Packers Need to Fix Field Goal Blocking Scheme

The Green Bay Packers have won three straight games despite a rash of injuries to key players. But a three-game winning streak doesn’t mean there aren’t issues that the team still needs to work on if they want to keep winning.

One issue that continues to be a problem is field goal protection. In the last two games, the Packers have had clear problems with field goal blocking. If they don’t straighten it out, it could cost them a football game down the road.

Against San Francisco, the Packers fell behind 28-27 with 37 seconds left. The Packers were out of timeouts and had to put together a last-minute drive to have a chance for the winning field goal. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers found Davante Adams for a 25-yard catch which got the Packers to midfield. Then, two plays later, Rodgers found Adams again for a 17-yard gain to the 49ers 33. Rodgers spiked the ball and Mason Crosby came on to kick the potential winning 51-yard field goal.

The kick sailed through the uprights and the Packers had a dramatic, come-from-behind 30-28 road win. But what got overlooked by many fans was how close Crosby’s kick came to getting blocked.

Robert Tonyan is lined up on the right side of the Packers field goal protection formation. There are two 49ers lined up to the outside of Tonyan with Dontae Johnson on the far outside. At the snap of the ball, Johnson got a great jump and blew past Tonyan as he moves to block the player on the inside. That gave Johnson a clear path towards Crosby and the kick just missed his outstretched hands and sailed through the uprights for the winning points.

Fast forward one week to Lambeau Field just before the end of the half. The Packers have a 14-10 lead and were deep inside Pittsburgh territory facing a fourth-and-10 from the Steelers 13 with just 20 seconds left before the break. Again, the Packers lined up for what should be a chip-shot field goal from 31 yards out.

The same side of the Packers protection unit is the one that caused the problem. Tonyan was again out wide on the edge to the right side of the blocking formation. In this case, Tonyan whiffed trying to make a block and both Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick got past him and penetrated the line and blocked Crosby’s field goal. Fitzpatrick then scooped up the loose ball and ran it back 75 yards for a touchdown. For the moment, the score was 17-14 Steelers when everybody was expecting it to be 17-10 Packers.

Green Bay was fortunate in that the Steelers were called offsides on the play. Several replays were inconclusive but the blocked field goal was nullified and Crosby nailed a 26-yard field goal on the next play that officially gave the Packers a 17-10 lead going into the locker room at halftime.

After the game, head coach Matt LaFleur admitted the team has some work to do on field goal protection. He said the Steelers “Got a really good jump, jumping off the hand of our holder, so we have to do a better job of kind of varying our snap counts. But also, we can clean up some stuff in terms of just our alignments up front and how we go about that. We’ll have a plan for that this week.”

Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton and the rest of the Packers coaching staff need to fix this problem before it costs the Packers a win. It already nearly cost them two games. The margin between winning and losing in the NFL is often very small and a blocked field goal can certainly mean the difference between a win and a loss.

Special teams have been a problem for the Packers for several seasons now. The Pack has a solid punter now in Corey Bojorquez and a very reliable kicker in Crosby. But the field goal protection units and the punt and kick return coverage units continue to struggle. If special teams are roughly one-third of football, it remains a third the Packers need to work on if they hope to become a championship team in 2021.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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9 points

Comments (38)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
mnbadger's picture

October 07, 2021 at 12:20 pm

Amen Gil, wow. I really like the new punter, I wish I could pronounce and spell his name. Maybe if we ever saw a photo of his face it would be easier with a visual connection. GPG!

8 points
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GilMartin's picture

October 07, 2021 at 12:22 pm

Thanks for the comment, mnbadger. Yeah, Corey Bojorquez has been an upgrade for the Packers, no doubt.

3 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 08, 2021 at 03:09 am

Go to official Packers page and you can see faces of all Packers players under the TEAM link

1 points
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splitpea1's picture

October 07, 2021 at 12:23 pm

I don't understand the alignment at all, especially two weeks in a row. Why were no adjustments made? Is Drayton asleep at the switch? Come on!

10 points
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GilMartin's picture

October 07, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Something has to be done. LaFleur admitted it and they have to do something before it costs them a game. Thanks as always for the comment, splitpea1.

3 points
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splitpea1's picture

October 07, 2021 at 03:06 pm

Both instances were pretty similar. You had Tonyan extending his arms almost like a turnstile trying to contain two defenders, who naturally blew right by him on each side. The Steelers saw the film from the previous week and were just waiting for their chance; Haden and Fitzpatrick were there like lightning.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2021 at 10:07 pm

Those who miss blocks or whiff on easy tackles for the SPEC TEAMS can expect to be CUT. That should enhance the level of competition and attention to detail that is needed to survive in the weekly contests, much less the real world. Move them out and move on to better players.

-2 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 08, 2021 at 03:17 am

It was one man to many on the left side of the formation and one man to less on the right side. 49ers and Steelers overload right side of the formation.

