I spy… a blitz?
The impetus for writing this post was to determine once and for all, how much actual “spying” of Colin Kaepernick did the Green Bay Packers do and who was involved? On twitter after the game, there was a wide disparity of opinions on this topic. Some bemoaned why the Packers didn’t employ a spy, others claimed they were spying most of the game. I knew the truth lied somewhere in-between.
I had spotted two instances myself during the first half, always with a linebacker as the spy. As the second half rolled along, I started looking for the Packers to possibly spy the speedy Kaepernick with a DB, but it never came. I was thinking perhaps a modified version of nickel, where a linebacker (Hawk or Jones) would come out instead of a defensive lineman.
My first thought was to use Woodson in this role, but that would have made things a lot easier for Vernon Davis. So I settled on fan favorite Jarret Bush. As the gunner on punt returns, he is face to face at high speed with a guy trying to run by him with the ball. Bush could have handled the job.
In any case, I just had to find out how hard the Packers tried to contain Kaepernick. So, I went through the coaches’ All-22 film of the game and noted every time Kaepernick either ran the ball or threw a pass. A complete listing of the plays is found below, along with video of the four plays where the Packers employed a Spy.
But first, lets summarize and discuss what I found:
37 PASSES: Number of times Kaepernick dropped back to pass.
4 SCRAMBLES: Number of times Kaepernick scrambled after dropping back to pass.
8 PLANNED RUNS: Number of times Kaepernick kept the ball on a planned run.
4 SPYS: Number of times Packers used a spy (all in second quarter)
13 BLITZ: Number of times Packers rushed five or more players.
So, I pretty much found what I expected with regards to spy plays. They tried it four times, all in the second quarter. They used Walden twice and Clay Matthews twice. Video and a brief discussion of each play is a little further down in this post.