For all the excitement we had heading into this game, it certainly didn’t live up to expectations. But it was, in fact, a football game. So that was something! Even though it was a blowout loss, the Saints didn’t stop football from coming. Somehow or other, it came just the same.
I wasn’t able to get a hold of the All 22 film until late. Combine that with an extremely busy time at work, and I didn’t get a chance to do my normal rundown. I’m hoping the film is available a little sooner and we can get back to our regular column before too long. But, for now, we’ll have a bit of an abbreviated look. Even with that, I think we’ve got something fun to look at. We’ll be looking at 2 plays working off the same core rushing concept. Let’s get it.
We’re going to start off with a running concept known as Pin/Pull. As the Packers grow their scheme under Matt LaFleur, I’ve really been looking forward to how they diversify their running game. Last year, they were strictly a zone team: inside zone, outside zone and duo. Sure, you can run that different ways and dress it up, but that’s basically it. Kyle Shanahan has worked quite a few man power schemes into his arsenal, and that felt like the next step for this Packers team.
There are a lot of things I like about this play; mostly, I like how the name perfectly describes the action. The end of the line on the playside will “pin” – or block down to trap the defensive line inside – then they’ll pull an offensive lineman to that side. Pin the edge, pull a guard, run to daylight.
On this play, I’ve illustrated Marcedes Lewis  working the pin, but Billy Turner  and Royce Newman  are also blocking down. While the right side is pinning, Lucas Patrick  pulls from his left guard spot and blocks the widest man. To add to the power, Dominique Dafney  acts as a lead-blocker from his offset upback position. AJ Dillon  takes a misdirect step to the left, then cuts back to the right to find a nice hole waiting for him.
Nice job pinning the playside and a good job by Patrick to kick out the wide man. The misdirect by Dillon can help give the defense a false step, while also allowing for Dafney to get in a good position for the lead block.
This specific play isn’t a game-breaker, but it picks up 6 yards and gives the defense something to think about.
And here is the defense thinking about it. Later in the game, the Packers give the same look. The only difference in personnel is that Aaron Jones  is in the backfield instead of Dillon. Same action up front. Right side of the line pins, Patrick pulls, Dafney works as the lead blocker from his offset upback position and Jones gives a misdirect step to the left before cutting right. The difference this time is that Lewis isn’t actually blocking. It’s a trick, you see.
Instead of pinning the block, Lewis releases and leaks out to the backside. Everything else looks exactly the same, right down to the stellar playfake from Rodgers. The defense is looking for the run, but Lewis finds a nice open space and picks up 19 yards.
Here’s a look at the playfake from Rodgers. He carries it out exactly like he would on a run, and Jones does a great job of clasping the arms down like he would on a handoff and obscuring the area where the ball would be. The backside defensive end is watching closely. Rodgers performs the fake and hides the ball long enough for the end to take up his backside responsibilities on the run. Great job of blocking that end without actually blocking that end.
One more thing I wanted to look at here, and that’s the jet sweep man. In both plays, Marquez Valdes-Scantling  works as the pre-snap jet motion man. On the first play, he acts as a blocker on the edge. On the second play, he carries out the same initial motion, then wheels up the sideline.
Pin/Pull was one of the main rushing concepts I was looking for the Packers to work into their repertoire this season. Though they didn’t get their running game going in Week 1, seeing this as a potential building block in their move to some power rushing schemes was really cool. Seeing the passing concept off of it – along with the promise of some explosive plays down the road – is just the icing on the cake.
Albums listened to: Over the Rhine – Good Dog Bad Dog; The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots; The Duke Spirit – Neptune; Quivers – Golden Doubt