it could take a big jump this week.

But agree Cory, no need to panic. Big opportunity for MVS and Sheppard and Ervin and Sternberger.

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fansince1959's picture

October 03, 2020 at 11:18 am

Is there a Physical Therapist in the audience?----i'm trying to figure out why the hamstring issues like Adams and Mathews, jones etc---isn't there some type of exercises to avoid the issue?-----also, i agreed with those who thought adams was not good and james jones used to drop a lot of passes but eventually fixed it----even if Adams can go monday, would it be advisable to wait 2 more weeks?----and we won 4 games last year w/o him so maybe we do not need to panic

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Coldworld's picture

October 03, 2020 at 11:51 am

One can decrease the chances of hamstring injuries by pregame and sideline activities, coupled with training regimens, but pro sports teams do all of that as a matter of course.

Some people are more prone: Matthews seems to have had that proclivity, but in sports where the body is required to handle sudden stress and bear pressure and tension beyond the norm due to contact, third party weight, leverage and contortion there is no way to prevent them, just minimize the chances and recovery time.

The thing is, until fully healed, there is a greatly heightened risk of a (further) tear and additional severity. Thus patience is required. Additionally, mobility (at the levels of pro athletes) is inhibited. For a player like Adams, who relies on sudden changes in impetus and direction, this would be exacerbated.

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Oppy's picture

October 04, 2020 at 07:51 am

It's 22 world class football players running, cutting, jumping, and hitting at 100% full go.

It's football. There are going to be injuries.

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mbpacker's picture

October 03, 2020 at 11:35 am

Yeah, it would be nice to have all our receivers, but I am much more concerned about our defense.

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Since'61's picture

October 03, 2020 at 11:37 am

Totally agree. Thanks, Since ‘61

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mbpacker's picture

October 04, 2020 at 04:16 pm

Your welcome, circa early 60's!

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Since'61's picture

October 03, 2020 at 11:36 am

If Adams can’t go on MNF, I expect the Packers to lean heavily on Jones. Possibly use Jones as a decoy and give more touches to Ervin. I would also expect more 2 TE sets including Lewis and Deguara for blocking while rotating Tonynan and Sternberger in as well.
If Adams plays even as a decoy that changes everything and opens up the offense for our other skill players.

Our defense will need to step up in this game to contain Julio Jones and Ridley. We should not enable this game to become a shootout.

If we’re playing with a lead in the 2nd half I hope to see some ball control, clock chewing with Dillon and Williams in a ground and pound mode. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ‘61

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nostradanus's picture

October 03, 2020 at 12:11 pm

Next man up. The Packers still have plenty of weapons and they have MLF who has proved to be able to make Lemon-aid when handed lemons.
*I have a feeling Adams will be back, good as new
*Shepard will step up, the kid has some talent
*The three headed Tight End monster will be a major factor and
*The Packers have three dynamic running backs who can catch and run equally as well and
*The X factor Tyler "Swervin" Ervin who will log a bunch of playing time as a WR/RB/KR and decoy

They be good

Packers 35 Falcons 21 (Matty Ice 2 picks)

Go Pack!

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dobber's picture

October 03, 2020 at 12:38 pm

I think Adams and Clark both go on Monday night. Adams playing will free up MVS on the other side...the Saints showed that MVS can be neutralized man-up if you've got a decent CB who can run with him. It's going to be important to be able to stretch the field against Atlanta, who is most vulnerable in the middle and deep zones (especially with their better CBs hobbled and their best safety Keanu Neal looking doubtful to play). Deion jones covers a lot of ground underneath. Atlanta has half their starting DL hobbled, too, so this is sizing up to be an ARod game...if he has the horses.

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Coldworld's picture

October 03, 2020 at 02:55 pm

I hope Deguara goes too. I think that he can contribute in passing game perhaps but definitely as a blocker.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 03, 2020 at 05:15 pm

NOLA rotated coverage to MVS side all game. At one point early they were playing a three man box. Lazard had single for most of game. The weak side was open all game long, and Rodgers made them pay for it. My guess is the lack of video and personal coverage ability of NOLA secondary forced them into the soft matchup/quarters.(Yes I know NOLA came out in a 2 with 1 high. But that was a pre snap before shift) Right now I don't think any coverage makes a different against Rodgers. He's throwing into windows that no sane QB would dare, along with executing the scheme at a high level that we fans haven't seen in years. Right at this moment Rodgers is the best quarterback league. How any DC stops this offense is beyond me.

