The Green Bay Packers have a lot of inexperience on the offensive side of the ball, but they also have a wide variety of skill sets that, when coupled with Matt LaFleur’s system, can keep defenses guessing.
Christian Watson is a big play threat who, as LaFleur mentioned this offseason, is going to see his role expand as he’s tasked with running a greater variety of routes. Romeo Doubs is a well-rounded pass catcher with his ability to run just about any route out there, as LaFleur put it, while Jayden Reed brings speed and strength to the slot position.
Luke Musgrave can be a matchup problem at tight end with his size and speed. He is someone who can stretch the field vertically down the seam and make plays over the middle. Tucker Kraft brings more of the inline blocking presence and has excellent YAC abilities. Josiah Deguara, meanwhile, can line up just about anywhere and be tasked with many responsibilites.
Lastly, at running back, AJ Dillon brings the power, while Aaron Jones brings the ability to create his own opportunities with the ball in his hands as a dynamic presence. Both can impact the passing game as well.
If you put all of these players together, it really gives LaFleur the opportunity to open up his playbook with such a variety of skill sets and roles to utilize, along with achieving the illusion of complexity we have often heard him discuss.
In short, the illusion of complexity means running plays that begin similarly but actually end differently or running the same play from a variety of formations. All of this is supposed to keep the defense off-balance and guessing at what’s coming. Pre-snap motion is also an important aspect of this, as it can force the defense to make last-second adjustments and even have them tipping their hand to the offense about what they are planning to do.
In order to accomplish this, versatility is a must, along with having diverse skill sets to work with. LaFleur is then able to keep the concepts simple – which is crucial for such a young offense – but they can still be devastating for a defense. Running the same play from different personnel can create mismatches as defenses are forced to adjust their alignment based on how the offense is lining up pre-snap. Utilizing like-plays that end differently makes it difficult for the defense to decipher what is actually taking place.
If, on one play, Reed is running a deep crosser over the middle from the slot, then later in the game Musgrave is running that same route also from the slot, how the defense defends each of those players will be different, and subsequently, changes how they defend the rest of this Packers offense as well, potentially creating matchup problems elsewhere.
The trickle-down effect of LaFleur’s system is that these concepts will hopefully make the jobs of Jordan Love and the skill position players easier by getting players into space to set up pitch-and-catch opportunities with the potential for yards after the catch or favorable downfield matchups. When we hear about LaFleur’s ability to get guys in space, his scheme and the illusion of complexity are, in large part, what is being referred to. The design of the play shoulders that space-creating workload with the matchup problems it creates and the confusion that can ensue for a defense.
Inevitably, with such a young and inexperienced offense overall, there are going to be plenty of ups and downs this season, much like a roller coaster ride. But LaFleur’s system, coupled with the wide-ranging skill sets that this unit possesses, will hopefully take some of that burden off the players’ plates by being able to keep things simple yet complex through the eyes of the defense.