Packers Play Analysis: Week 2 Versus The Bears All Green Bay Packers All the Time

“Good luck […] Our speed guys are going to get around them, and our big guys are going to throw and go,” Cutler said. “We invite press coverage. We invite man. And if we get in that type of game, our guys outside have to make some plays for us.” – Jay Cutler

After that statement, how would defensive coordinator Dom Capers respond?  Obviously by doing the exact opposite and throwing at Jay Cutler a look he’s probably never seen from the Packers that has neither press nor man coverage. In all honesty I’m not exactly sure what the formation is called, DB Psycho?  Woodson Tampa-2?  Well, one thing is for sure, it confused the hell out of the Bears offense and lead to a Charles Woodson interception.

The situation: The score 3 to 13 in favor of the Packers and the Bears find themselves at 3rd and 11 with 3:18 left in the 3rd quarter; in the previous play TE Kellen Davis was penalized 5 yards for offsides, so the Bears are looking for a big drive to bring the game back to a one score difference.

The formation: The Bears start in a 311 formation (3WR-1TE-1RB) with WR Brandon Marshall out wide right, WR Earl Bennett in the right slot and rookie WR Alshon Jefferies out wide left.  TE Kellen Davis is inline outside the right tackle and RB Matt Forte is to the right of QB Jay Cutler.

The Packers respond with their dime package (1DL-4LB-6DB): DE Jerel Worthy being the lone down linemen with Clay Matthews at LOLB and Erik Walden at ROLB flip flopping their normal positions.  ILB DJ Smith has the center of the field while OLB Dezman Moses has replaced ILB AJ Hawk.  In the secondary, CB Tramon Williams is lined up directly in front of Marshall and CB Sam Shields is lined up against Jefferies.   Rookie CB Casey Hayward has Bennett in the slot while SS Jeron McMillian and FS Morgan Burnett look to be playing a 2 deep shell.   None is of this out of the ordinary, but what is odd is that CB/SS Charles Woodson is lined in the middle 20 yards away from the line of scrimmage.

At the snap: Both Williams and Shield bail out (essentially playing safety), taking away the deep routes while Moses and Hayward come up to cover the flats.  With Hayward taking the flat, McMillan takes responsibility for Bennett.

At the line, both Matthews and Walden get good penetration, which causes Cutler to roll out left, at which point he sees Earl Bennett sitting in a soft zone in the middle of the field. (He’s the guy sitting on the G logo)

Cutler throws a pretty decent pass considering Walden destroys him a second later but Woodson sees the pass and drives hard towards Bennett and ends up with the interception.


The analysis: The media was quick to blame this on Earl Bennett for sitting in the zone instead of coming back to the quarterback, but I personally think Bennett (and probably Cutler too) had lost track of Woodson.  Everyone knows that Woodson usually plays close to the line of scrimmage and Bennett, probably seeing that both safeties were behind him assumed that he had slipped by the defense, in which case sitting in the zone and getting ready to turn up field is indeed the correct choice.  However since Woodson is in such a strange position, where he is essentially playing Brian Urlacher’s role in a classic tampa-2 look where he’s covering the gap between the two safeties (who in this case are actually Tramon Williams and Sam Shields) either Cutler or Bennett or both don’t see Woodson, which ultimately leads to the interception.

Another interesting thing to note is that maybe one reason to put Woodson so far away from the line of scrimmage is to negate some of Woodson’s lack of speed, who at 36 has definitely lost a step.  To do that, you have to be pretty confident in your run defense (which had done a good job against Matt Forte) or pretty confident in a pass play (which 3rd and 11 and behind by 10 points would typically dictate) to move Woodson away so far from the line.  Also, it appears as if Worthy has taken Cullen Jenkins role as the lone down linemen in the Packers dime package, whether that’s to keep BJ Raji fresh (who had a good game as well), or because he’s simply more explosive off the snap, it is surprising to see a rookie be given the position instead of pro bowler Raji, who had played the position all of last year.

