Packers Xs and Os Film Session: Meet Letroy Guion

Photo credit: Mike Roemer/AP

The Green Bay Packers defense appears to be improving as the season progresses, and that was evident when they held the high-powered Philadelphia Eagles in check last Sunday.

A lot of the credit has been given to Clay Matthews after he moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker.

While that is true, he’s not the only one playing at a high level. Other players around him have also stepped up their game.

One such player is nose tackle Letroy Guion. His performance has been quite unexpected, but very welcomed. He was signed in the off season as an unheralded free agent, mainly to provide depth at the position while B.J. Raji returned to his more normal nose tackle position from his previous defensive end deployment. However, after missing most of training camp with a hamstring injury, many thought Guion was at risk of not even making the roster. But, Raji’s season-ending injury necessitated Guion’s contributions.

After getting off to a slow start to the season, probably since he was playing himself into football shape, Guion is making his presence known. In Dom Capers’ 3-4 double gap system, the nose tackle is mainly expected to occupy one or two blockers to ensure that the linebackers (or other box defenders) come free to tackle the ball carrier or blitz cleanly through a gap.

In the play below, Guion does just that. The Eagles are running their bread and butter play, the inside zone, which calls for their center (62) and right guard (64) to double team the play side nose tackle (Guion, 98). Watch as Guion occupies both of these blockers, but doesn’t get blown completely off the line of scrimmage. He does a good job setting the anchor point, which allows safety Morgan Burnett (42) crash down the gap and tackle McCoy (25). It’s not a glamorous play by Guion, but he played it perfectly for the system, and he was even credited with an assisted tackle on the play.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Setting the anchor point is what’s most expected from the nose tackle in this defense. Anything above and beyond that is gravy, and Guion is starting to provide some bonuses.

In the play below, the Eagles are once again running the inside zone, but this time away from Guion. Subsequently, he’s left single-blocked on the back side. Watch as he stands up his blocker, which allows him to control both gaps (to his right and left); this is the cornerstone of the double-gap system. By controlling both gaps, he’s able to shed the blocker and attack the ball carrier in the hole. It also allows the box defenders to flow downhill into the gaps. Here, Guion sheds his blocker before the box defenders converge, stopping McCoy for a short game. It was an excellent play.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Guion’s 40-yard dash if officially 5.31 seconds, which is slow enough where they stop even talking about it in public. However, he seems to play much faster than that and has a good initial burst off the ball.

In the next play, which was on the opening possession of the game, Guion flies off the ball and knocks Mark Sanchez into next week. He uses a nice swim/hump move and quickly beats the guard in route to crushing Sanchez. This play not only stalled the drive, it also set the tone for the rest of the game. Sanchez was shaken up on the play and played the rest of the game with a little bit of nerves and yips in the pocket.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Credit: NFL Game Rewind

This last play shows how nimble Guion is, and how quick he plays in space, especially for a big man with Rich Eisen numbers in the 40-yard dash. It’s a screen pass to the extremely dangerous Darren Sproles. What is most impressive about this play isn’t the fact that Guion chased him down, preventing a touchdown on this possession, it’s how he used his body perfectly to prevent a big play. While chasing down Sproles, he kept his hips in the proper position to avoid an inside cutback lane for Sproles. Had he opened his hips, he would have been completely unable to stop a cutback. Guion knew what the play was from the start, and knew everything he needed to do to prevent the score. The Eagles settled for a field goal on this possession.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Guion has been a pleasant surprise this season, and he’ll be needed down the stretch if the Packers hope to make some noise in the playoff picture.

I believe the GIFs embedded above to be fair use under the premise of being short clips of the original broadcast that are transformative for news reporting, commentary, critique, illustration, and teaching purposes.


Jay Hodgson is an independent sports blogger writing for and

Follow Jay on twitter at @jys_h.


27 thoughts on “Packers Xs and Os Film Session: Meet Letroy Guion

  1. That ‘mini-hump’ he used to get to Sanchex brought back fond memories of #92.

    Letroy Guion – the new Ho Green?

    1. When you look at that play, he’s got the OG set up from the start. This was early in the game, I thought, so I wonder if he’s varying his moves or playing off what he’s been showing on film.

  2. Guion was a nice off-season add. Your gifs do an excellent job of showing a guy doing his job, and doing it well. I am hoping that some of the other D-linemen continue to evolve and come up to his level. It is amazing how we have transformed this line in a year or so. We are not there yet but, the pieces are in place for a young, strong and fast line. I am really hoping that Boyd and Pennel show something down the stretch.

    On a side note, I see A.J. Hawk in all these highlights and I can’t believe that he is our ILB. He bounces around, is on the wrong side of most blocks and is last guy to the party. Burnett and Dix are charging the runner while Hawk continues to follow his block, safely out of the way. Moving Matthews inside/around has been the single best adjustment to this defense. It has allowed the team to use their most talented guy in new ways AND it has helped to plug the biggest hole in the defense. One more upgrade to go.

    1. Hawk was just doing what he is asked to do… Morgan or Ha-Ha were responsible for the tackling in the backfield, not A. J. Hawk! You can see it clearly on this gifs, if you want to…

      1. What’s the name of the defense where the safeties are used to run block and the ILB is used as a safety? Makes no sense whatsoever

        Hawk is always last to the ball unless it’s right in the A gap. Watch Navoroo Bowman or Patrick Willis and show me how often they hesitate or bounce around blockers.

    2. Gotta agree with croatpackfan on this one. It’s been proven over the years that most fans (not referring to you personally Razer) do not understand what AJ’s responsibilities are. I’m still trying to figure out who would have made those 800-900 tackles if AJ wasn’t there.

