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Rams-Packers strategy: Green Bay’s offense vs LA’s defense

“Staley’s ‘robber’ coverages and Tite fronts, are set up perfectly to defend LaFleur’s offense”

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The matchup between the Packers offense and the Rams defense — also referred to as Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams vs Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey — will take much of the focus between now and Saturday’s divisional round game in Green Bay. What sort of offense do the Packers run and what can we expect to see this weekend from them against the LA defense?

I came across this interesting breakdown of the Packers offense from the subreddit /r/footballstrategy.

From /u/Grizzfan:

These teams actually run almost identical offenses. Same coaching tree, same system.

My perspective is from Green Bay though. Their base personnel are 12 and 11 personnel; they’ll live here 80-90% of the time. Green Bay has never gone 10 personnel all year. There has always been at least one TE on the field. They also do a lot of 21-fast personnel, which is two tailbacks and a TE, instead of a regular tailback, fullback, TE.

According to SharpFootballStats, the Packers actually ran three plays this season out of 10 personnel, and that wasn’t unusual. Only the Cardinals and Bills went “10” more than 6% of the time and most teams barely ran it. Green Bay ran 11 54% of the time and 12 23% of the time, for a total of 77% in either 11 or 12 personnel. The Packers had a 52% success rate when throwing out of 11 and a 59% success rate when running out of 11. They have a 67% success rate when passing out of 12, but on far fewer attempts.

Green Bay tight end Robert Tonyan emerged from obscurity this season to catch 52 of 59 targets for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. Tonyan is the 15th player since at least 1992 to catch at least 11 touchdowns on fewer than 100 targets. He might be more like Julius Thomas and Visanthe Shiancoe than he is Rob Gronkowski, but Tonyan has scored in six of the last seven games.

The Rams allowed 17 passing touchdowns this season, with seven of those going to tight ends.

Grizz continues.... (I did not correct any spelling errors)

There entire run game is pretty much just mid zone, wide zone, and duo, with some inside zone and counter wrinkled in. Love their play actions and boot passes. Lots of misdirection and jet series usage as well. Formations have lots of bunch and irregular twins combination, along with a decent amount of empty. In empty, your RB or TE is usually out really wide to at least one side. A lot of formations are compact as well, where everyone is between the numbers. This is so they can cross/mesh more routes to beat man coverage, and to get their receivers involved in the running game as crack-blockers on LB’s and safeties. EDIT: A Packers’-specific thing I noticed this year: On 3rd and short, they pretty much always pass. Maybe once a game (if at all) they won’t.

On third-and-Short, Green Bay actually passes 66% of the time and runs 34% of the time. So it does heavily favor the pass for the Packers in these situations, though not quite “pretty much always.” The Packers have a 55% success rate on third-and-Short passes with Davante Adams as the favorite target.

Favorite pass concepts for Green Bay include Mesh (lots of it), Flood (to trips, or from coming across the field), Double-dig, “Burner” and “Cheetah” (Shanahan terminology), Levels, Slot fade, Stick, and something I call “Fin,” which is when the outside receiver runs a square in while all the inside receivers run slants. They run this a lot out of empty and 10 personnel looks.

They want to use formations, motions, boots, and wide zone action to get defenses going east/west, opening up vertical lanes.

More tendencies:

  • The Packers like to run on first-and-10 54% of the time.
  • They like to run on second-and-medium 54% of the time.
  • They like to pass on third-and-medium 85% of the time.
  • Green Bay ran “21” personnel 15% of the time and they had a 51% success rate on those plays. They have a 60% success rate out of 12.

What do we know about the LA Rams defense? Well, there are the things that we know here at Turf Show Times, but it’s good to get an outside perspective too. We can assume that the user WindyCity54 probably knows Staley from his days with the Bears and he’s got some things to say about that and how the Rams are playing under Staley in 2020:

From /u/WindyCity54:

Brandon Staley comes from Vic Fangio’s staff and runs a very similar defensive scheme. Both run 3-4 base, 2-high shell defenses. They love to run split-field coverages (1/4, 1/4, 1/2) or rotate post-snap into C1/C3.

Staley, this season, also began to put a spin on things by incorporating the “Tite” front (4i’s and a 0/1-tech) a lot more which hasn’t been done that much at the NFL level (most still love some variation of Over/Under) and has usually been reserved for the college level.

Now, what makes this so good is that both of these things, Staley’s ‘robber’ coverages and Tite fronts, are set up perfectly to defend LaFleur’s offense. The ‘robber’ coverages allow them to cut GB’s crossing routes off play-action. Meanwhile, the ‘Tite’ front discourages GB’s zone runs because you’re limiting the amount of double teams, creating 1-on-1’s for your DL, and allowing your LB’s to run free.

I believe the Rams, in theory, should have success on early downs. The real game will come on 3rd downs.

The Rams ranked third in the NFL in third down defense this season. The Packers ranked second in third down offense. How long will those third downs be? What will Rodgers come up with whether it is third-and-Long or third-and-Short? How will Staley combat those tendencies?

Few know LaFluer better than McVay. Few know McVay as well as LaFluer.

Few watching won’t be able to take their eyes off of Rodgers vs Donald.