Overall, it’s a very interesting play in the sense that Dom Capers appears to have a lot more flexibility in the defense, not only is he able to move Woodson and Matthews around, which is something he couldn’t really do last year as Woodson and Matthews were basically the only constant sources of pass rush, but he is also able to let Williams and Shields play safety, which he can only really do if he has some other good DBs that can cover.

Author’s note: I’m thinking of making this a regular piece where I look at one interesting play, do you prefer pictures or diagrams of plays?  Also does anyone have a cool name for this series?  Add your thoughts to the comments below.


Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


37 thoughts on “Packers Play Analysis: Week 2 Versus The Bears

  1. Both. It would be nice to add the routes and coverages, at least in the pre-snap, stationary picture.

    BTW, isn’t Woodson the last guy in the first picture? If so, he’s closer to 40 yards past the LOS than 20. Minor detail but it does confuse, at least me.

    1. Woodson is the last man in the pre-snap picture, I figured that the LOS was around the 35 and he’s sitting at the 45 of the other side which makes around 20 yards. I’ll have to figure out how to make diagrams.

      1. You are right and I can’t count.

        For the second part, if you’re not familiar with photoshop, even arrows at MS Paint will do.

    2. I would agree, some graphics to identify the main guys would help. I love the breakdown though (which I forgot to write in my comment below).

      1. I was thinking of putting players last names on the pic, but it might get too cluttered. Do you think enough people know the players numbers where I can use that instead (i.e. do you think people know that #21 is Woodson and #29 is Hayward?)

  2. Well as they say, it’s not about the series but about the game. In this case I would like to name the Chicago Bears Offense “The Spray N’ Wash”. You spray the offensive line out and you let the defenders wash over Cutler.

    Although that would be counter-active, because Spray N’Wash is suppose to get rid of stains like grass.

    Overall just a fine example of how I expect the defense to act the next couple of weeks. Making it crystal clear of a playoff spot, not worrying if we are in contention in the final weeks.

    I know that alot of Packers fans want a home game, but frankly it’s become a myth now as it’s just a team that gets hot in the late stages. So I really don’t care about what seed we get, because Aaron has already shown he can take a team to a Superbowl and win it, regardless of seed placement.

    1. Thanks! I’m also open to suggestions, so if you really like a play you can tell me and maybe I will analyze it.

  3. TH, nice quote at the start to provide the frame for the rest.

    A big part of why that play worked was what had gone before. The Bears O line was breaking down all the time and Cutler looked to be struggling to understand what Green Bay were doing to him schematically. When you are harried as much as he was, it is tough to keep making good decisions, just as its tough for the receivers who cannot seem to get open, although Bennett did better than others.

    As for naming a regular piece, How about Shadenfreude. The Germans coined the name, though it has since spread into the English language. Shaden means damage. freude means joy, and the whole means taking enjoyment from the troubles of others). Too wordy maybe ?

    If/when I buy a new (personalised) Packer jersey the name will be Shadenfreude and the number 13 (unlucky……for the other team).

    1. I definitely think that if this play had happened earlier, Cutler may still have had his composure and probably wouldn’t have thrown it to Bennett. What you don’t see is that there is a gap during the play where Brandon Marshall is past Haywards flat coverage but but before Williams where he probably has a good shot at making the first down (you can actually see Marshall wave his hands in the 3rd frame)

      Also for the name, the only problem with it is that I’m probably also going to diagram Packers offensive plays at some point.

  4. This is another example of a play that would have never occurred last year – pressure with only 3 pass rushers. The Packers rushed only 3 – Matthews, Worthy, and Walden. Matthews gets cut block initially, but recovers and pushes the play to Cutler’s left. Walden then drills Cutler as he releases the ball.

    Put the active Packer DBs in an 8 on 5 with QB pressure and good things like this will happen.

    Again, this lineup was rich in Packer rookies – Worthy, Hayward, Moses, and McMillian all in on this play. I really like what the young bucks are doing on defense.

    1. Actually now that you mention it, it’s rather odd that the Bears decided to triple team Worthy and keep Matthews with Carmini alone. My guess is that Forte probably is looking Matthews way first, but why not double team Worthy (which is probably more than enough), double Matthews with backup from Forte and leave Walden with the 1 on 1? Despite Walden seeming to have the Bears number, he’s probably the least scary of the three. The only thing I can think of is that they were waiting for a stunt from Moses, but I dunno if Moses possess es the ability to pull a stunt off right now.

