Cory's Corner: Packers Turned Back The Clock

Offensive line bulldozed their way to a hard-earned victory. 

How many hurdles do the Packers have to leap over?

On a short week, the Packers went to the desert and beat the only remaining unbeaten team left in the league and they did it the old fashioned way — Packers 24, Cardinals 21. 

Green Bay was without receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard and defensive coordinator Joe Barry due to COVID-19 protocol. That was in addition to being without starting receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, starting tackle David Bakhtiari, starting center Josh Myers and starting cornerback Jaire Alexander.

So with all of those receivers not available, there was only one thing left to do: turn back the clock. In a pass-happy era, the Packers looked like a team from the 1960s. They relied on running between the tackles — power football. 

You remember it right? Many high schools, colleges and even the Browns still utilize power football. It has been dying a slow death to the sleeker run-pass option, but for a regular season game in the middle of the season, power ball still had a strong heartbeat. 

Of Green Bay’s 34 rushes, 53 percent were inside the tackles. On a night when the Packers offensive line had to be monsters, that unit flexed their muscles and rammed it down Arizona’s throat. 

“Listen, you're going to take it until you feel like somebody adjusts to it,” said Packers coach Matt LaFleur, who is now 33-7 in his third season roaming the sidelines. “And if they don't adjust, you're going to keep going to it. And both those backs were pivotal points in terms of trying to get them as many touches as possible. We knew that going into the game in order for us to be the best that we can be.” 

The gameplan was a perfect symphony. The Cardinals wanted no part of tackling AJ Dillon. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry but he wasn’t your typical runaway freight train which is what many expect from the 6-foot, 247-pound back. He cut, juked and spun his way to 78 hard-earned yards and most importantly, he held onto the football. 

Aaron Jones, who is known as a shifty jitterbug, was a versatile workhorse. He racked up 22 touches and had 31 yards after contact. He even dragged the 2020 eighth overall pick in Isiaiah Simmons two yards for a second quarter score. 

But the reason the Packers were amazing was because they didn’t need mystical numbers from Aaron Rodgers. Sure, he was good, but 22-for-37 for 184 yards and a couple touchdowns isn’t anything special. This was a game that the Packers had to muddy up and they not only did that, but they also won it. 

The Packers proved that there still is value to moving the chains. LaFleur really wanted this one. He wanted his team to believe in each other, but the best way for them to believe is for a coach to believe in them. And that’s exactly what he did. He went for it four times on fourth down and converted twice. 

This win wasn’t just huge because the Packers handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season. It was big because it showed the rest of the league that the Packers can win in multiple ways with a plethora of different player talents on the field. 

This team has come a long way from the Week 1 failure. But the biggest reason the Packers left the desert as arguably the best team in the NFC is because Green Bay’s offensive line is a bunch of maulers that own the line of scrimmage.

That may not seem sexy or appealing, but the offensive line won that game and the depth of that crew is why the Packers are so unbelievable this year. 

 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

10 points

Comments (38)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
HarryHodag's picture

October 30, 2021 at 06:18 am

The old ball coach looked at his upstarts with a piece of chalk and a scowl on his face: "Gentlemen", he said, "victory begins along the offensive line."

That is the most remarkable thing about this Packers team. Four players either out of position, inexperienced as starters or rookies have stopped cold some of the best d-linemen the NFL has to offer. Aside from a couple of shots to Rodgers, his jersey has been clean so far. They've opened holes to give two very good running backs a crease to run.

It's been amazing to watch and lets hope it continues. Here's an interesting question: when David B. returns at left tackle who sits?

15 points
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GregC's picture

October 30, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Jon Runyan will probably go to the bench, as Elton Jenkins will move back to left guard. Lucas Patrick is still the backup center. The only other possibility I can think of is Runyan moving over to right guard and replacing Royce Newman, who has struggled at times, but Newman is a rookie and they will probably let him work through some bumps in his rookie season.

3 points
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dobber's picture

October 30, 2021 at 11:31 am

I think it will depend on who they view as their best 5 and how long Myers is out.

