GREEN BAY – With Lane Taylor making the first appearance of his life at left tackle and Lucas Patrick making his first NFL start at left guard – on a short week, no less – rough spots were almost to be expected.
Except Taylor and Patrick looked like they’d been playing next to each other all along, as a couple of snaps in this edition of WYMM will show.
Also, never underestimate the power of play-action. Behind their revamped offensive line, the Packers established the run early, and it paid dividends on a couple of big plays.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 24, first quarter, 5:45 left
Result: Incomplete pass
QB Aaron Rodgers isn’t able to connect deep with WR Davante Adams here, but the success Taylor (65) and Patrick (62) have picking up a stunt by the Bears’ pass rushers is a good example of how well they worked in tandem all night. Bears DL Mitch Unrein (98) charges straight ahead trying to occupy both blockers while LB Sam Acho (93) loops around him from the outside. But Patrick smoothly adjusts to Acho’s path while Taylor loses no ground on Unrein, and neither rusher gets close to Rodgers.
Play No. 2: First-and-10 from the Chicago 28, third quarter, 8:12 left
Result: 6-yard run by RB Aaron Jones
Perfect execution here of a pulling guard working around his tackle partner. As Taylor turns inside to stymie DL Eddie Goldman (91), Patrick pulls to the outside and runs pretty effective interference on LB Christian Jones (52) as the Packers pick up a solid gain on first down.
Play No. 3: Third-and-1 from the Chicago 31, first quarter, 10:43 left
Result: 26-yard completion to TE Martellus Bennett
Sometimes play-action isn’t as much about getting a defender to bite, but just to hesitate a split-second. The Packers have set up this third-and-1 play-action by running the ball on five of their first seven snaps. The key defender to watch is CB Kyle Fuller (23, box), who gets caught flat-footed momentarily on the play fake to RB Jamaal Williams, who sells it well. As Bennett releases to cross to the other side of the field, and Bears DB Adrian Amos (38) is pulled deep into a double-team on WR Jordy Nelson, the initially hesitant Fuller has no chance to keep up. Bennett is wide open to make it first-and-goal.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 at the Green Bay 40, second quarter, 5:28 left
Result: 58-yard completion to Nelson
This is classic Mike McCarthy football. The Packers have just gotten an interception, so they’re going to take a shot deep on the first play and use play-action to do it. This time the flat-footed defender is DB Marcus Cooper Sr. (31, box), who looks at the play fake to Jones in the backfield just a hair too long and is behind a streaking Nelson from the jump. Amos (38) is too far upfield to be any help, and Fuller (23) tries to assist but is coming all the way from the other side. Nelson is so open he still makes an easy catch despite completely stopping on his route.