GREEN BAY – Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter deserves plenty of credit for holding Giants star WR Odell Beckham Jr. in check in last Sunday’s NFC Wild Card game.
Beckham had just four catches for 28 yards, and most of the time, Gunter was assigned to him with some safety help over the top.
But that’s not all the Packers did. They also mixed things up on Beckham at times, and the following provides a sampling of those change-ups.
Play No. 1: Third-and-5 from the Green Bay 35, first quarter, 11:05 left
Result: Incomplete pass to Beckham
This is from the game’s opening possession, and it’s New York’s second third-down situation. Gunter is nowhere near Beckham, as S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) is lined up across from him several yards off the line of scrimmage. But S Morgan Burnett (42) is also assigned to Beckham here, and he drops back at an angle toward the slot after showing a possible blitz. The officials let the contact in the middle of the field go, and Beckham isn’t able to haul in the short pass.
Play No. 2: Second-and-9 from the 50, second quarter, 12:43 left
Result: 3-yard completion to TE Will Tye
This provides a good look at what the Packers did much of the time with Beckham lined up outside. Gunter was on him, with safety help dedicated over the top. On this play, it’s clear how conscious Burnett is of a potential deep ball, as he takes a sharp drop angle. The Packers are perfectly willing to concede a short pass to the tight end.
Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 28, second quarter, 8:22 left
Result: 6-yard completion to WR Victor Cruz
On this play, Gunter is left one-on-one with Beckham on the outside, and it’s worth watching how he never takes his eyes off him, even after the short pass to Cruz is released.
Play No. 4: Third-and-4 from the Green Bay 22, second quarter, 7:34 left
Result: Incomplete pass
Just two plays later, and it’s a completely different, and novel, strategy against Beckham on a key third down. Before the snap, rookie S Kentrell Brice runs up from his deep safety position to join Gunter in a double-team on Beckham, almost like he’s a punt gunner. He gets no breathing room, and when LB Joe Thomas leaps up to deflect the pass intended for Cruz on a crossing route (which CB Damarious Randall believes he was going to intercept), the Giants have to settle for another field goal.
Play No. 5: First-and-10 from the New York 40, third quarter, 12:06 left
Result: Incomplete pass
On the Giants’ second snap of the third quarter, the Packers change it up again. This time, Gunter blitzes off the slot, leaving Clinton-Dix to move up from his deep safety spot to assume coverage. Beckham is the hot read with his man blitzing, but the Giants’ timing is way off and the quick toss is incomplete again.