I wouldn't be surprised if Jenkins goes to C and Patrick sits, or Patrick goes to RG to man the spot he played last year.

7 points
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Guam's picture

October 30, 2021 at 07:44 am

Don't know what the PFF grades are, but to my eye, Runyon has outplayed Newman. I think Newman goes to the bench and Runyon moves to right guard.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 30, 2021 at 04:12 pm

I may be wrong, but in the last couple of weeks I think it’s been the reverse.

3 points
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Guam's picture

October 30, 2021 at 09:33 pm

I don't think Runyon has been better than Newman in every game, but he has been the better player in most games and he certainly makes fewer mental errors (sliding the wrong way in pass protection as an example) than Newman. I think his additional experience has him start over Newman. I think both have bright futures with the Packers.

1 points
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CoachDino's picture

October 31, 2021 at 12:25 am

pff has had runyan grading out higher for the most part until this week. royce grades out better in pass blocking with runyan better in run/overall. nueman had a great game this week to runyans worst. im astats guy but its usually goes deeper such as position move, development,trend ,run vs pass, types/severity/correctability of errors. in the end good problem to have

4 points
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CoachDino's picture

October 31, 2021 at 01:26 am

pff doesnt grade the ol run blocking as astrength. i think it was around 20th with pass blocking the strength. imo the key is always in team performance though i would credit the rbs and scheme/balanced as the strengths. both aj and dillon have made so much even when the holes arentthere and seldom miss holes when created. i too see some size being acquied, yet the projecte best 5 are by no means big nastys comparitivly in thenfl. i checked before wk 1 and myself was a bit surprised but with it beinging a zone blocking scheme it makes sense, it coverts athletism over size. this line is poor on short yardage / goaline runs, as we just saw again.

5 points
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CoachDino's picture

October 31, 2021 at 01:41 am

its why dillon needs to be used, i get why jones is out there, it helps the passing option in both splitting him out for possible mismatch or swing/outlet. ar,imo,wants a pass play called, will audible to one or even just wink to da. im ok with that but can they at least try on 1st,2nd oboth downs to run....i bet 80% of ar td passes r 5 yrds or less

3 points
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stockholder's picture

October 30, 2021 at 07:44 am

I liked this win. It almost reminded me of the west Coast offense. LeFlueur had a good game plan. And while certain players were out. The Hoo-Rah was shown time and time again. This was a very good defense they played. Kudos to everyone involved. But the work isn't done yet. And neither should the praise. The only thing that matters is winning. Leave the negatives behind. Working together can bring a happy landing. I hope they keep it up.

11 points
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4thand1's picture

October 30, 2021 at 08:39 am

You gotta have the "BIG MEN" up front. This team is no longer a finesse team, they will hit you in the mouth. Why is AR having so much fun? The pressure is off, he can check out of a pass play or vise versa and have success. Play action is going to kill teams now and he knows it. Most teams try to stop the run and force a team to throw, most teams don't have the luxury of a Aaron Rodgers at QB. The Pack has " BIG MEN" on both sides of the ball that can play, this gets better every day, Bahk is back too.

14 points
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NitschkeFromTheGrave's picture

October 30, 2021 at 08:55 am

Aaron left out one important thing. MLF abandoned the smash-face running between the tackles when it was needed the most.... REDZONE !

WHY ?

12 points
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greengold's picture

October 30, 2021 at 09:17 am

66, I think it is still all about Aaron Rodgers. He needs to pull his head out of his ass and become MORE of a team player.

Down his Top 3 WRs, losing his top scoring TE target, he STILL has to be pass happy.

Show me where I’m wrong… anybody.

31 carries split between AJ & Dillon was UNDERUSE of two top RBs, given the situation.

-6 points
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Since'61's picture

October 30, 2021 at 09:26 am

Greengold - I don’t necessarily think you’re wrong but if MLF wants Dillon in the game he should send him in. I don’t think that Rodgers sends in the personnel packages. It’s more likely that they saw something on film during the week that made them think they could pass near the goal line.

