Packers Vs Browns - 3 Plays That Make You Go Hmmm

Jersey Al picks out three thought-provoking plays from the Packers' game against the Cleveland Browns

After re-watching the Packers game, here are three plays that made me go hmmm, for various reasons.

Switching Roles

We're all used to Allen Lazard blocking downfield for his fellow receivers or running backs. Here he gets a chance to carry the ball and of all things, Aaron Jones is tasked with getting downfield and blocking for Lazard. The Packers make it look like a run to their left. Lazard motions to the left side. Just before the snap, Deguara slides to his left. Rodgers fakes a handoff to Jones who starts out to his left. Most of the Cleveland defense is fooled except for their left DE who is left unblocked for Deguara to pick up. He reads the play well but Deguara is able to get just enough of him to let Lazard get around him. As Lazard heads downfield, look who has made it all the way across the field and is out there lead blocking for him? Jones does a fine job, tying up the defender the whole way, allowing Lazard to pick up the first down. The best part of this clip is at the end, when Lazard gives Jones a "thanks bud" tap on the helmet as he returns to the sideline.

 

Confusion and Recovery

On the broadcast, Troy Aikman says, "Rasul Douglas plays this awfully well - he has his back turned to the sideline and that's when Mayfield thinks he can fit it in there..."  Well Troy, he has his back to the sideline because he followed the outside receiver inside, as did Chandon Sullivan. And that is where we have a problem. We've seen teams do this to the Packers before, and often in the end zone with disastrous results. Staying assignment sure when receivers are crisscrossing is a problem the Packers need to resolve, as teams will continue to test them until they show they can handle it. Now Rasul does eventually realize what has happened and heads over to Landry. Luckily, Mayfield is off-balance and doesn't get much on the throw and it falls beautifully into Douglas' arms. A bit of good fortune that Sullivan and Douglas can laugh about on the bench afterwards before trying to figure out who should have done what.

 

Don't Blame Braden

I've heard a bunch of people complaining about why they would run a toss play to Braden's side when he just got in the game as a practice squad elevation emergency tackle. Well folks, Braden actually does a great job on this play. He's impeded twice, once by EQ and then by the defender Davante whiffs on, and still is able to get out there and crushes the defensive back. The play doesn't work because the Browns were not fooled and get some great pursuit down the LOS. Had Braden not been slowed down twice, perhaps Jones doesn't have to slow down and gets to teh sideline to pick up the needed yard and a half. Listening to Lafleur, Rodgers and Adams after the game, they all lamented the fact that they got too conservative on this possession by running. WIth a nine point lead and seven minutes left in the game, I didn't mind the runs at all. My complaint? When Jones gets you seven yards on first down, and putting together a clock killing drive is a logical goal, why isn't Dillon brought in with two chances to get three yards? Seems like a no-brainer to me. 

__________________________

"Jersey Al" Bracco is the Editor-In-Chief, part owner and wearer of many hats for CheeseheadTV.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a recovering Mason Crosby truther.  Follow Al on twitter at @JerseyalGBP

17 points

Comments (22)

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

December 28, 2021 at 02:45 pm

Always love your work Al. Thanks.

11 points
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TheKanataThrilla's picture

December 28, 2021 at 03:13 pm

I never like those pitch back plays on 3rd and short. Jones needs to get 6 or 7 yards just to get to the original line of scrimmage. I scratch my head often at our continual unwillingness to do the obvious and use our big running back in this scenario. Getting too cute often just causes us to outsmart ourselves.

16 points
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PeteK's picture

December 28, 2021 at 03:24 pm

This week you could have tripled the amount of plays that make you go hmmmm. This should have been a loss similar to what we have seen some other good team suffer. However, it's another sign that we are on the precipice of a great season.

5 points
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Bure9620's picture

December 28, 2021 at 05:32 pm

I would not go as far to say "it should have been a loss" The Packers dominated in the 2nd quarter. They never trailed in the 2nd half and were up multiple possessions for the majority of it.

6 points
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jurp's picture

December 28, 2021 at 04:04 pm

That pitch play really pissed me off. We're three yards from the first down. Dillon can get two yards just falling forward. Our line has been run-blocking pretty well at that point in the game. You run Dillon twice if you have to. Duh. Maybe run a mis-direction play - let's use the "illusion of complexity" guys!

So, since MLF and AR thought the runs were too conservative, I assume that they thought that the next series (IIRC) where they passed three times instead of running and leave Cleveland with over 2 minutes left and all three timeouts was better? If MLF truly thinks so, then he's not the coach I thought (hoped) he was. Run twice, pass once if you must, but the two incompletions left way too much time on the clock. Honestly, if Cleveland had a decent QB, we should've lost by one when they kicked their FG with no time remaining.

6 points
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Ya_tittle's picture

December 29, 2021 at 11:06 am

Well said!

0 points
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Tundraboy's picture

December 28, 2021 at 04:34 pm

4 days later. Hmmm!

-5 points
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5
JerseyAl's picture

December 28, 2021 at 06:35 pm

You have a complaint?

3 points
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Tundraboy's picture

December 29, 2021 at 12:22 am

No. Misunderstood. It's 4 days later and I still think about the game and go hmmm.

4 points
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Leatherhead's picture

December 28, 2021 at 04:35 pm

I liked Braden in preseason. He battles, and he didn’t get pushed around.

Cleveland played the Lazard end-around pretty well, but the execution was just too good. Kudos to Jones.

The Packers do give up a lot of TD passes……they’re near the bottom of the league. Obviously, when you lose a guy like Alexander and you have to play rookies a lot, you’re gonna have some breakdowns.

