Xs and Os: Vikings-Packers Film Study Review

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

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy by Benny Sieu—USA TODAY Sports.

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy by Benny Sieu—USA TODAY Sports.

After the big win against the Vikings, the Packers are now 2-1 in the division and 3-2 overall heading in to their week six matchup at Miami. Although the defense made some good plays against the Vikings, this article will analyze four big plays by the Packers offense.

The first two plays that we will analyze are Eddie Lacy’s 18 and 29-yard runs in the first quarter. The Packers ran both of these zone-blocked running plays out of “11 personnel” (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR), and the Vikings countered with their nickel defense.

On this 18-yard run by Lacy, the Vikings had both safeties back deep, so they only had six men in the box. On this play, we need to focus on the spectacular blocking of Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, and T.J. Lang. The Vikings’ nose tackle (red arrow) was lined up in a “0 shade” technique, which means he was on Linsley’s shoulder. Since this zone running play was going to the right, it was critical to cut down that nose tackle to make sure he didn’t affect the play:

At the snap, Linsley successfully slithered past the nose tackle and got up to the second level to seal the backside linebacker. That was an outstanding job by Linsley, who has played well as a rookie center. Shortly after, Sitton was able to cut down that nose tackle (#98) so that he couldn’t affect the play. Also, Lang’s ability to hold his block on the 3-technique defensive tackle (on Lang’s outside shoulder) allowed the A gap/running lane to be clear for Lacy to cut though. These three blocks, in addition to Lacy’s vision, made this run look beautiful. You couldn’t draw this play up any better:

On the very next play, Lacy’s 29-yard run, the Vikings played nickel again and brought a safety (green circle) down in to the box, so they had seven in the box (better versus the run). Here, we need to focus on the blocks by Linsley and Sitton again. Both defensive tackles for the Vikings were lined up on the outside shoulders of the guards (3-technique) and had the B gaps, and both linebackers were responsible for the A gaps (between the guards and center). The Packers ran this zone running play to the weak side (opposite of the tight end):

On paper, it looks like the Vikings have the advantage here with every gap accounted for. However, at the snap, Linsley was able to cut off the aggressive playside linebacker, and Sitton was able to hook the playside defensive tackle, who was lined up on his outside shoulder in the B gap. Left tackle David Bakhtiari also did a nice job of holding his block on the defensive end. Since this play was to the weak side, the Packers didn’t even block the safety (extra man in the box). This is some of the best blocking that you will ever see. There was a gaping hole for Lacy to run through:

The third play that we will look at is Randall Cobb’s touchdown catch. On this play, Cobb was lined up in the slot and was covered by Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (red). At the snap, Munnerlyn was in outside leverage when covering Cobb:

In theory, this was a perfect scenario for Munnerlyn, because Cobb was running a corner route. All Munnerlyn had to do was maintain outside leverage, and he should’ve been in perfect position to defend Cobb. Well, it wasn’t that easy. This was excellent route-running by Cobb. Cobb made a quick little move at the top of the route, which allowed him to get just enough separation so that Aaron Rodgers could find him in the back corner of the end zone:

The fourth and final play that will be analyzed is Jordy Nelson’s 66-yard touchdown reception. On this play, the Packers had “12 personnel” (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) on the field. Nelson was lined up at the top of the screen (red). Andrew Quarless shifted to the backfield as a fullback. We have seen this play called several times in the past by Mike McCarthy. This play is a bootleg that involves Rodgers faking the handoff to the RB (James Starks here) to the left and rolling to his right with a fullback or TE (Quarless here) going opposite of the flow to get out in front to pass protect for Rodgers:

The Vikings were playing Cover 2 to Nelson’s side. The cornerback’s job was to jam Nelson and then sink/defend the flat, and the safety (red) to Nelson’s side had the deep half of the field:

On his route, Nelson acted like he was running a corner route, but then he made a move to break it back to the post. This route is perfect versus Cover 2. It’s designed to take advantage of the safety if he doesn’t stay square in his backpedal, and that’s exactly what happened. When Nelson acted like he was running a corner route, he forced the safety (green) to flip his hips to the outside. Once the safety flipped his hips, Nelson broke it back to the post and created immediate separation down the field. Rodgers was able to make a relatively easy throw for the touchdown:

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

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Comments (4)

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HankScorpio's picture

October 08, 2014 at 09:00 am

Those pictures show HUGE holes on Lacy's two runs. On those plays, it didn't matter who was carrying the ball. The play was going to gain nice yards.

I don't recall the "finish" of those two particular plays so Lacy might have tacked on some extra yardage. He is certainly physical enough to take it tough on DBs once he's in the secondary. But the blocking is responsible for the biggest chunk of the yards.

The play action to Nelson for the 66 yard TD was set up by the dominance Lacy and the run game were showing. On twitter, Tom Crabtree called a big play action pass to Nelson about 5 minutes before it happened. Crabtree is no savant. It was an easy call. When the run game is clicking like that, it's unfair on defenses to have Rodgers back there to take advantage on them looking to stop Lacy. Which is just the way I like it as a Packer fan.

I would have like to seen some defensive plays broken down. They were outstanding. Minny was playing with their JV offense but the Packer defense didn't let them cross midfield until the 2nd half when the game was no longer in any doubt. And they chipped in 3 TOs, to boot. Just a great effort by the defense, even if you grade it on a curve based on the competition.

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dullgeek's picture

October 08, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Weren't those the first two big runs where Lacy gained 18 & 29 respectively?

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MarkinMadison's picture

October 08, 2014 at 09:39 am

Nice breakdown Robert!

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Otto's picture

October 08, 2014 at 09:57 pm

Rodgers talked about what a good job Linsley did blocking on the 66 yrd pass to Jordy. He was able to ride the NT out without getting called for holding. If you watch the play, watch Linsley put his hands out just as the NT goes down. Nice work, young man.

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