    1. Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. Would it help if I added a URL to the clip? You can find this play (the TV broadcast version) on the NFL webpage.

  5. Pictures are great, clips would be super. I really like the analysis. Walden getting pressure is essential in this play.
    How about “Hobbjective Analysis”?

    1. lol, that’s actually a pretty good one. I can probably link the video on the NFL website for the majority of plays that I will be covering if that helps.

  6. Great breakdown! I would agree, Cutler probably lost track of Chuck. I think having him at safety and giving him the ability to blitz or drop back into coverage is huge. How many guys can a QB account for before the snap? Clearly teams will need to shift help to Clay but if #21 is on the other side, now what?

    I think Walden being back and the fact that he is decent in pass coverage makes a huge difference.

    1. Well if I was a quarterback or center, the first person I would look for would be Matthews and then after that it would be Woodson; because really no other player really moves around as much as those two (yes, the corners can flip sides and what not, but it’s essentially the same scheme either way). I think Walden is probably pretty decent in coverage (concerning 3-4 OLBs at least), but in this play it’s actually Moses covering the flat with Walden just rushing Cutler.

  7. I like this feature. Since the TV broadcasts have abandoned any pretense of providing insight and analysis and are instead nothing but 3-hour commercials for their other shows, it is great to have you to dig into that for us.
    BTW, ELo, great name suggestion.

  8. Thomas,

    really interesting & valuable. Thanks.

    i look forward to your next edition. call it what it is…

    Hobbes Key Play Analysis

    skip the Spray n Wash

  9. This look is so distinctive, I would not be surprised one bit if Capers puts the same D out the field once or twice more during the first half of regular season in a some relatively innocuous situations, just to get it on tape for opponents.

    It would be a nice set up, in which Capers could then roll out the exact same personnel and defensive set in the play offs, knowing full well the look will be immediately and easily identifiable by the opposing offense..however, the assignments could be completely different post-snap. Perhaps Shields back peddles two steps, feigning bail, while the safeties cheat up.. Looks just like what we’ve seen here. But Shields comes on a CB blitz while McMillian drops back and Wood storms up and underneath into what was previously the soft spot in the deep middle zone..? The possibilities for deception with the personnel and alignment shown here are endless.

    1. Woodson would have to cover an awful amount of ground to pull that off, I’m not sure Sam Shields could run (and time) 20 yards right before the snap. But I agree with you that the zone fire 3-4 gives defenses a lot of permutations to confuse offenses, in other situations, maybe Woodson brackets Marshall with Williams playing underneath while Hayward blitzes and McMillian covers the flat etc. etc.

  10. Cutler floated the pass. Bennett didn’t help him, but you can’t float passes down the middle like that with Woodson roaming around.

    Perhaps Cutler thought he could get more on it even with Walden bearing down on him, but he didn’t. That ball was floating and Woodson sniped it.

    1. I do wonder how much Walden effected the pass; even if Cutler wasn’t hit before releasing the ball, subconsciously he’s got to be bracing for the impact and maybe that changes his mechanics enough to where the throw floats on him.

  11. I really like the plays you are featuring. While I was in San Diego I had a chance to buy season tickets and you really see a different game at the stadium.I really appreciate the whole field view. As for names I will give you the following; View from the Cheap seats or view from the nose bleed seats.

  12. Nice piece. I agree, there’s never enough breakdown. Keep this one coming. The more visuals you have the better. I suggest adding telestrator-like graphics to the pics. As far as proposed name(s):

    “Coordinator’s Corner” or
    “What you didn’t see on TV” or
    “Press This” perhaps an opportunity to call the media out when they look at a play the wrong way.

    1. Thanks for all the input, I’ll see what I can figure out with a graphics program. I might just draw the Packers and what they run and then show a bunch of pictures afterwards once you get the idea.

  13. Excellent job!

    Consider going between pictures and diagramed plays. Sometimes one shows more than the other. As a former college player, I like both.

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