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4 Downs: Packers' jet motion can't get off the ground minus injured Tyler Ervin

Pete Dougherty
Packers News

Four observations the day after the Packers'  38-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday:

First down

With Tyler Ervin (wrist) out for this game, coach Matt LaFleur used Aaron Jones in the role of the wingback who runs the jet motion that’s such a big part of LaFleur’s offense. That meant Jamaal Williams and Jones were on the field together for a good number of snaps, with Jones at the wing and Williams at halfback. Though Jones is an explosive back, the tactic didn’t work. Jones ran jet motion almost every time he lined up at the wingback, but he didn’t take any jet-sweep handoffs, and from the halfback position he and Williams combined for 49 yards on 14 carries, with 25 of those yards coming on a Williams run in the first quarter. “We’ve got to have a better plan,” LaFleur said, “because losing one guy (i.e., Ervin) can’t have that type of effect on your football team. If it does, then you’re probably not doing things the right way. So we’ve got to make sure we again go back to the drawing board as a coaching staff, take a good hard look at everything and make sure that we’re asking our players to do things they can do.”

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) stiff arms Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Devin White (45) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Tampa, Fla.

Second down

Josh Jackson started in place of injured Kevin King (quad) at cornerback and for a while played a solid game. Though one of the knocks on Jackson coming out of Iowa in 2018 was his tackling, he had several good tackles. The first was in the first quarter when he filled hard and dropped running back LeSean McCoy for a one-yard gain on a run up the middle. The second was on a screen pass to speedy receiver Chris Godwin on which Jackson fought off a block and blew up the play, allowing Preston Smith to make the tackle for no gain. Then on a third down in the second half he tackled receiver Scotty Miller immediately after a six-yard catch to leave the Bucs in fourth-and-2. But then Jackson succumbed to the coverage issue – straight-line speed and penalties – that dogged him his first two seasons. On a deep ball Miller got behind Jackson, and the cornerback was called for interference when he grabbed the receiver’s trail arm before the ball arrived. That gifted Tampa Bay the ball at the 2 for an easy touchdown that put the game away at 38-10.

Third down 

If David Bakhtiari can’t play next Sunday at Houston after leaving the game ecause of a chest injury, you have to think someone other than Rick Wagner will start in his place at left tackle. Wagner replaced Bakhtiari against the Bucs but struggled. On Wagner’s first play, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul beat him inside and dropped Jones for only a one-yard gain. On the next series, Wagner and Jones got beat badly on a stunt by Ndamukong Suh and Lavonte David for a sack. The Packers’ other options include bumping left guard Elgton Jenkins to left tackle and moving Billy Turner from right tackle to left. They also could play raw first-year pro Yosh Nijman there.

Fourth down

With Ervin out, Darrius Shepherd handled most of the kick and punt returning, but it didn’t cost the Packers’ return game anything. Shepherd fair caught one punt, and two others landed out of bounds. All seven of the Bucs’ kickoffs were touchbacks. Jaire Alexander also handled one punt return, which was downed.