Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson strikes again.
One of the staples on Johnson’s coordinator resume is the ability to set up defenses with older looks and then cash in on those plays at the right time for big results. We saw another example of this happen on Thursday night during the Lions' second possession of the game against the Green Bay Packers.
Here was the situation, the Lions had a first-and-10 from the Packers’ 24-yard line and deployed four routes designed for quick throws and potential YAC (yards after the catch). According to Packers corner Rasul Douglas, Green Bay was waiting on this route concept:
“Just watching them for three years, every time they’re in the red zone, they speed break,” Douglas told PackersNews’ Ryan Wood, “They’ve got one route that they ran—for the last three years they’ve been running it. I jumped it last year (and) Jared Goff threw it in the dirt. And they had it dialed up (again).”
And here is where Johnson uses the Packers' tendencies against them. Anticipating that the Packers' secondary would again jump the route, Johnson added a wrinkle to catch them being overly aggressive.
“(Goff) walked right up to me (after taking a knee in victory formation),” Douglas continued, “and was like, ‘Bro, you’re a hell of a player but we knew we were going to get you on that one. We went over it every day in practice, and that’s the one you jumped. We only had one play off of (that look).’ So, they put that play in for me. I told him, ‘I knew it was coming.’ and he said, ‘That’s what we wanted you to do. Jump it like you always do.’”
In the video below, Shawn Syed from Sumer Sports coupled together the two plays Douglas was referring to, with the first clip being from last year and the second from Thursday night. In the first play, Douglas (No. 29 at the top of the screen) comes downhill on Brock Wright as he runs his route into the flat on the right. In the second clip, (now at the bottom of the screen) Douglas sees Amon-Ra St. Brown sit down on his route and drives toward him, only to see St. Brown spin out and release back upfield into the vacated area for the touchdown.
Clip 1: Week 9 2022, Lions red zone quick game, Packers force a throw away— Shawn (@SyedSchemes) September 29, 2023
Clip 2: Double move off the same concept (bottom of the screen) for a touchdown on Thursday night https://t.co/RVcQpm3K3R pic.twitter.com/dHo9sBE1GD
The Lions would hold the lead the rest of the way, eventually winning the game 34-20.
If you want more on the play, former Lions quarterback turned ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky broke the play down even further: