Tuesday, June 18, 2024

On motion impact, and the final plays

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Assists in protection facilitated last two completions from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams Mike Spofford

GREEN BAY – The Packers’ two first-half touchdowns in Sunday night’s win over the 49ers were a product of motion getting the defense moving and creating openings.

The last two completions to set up the game-winning field goal were all about prioritizing pass protection, and a route adjustment QB Aaron Rodgers talked about after the game.

Here’s the rundown:

Play No. 1: First-and-goal from the San Francisco 1, first quarter, 3:32 left

Result: 1-yard TD pass to WR Davante Adams

The 49ers have a plan for Adams’ ability to sprint to the other side of the formation at the goal line to get open for a score, only the Packers use it against them. Remember Adams’ short touchdown catch vs. the Rams in the playoffs last season, the one that got CB Jalen Ramsey all upset?

That’s probably what the 49ers are thinking they have to defend when Adams, on Rodgers’ signal, starts to go in motion behind WR Allen Lazard (13). S Deommodore Lenoir (38), lined up across from Lazard, gets a head start to beat Adams across to the other side, with CB Josh Norman simply shifting over from Adams to Lazard. Except Adams isn’t going all the way across. He stops, breaks back where he came from, Lenoir is caught in no man’s land, and Lazard’s box out of Norman makes this look easy.

Play No. 2: Second-and-goal from the San Francisco 3, second quarter, 1:05 left

Result: 3-yard TD run by RB Aaron Jones

This time, the 49ers aren’t trying to chase anybody, but the pre-snap movement is just as effective. The motion and subsequent flat route by WR Randall Cobb (18) draws Lenoir out of the box and creates a huge cutback lane for Jones, as Lazard rides DE Nick Bosa (97) inside and LT Yosh Nijman (73) gets just enough of LB Fred Warner (54) for another easy score.

Play No. 3A: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, fourth quarter, :37 left

Result: 25-yard completion to Adams

After the game, Rodgers talked about how he and the coaches made one route adjustment on this newly designed play to free up Adams over the middle. The film shows how that adjustment works. Both Lazard on the left and Cobb on the right are running go routes to occupy the safeties and pull them deep. But watch the tail end of Cobb’s route on the bottom portion of the screen. Instead of staying completely vertical, he angles toward the sideline just enough to get S Jimmie Ward (1) to turn his hips in pursuit. That body position prevents Ward from having any chance to break back into the shallower middle where Adams is cutting across. With a perfect throw just over a leaping Warner, it’s basically an uncontested catch.

Play No. 3B: Same as above, different angle

Now to show how the pass protection allowed this long-developing play to work. On the right side, Jones throws a hard chip block on DE Dee Ford (55) and runs him into DT Arik Armstead (91), effectively neutralizing both rushers. On the left side, TE Robert Tonyan (85) chips Bosa, considerably delaying his charge on Nijman, while LG Jon Runyan (76) survives a brawl with DT Samson Ebukam (56), letting go just in time to avoid a potential holding call.

Play No. 4: Third-and-10 from the 50, fourth quarter, :16 left

Result: 17-yard completion to Adams

The commitment to pass protection is key on the second completion to Adams as well. This time, Jones and Tonyan are on opposite sides from the previous play. Tonyan chips Ford on the right side, Jones pops Bosa on the left, and neither edge rusher even engages the offensive tackle. Runyan and C Josh Myers (71) double-team Ebukam, and Armstead weaves his way around RG Royce Newman (70), but it takes too long. The ball is gone, and the Packers are in field-goal range.

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