They did have 2 TDs passes to Cobb and should have had a 3rd to M. Lewis. Thanks, Since ‘61

12 points
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flackcatcher's picture

October 31, 2021 at 12:35 pm

Yes, and with Degura and Daffey just back from the IR list, Lafleur would be careful in picking what plays he uses with his F-Back. In any case, the Packer O line played for the most part smash mouth on the Bird's D line. As you said '61, the Packers saw something in the video that led them to dump the zone scheme in the run game. Heck of performance by the big guys.

0 points
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SanLobo's picture

October 30, 2021 at 11:06 am

You’re wrong because LaFleur said he called those plays. He even apologized to the team saying he felt he almost lost the game for them and then praised them for finding a way to win it anyway.

10 points
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dobber's picture

October 30, 2021 at 11:34 am

Let's be fair: they've still got to throw some. AZ played an awful lot of downs with 11 guys 7 yards or less from the LOS. They could run into a brick wall all nignt, or they could do what they did which was take safe throws laterally, not a lot of deep shots--but a couple--and force AZ to play the whole field. My only issue was redzone play calling.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 30, 2021 at 04:15 pm

Agreed. It’s not that a pass is wrong and a run right, it’s about mixing it up and doing so intelligently. We seem to get stuck in one or the other.

2 points
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NitschkeFromTheGrave's picture

October 30, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Green and Gold, There is a lot of truth in your point. Can't help wondering if A.R. didn't waive off the play(s) from the sideline.

-4 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 30, 2021 at 04:16 pm

Better call Q. AZ stacked the box. Dillon was dinged in the second half. Hill out of the game and A Jones a multiple guy for pass/run option. The O line needed to get the holes open for the one foot or one yard. Mano-a-mano. Remember, the week before the Pack D stuffed WFT.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 30, 2021 at 09:41 am

It is going to be interesting to see what a return by Bakh and the resulting movement of Jenkins does for our run game. The interior has not been lacking ability but experience and the ability to react in a coordinated fashion. That leads to gaps in the pass rush but also run blocking.

When they get it right, the runs have been explosive. When they get it wrong, it’s sometimes been stuffed, but the value from our runners is that, in their different ways, both Jones and Dillon have more often than not managed to make yards without perfect blocking. Improved blocking could really make them a serious force.

I see a lot of blame laid on the C. Sometimes this is fair, but what I see too often is the guy in the middle being deserted on one side or both. A no win situation. Newman was the worst offender early: just fooled. Recently, my impression is that he’s learning and Runyon has been the weaker link in this respect.

I’m not arguing to rush Bakh, I’m thinking of later in the season, but I do think a line with Bakh and Jenkins will not only help in the passing game, but really, and perhaps most significantly, help our running game.

I’m not down in Runyon or Newman in terms of ability, just savvy (experience). They are big parts of a bright O line future. It is possible though that, this year, our best current line might include neither.

7 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 30, 2021 at 11:27 am

Blaming Patrick……

He’s our third string center and he has backups on both sides.

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 30, 2021 at 04:19 pm

If he was third string, then Hanson would have been snapping the ball. Jenkins is not playing center, not since Miss. State.

-4 points
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dobber's picture

October 30, 2021 at 11:38 am

Adding an all-pro to the line is always a good thing. It takes a lesser player off the field.

3 points
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TheBigCheeze's picture

October 30, 2021 at 10:17 am

Been saying that for years... West coast offense....short game.... slowly move the chains....eat the clock ⏰....🧀🧀🧀

8 points
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dobber's picture

October 30, 2021 at 11:38 am

You forgot: score TDs.

6 points
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Since'61's picture

October 30, 2021 at 10:58 pm

Cookie! Thanks, Since ‘61

1 points
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PeteK's picture

October 30, 2021 at 10:38 am

We haven't seen so far this season what Jones and Dillon are capable of yet. A few monster games are coming.

6 points
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Starrbrite's picture

October 30, 2021 at 03:24 pm

Agree PeteK!

