Xs and Os: Packers-Bears Film Study Review

Robert Olson breaks down four big plays from the Packers-Bears game.

Packers fans could not have asked for a better performance, especially on offense, in Chicago on Sunday. It is obvious that the run defense needs to improve, but that is a whole other post entirely. This article will break down four big plays from the game (three good plays for the Packers and one bad play).

The first play that will be broken down is the “bad” play, which was the Bears’ first touchdown. The Bears were on the Packers’ six yard line. Dom Capers decided to send a “zero” blitz (7-man pressure) out of the dime defense. In addition to the four defensive linemen rushing, A.J. Hawk, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Morgan Burnett blitzed. Everyone else (Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Davon House, and Micah Hyde) was playing man coverage with no help:

Brandon Marshall ran a simple curl route in the end zone on the touchdown catch (red circle). If House would have stayed on his feet, he could have batted the pass down:

Also, Clinton-Dix (red circle) was extremely close to sacking Jay Cutler on the play:

Even though this was a touchdown, it was a good call by Capers, and it would be nice to see him call more zero blitzes when the opposing offense is inside the ten yard line. Here is a diagram of this blitz from Capers’ 1997 defensive playbook:

The rest of this article will feature three great plays by the Packers. The first of those is the 43-yard reception by TE Richard Rodgers. You may recall reading about the “Curls/Seams” route concept out of “12 personnel” (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) in my Packers-Seahawks film study preview article. That was a route concept that McCarthy should have run against Seattle’s Cover 3. McCarthy did not run it against Seattle, but he did run this concept against Chicago’s Cover 3.

The Packers had “12 personnel” on the field with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as the outside receivers, and Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless as the tight ends. The Bears countered with a 4-3 “Under” defense, and they played Cover 3 (Richard Rodgers is circled in blue):

As stated before, this route concept is perfect versus Cover 3. Nelson and Cobb ran curl routes on the outside, which occupied both outside cornerbacks in their outside 1/3. In addition, Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless ran seam routes, which immediately put the Bears’ single-high, deep middle 1/3 safety in a bind:

The curl to flat defender did not “carry” Richard Rodgers’ (blue) seam route, and the deep middle 1/3 safety (red) was in a bind due to both seam routes, so Aaron Rodgers was able to roll out a little and easily connect with Richard Rodgers (blue) deep:

Next, we will look at Randall Cobb’s first touchdown catch. The Packers came out with a 3x1 formation with Cobb (blue) lined up in the #2 WR spot (counting from outside-in). The Bears countered with their nickel defense, and they played Cover 1 (man coverage underneath with a single-high safety back deep):

This was a prime example of “winning the one-on-one battles.” Cobb was matched up with CB Isaiah Frey. This was a mismatch. At the snap, Frey did not get his hands on Cobb, so Cobb had a free release, beat him immediately, and created separation downfield on the fade route (red). The single-high safety did not have much of a chance to get over the top:

The final play that we will examine is the Clay Matthews interception, which was caused by Tramon Williams. The Packers were using their 2-5 personnel (2 down linemen, 5 linebackers) with Matthews coming off the edge (5-man pressure). Tramon Williams (red) was playing “off” with inside leverage:

The Bears ran the “Slant-Flat” route concept. Matt Forte was in the backfield, and he ran the route to the flat. The receiver that Williams was covering ran a slant:

Since Williams was playing with inside leverage, he was already at an advantage in beating the receiver and cutting off the slant. However, in addition to his inside leverage, Williams’ route recognition was fantastic. Once he saw the receiver commit, he maintained his inside position and broke on the ball. Obviously, his deflection allowed Matthews to make the interception:

Williams is really good at recognizing and jumping short routes. This looked like the 2010/late 2013 Tramon Williams.

It should be pointed out that Williams made an eerily similar play in the week 17 game at Chicago in 2013. On the 2013 play, the Bears ran the same route concept (Slant-Flat) going the same direction on nearly the same place on the field. Williams was playing “off” with inside leverage again (red), and when Alshon Jeffery ran a slant, Williams reacted the same way and broke up the pass:

Thanks for reading, Packers fans. Follow me on Twitter at @RobertOlson92 for daily analysis on the Packers.

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Comments (8)

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 01, 2014 at 09:05 pm

That big play to Richard Rodgers -- I like those routes way better than all-go. It forces the the outside CBs to stay out of the way (if you intend on going deep). So,you'll only have to beat the single Safety with either a WR or TE. If Bostick,who's much more athletic than Rodgers,can do what Richard did against the Bears -- look out. I forgot who the slot WR was (probably Adams or Cobb),but all they have to do is win that match up vs a Safety. SHOULD be easy money.

EDIT: It was a 2-TE set. Even better. The opposing defense would be in base.

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ARodMoney's picture

October 02, 2014 at 01:04 am

That play is likely still four verts. If the outside receivers see the CBs gaining depth to cover 3 then they stop their route and run a hitch. Tries to make the defense always wrong.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 02, 2014 at 07:42 am

It just gives A. Rodgers more options (to me). If there's quick pressure - bam! Hitch to Jordy or opposite WR. If A. Rodgers has to scramble after a few seconds he could do so and find Nelson on an improv move or to a wide open TE like he did in the Bears game.

It's hard to improv when everyone's already down the field like in the Seattle game. Just that extra option or 2 makes a difference - I think.

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Klincker's picture

October 01, 2014 at 09:14 pm

Great stuff, Robert. It amazes me sometimes, the complexity of plays and playcalling. Thanks for breaking some of it down for us.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 02, 2014 at 01:32 am

I love these articles you write. One question though. Why does A. Rodgers have to scramble on this play? The play seems to be designed to go to one of the TEs. Quarless gets bumped by a LB about 8 yards down field but is open once he reaches a point about 10 to 12 yards down field. Richard Rodgers gets a clean release and once Nelson gets doubled, he too looks wide open once he reaches about 10 to 12 yards down field. So why isn't the pass thrown to one of the TEs in about 2 to 2.5 seconds? It was a 4-man rush. I see Bakhtiari's man break free, but did the protection break down that fast?

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C's picture

October 02, 2014 at 10:17 am

Great question. Rodgers has been feeling phantom pressure up the middle this year and choosing to roll into pressure instead of climbing the pocket. He's done so on plays with great outcomes, so few are discussing how much he's been exposing himself.

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White92's picture

October 02, 2014 at 10:52 am

Love these articles.

Thanks for your hard work

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dullgeek's picture

October 03, 2014 at 08:43 am

On the Richard Rodgers play, from the stills, it looks like all the LBs abandoned the seam routes to go attack Lacy for the dumpoff pass.

1) Is this what happened in the video?
2) Did the Packers induce the mistake or did they just take advantage of it?

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