Aaron Rodgers threw for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns on Sunday against the Cowboys. He was tremendous throwing from the pocket. Yet, there was another aspect of Rodgers’ game that was on full display. An aspect that is often overlooked – his ability to get the Packers into the right running play at the line of scrimmage.
The Packers had success on the ground early against Dallas. Rodgers was calling many of their runs at the line, almost always sending the play to the side of the 1-technique, as shown below on Eddie Lacy’s 19-yard run in the 1st quarter.
The Cowboys countered in this cat-and-mouse game at the line of scrimmage. Their defensive front started waiting for Rodgers to make the call at the line and then waited for Green Bay’s offensive linemen to make their calls. Then they shifted, the 1-technique moving out into the B-gap before the snap.
This affected the O-line’s assignments, and left the Packers running to the side with a look that was not advantageous for them. This scheme helped the Cowboys stymie Green Bay’s running game for a while.
The games continued all afternoon as the Cowboys tried to bait a Green Bay run into the face of a blitz in the third quarter. The Cowboys banked on the Packers continuing to run to the side of the 1-technique. As you can see below, the 1-technique is aligned to Aaron Rodgers’ right.
Fullback John Kuhn was also aligned to Rodgers’ right. This was the direction that the run was originally going. But Rodgers spotted something. He saw the safety stacked over the slot cornerback, Orlando Scandrick, a strong indicator of a blitz.
Rodgers changed the play at the line, shifting his fullback to his left, and sending the direction of the running play away from the blitz.
The Cowboys had tried to bait him, but Rodgers recognized the game being played.
The result was a 29-yard run for Eddie Lacy.
The story of this postseason for the Packers has been Aaron Rodgers’ ability to play at a high level on one leg. But there is more to his game that helps make him the best quarterback in the NFL.