You may have 3 solution to solve the problem:
1st - move the line to cover overload
2nd - use opponent overload to block on the opposite side and run for TD (that should be done by kick holder)
3rd - use opponent overload to throw the pass to opposite side for TD (that should be done by kicker)

What solution you'll prefer depends on how good is your kick holder in running or in passing game.

2nd & 3rd option may be risky, but it may also pay off well...

2 points
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PeteK's picture

October 08, 2021 at 08:31 am

Yes, Tonyan chips and goes on an outside pattern. Also, on the majority of the time always block the inside man with an outside arm push on the other, the outside should not get to the kicker. In the Pitt game it's the inside player who blocks the kick. Don't know why Tonyan is in there, maybe for a future trick play.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 07, 2021 at 12:23 pm

They also need to fix punt and kick coverage, in other words, most of the things an ST coordinator has a direct impact on.

I’d scrap elevating EQ. We can use Taylor with minimal if any deficit in efficacy. This week I’d elevate Kaufusi. As a former DE, I’d rather have him blocking than Tonyan.

8 points
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GilMartin's picture

October 07, 2021 at 12:31 pm

I wonder if they would go that route. I would think he's had a chance to block in camp and in practice. Something clearly has to be fixed here. Thanks for the comment, Coldworld.

3 points
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Badacidtrip's picture

October 07, 2021 at 12:35 pm

Are lousy special teams in the Packers' DNA??? With the notable exception of Crosby who has been stellar, year after year after year, our special teams have been at the bottom of the league and worse, prone to untimely mistakes. (Hello, Ty Montgomery...) It doesn't seem to matter who the ST coach is.

Late in tight contests, I cringe every time our special teams take the field!

6 points
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GilMartin's picture

October 07, 2021 at 12:37 pm

It's been an issue for far too long, Badacidtrip, no doubt. So far, Bojorquez has been a good addition although I am waiting to see what happens when the weather gets cold. Coverage teams and return teams always make me nervous. I hope they fix the problem with field goal protection ASAP. Thanks for the comment.

6 points
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dobber's picture

October 07, 2021 at 12:49 pm

Remember that Bojorquez kicked in Buffalo and was good there.

6 points
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Badacidtrip's picture

October 07, 2021 at 06:59 pm

Good point about Bojorquez, GilMartin. Already he's a huge improvement over Scott. I like the fact that not only is he consistent and have a strong leg, but his directional kicking is very good. Kicking in the cold is one thing and kicking at Lambeau is still yet another, because each stadium has its own unique wind patterns. However, the fact that he spent some time in Buffalo gives me hope. My gut tells me he's the real deal.

2 points
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ImaPayne's picture

October 07, 2021 at 01:05 pm

Tough road ahead. Cinnci aint no picknic and the Bears D is starting to show up now that they have hope a QB has arrived on scene. No gimmy there.
Then KC and Ariz in a row. Could be four loses in a row, especially now that our pass rush is gone and so is our pass d.

-4 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

October 07, 2021 at 01:32 pm

Losing Z is a hit on the pass rush, but Kenny, P. Smith and Gary doesn't exactly leave it decimated. And with the addition of Jaylon Smith, who knows how rush the passer from both inside and out, Barry has another tool to pressure the passer now.

But STs remain an Achilles heel. Packers make mistakes in STs, put it on tape...and make the same mistakes the next week? And Gutey gave Drayton a difference maker for his STs with Bojo...but if Drayton cannot coach how to cover his long, high hangers....he is wasting a talent and needs to be held accountable.

4 points
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Packers1985's picture

October 07, 2021 at 02:14 pm

Though i agree with some of what you have said but with Jaire out the secondary has to rely mostly on the disrupters up front.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2021 at 10:33 pm

Amos and Savage have to step up. Combination zones and Stokes with four games under his belt has already surpassed King's glory days. Let him Play. The question is whether Scott is healthy enough to contribute. Some act like 2nd year or rookie WRs are going to school this secondary? Shemar needs his reps as a dime or slot. Sullivan has had his chances. The guy still gets the deer-in -headlites, lead-foot disease. Cannot sustain mediocrity. Get Better.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 07, 2021 at 05:48 pm

Drayton is hardly the person responsible for Bojo or Crosby. They train themselves primarily and were good before they came into contact with him. Remove those two and what is left that is respectable?

When LaFleur pats a guy on the back with so little visible evidence of responsibility or competency, I wonder if it is not desperate encouragement from a deeply concerned HC or evidence that LaFleur has a low threshold of expectations that is part of the problem.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2021 at 10:14 pm

As much as Lowry is trashed , he is a pass rush guy from the five tech to six. He just is not a run stopping bull.
Barry knows he has to create a new scheme weekly and this should keep the D engaged. If they buy in , then guys like Heflin and Wilborn may have a chance to contribute. He's seen what the Gutedkunst rejects have to offer, now he's moving on--forward march.

-1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

October 07, 2021 at 04:20 pm

Did the Washington game get canceled?