      1. I have appreciated Hawk’s longevity and availability and I have wondered about all his tackles. Just seems like a strong, fast and meaner ILB would shutdown the middle and make teams pay for pounding at us. I have seen none of this from Hawk. I see a guy who is good at making a tackle from behind after the gain has been made.

        Most of us have been grateful for his availability, the rest is very average. Clay Matthews has shown us what has been missing in the middle for the last 8 years. If we upgrade this position, we will have a top defense.

        1. If only we drafted Chris Borland , sigh. Seriously, I’d probably take him over Davante Adams. He leads his team with 63 tackles and looks like a strong candidate for defensive rookie of the year despite only starting 4 games. Talk about a significant miss…

    3. Couldn’t have said it any better. The safeties are crashing faster than the Hawk who should be the 1st to flow to the ball. The day Hawk is competenly replaced is the day you see a legit top 10 defense.

      Great gifs!

  3. Nice work as always, Jay. For me, Guion has been the surprise of the season, even more so than Linsley, who I was high on since before the draft. And let’s not forget his role in some of the goalline stands the Packers have executed this year. His penetration has disrupted a lot of those plays and resulted in stops. It was a pickup that hardly made a blip and came with pretty much zero expectations, but it’s been huge. Kudos to Ted on this one!

  4. Finally. It is very instructive… Nice pick of the player. I have to admit that I was one of those who call for Letroy’s release, as he looked to me much worser than Mike Pennel & Luther Robinson. Now I see what Packers saw in him. I forgot to listen to my own advice to others. Believe in what organization is doing, they are much better experts than me…

    1. Yes Croat, I don’t understand why but year after year the majority of fans always get on the legendary TT for his player moves. Time and time again TT proves to be right. It boggles the mind why people constantly doubt this legend but they do. They just do.
      Maybe they want him so bad to be wrong so they can be right just one time or maybe they are just bored and want something to complain about. Me? I acknowledge his greatness and worship him like a God. Got a small statue of him in my room. Would die for a TT Houston Oiler jersey. One day I shall find one. One day.

        1. Me too Croat, life has tilted on me to where I am closer to death now than I have years living. Happens to everyone but it sucks to think about it.

  5. It’s a good thing all those people comparing Guion to a tub of goo at the beginning of the season aren’t running the team. You know who you are. They would have cut him after game 2.

    1. And we’d also line up every snap with Mike Pennel (also known as “Olympian Zeus” to some).

      1. Olympian Zeus – hadn’t heard that, but I like it! It’s funny how the same people who constantly (and incorrectly) complain about the Packers having too many UDFAs were the same ones clamoring for Pennel.

      2. Excellent marpag!! Yes, he is known by that name by the few at the moment who know his exceptional capabilities. By the end of the season the entire world will know.

  6. Excellent work. I was on the fence about Guion but wanted to see how he played first. As for Hawk, he is still just a guy to me and while I understand his role, upgrading the middle with Matthews only proves we must upgrade the ILBs to reach the next level with our D, meaning a D to be feared.. I mean what great D does not have a great ILB.

  7. Just because I’m that kind of guy, let me say it in the most offensive way I possibly can: “Guion has been a pleasant surprise, but he hasn’t made me forget about BJ Raji.”

    There, I said it.

    Raji looked great in preseason, and even the biggest haters can’t deny that he showed the ability to be very good back in the SB season. At the very least he bolsters the rotation, and at best he’s back to his 2010 form. Maybe all of this rubs some people wrong, but has Boyd really showed us anything? Is Datone anything more than a tease so far? We would be better off with Raji than without him, and possibly MUCH better off.

    Like I said, I am pleasantly surprised by Guion, but I’m certainly not shocked. Part of that is because I thought he was OK when TT signed him (remember, he was injured through most of training camp), and the other part is that I’m not quite ready to anoint him just yet. He still ain’t Marcel Dareus or Ndomakung Suh. He’s had a couple of strong games. If he turns into a perennial stud, then I’ll be shocked.

    Nice stuff, Jay.

    1. Raji has the ability to be very good – the question is when does he feel like using it. He was known throughout college as being unmotivated and needed to be constantly leaned on to get him to play hard. That’s always been the issue – what kind of effort is he going to give you today. Raji has much more physical ability than Guion does, but Letroy seems to have a nasty streak and plays hard all the time. It’s too soon to judge, but I like what I’ve seen so far.

      1. I gave up all hope for Raji when I saw him play for the first time in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. That was disgusting. I know most others didn’t show much effort but Raji stood out the most in the worst kind of way. Just pure laziness. He built off that Pro Bowl effort and continued to dominate in the lazy effort category for the next few years. Guion shows much more effort and is more consistent in my professional opinion.

      2. Amen, Mr. Jersey Al. I don’t want the tub of lard Raji back at almost any price. His college coaches hated him. His draft profile ratings were all superlative (7.0 ratings) for his athletic grades, which were higher than CMIII’s. The problem: Work ethic and character, where he got 5.0 and 5.3. Never give Raji any significant guaranteed money.

  8. Guion played a decent game but I for one am not ready to crown him the next minister of defense. He had many uneventful years with the Queens. I truly hope he is not a one hit wonder. And B.J. can dance better than Guion.

    1. Guion has had more than one good game at this point. It’s been a number of weeks in a row where he has played well. After the Jets game (2nd game of season), I was ready to dump him. He was getting washed out every play. Now I see the error of my quick judgement and have been pleasantly surprised. He will never be great. I am ok if he’s just competent in the middle and has the occasional sack like against the Eagles. If, and that’s a big IF, Raji plays to his ability, I will welcome him back next year with open arms. Will be a good rotation for little $. GoPack!

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