Throughout the 2023 season, one of the key criticisms of the Green Bay Packers’ offense has been execution. Regardless of the play call that comes through Jordan Love’s helmet, it’s execution that ultimately determines success. When all eleven players on the field execute their roles flawlessly, the possibilities are endless. One play, in particular, stood out as a perfect example of execution – the 20-yard touchdown catch by Luke Musgrave.
With just 4:16 remaining in the 4th quarter of the game against the Rams, the Packers’ offense lined up at the Rams’ 20-yard line, looking to seal the victory. Two plays earlier, Jordan Love had connected with Christian Watson on a spectacular 37-yard deep pass, setting the stage for a game-defining moment. On 2nd and 7, they executed the play to perfection.
The Play Breakdown
The Packers lined up in the shotgun formation with AJ Dillon initially to Jordan Love’s left before shifting to his right. Aaron Jones was in the slot, while Romeo Doubs and Dontayvion Wicks were split wide on either side. Luke Musgrave was aligned tightly to the right tackle.
Packers running Y Delay pic.twitter.com/P8gRc3XzNG— Shawn (@SyedSchemes) November 6, 2023
Before the snap, Aaron Jones went in motion behind Love and Dillon, indicating a potential wheel-route pass. However, Love’s attention quickly shifted to the center of the field, where Luke Musgrave had found a gap in the defense. Love hit Musgrave, who capitalized on the opportunity and sprinted into the end zone, putting the Packers up 19-3.
What Made It Work?
Matt LaFleur acknowledged that the play wasn’t entirely original, having seen variations of it around the league, particularly from San Francisco. Nonetheless, it was a brilliantly executed call. The play’s success hinged on several key elements, including:
Offensive Line Execution: Both guards, Jon Runyan and Elgton Jenkins, pulled in opposite directions at the snap to create the illusion of screen plays on both sides. This drew defenders towards the fake screens, leaving Luke Musgrave wide open in the middle.
Defensive Deception: The fake screens fooled the edge rushers and inside linebackers, as they expected screen passes. As a result, Musgrave found himself unguarded in the center.
Clever Design: The play’s design allowed Luke Musgrave to engage the edge rusher for a brief moment before releasing him to the pulling Jon Runyan, who took off up the middle. This further confused the defense and allowed Musgrave to break free.
A Steppingstone for the Packers
This well-executed play demonstrated the creativity and scheming ability of the Packers’ offense. It showcased the potential to scheme receivers open and create high-percentage scoring opportunities. To succeed consistently, the team needs this level of execution during the first 55 minutes of the game, not just in the final five.
As the Packers are a relatively young team with players adjusting to an offense that differs from their college experiences, a learning curve is expected. However, as they approach the halfway point of the season, it’s time to consistently execute on every down.
Whether through intricate plays like the one highlighted or simpler ones, the Packers’ offense is poised to progress. Perfecting execution, eliminating broken plays, and enhancing communication will be vital for the second half of the season. If the team can achieve this, their offense has the potential to consistently reach its peak performance week in and week out.