The Packers are running a variation of a cover 2 zone package on this play. New England put Julian Edelman in motion, and since nobody followed him, the Patriots can have a pretty good idea that Green Bay’s playing zone. However what’s really interesting about this play is that Green Bay’s going to have 7 men on the line, but only rush 3. One of which is safety Josh Jones. Jones is lined up with Josh Gordon, so New England was expecting him to drop back in coverage.
Because New England wasn’t expecting Jones to rush the passer, he was able to get the edge pretty easily. Meanwhile Patriots center David Andrews and right guard
Ted Karras both were spread out, as they weren’t aware of where to expect pressure from. In hindsight they could’ve double teamed Mike Daniels, but they had no way of knowing that. Daniels was able to slip in between them, and when you can get pressure with just a 3 man rush, it’s going to result in a good defensive play just about every time.
This is a bit of a similar play by New England, but with some key differences. The main similarity is their attempt to fool the opposition’s offense. They’re going to fake as though they’re running a casino blitz, which is a play where 7 men rush the passer.
However 3 Patriots are going to drop back in coverage after taking a few steps towards Rodgers. Green Bay’s facing a 3rd and 6, so it’s reasonable to assume that they might be running a quick slant or crossing route. In a perfect world for New England, a Packer would be running a crossing route, Rodgers would thing New England’s blitzing, and throw it over the middle, only for a Patriot to drop back and pick it off. However Green Bay’s not running any crossing routes, which completely kills this play for the Patriots. Rodgers now has his choice of 3 one on one matchups, and finds Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a big gain.
Moving on from some creative defensive calls, let’s talk about a creative offensive call. New England’s in a formation that looks like their going to be setting up a screen.
So here, Brady stares down Chris Hogan, which helps sell the screen pass. Packers cornerbacks Josh Jackson and Jaire Alexander both completely bit on the fake, and Edelman and Gordon were both left wide open.
Packers safety Tramon Williams decides to attempt to break up the pass, or at least make an immediate tackle. It’s a pretty big risk, but Green Bay’s down 7 midway through the 4th, Williams feels it’s a risk worth taking. However WIlliams just can’t make the play, and Gordon is able to walk in for a touchdown.
For Green Bay, this is a play that was really only going to work if New England’s playing man coverage. Since the Patriots are playing a cover 6 zone scheme, all but one of the four routes Packers receivers are running will be cutting right into Patriots’ assigned zones.
At this point, Rodgers’ only hope is to hit Randall Cobb on a go route. However Jason McCourty plays it well, and it results in an incompletion. Green Bay essentially made it a guessing game, if the Patriots were playing cover 2 man for example, the Packers would’ve had a lot of options to get someone open, however they guessed wrong, and the play had almost no chance of working.