Advertisement

Game plan from Packers coaches putting OL in positions to succeed

The Green Bay Packers offensive line was able to control the line of scrimmage against the Chicago Bears in both the run and passing games.

Facing one of the best run defense units in football, with the Bears entering Week 18 allowing just 3.7 yards per rush, Aaron Jones rushed for 111 yards at 5.0 yards per attempt. From a pass protection standpoint, Jordan Love had 34 dropbacks, according to PFF, but was pressured only four times. The Bears would manage only one sack and one quarterback hit.

“I thought our offensive line did an outstanding job coming off the rock,” said Matt LaFleur after the game. “That’s one thing that we always stress in the run game. It looked like we were getting pretty good movement. I thought they kept Jordan (Love) clean for most of the night. Hats off to the offensive line.”

Since the Packers began rotating players at left tackle and right guard back in Week 9, we’ve seen this unit as a whole steadily progressing over the second half of the season after some early season struggles. The culmination of that continued progress has the offensive line playing some of its best football in the last few weeks.

In the last three games, Aaron Jones has eclipsed 100 yards each week, leading the NFL in rushing yards during that span with 358. Of course, an important part of that success is Jones being Jones, but against the Bears, I thought the offensive line had one of its better run-blocking performances of the season, carving their share of running lanes for Jones to take advantage of as well.

“He looks like a great player,” said Love of Jones. “Obviously we’ve missed him when he hasn’t been out there on the field and you love to see him out there. He’s gone for over 100 yards the past couple weeks, which is something that’s not easy to do, so it gives our whole offense a big boost when you can run the ball, get other guys in there and it obviously helps the passing game out.

“When you can run the ball the way that he runs the ball, it just sets up more opportunities for everybody else. Like I said, he’s just a phenomenal player and (we) love to have him out there.”

Since Week 15, Love has been pressured on just 20.6 percent of his dropbacks, which is the lowest rate in football. That also includes Love being blitzed at the seventh-highest rate among all quarterbacks during that same four-game stretch.

LaFleur, Adam Stenavich, and Luke Butkus have all given some credit to the improved play of the offensive line over the second half of the season to the rotation at left tackle and right guard, which to them, has increased the level of competition, and therefore the play of everyone on the line.

Following the Packers’ win over Chicago, right guard Jon Runyan credited the gameplan for their recent play in the trenches, with the coaches putting the offensive linemen in positions to succeed.

“These past three or four games, we’ve been really good at passing and rushing,” said Runyan. “Honestly, I really think it’s our coaches and the game plan they put in for us every week. It felt like it’s gotten simpler and simpler every week, not just because we don’t have a lot of stuff in, but because they know what we are really good at.

“Ways to attack the defense, and we’re going to do what we are good at, and the defense is going to have to deal with us, no matter if they know what we are doing or what. The coaches are believing and trusting in us and letting us go out there and be ourselves.”

Success for the Packers’ offense, and really any football team for that matter, largely starts with the play up front. As Love mentioned, having a run game to lean on takes the burden off the passing game, and when there is time in the pocket, Love then has the opportunity to pick opposing defenses apart.

This upcoming week in the NFC Wildcard round, the Packers’ offensive line will have to carry that momentum into Dallas, where they will face Micah Parsons and the Cowboys front that ranks first in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire