2009 NFL Season: The Jermichael Finley Effect

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers opened the action at Chicago’s Soldier Field with a simple off tackle run to the left side.  Ryan Grant ran untouched 62-yards to the end zone.  Check this out.

First Play of the Game: I Formation, TE Motion Left

Packer tight end Jermichael Finley goes in motion to the left.  In Week 13, he had 7 catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Baltimore Ravens.  The Bears noticed.  Finley is going to set up in the backfield with run/block options to either side of the field.

Josh Bullocks: Tracking and Trailing

At the snap of the ball, Bear safety Josh Bullocks (Nebraska) follows Finley across the formation.   At the snap of the ball, Finley breaks left across the formation.  Is it play action to Finley?  Is it a counter?  Is it a screen?

It’s tough to tell.  Trouble.  Aaron Rodgers is handing the ball to Ryan Grant (in red) — still too early to tell if it’s a counter or if Grant will simply follow the full back through the hole.  Finley and Bullocks (both in yellow) are moving to the right side of the formation and a gigantic is opening up on the left side where Bullocks was at the snap.  #96 Alex Brown gets a good upfield rush, but he’s the only one.  Grant has a lot of options as he approaches the line of scrimmage.

Ryan Grant -- Path to Daylight

It’s a lead.  Grant follows the fullback through the hole.  Bullocks can see Finley, but apparently cannot see the ball or Ryan Grant.   The linebacker who had “contain” responsibilities on the right side is already out of the play.  Green Bay has a blocker in front of every Bear defender — except Josh Bullocks.

Grant was not touched until he was 5 yards into the end zone.   Final score: Green Bay Packers 21, Chicago Bears 14.  Sometimes the biggest play of the game is the first play.  Sometimes it’s the last.  Sometimes, it is somewhere in between.  We never know, but that’s why they all matter.

NOTE: Josh Bullocks isn’t entirely to blame for the outcome of this play.  None of the defenders on the left side of the formation defeated their blocks or were in position to make a tackle.  Besides, the Bears were leading in the 4th quarter of this game.  The Packers didn’t score another touchdown (the game winner) until an interception by Jay Cutler gave them the ball at the Bears 11 yard line.

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