2 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 30, 2021 at 11:57 am

I don’t think that this is our best offensive line. Yet to do well enough to win is a testament to the coaching staff. Most of the yards gained by the RB’s was because of their own skill and effort. It’s telling that Matt did not trust the line enough to call run plays at the goal line. But they have done enough in pass pro despite youth and inexperience. The loss of Lindsay, Bakh, Jenkins and Myers could have been disastrous to Rodgers health without the players stepping up. I see even greater things for them in the future.

6 points
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canadapacker's picture

October 30, 2021 at 03:18 pm

Will whomever is the moderator of this site please delete the posts Annemolel et al - Dont mind them being put on there initially but would really like them to be removed daily or at least once in awhile

8 points
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Starrbrite's picture

October 30, 2021 at 03:37 pm

These are the wins that are most satisfying to us fans and I had a very good feeling about this game early in the week. We have the right personnel to win these type of matchups; even when we are shorthanded; I guess this why it’s so satisfying. And, when we’re healthy, we have the personnel to win high scoring affairs as well.
If we have the fortune of recouping the services of “Z” and Zaire; lookout!!

3 points
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NoNonsense's picture

October 30, 2021 at 03:48 pm

What ever happened to the idea of putting in say a Kenny Clark as a FB or even a RB to gain 1 yrd at the goalline. If I'm Lafleur, that's something that I'm gonna practice and use whenever needed. Can't remember the last time we used a DT on offense but I think it should be done anytime a team really needs 1 yrd.

And what was up with them running Clark off the field late twice? One time it happened in the red zone and AZ immediately scored a TD from the wildcat formation. I would think you want him on the field anytime your in the red zone but what do I know.

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 30, 2021 at 04:18 pm

I have a secret wish that they’d teach Nijman to play red zone full back.

3 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 30, 2021 at 04:45 pm

Here's the deal:

Conventional Wisdom is that you want the ball in the hands of your best players near the goal line. Your "playmakers", so to speak.

That starts with Rodgers. As soon as he hands it off, the play is out of his hands. So the very first thing we've done is take the ball out of the hands of our veteran, multi-MVP QB and given it to somebody........less.

But if Rodgers is going to give it to somebody, why not Jones, who has repeatedly demonstrated a nose for the endzone.?

Now, the way that LaFleur did it, we won. Just like we usually do. The people who want to line up Dillon behind a pile driver lead blocker.....and I'm one of them......need to understand that we're taking the ball out of the hands of Rodgers and Jones and giving it to Option #3.

I also believe that some think Dillon is this massive hammer of a back. He's not. He's actually a pretty nimble guy who's big, and he'd rather juke tacklers than run them over. He kind of reminds me of The Bus.

-1 points
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NoNonsense's picture

October 30, 2021 at 07:06 pm

I get what your saying, put the ball in your best players hands but when you just need 1 yrd especially on 4th down, just slam it in there with the guy that's most likely to get you that 1 yrd. In that situation, I'd argue that Dillon is the best player.

Now maybe MF is afraid Dillon might fumble or something but thats the only rational argument you can make for not using him there IMO.

Normally yes Rodgers is your best player and you don't want to take the ball out of his hands in most situations but when your down your top 3 WRs and top TE, you might want to just KISS (keep it simple stupid).

2 points
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Starrbrite's picture

October 31, 2021 at 12:10 am

LH, we don’t agree on the importance of special teams, but I believe you make a very astute observation about Dillon; the “Bus” comparison is excellent. Dillon is not a battering ram such as Christian Okoye or Mike Alstott and for a big dude, he’s nimble—fleet footed. I hope he becomes a Derrick Henry facsimile.

1 points
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flackcatcher's picture

October 31, 2021 at 12:56 pm

The lack of a true FB is telling in Lafleur's offense when they get inside the 20s. Now that the Packers have Daffey back, Lafleur will have the option to run more two back sets in his play action package. I'm not sure what the Packers front office will do with the lost of Tonyan for the season. If they move Degura into the move TE, that will leave a gaping hole without a backup F-Back for Daffey. And as we have seen, Degura has had problems knowing the play package this year. Or the Packers already have someone in mind on their PS, or in the deep data base they have. After all, that's how Daffey made this team in midseason last year.

0 points
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