GREEN BAY – Season 6 of What You Might’ve Missed is here, and if you’re a fan of this piece, you know that my selection of material is not the most obvious (hence, the title).
So, while most analysts are focusing on the superb effort by the Packers’ defense in the 17-9 season-opening victory over the Seahawks, and rightly so, I took a closer look at the offensive film. Particularly, Green Bay’s tight ends.
It’s a position the Packers upgraded significantly in the offseason with the additions of Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, who have joined veteran Richard Rodgers to give Green Bay its deepest group in several years at one of Mike McCarthy’s favorite spots.
Here’s a sampling, in chronological order from Sunday’s game, of the more subtle ways they impacted the contest.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 2, first quarter, 7:53 left
Result: 3-yard run by RB Ty Montgomery
After a great punt by Jon Ryan, the Packers just need some breathing room, and Bennett (80) helps provide it. He throws a powerful block on charging Seahawks LB K.J. Wright (50), who was looking to blow the play up at the goal line.
Two plays after getting some space, QB Aaron Rodgers is able to scramble for a first down and get the Packers out of the hole.
Play No. 2: Second-and-1 from the Green Bay 37, first quarter, 3:13 left
Result: 3-yard run for a first down by RB Jamaal Williams
Richard Rodgers (82) didn’t play much in this game, but he made the most of this snap, getting an effective push against LB Terence Garvin (56) in short yardage to allow the rookie Williams’ first NFL carry to move the chains.
Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, second quarter, 14:09 left
Result: 13-yard completion to WR Davante Adams
Bennett (boxed) will regularly attract a lot of attention as a slot receiver, which can help out his teammates, and that’s exactly what happens here against Seattle’s zone coverage. Wright (circled) initially hangs with Adams toward the boundary, but as soon as the Seattle LB takes an extra step toward Bennett running up the seam, it opens the door for the throw to Adams and another first down.
Play No. 4: Third-and-17 from the Green Bay 33, second quarter, 2:37 left
Result: 21-yard completion to Adams
This time it’s Kendricks (84) lending a helping hand, in a couple of ways. First, he throws a solid chip block on Seahawks pass rusher Cliff Avril (56) to assist first-time starter RT Kyle Murphy on third-and-long. Then, as Kendricks leaks out into his route, he draws the coverage of Wright, which creates a void for Adams coming across from the other side of the field, where three defenders are running with WR Randall Cobb.
Play No. 5: First-and-goal from the Seattle 6, third quarter, 10:39 left
Result: 6-yard TD run by Montgomery
This is the kind of assignment Bennett will take anytime. On the run to his side, Bennett is matched up with rookie CB Shaquill Griffin (26), who’s giving up 75 pounds to the veteran tight end. Bennett should dominate here, and he does, pushing Griffin all the way back into the end zone. LG Lane Taylor and C Corey Linsley both pull and throw blocks on the edge as well, and Montgomery scores the Packers’ first points of the game.
Play No. 6: Second-and-6 from midfield, fourth quarter, 2:45 left
Result: 26-yard completion to Bennett
On the play that seals the victory, the two new tight ends work in tandem lined up next to one another. As Bennett sells the run action to his left, Kendricks takes CB Richard Sherman (25) with him down the field on his route. Bennett delays long enough before releasing into the flat so that no one goes with him, and he’s wide open for the game-clinching catch-and-run.
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