As the 2023 season has progressed for the Green Bay Packers, one of the main criticisms I’ve had for the offense is execution. It doesn’t matter what call comes into Jordan Love’s helmet; it won’t work without execution. When all eleven men on the field execute their role perfectly, they can accomplish anything. There was one play in particular on Sunday vs. the Rams that stuck out for me as being perfect. That would be the 20-yard Luke Musgrave touchdown catch.
With 4:16 remaining in the 4th quarter, the Packers’ offense lined up at the Rams’ 20-yard line with a chance to put the game out of reach. Two plays earlier, Jordan Love had just hit Christian Watson on a 37-yard-deep ball, in which Watson made a spectacular catch. Lambeau Field was buzzing, it was time to put it away. On 2nd and 7, that’s exactly what they did.
The Packers lined up in the shotgun with AJ Dillon initially to Jordan Love’s left before Love moved him over to his right. Aaron Jones was lined up in the slot, with Romeo Doubs and Dontayvion Wicks split wide on each side, and Luke Musgrave tight against the right tackle.
Before the snap Aaron Jones came in motion behind Love and Dillon, and when the ball was snapped, Love turned in Jones’ direction for what looked like a sure wheel-route pass. Instead, Love turned around to his right where AJ Dillon was running almost the same route in the other direction. But no sooner than he turns to face Dillon, Love’s sights are set on the center of the field where he immediately hit a wide-open Luke Musgrave and Musgrave took it the distance to put the Packers up 19-3 before the extra point would make it 20-3. In real-time I noticed a little bit of the trickery, but I had to know how Musgrave got that wide-open.
Offensive Line Execution
After the game, Matt LaFleur admitted that the play wasn’t original, that they’d seen it around the league at least from San Francisco. But original or not, it was an outstanding call. Breaking it down you’ll notice that immediately on the snap, both guards, Jon Runyan and Elgton Jenkins pull in opposite directions. This is done in effort to draw defenders on each side into the belief that the play is a screen with both running backs running routes in each direction. The tackles engage the defensive ends while Luke Musgrave engages the edge rusher for about a second and a half count before passing him off to the pulling Jon Runyan as he takes off up the middle on his route. Lucky for the Packers both edge rushers were fooled by the fake screens and the only pressure Jordan Love faced was from the defensive end who was able to break off of Zach Tom who became tangled up with Josh Myers and the nose tackle.
Both inside linebackers were fooled by the AJ Dillon screen fake and both safeties split out wide to provide cushion on the two wideouts. This left Luke Musgrave wide open in the middle of the field for the easy six points, and essentially the win.
You can see this perfectly executed play from three different angles below:
More of this execution please
This play is the type of creativity we were promised from Matt LaFleur. The ability to scheme a receiver wide-open. I don’t claim to know the play-call on every down because if the play isn’t executed correctly, I’m not seeing what was designed.
Vince Lombardi once said that every play works on the chalk board, but it takes men to execute it. Even with so many moving pieces that had to be successful for this play to work, this team showed they have the ability to execute it.
For this Packer team to be successful moving forward we need that type of execution during the first 55 minutes as well, not just the last five. This team is young and on an offense with likely many more wrinkles than these guys saw in college. So, a bit of a learning curve is expected. But, we’re about to enter the ninth game of the season. It’s the halfway point. It’s time to go out there and execute on every down.
Whether it be via elaborate play-calls like this one highlighted or simple ones, I think this offense is ready to move forward. Let this great play execution be the steppingstone for the second half of the season. No more seemingly broken plays or miscommunications. Let’s perfect those simple plays and then light it up with the double-screen fakes into a tight end slant. If we can do that, this offense could reach it’s full potential at last week in and week out.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.