3 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 08, 2021 at 03:22 am

Good notice. I wonder the same...

1 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 07, 2021 at 01:18 pm

I have a question.

Since LeFluer arrived, how many games have we lost where poor special teams play was a primary or contributing cause? I count only one.

How many games, including against SF, has good special teams play been a factor in a close win?

-1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 07, 2021 at 01:27 pm

A couple of weeks ago Drayton said (in effect) that if the snapped ball and kick were under a certain amount of time then that pressure from the side would have no effect. It made sense to me then. However, if the other team knows exactly when the ball will be snapped and the long snap is slowish then a missed block on the edge can make a big difference. I think that the team learned from those near blocks. Also it might be that the new holder or long snapper have been showing “tells”. No doubt that can easily be fixed. All that said, It does seem odd that we are worrying over plays that did not actually happen.
And a couple of weeks ago a cover guy (Summers I think) was illegally blocked or held on a long kickoff. It was not flagged. I have been one of the loudest voices on the failures on ST’s but I think that they have not been as bad as they have been in the past. I think that many of us have been frustrated for so long that complaints about ST’s have become a knee jerk reaction.

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2021 at 10:16 pm

Two came strong from the Pittsburgh left flank. They are not fools. Drayton sounds like one.

-2 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

October 07, 2021 at 01:34 pm

I was at the game and noticed the issue with Tonyan. He has to choose between two rushers and isn't getting either of them. The tackle on that side has to slide out some to clip the inside guy and let Tonyan get the outside rusher.

And on that block, the outside guy got a really good jump. Like he was offside. So I believe Lafleur said he was cueing on the snapper. Gotta clean this stuff up.

8 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2021 at 10:18 pm

Sounds like a basic slide concept as you stated.

-1 points
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ricky's picture

October 07, 2021 at 02:20 pm

On ST's, as well as any other coaching position, you get what you pay for. In this case, Drayton was elevated to the position, apparently without any competition or consideration of other possible candidates. As with defense, the Packers continue to hire guys who will work cheap, rather than guys who have shown real ability, but want to be paid accordingly.

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2021 at 10:24 pm

Call the Board of Director's @ the 19th tee over at the somnambulist's retreat and rectory, Oneida Country Club.
They love the playoffs--especially from the 60's.

-2 points
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canadapacker's picture

October 07, 2021 at 04:30 pm

If Tonyon cant block on offense - why do special teams think that he can block on special teams. He has missed dozens of blocks each week on offense. He needs to get his nose- dirty and Sternberger couldnt do it either - Hope Dafney gets back . Must be somebody else who can. Field goals is different than punting in that one doesnt need to rush downfield and tackle. Get somebody on the outside who knows how to block. The problem has also been that we have been allowing some guys getting up the middle because - they have been so worried about the guys outside that they have spread out the middle too much. Had just better get this fixed and fast because the other teams have been watching this and scheming against it.

4 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2021 at 10:25 pm

Three years of LaFleur's running game and zero fullbacks drafted. You make the call.

-2 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 08, 2021 at 07:49 am

Daffney was not drafted, but he was a full back in college.

1 points
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Since'61's picture

October 07, 2021 at 07:01 pm

Instead of using Tonyan why not use Mercedes Lewis? We know that he knows how to block. Another guy who I would think we could utilize is Deguara. I don't understand how we get 4 games into a season and we haven't figured these issues out yet.

The Packers have nearly 30 coaches on the staff, it might not be Drayton but someone among the 30 must know how to get the blocking right for an FG unit. If Drayton needs help maybe MLF should step in and get it fixed. MLF moved Drayton onto the role so he should coach up his guy to get it right. Thanks, Since '61

4 points
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packer132's picture

October 07, 2021 at 08:08 pm

Good points 61. Drayton says all the right things in the pressers but still no improvement. He talked a big game in training camp about better play from ST but we are still seeing mistakes every week. Matt needs to step in and make changes with personnel.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2021 at 10:38 pm

Use a Lineman.

2 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 08, 2021 at 03:38 am

In this blocked kick there was 2 Steelers who was running to block the kick. Outside guy was staying on the line of scrimmage and the guy inside him was half foot back. They started at the same time. Outside guy was, because of that in offside (he was over line before snap is made) and inside guy was the one who blocked the kick. Tonyan was fooled by outside guy and first try to block him, but then he realized that inside guy has the straight line to the kicker and tried to compensate, but he was to late.

It is very unlikely that the outside guy will reach the kicker at the right time, because his distance is much longer than the distance of the inside guy.

When you have 11 player on D and only 9 players on O blocking for the kick, you'll have for sure 2 free runner against kicker. Idea is that you have to make the running distance for them long enough, so that they can not reach the trajectory of the kicked ball.

By my opinion only mistake was made by Tonyan, but he reacted instinctively fooled by outside guy move. Offside call was correct.

2 points
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4thand1's picture

October 07, 2021 at 08:57 pm

ST's strategy, lets get them to jump offsides.

3 points
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