Brad Jones’ recklessness burns Packers on Seattle’s special teams touchdown
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Brad Jones‘ poor play has yet again cost the Green Bay Packers a game.
I think it’s important to note that Brad Jones didn’t cost the game himself. There are many ifs that the Packers desperately wish they could take back or do differently.
For example: If Brandon Bostick catches the onside kick, the Packers’ winning probability is 86 percent, according to the NFL’s law of averages.
If Andrew Quarless catches a third and long throw deep in Green Bay’s own territory late in the fourth quarter, they’re able to run at least another two minutes off the clock. And at that point, Green Bay’s probability of winning is 92 percent, according to the NFL’s law of averages.
If the Packers don’t settle for two field goals in the first quarter, one from 18 yards, the other from 19 yards, they all but run away with the game.
If the Packers defense doesn’t melt down completely the last five minutes of the game. A defense that had given up just seven points through the first 55 minutes of the game managed to spot Seattle 21 points the last five minutes of regulation and overtime.
Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan (9) throws a 19-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal past Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones (95) and Davon House (31) during the third quarter in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Clearly, there are more fingers to be pointed at other than Brad Jones’ poor play.
With that said, there is no denying that Jones’ over-aggressiveness on the fake-field goal touchdown for Seattle was the turning point and the spark Seattle desperately needed to ultimately win the game.
Here’s what happened.
Seattle had a plan that if Brad Jones was on the field in this particular situation they would execute a fake field goal to the side he lined up on.
This particular fake was predicated on Jones lining up on the left side of Seattle’s line, which he did.
Once Seattle saw this, they went ahead with the fake.
Seattle saw in film study that when Jones is on the field during an opposing team’s field goal, he plays too aggressively trying too hard to ultimately block the kick. They noticed that he jumps to the inside almost every time, making a fake field goal with a route running behind where Jones should be, like stealing candy from a baby.
This situation was no different for Jones.
At the snap of the ball, Jones darts to the inside, immediately taking himself out of the play.
Seattle’s Garry Gilliam, a converted tight end out of Penn State, darted right past Jones and scored Seattle’s easiest touchdown of the season, coincidentally on the biggest play of their season.
“I broke the huddle like, please be on my side, please be on my side,” Gilliam said. “Then (Jones) was.”
Seattle was praying that often out-of-position Brad Jones would be out of position. Only at this point it doesn’t seem like a prayer is necessary, it’s almost predictable that Jones would be out of position, and Seattle knew it and took advantage of it.
Seattle Seahawks tackle Garry Gilliam (79) celebrates his 19-yard touchdown catch on a fake field goal against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports photograph
According to punter Jon Ryan, in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s MMQB, he had two options on the play:
1. Take the snap and roll to Jones’ side where either Gilliam or tight end Luke Willson will be open, if not, tuck it and run.
2. If Jones isn’t on the field, take a delay of game penalty, and kick the field goal from five yards back.
What’s more eye-opening than how poorly defensed the play was to begin with, is what an incredible job Seattle’s coaching staff did recognizing the Packers poor fundamental play on field goal defense.
Maybe as impressive was the play itself and how they were able to draw up a play on special teams that would put them in the Super Bowl.
At this point, poor fundamental football on the defensive side of the ball from the Packers isn’t surprising to Packer fans.
It’s a unit that struggled to tackle most of the season. It’s a unit that couldn’t avoid giving up big plays at inopportune moments. It’s a unit that simply wasn’t Super Bowl caliber, unlike its offensive counterpart.
Sure, the offense wasn’t spectacular, but at the end of the day, against the No. 1 defense in the NFL since arguably the 1985 Chicago Bears, on their home field where they were 24-2 in the last 26 games, they did enough to win the game.
Another year, another playoff loss where the defense and/or special teams just couldn’t get out of its way.
For more analysis on yesterday’s heartbreaking defeat check out some of our other writer’s work.