How great was this matchup? Aaron Rodgers versus Tom Brady. Two of the greats, head-to-head, primetime Sunday night contest.
While the amount of fanfare that this game received coming into it was enormous and borderline way too much, it helped provide fans with the importance of this event, one that (barring a Super Bowl matchup) will never happen again, as the two teams aren’t primed to face off in the regular season until 2022.
Moving onto the game focus, this contest had so many ups and downs over the course of it, but certain things remained the same throughout its entirety: the misuse of the offense. While Aaron Jones seemed to take on more of a role (more on this later), the usage of running the ball down the field but completely abandoning it while in the red zone is nothing short of confusing.
Alas, the important takeaways from the game.
Aaron Jones earns Ty Montgomery’s passing downs
With the shipping of Montgomery out of town, the team’s most consistently-used passing back was gone. Left in his place was a kick returner and a passing down back with good hands and decent elusiveness.
The candidate who stepped up to fill that gap? None other than the BEST RUNNING BACK ON THIS TEAM (something that Mike McCarthy still cannot grasp), Aaron Jones.
In the first half alone, Jones earned eight carries to Williams’ five, and 48 yards to JW’s 27. While those numbers don’t stand out, the implementation of Jones into passing situations was important to see as well.
Jones had one catch, while Williams had two catches for twenty yards. Williams seems to have more of a niche in the passing play calling, but Jones is making up for his lack of passing-down experience with clutch play.
For Jones, his usage has been interesting tonight too. His runs have mostly consisted of inside zones and belly plays, which for a smaller back is not getting him in space.
But Jones has the wherewithal to go north and south while in the trenches, something that makes his role that much more important. His slipperiness makes it difficult for defenses to contain, opening up play-action options for AR and company.
MVS taking the top off defenses – AGAIN
When he was drafted this past year, Marquez Valdes-Scantling was known for his speed and his verticality. They both have truly shown through since his role increased, and that was proven again against New England.
On the opening possession of the second half, MVS hauled in a bomb from AR on a third-down play with the rush bearing down on him. MVS ran a go route, running past Jason McCourty in one-on-one coverage with no safety help.
Similar to last week’s long touchdown catch against the Rams, MVS was creating problems for the defense all night and making the Patriots reconsider their double coverage technique of both Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham, something they consistently shifted between throughout the contest.
Forcing the hand of NE scheme-wise helped open up holes, like the one that allowed Jimmy Graham to cap off that same drive with a beautiful touchdown after beating Patrick Chung in the slot and running deep enough in the end zone to force the safety (Duran Harmon) to get lost in crossing traffic.
New England’s pace of offense forcing fits for Green Bay
The opening drive for New England was something never truly seen: in the opening 3:20 of the opening half, they ran 10 plays for 59 yards, resulting in a touchdown. But watching the pace of how the drive was ran and how Brady orchestrated the offense without so much as a muddle huddle was (unfortunately) a thing of beauty.
It prevented GB from making many changes during the drive, leading to the defensive unit being tired and worn down. This type of pace, play type and execution is something that the Green Bay defensive unit has rarely seen, even with defensive coordinator Mike Pettine having faced Brady for countless years with both the Browns and Jets.
Brady and company tore apart the defense with their regular calls, scheming James White open out of the backfield and opening up underneath routes for both Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan.
This game was something people had circled on their calendars ever since the schedules came out. With the magnitude of the two players leading each of their teams into battle, this made for primetime TV that did not disappoint.
Thoughts on the game? Leave them in the comments below!뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23