8 points
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Bure9620's picture

December 28, 2021 at 05:38 pm

Teams are targeting Chandon Sullivan and Kevin King, Henry Black or the Tight End if matched on Savage. (Or Barnes if he is in coverage) Getting Jaire back fixes alot of this as you will likely have him in the slot with Stokes and Sul on the outside. Jaire just changes so much which is why getting him back is the most important piece imo. He is the best defensive player on the team.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 28, 2021 at 04:55 pm

“ When Jones gets you seven yards on first down, and putting together a clock killing drive is a logical goal, why isn't Dillon brought in with two chances to get three yards? Seems like a no-brainer to me.”

Yes! LaFleur seems to struggle with how to best use these two and when (never mind together). They are different and not interchangeable. He needs to be better at how and when to deploy them. This has been a recurring issue along with the general one if moving away from the run (as you correctly imply here—the wrong lesson to take from that drive).

5 points
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jlc1's picture

December 29, 2021 at 03:39 pm

it seems that when MLF looks up at the scoreboard he sees the score but not the clock. I'm not as "cheesed" over his use of TOs to choose the right play on drives earlyish in a half as others are but he still does not seem to get how to put more time pressure on the other team late in the game. Maybe he just hasn't had to do it much as a head coach yet to get it.

0 points
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splitpea1's picture

December 28, 2021 at 05:38 pm

I thought there was a good chance Play 1 would make it here. Superb job by Jones, as it netted Lazard about 12 extra yards.

3 points
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MarkinMadison's picture

December 28, 2021 at 05:50 pm

Couldn't agree more about the pick play. The defense feels like it needs to get back to fundamentals. Hopefully some self-scouting and correction will occur.

2 points
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Lphill's picture

December 28, 2021 at 06:35 pm

Anyone else notice the socks Rodgers was wearing?

-2 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 28, 2021 at 09:34 pm

socks?

did you see his underwear?

0 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 28, 2021 at 08:19 pm

I thought Braden was going to be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for that high horse collar. An extremely dangerous play in today's NFL. This crew really did let both teams play. And Mayfield turned two possible touchdowns into interceptions. The first was nothing but a flatout overthrow on a deep dig route. (I thought at first that the WR was making a stop and go. But that's the WR option on the route with the cover package the Packers were running. Mayfield misread his own man. The off balance throw is inexcusable. Mayfield had time and his WR ran a pick that freed him up in the scheme. Not only did Mayfield make a bad read and a rotten throw, his primary was wide open and in stride for a clear 30 yard TD. Not only was the pass rotten, but his WR slipped and fell trying to come back to a bad pass that should have been a touchdown. While Douglas misread the route, Mayfield's bad decision fixed everything for the Packers. Against a QB (Brady) who's been there, those are two TD and this game is over. As you say Al, Packers got to clean this up, fast.

5 points
6
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PhantomII's picture

December 28, 2021 at 09:15 pm

I'm with you AL on the Dillon run combos. I would love a change-up and for the OC call plays in a game, I think it could get pretty interesting. ML does a lot of odd stuff calling plays...real head scratcher stuff...and for me...choice word replies to a TV. I would also like our #3 RB used a little so things move smoother in case of injury to our 1-2 RB, God forbid. I will also say I wondered over a year ago why Yosh had not entered any injury sub or rotation on the OL. I just don't get it sometimes.

2 points
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Turophile's picture

December 29, 2021 at 05:25 am

This was an interesting game where the officiating crews let the players play (calling only the most egregious penalties). it makes for much better viewing (for those that can only watch on tv) and this should be compulsory viewing for the various "blow for anything" officials.

I remember that Jones blocking for Lazard play, from when I was seeing it live. At first i though it was Jones blocking for Dillon, then realised it was Lazard. Good choice of a play to mention, Al.

If there is one thing you absolutely must do, it is to keep on evolving your playbook, showing new wrinkles and sneaky variations on plays that the other side has already seen. It's great cat-and-mouse stuff.

3 points
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croatpackfan's picture

December 29, 2021 at 07:13 am

Nice pick of plays again, Al.

"WIth a nine point lead and seven minutes left in the game, I didn't mind the runs at all."
It is logical, but I believe MLF was reluctant to go running because Browns D is really good against run (2nd or 3rd in NFL). But, we saw several times that, either Aaron or Dillon went through that line for at least 4 if not more yards. The only question which play call to chose. My opinion is that MLF and AR wanted to score another TD or at least FG, to ice the game.

"My complaint? When Jones gets you seven yards on first down, and putting together a clock killing drive is a logical goal, why isn't Dillon brought in with two chances to get three yards? Seems like a no-brainer to me." If you are in the mode of killing the clock, you are absolutely right. But, as I already wrote, I believe MLF (and AR) was trying to reach at least FG level. From my perspective (and that does not have nothing with what happened after all), this idea was mistake. You have 2 possession lead and only worry you have is to kill the clock as much as you can. If you score additional points during that "killing" - excellent, but the primary goal should be to spare time. Intention to score another points make sense why they kept Aaron Jones in the game and not bringing AJ Dillon in. But, again, they might have 2 RB on the field, just to keep guessing Browns D, which one will get the ball.

"We've seen teams do this to the Packers before, and often in the end zone with disastrous results."

I agree with you that it is to much often some of the players on D looks lost in the space and time. I remember one play where Rasoul was covering 2 WR in the end zone, both at distance of 10+ yards, while Savage was walking alone covering no one. Rasoul was yelling at him to take inside WR under the control, but was to late. The ball was thrown to the inside receiver. Rasoul tried to cover that mistake, but was to far away. Savage looks like he is somewhere else with his mind and that brings himself to the game when his reaction comes to late for successful play.

1 points
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Ya_tittle's picture

December 29, 2021 at 11:10 am

Savage has been a HUGE liability lately.

2 points
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