Every Friday or Saturday, I’ll be posting six videos from the game played earlier in the week. The videos won’t be of obvious plays like touchdowns, but of plays that I found either important or at least interesting. Here’s this weekend’s six-pack:
The end result of this play wasn’t pretty, but it sure was fun watching a former Princeton quarterback block an NFL linebacker five yards out of bounds. John Lovett (#45), who was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster less than 24 hours before the game, made sure Eric Wilson (#50) wasn’t going to tackle Jamaal Williams (#30). Of course, the problem with the play was that nobody bothered to lay a hand on star middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (#54). This run would’ve resulted in at least a 4-yard gain had veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis (#89) peeled back on Kendricks. Instead, he was focused on the already dealt with Wilson and would up accomplishing nothing on the play.
The idea of replacing longtime starter Blake Martinez with Christian Kirksey was to save money and add athleticism at the inside linebacker position, but this play has to make you wonder if the Packers really accomplished the latter of the two objectives. It was very disconcerting to see quarterback Kirk Cousins (#8), who won’t remind anyone of Lamar Jackson or even Russell Wilson, run away from Kirksey (#58) on a scramble in the third quarter. The play should’ve resulted in a 2 or 3-yard gain. Instead, it turned into 16 yards. Kirksey had far more downs than ups in his Packers’ debut, and this might’ve been the biggest down of all.
At 6-foot-5 and nearly 230 pounds, Allen Lazard is one of the biggest wide receivers in the league. And while that doesn’t always help when it comes to separating from smaller and quicker cornerbacks, it sure makes a difference in the run game. On this play from early in the fourth quarter, Lazard (#13) throws a block on Pro Bowl safety Anthony Harris (#41) that would make All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari proud. The block allowed AJ Dillon to turn what could’ve been a loss into an 8-yard gain up the middle on first down.
Sacks can be an overrated stat. Outside linebacker Rashan Gary didn’t get one against the Vikings, but his ability to generate pressure impacted four plays. One pressure resulted in a safety. Another resulted in an interception. And two resulted in incompletions. Here’s the first of the incompletions. Gary (#52) is able to power through both right guard Pat Elflein (#65) and right tackle Brian O’Neill (#75) and get into Cousins’ face just as he releases the ball. The sacks are sure to come if Gary continues to play the way he did on Sunday.
Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but this near-miss shows why the Packers drafted tight end Josiah Deguara (#81). Lined up in the backfield on 1st and 10, the rookie from Cincinnati should be wide open down the field after middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (#54) hesitates ever so slightly at the beginning of the play. Unfortunately, Deguara breaks his stride at about the 38-yard line to look back at Aaron Rodgers, and this gives Kendricks just enough time to make up the ground he lost a few seconds earlier. Had Deguara kept running, he would’ve been in the clear by a couple of yards and on his way to the end zone.
Well, we know what Mike Pettine was doing during halftime. He was coming up with a new look for his defense. With Kenny Clark injured, he decided to start the third quarter with outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith standing up over the center. You didn’t need to be an expert to know what the Vikings were going to do. Two runs and 21 yards later, Pettine scrapped this strange alignment. Here’s the second of the two plays. Ends Dean Lowry (#94) and Tyler Lancaster (#95) are a bit closer to the ball, but like he did the play before, Smith (#55) rushes up the field toward the quarterback. This leaves the same gaping hole for Dalvin Cook (#33) to once again exploit. Let’s hope Pettine uses future halftimes to get a Coke and take a crap.