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Tedlyflyfisher's picture

October 03, 2020 at 12:44 pm

I want to see lots of Swervin’ Ervin! Great story about him here: https://packerstalk.com/2020/10/03/packers-rb-tyler-ervin-has-been-impre...

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greengold's picture

October 03, 2020 at 02:44 pm

BRA-freakin'-VO, Corey!!!!

You bring up some really great points throughout this piece. The Packers are highly unlikely trade partners this year for any of the marquee names that have been bashed about endlessly. Reason being, we have plenty of marquee names at other positions we are hoping to retain in 2021 and beyond. Absorbing 1 contract is going to be difficult, and WR seems to be loaded with young but proven talents from their respective histories.

Should the Packers make a trade for a WR, that would mean what was considered a well thought out plan by Gutekunst & Co, proven personnel people who are highly regarded, went sour -OR- there are other catastrophic injuries to that group. God forbid.

Loosing Lazard sucks. That dude was CA$H MONEY. What an awesome find. The Packers have more... I firmly believe this to be true. Plus, it is entirely possible Lazard has a successful surgery and is able to heal in time to contribute towards season's end and a playoff run. Stay positive on WR. There is a lot left to like there.

Love that Corey noted here LaFleur is passing just 54% of the time. Especially compared to what MM is doing in DAL, same old same old stuff we do not miss. LaFleur has brought this team dynamic concepts to make Aaron Rodgers and the entire team more successful. My biggest takeaway for just about every season under MM was that we needed a more balanced attack to take pressure off of Rodgers, pummel opposing front 7s with run blocking, and extend drives to keep our defense fresh. The versatility, and the strong RB &TE groups are allowing for LaFleur to unleash his full scheme. He wasn't able to install all of that Year 1.

Just think, this Packers team is not suffering like it used to in short yardage. It is looking like this really could be a very special year.

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to seeing a Packers game where we just smash-mouth the opposing team with a heavy run attack. Knowing LaFleur, and having seen that employed against him by his mentor v. SF last year, I would bet we will get a look at one or more of those types of gameplans this season.

One other note: on Darrius Shepherd. He really is about as close as you can get to a Randall Cobb. He's very sure, pure slot, great hands, and super tough. While he isn't quite as fast in the 40 as Cobb, his burst speed is exceptional. I bet he fares well with this opportunity. I'm also stoked to see what Taylor brings to the table. Look back to last year for Tramon Williams' comments on Shep. You'll dig it.

A ton of dynamic stuff is in store for us fans with this Packers team. I'm confident it all will come together. Even more.

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Stroh's picture

October 03, 2020 at 03:49 pm

Defenses have been getting a huge dose of Lafleur's creativity all season. His offensive scheme is what got Lazard open on both deep shots. If it can get Lazard wide open, it can pretty much get any WR on the roster or PS open. Same is true for the TE scores.

LaFleur gets his offense lined up, uses motion to change a defenders primary responsibility and you see Lazard running downfield wide open.

He also uses crossers to prevent CB from being able to cover WR across the field (which is difficult by its own right anyway). Thd CB get caught up in the bunch formations and the pick action of crossers in opposite directions at similar depths.

The scheme is doing the work of getting receivers open, whether its WR, TE or RB as targets.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 03, 2020 at 05:30 pm

All very true. The real test will come in the latter half of the season, when there is enough video to expose LaFleur's tendencies. How he adjust his scheme to counter will tell the tale for this season. (This is if we make it through the virus/flu season. As KC has shown, a challenge at that...)

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 03, 2020 at 07:20 pm

If they close on them, then go over the top. Pick your poison.

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Coldworld's picture

October 04, 2020 at 08:14 am

One thing I saw during the week were some examples of just how close LaFleur has different call formations. Multiple options run from a virtually identical alignment. Much harder to read for defenders I would think.

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Stroh's picture

October 04, 2020 at 04:36 pm

That is true. Especially with 2 TE sets, which i would guess, is the primary package or grouping. You can run or pass out of the same formation. And with 2 TEs you can go run heavy or 4 wide. It really stresses the defense and forces them to stay in base personnel and then LaFleur can attack the weak link, whether its a run or pass.

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Bure9620's picture

October 03, 2020 at 08:05 pm

This could be a Sternberger breakout game......I look for the Packers to really feed the TEs

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Coldworld's picture

October 04, 2020 at 08:15 am

If Lewis doesn’t go I expect him to be very busy.

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