Packers Film Room: defensive mistakes in high school prove costly in losses for Vikings



The Green Bay Packers dropped a savage in the dying seconds Sunday at Minnesota by a final score of 34-31. The defense, who had been playing well in previous weeks, may have played their worst game of the season when they couldn’t capitalize on potential interceptions and couldn’t stop Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The Packers are still in first place in the NFC North, but the race has tightened with this result.

The defense gave up eight receptions, 169 receiving yards and two touchdowns to Jefferson. Kirk Cousins ​​had 341 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. However, according to Pro Football Focus, Cousins ​​had several abandoned interceptions that skewed this statistic, registering three “plays worthy of a turnover.”

The Packers were also without Rashan Gary in that game, but it’s unclear what impact he would have had in the pass race. The defense managed to pressure Cousins ​​on 17 losses, including two sacks. Preston Smith had another great game, recording six of those pressures and two sacks, one of which resulted in a fumble (which Minnesota recovered).

In the end, however, Jefferson proved too much to deal with and the Vikings seemed content to use Jefferson to prey on the safety of backup Henry Black and other members of the high school on multiple occasions.

Defensive mistakes lead to exposure for Justin Jefferson

First game, 1Q 13:17, 3rd and 6 at MIN 29

Here the Packers lined up in a quarterback blanket to match the Vikings 11 staff (one running back, one tight end) on the 3rd and 6th. The play appeal is deep mesh sleepers designed to conflict safeties with a shallow bottom rail. Cousin’s initial read is the tight end on the delayed road where he breaks the end and crosses the formation.

At the back however, Henry Black (No.41), as quarterback safety, for some reason has his sights set on the shallow crossover once he realizes Jefferson is performing a deep crossover. Either he was confused by the route layout or he thought field security would pick up the cruiser. Either way, since he played up and down on the shallow crosser first, his move would also have left KJ Osborn wide open had safety Darnell Savage got Jefferson back.

Jefferson opens up and Cousins ​​finds him down the field with nothing but open grass, gaining 43 yards on the passing play.

Second set, 1Q 2:40, 2nd and 7 at MIN 43

Although Black did not participate in this play, Jefferson still caught a through pass for 56 yards, setting up the Vikings’ offense on the 1 yard line. The play call is Gary Kubiak’s staple shooter: Pylon Corner.

The Vikings are in 21 people here against the Packers, who are playing from cover-3. Jefferson’s inner vertical rod initially looks like a deep crossover as he walks up to safety Adrian Amos who plays the opposite hash. Amos backs up straight instead of widening on the field side of the formation as Jefferson sharply cuts through the front corner of the end zone (“pylon” corner) and catches a deep pass in stride for 56 yards.

Third game, 3Q 8:31, 3rd and 9 to GB 9

On Jefferson’s first touchdown of the day, the Vikings got a little creative in their training by lining up the running back in the lunge and Jefferson in the backfield in what is usually the half-back roster. rear shotgun, revealing coverage of the area from the corner did not travel with Jefferson into the backfield.

The Packers are in quarterbacks on the goal line and Jefferson lines up with safety Henry Black. Jefferson executes a pick out of the backfield and makes Black widen with him before he cuts inside the pick. Cousins ​​throws a strike and Jefferson crosses the goal line untouched. Black simply ceded too much ground and allowed the receiver to dictate the choice of route.

Fourth set, 4Q 2:24, 3rd and 3 GB 23

In the dying minutes of the game, the Packers led 24-23 with a crucial 3rd save needed and forced a fourth try. On the third try, defensive coordinator Joe Barry sent 6-man pressure while dropping Jonathan Garvin from the defensive front into cover while overloading the Vikings right side with the blitz, including safety Darnell Savage.

The Vikings perform a mesh concept with Jefferson performing a rapid climb and descent. Jefferson is the alert lane here, which means the quarterback can give up lane progression and throw deep if he has a favorable game.

There is no deep security to provide aid over, so Cousins ​​shoots deep as the blitz defenders get there, not allowing him to intervene in the throw. He gets the pitch quick and Jefferson makes a good pass adjustment, beating rookie Eric Stokes for the touchdown.

Preston Smith generates a ton of pressure

Preston Smith continues to play at a high level in defense and on Sunday recorded six pressures including two sacks.

On his two sacks, he showed good quick passes to beat his blockers and sack the quarterback. The first sack is more of a high effort sack where he doesn’t give up and is able to get the sack because the back coverage was great. He was still able to get rid of the blocker, lift himself off and enter the backfield to push Cousins ​​onto the turf.

On his second sack he showed good speed and leaned over the edge as he swept the blocker’s punch. He doesn’t break his stride as he enters the backfield to save a backpack as Cousins ​​fumbled for the ball.

Just like last week, Smith was able to wreak havoc in the backfield. He certainly gave his defense multiple chances to influence the outcome, but they couldn’t get the job done around him.


It’s just a little bump in the road in a long season. Division matches are notoriously tough and this match is no exception. The defense have a few issues to work out with this game, but it was unreasonable to expect them to maintain the high level of play they have been having over the past few weeks. It is also by no means a sign of regression or backtracking. In the end, Joe Barry has to make the adjustments and corrections down the home stretch, where there are still some pretty tough opponents.



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