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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said a commitment to running the football is the primary key to unlocking the coverages that smothered the Packers offense in Week 1.
The New Orleans Saints played a lot of two-deep safety coverages with man-to-man coverage underneath in the 38-3 win over the Packers. A lack of plays early and then flow of the game – namely falling down 17-0 in the first half – prevented Rodgers and the Packers from sticking with the run.
If teams want to copy the Saints’ plan, the Packers have to be better about running the ball, both in terms of execution and commitment.
“I think it’s just being patient with the run, and just continuing to run the ball,” Rodgers said Thursday.
Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire took a deeper dive into the Packers’ issues against the Cover-2 looks. Rodgers destroys most other coverages, but facing two-deep safeties has given him issues, including last year at times.
Running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon finished Sunday’s loss with only nine combined carries. The Saints stopped the run early with light boxes – sometimes featuring only six defenders – and then eliminated the threat of the run by going up by three scores or more in the second half.
Rodgers ended up completing only 15 passes for 133 yards. He threw two picks, including one to safety Marcus Williams on an overthrown deep ball. Down big and needing big plays, the Packers’ plan played right into the Saints’ hands.
“I think that’s why people play that defense, to force you to commit to the run, and stay with it,” Rodgers said.
More and more teams, including the Packers, are playing more two-high coverages. Defenses want offenses to have to play perfect over long drives to score points.
The only way to counter the look is to run the ball efficiently and force the defense to pull the second safety out of coverage pre-snap.
“I think we gotta just keep staying patient with the run,” Rodgers said.