In the 2019-20 season, the Green Bay Packers’ defense was surprisingly very strong in the pass defense category. Green Bay’s defense placed in the top half of the league in any metric you could find. But like most game plans in the league, a team member at some point in time will exploit those play schemes that held strong for so long. In the Cowboys and 49ers’ cases, this staple of play schemes held true.
Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys launched a beautiful attack that was meant to bait the Packers into a cover one defense. The mastermind of Garrett would then dominate by then letting their overwhelming personnel attack burn the Packers defense with volume.
How did the Cowboys know that the Packers would come out in cover one ?
Well, the Packers defense is extremely stagnant and predictable with their play calling on the defensive side. Jason Garrett knew that with the numbers he had crunched that if he brought out a certain personnel grouping, then the Packers would counter with the exact play that the numbers would hint at. Which is in this case, would be the standard eleven package baiting out the cover one formation on the Packers as 129 of their 162 cover one calls were against defended by an eleven personnel set.
In his first game against the Packers, Kyle Shanahan absolutely demolished the defense with a passing attack that would lead to 37 points on 49 offensive plays. This is surely one of the most efficient showing of elite offense in modern history.
Shanahan would plan his passing attack based on what Mike Pettine, the defensive coordinator for the Packers, feared most: leaving his underwhelming personnel isolated in a situation where they would need to make a play. Shanahan did just that by showing jumbo packages that would lead to play action passing attacks down the seams of the field.
And how did Shanahan know that these jumbo packages would lead to deep passes?
Well it’s quite simple, just check the data in 2019 the Packers ran a cover 3 defense 62% of the time when paired up against a twelve set. By crunching the data, this would leave the easy part up to his quarterback, Jimmy Garaoppolo. Garaoppolo would be tasked with the simple play of running man coverage checks and then audibling the play to classic cover three killer plays at the line.
How does this apply to the Bears in 2020?
This applies to the Bears by simply taking the same gameplans of these other coaches, as the NFL is a copycat league, as everyone likes to say. It is all on Matt Nagy to make sure that Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles has the pathway to success by doing his research and then dimming the playbook down to beat these coverages.
As time will tell that the Packers run a very “revealing” defensive scheme that can easily be manipulated to get the ball into the hands of your playmakers. Whether it’s with simple cover 3 beater plays or letting your receivers tear apart that cover 1 defense, and it’s defensive personnel.
Photo: CBS Sports