What to make of Packers’ early success on offense

What to make of Packers’ early success on offenseWhat to make of Packers’ early success on offense

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Through two weeks of football, the Green Bay Packers’ offense looks super.” data-reactid=”13″>Through two weeks of football, the Green Bay Packers’ offense looks super.

The Packers finished Week 2 ranked No. 1 in DVOA, points and yards. While it’s too early to say this will be standard operating procedure for the Packers, a few clues into “how” this team has produced so much offense so early may suggest this 2020 offensive unit will be a prolific one.

So what, exactly, is different? How are they scoring so many points? The answer, at least from this viewer’s eyes, is that the Packers have bought and matured into Matt LaFleur’s offensive system, especially No. 12.

Let’s start with the system. “Illusion of complexity” was the chorus LaFleur repeated last season when asked to explain his offensive system. Yet, 2019’s offense looked more like a Mike McCarthy-Aaron Rodgers-Matt LaFleur Frankenstein that, despite its efforts to appease all stakeholders, never came together into the coherent whole we’re seeing now. Last season’s Packers could operate smoothly in flashes, but they’d peetered out after a quarter or half. Rarely did they sustain production for an entire game.

This year, the Packers have grown into their once-awkward feet and out of their braces, developing into a fully matured offense capable of threatening defenses in multiple ways. We can now see the aesthetic quality of LaFleur’s illusion of complexity. The Packers operate through ambiguous personnel groupings and constant pre-snap motion. Any one player may be playing mutliple positions. Plays and concepts are built upon each other. The end result is an offense that challenges defenses all over the field: in the trenches, along the boundary, and deep down the field. Not only that, but the players –the same ones many had written off just a few months ago – are nailing down the essential details to make the offense hum to its desired tune.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Let’s start with the running game, which is featuring every bit of Aaron Jones’ athletic ability. The Packers relied heavily on inside and outsize zone running concepts last season. This year, the line is quicker and more fluid by way of reps and continunity, and the backs understand their landmarks. The newish wrinkle, however, is LaFleur mixing in some more split zone and gap schemes. Like the Niners of last year, the Packers are executing multiple run schemes, which has the direct benefit of keeping first- and second-level defenders playing honest. Gap looks different than zone, and hesitation on the front line makes life easier for the Packers up front. It also creates confusion for linebackers and box safeties. Add in the jet and orbit motion with Tyler Ervin and it’s no wonder why we saw the Lions’ defenders running into each other pre-snap.” data-reactid=”22″>Let’s start with the running game, which is featuring every bit of Aaron Jones’ athletic ability. The Packers relied heavily on inside and outsize zone running concepts last season. This year, the line is quicker and more fluid by way of reps and continunity, and the backs understand their landmarks. The newish wrinkle, however, is LaFleur mixing in some more split zone and gap schemes. Like the Niners of last year, the Packers are executing multiple run schemes, which has the direct benefit of keeping first- and second-level defenders playing honest. Gap looks different than zone, and hesitation on the front line makes life easier for the Packers up front. It also creates confusion for linebackers and box safeties. Add in the jet and orbit motion with Tyler Ervin and it’s no wonder why we saw the Lions’ defenders running into each other pre-snap.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The maturity also extends to the passing game, which begins with the changes Rodgers has made to his game. He talked during camp about re-watching some 2010 tape, suggesting there were a few things that he’s since tweaked in his current play. While his accuracy has seen an uptick in improvement, the biggest difference is his efficiency within the pocket. Rodgers is getting the ball out quickly while also showing a willingness to target the middle of the field, for example the “mesh” concept, a staple in the LaFleur system. In each of the last two weeks, the Packers have found tons of success hitting the shallow crosser. Aaron Jones, Allen Lazard, Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have all been beneficiaries of the concept. A lot of that success is a credit to Rodgers, but the skill positions are doing their part, too.” data-reactid=”23″>The maturity also extends to the passing game, which begins with the changes Rodgers has made to his game. He talked during camp about re-watching some 2010 tape, suggesting there were a few things that he’s since tweaked in his current play. While his accuracy has seen an uptick in improvement, the biggest difference is his efficiency within the pocket. Rodgers is getting the ball out quickly while also showing a willingness to target the middle of the field, for example the “mesh” concept, a staple in the LaFleur system. In each of the last two weeks, the Packers have found tons of success hitting the shallow crosser. Aaron Jones, Allen Lazard, Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have all been beneficiaries of the concept. A lot of that success is a credit to Rodgers, but the skill positions are doing their part, too.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="On a drive against Detroit, Rodgers hit Jones for a shallow cross, which he took upfield down the opposing sideline for a big gain. On the play, tight end Robert Tonyan, who was running and crossing Jones, fades his route a few yards deeper in order to free a runway for Jones. It would have been a completion either way, but Tonyan’s subtle route modifcation helped turn a solid completion into an explosive play.” data-reactid=”24″>On a drive against Detroit, Rodgers hit Jones for a shallow cross, which he took upfield down the opposing sideline for a big gain. On the play, tight end Robert Tonyan, who was running and crossing Jones, fades his route a few yards deeper in order to free a runway for Jones. It would have been a completion either way, but Tonyan’s subtle route modifcation helped turn a solid completion into an explosive play.

The Packers have also found some more production out of their much-maligned third-year receiver, Marquez Valdes-Scantling. While he hasn’t turned in perfect performances, Valdes-Scantling’s vertical ability has challenged defenses over the top. In Week 1, MVS caught a 45-yard touchdown pass, and on Sunday he grabbed another ball along the sideline for 41 yards. His 4.3 speed can’t be understated. With all the stress the Packers put on defenses horizontally via mesh, jet/orbit motion, and outside zone, MVS’ vertical speed add an entirely different dimension of difficult.

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