Scheming to try and limit quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing attack has long been a difficult task for defensive coordinators facing the Packers. It’s been no different for Detroit over the years.
Rodgers has had three-plus touchdowns and a 100-plus passer rating in three of his past four games vs. the Lions. In nine home starts vs. Detroit, Rodgers has 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions for a 109.4 rating.
Detroit’s still been able to win the last four vs. Green Bay, but Lions head coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni will have their hands full Monday night at Lambeau Field with a very different Packers' offense than the one they’ve been used to seeing over the years that relied on Rodgers and the passing game.
Under new head coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers have put more of an emphasis on the running game. Green Bay is averaging 25.4 rushing attempts per game vs. just 20.8 last year, which were the fewest in the NFL per game.
“We know what a great player (Rodgers) is,” Patricia said. “I think the added element for him this year is the run game. I think Aaron Jones and what he has been able to do and the consistency he has been able to show in the run game.
“I think what you’re seeing is upfront, they’re just creating the holes with space. You’re really seeing the stretch run game. (It’s) a lot of influence from Matt LaFleur’s time with (49ers head coach) Kyle Shanahan and some of the different run schemes back in the day, when they were together.”
Jones has been good running the ball for the Packers and is coming off a 107-yard, four-touchdown performance in Dallas this past weekend. On the year, Jones has eight rushing touchdowns, which leads the NFL.
LaFleur is using a lot of pre-snap motions, multiple personnel groupings and run schemes he learned under Shanahan, whose offense in San Francisco is currently the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL.
View photos of Detroit Lions players packing Kroger food boxes with students from Detroit Lions Academy Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 in Detroit.
Green Bay got off to a slower start running the football, but has picked it up over the last couple weeks as they’ve become more comfortable in LaFleur’s scheme. It’s helped the Packers score at least 27 points in each of their last three contests.
The run game is becoming a real threat in Green Bay, and that makes preparing for them on defense a much more difficult task.
“As a defensive coach you want to preach to stop the run and they are running the ball very, very well,” Pasqualoni said of the Packers.
“And then of course you have a great quarterback, a Hall of Fame quarterback, who’s playing extremely well. They do have a nice play action concept off those identical runs. So, you have to bring your A game and you have to be at your best because it’s just very, very difficult to stop.”