GREEN BAY – The Packers’ 181-yard rushing performance against the Saints didn’t produce a victory, but it did give Green Bay something to build around moving forward with new No. 1 QB Brett Hundley.
There was a lot to like about the performance of the ground game, led by rookie RB Aaron Jones’ 131 yards, not least because it didn’t spring from just one scheme or type of play. The Packers used all kinds of run blocking to pile up those yards, from pulling linemen to combo-blocks and cut-blocks.
Here’s a closer look at all those types and the success they produced.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, first quarter, 15:00 left
Result: 15-yard run by Jones
Two key pieces to watch on the game’s opening play. First, Packers RG Jahri Evans (73) starts by joining C Corey Linsley (63) on a combo-block against Saints DT Tyeler Davison (95). Evans then peels off at the second level to engage LB Craig Robertson (52). Also at the point of attack, TE Martellus Bennett (80) comes across from the left side of the formation to throw a cut-block on DE Cameron Jordan (94), giving Jones a nice hole.
Play No. 2: Third-and-2 from the Green Bay 48, first quarter, 13:37 left
Result: 6-yard run by Jones
You’ve heard of pulling guards, but how about a pulling left tackle? David Bakhtiari (69) does that job beautifully here, showing his troublesome hamstring is no worse for wear. Saints CB Marshon Lattimore (23) is no match for Bakhtiari out on the edge as Jones converts the first third down of the game.
Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the New Orleans 46, first quarter, 13:09 left
Result: 46-yard TD run by Jones
Here’s the more classic example of a pulling guard, and Packers LG Justin McCray (64) gets practically the equivalent of a three-for-one. His assignment is pull to his right and take on LB A.J. Klein (53) in the hole, which he executes. But watch also as CB Ken Crawley (20) comes crashing in from the right side, trying to beat WR Jordy Nelson’s block. McCray’s leg actually gets a piece of Crawley just before he engages with Klein. On top of that, LB Manti Te’o (51) is clearly reading the pulling McCray as his key and overpursues, taking himself out of the play as the huge hole opens for Jones.
Play No. 4: Third-and-4 from the New Orleans 14, second quarter, 8:45 left
Result: 14-yard TD run by Hundley
This time it’s Jones turning into a key blocker, as his blitz pick-up on Klein (53) works nicely, and when the rest of the Saints’ front crashes inside, Hundley has a simple tuck-and-go around to his left.
Play No. 5: Second-and-10 from the Green Bay 8, second quarter, 5:44 left
Result: 7-yard run by Jones
Jones might have had a 200-yard day if not for a great play here by Klein. Two cut-blocks are needed here, first by Evans (73) on Davison (95), and then by RT Bryan Bulaga (75), who has tough duty in reaching Klein when initially knocked off-balance by Jordan (94). Bulaga deftly still gets his man, but as he’s going down, Klein manages to reach an arm out to trip up Jones, who looked like he was headed for a one-on-one confrontation with S Marcus Williams (43) and a potentially big play.