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Video review: One analyst shows how the Packers have legalized holding

The technique the Packers used to slow down Demarcus Lawrence and most of the rest of the league

NFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Kollman at The Film Room provides very interesting insights on his video breakdown of an unusual Packers’ pass-blocking strategy. The clip focuses specifically on Packers’ RT Bryan Bulaga against Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence, with detailed breakdowns of a number of snaps from last Sunday’s game. It’s riveting video and a must-see (embedded below) for anyone interested in the hidden details of the pass-rushing battles that occur on every NFL pass play.

Summarizing Kollman’s points:

  • Pass-blocking throughout the NFL is in decline due to high schools and colleges moving to gimmicky offenses that don’t give lineman entering the NFL proper training.
  • Green Bay Packers’ offensive line coach James Campen has developed an approach that takes advantage of modern NFL rules changes and referee tendencies.
  • Defenders like Lawrence use their hands to neutralize offensive lineman’s chest punch and knock them off-balance.
  • The Packers OL don’t punch defenders in the chest and instead spread their arms wide, removing the defender’s target. They wait for the defender to make the first hand action and then hold “hug” defenders, grabbing them on their shoulder pads. The screenshot below gives you an idea of what they’re doing:
  • Referees do not call holding on these plays unless the defenders are able to separate and get away from the offensive lineman.
  • The aggressive, traditional punch technique leaves OL vulnerable if they miss the punch.
  • The more conservative hold hug technique provides a larger margin of error.
  • The Minnesota defense under Mike Zimmer use a different pass rushing technique to attack the Packers’ strategy: rather than attacking the OL with a chest punch the DL hesitate and wait for the OL to make the first move before initiating contact.

Check it out in the video:

If you’re not familiar with Brett’s videos they’re all terrific. This particular video reveals something I had no idea was happening. Do yourself a favor and watch the whole thing; you’ll be a smarter football fan.

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