Again throughout the 2020 common season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers squared off in an early-season tilt between two of the NFC’s high contenders, and two of the league’s greatest quarterbacks.
Tampa Bay went on to win that recreation, thanks largely to what defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and the remainder of the Buccaneers protection did to Aaron Rodgers. Tampa Bay discovered other ways to stress the Packers quarterback, and the outcome was one in every of Rodgers’ worst regular-season performances. He completed the afternoon having accomplished 16 of 25 passes for 160 yards, no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. The NFL Passer Score of 35.4 he posted that day was the third-worst single-game effort of his profession.
Over the summer season, Rodgers talked about dealing with Bowles and his defenses through the years. In an look on Pardon My Take, he highlighted how dealing with Bowles presents a variety of completely different challenges:
I feel Todd Bowles is doing a superb job at that through the years. I feel he’s a very good coach. You may all the time inform, schematically, what coaches are the very best based mostly on how the league adjusts … After which there’s some groups making an attempt to do what Coach Bowles does with the stress package deal.
And earlier this week, Rodgers once more discussed the challenges of dealing with a Bowles-led protection. “They all the time sort of look comparable so far as the entrance goes to vary, the stress goes to vary,” Rodgers stated on Wednesday. “The appears are going to be — there’s a variety of various things they throw at you. However they’re all the time adapting their personnel.”
That was certainly the case on Sunday, as Bowles and the Buccaneers threw every little thing they may consider at Rodgers and the Packers offense.
On this afternoon, no less than, the veteran quarterback discovered a approach to throw a few of that stuff again.
Within the first quarter, the Packers confronted a 3rd down in Tampa Bay territory, and aligned Rodgers within the shotgun. Tampa Bay responded with this look earlier than the snap:
Tampa Bay exhibits stress up entrance, placing each Devin White and Lavonte David into the A-Gaps. Inexperienced Bay places working again Aaron Jones within the upback alignment, three yards behind the ball and between the middle and proper guard. With extra defenses implementing learn blitzes out of those packages — the place the linebacker the middle opens in the direction of dropping off into protection whereas the opposite linebacker continues his blitz path — groups are placing upbacks into this alignment as an added layer of safety.
As you will note, heart Josh Myers opens to the left, and Jones steps up into the best A-Hole.
Nonetheless, each David and White drop into protection. That doesn’t imply, nonetheless, that the Buccaneers usually are not bringing stress. As an alternative, it comes off the sting, because the Buccaneers drop right into a two-deep zone:
What does Rodgers do in response to the stress off the sting? He snaps off a fast throw to Randall Cobb, who turns the one-yard go right into a 17-yard achieve:
The catch-and-run gave the Packers a contemporary set of downs, and they might end the drive with a landing to take a 7-3 lead.
That was the rating early within the second quarter when Inexperienced Bay confronted one other third down, this time a third and eight on their very own 31 yard-line. This time, Bowles actually received artistic, however Rodgers once more discovered a approach to clear up the issues posed by the Buccaneers.
Here’s what the quarterback noticed earlier than the snap:
Not solely do the Buccaneers have six defenders alongside the road of scrimmage, however security Antoine Winfield Jr. is lurking off the best edge as nicely. In response, Rodgers slides tight finish Robert Tonyan, aligned extensive to the best, into the formation to assist as a blocker:
Tonyan certainly stays in to assist with go safety on the best edge, which is an effective factor, because the Buccaneers do certainly carry stress from that facet. However their general defensive scheme on this play is, for lack of a greater phrase, wild:
As with the earlier instance, the Buccaneers spin right into a two-deep protection on the snap. Keanu Neal, aligned exterior the left deal with, slides into the flat on the left facet of the offense as each White and David drop into beneath zones. The entire stress comes from the best facet of the offense.
How does Rodgers navigate this look? Simply because it looks as if time is working out within the pocket he finds … Tonyan. The safety holds initially, however Rodgers has to maneuver within the pocket and is in search of an choice downfield. Seeing this, Tonyan leaks out of the backfield and makes himself accessible for his quarterback late within the down:
Because of this little bit of improvisation and consciousness from Rodgers and Tonyan, the Packers saved the drive alive. They might accept a subject aim, extending their result in 10-3.
(Additionally, an enormous hat-tip to our personal Justis Mosqueda, who highlighted this play on social media Monday morning).
Within the fourth quarter, nonetheless, it regarded like Bowles had lastly dialed up the best stress mixture.
That’s when Rodgers did what he can achieve this nicely.
Merely beat you with a flick of the wrist:
Logan Ryan springs free off the sting, and has a transparent path to the quarterback. However Rodgers turns to the best and with a easy flick of the wrist, he connects with Allen Lazard for a 26-yard achieve. The drive would ultimately stall out, setting the stage for a remaining drive from Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense, however this play offers one other instance of how Rodgers navigated the challenges offered by Bowles on Sunday.
And for our second hat-tip of the piece, a shout-out to Nate Tice, who does nice work overlaying the NFL for The Athletic. The previous school quarterback famous which you could hear the offensive lineman making an attempt to kind out this blitz because the play unfolds. Flip the quantity up!
Heading into this recreation, Rodgers knew he needed to discover methods to deal with what Bowles threw at him. All through the summer season and this week, the quarterback talked concerning the challenges of dealing with his protection. Bowles threw some artistic appears at him — and even received Rodgers to throw an interception within the third quarter, however on today, Rodgers discovered some methods to throw them again.