Eddie Lacy, Jermichael Finley and the Play-Action pass

Jermichael Finley enjoyed a big day against the Rams, due, in part, to Eddie Lacy.

Jermichael Finley enjoyed a big day against the Rams, due, in part, to Eddie Lacy.

Despite not punching the ball into the endzone, the Packers’ (kinda) first-team offense passed the eye test Saturday night against the St. Louis Rams.

Eddie Lacy continually punished defenders with his smash-mouth, bulldozer-like running style. Jermichael Finley was running free in the Rams’ secondary, four times catching wide-open passes from Aaron Rodgers.

On 18 snaps against the Rams on Saturday, Finley managed to catch four passes for 78 yards. Last season, Finley set a franchise record for receptions by a tight end with 61, but his 78 yards Saturday night would have been his highest single-game total in 2012.

And with Lacy providing the Packers with a newfound physical ground game, totaling Finley’s job may be a little easier in 2013.

The former Alabama running back racked up 40 yards on eight carries despite subpar offensive line play, as outlined earlier this week by Jersey Al. And although it was Lacy’s first game appearance in the NFL, it’s pretty clear that the Rams already respected the 22-year-old bruiser.

Let’s take another look at Lacy’s two best runs of the night.

1st Quarter 14:31 remaining

In a two-tight formation, Lacy gets the handoff as the single back. The line is sliding to the right, but center Evan Dietrich-Smith doesn’t quite have the quickness to cross his man’s face.

But instead of being stopped for negative yards, Lacy uses his well-documented spin move to get upfield. It was only a seven-yard gain, but a runner creating something out of nothing hasn’t been a common occurrence in Green Bay as of late.

1st Quarter 13:23 remaining

Again, Evan Dietrich-Smith is beaten off the line, but Lacy’s power bails him out.

After breaking out of the defensive tackle’s tackle, Lacy sheds another arm tackle from rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree. The 15-yard gain was Lacy’s longest of the night. It was at this point that Packers fans were all like, “Wow.”

On two of Finley’s four catches, Rodgers began the play with a fake handoff to Lacy. Let’s take a look at those two plays.

1st Quarter 14:01 remaining

Finley is lined up in the slot, Lacy is the deep back and the Rams are in zone coverage. Finley has a cornerback lined up across from him, but he’s released into the middle of the field upon his break.



Packers Film Study: Cedric Benson Boosts Play Action Game

Cedric Benson Preseason Debut

Packers RB Cedric Benson could provide a boost to the Packers play action game.

In the Green Bay Packers’ 27-13 preseason victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday, Cedric Benson proved some of his worth to the offense. Though he didn’t see the field until the Packers’ second series, his influence on the defense was immediate, especially when it came to the play action fake.

In fact, the Packers went with a play action pass on the first three consecutive downs played by Benson. The first down resulted in an incompletion deep to Jordy Nelson, who probably should have drawn a defensive pass interference flag for getting knocked down when going for the ball. Greg Jennings hauled in the next two play action passes for 19- and 18-yard gains respectively.

Here is a video of the 18-yard completion to Jennings:

You’ll immediately notice that Bengals safety Reggie Nelson (#20) makes a nice fake at the line as if dropping into coverage before coming on a blitz. He even almost tips the pass intended for Jennings.

But go back again and this time keep your eyes on Bengals cornerback Leon Hall (#29), who is lined up across from Jennings in what appears to be a zone coverage. What the play action fake does here is draw him in to the center of the field, not only keeping Jennings wide open but also giving him room to run. (I particularly love how Jennings makes Hall completely whiff on the tackle.)

In the wake of two play action passes, the defense still bites on the fake for a third time. Even the blitzing safety had to adjust his target from Benson to Rodgers.

On the start of the third series, Benson remains in the game, and the Packers immediately lead off with a play action pass. It’s called incomplete on a tip-toe catch from Nelson along the sideline (though I would argue he was able to keep his feet in). But what I want to focus on now is the play that immediately follows:

Benson gets a good 8-yard run here in part due to the play action game. Keep your eyes on Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (#93) here. He stops his pass rush when he identifies the offensive line run blocking, but his attention hesitates on Rodgers just long enough after the handoff to allow Benson some driving room inside the tackle.