The Coverage Units
- 14 yard return (GB 48)
- Fair Catch (JAX 21)
- Out of Bounds (JAX 47)
- Out of Bounds (JAX 47); *JAX Penalty* (JAX 37)
- 19 yard return (JAX 18)
- 32 yard return (JAX 31)
While the return game for teams shouldn’t be expected to be much of a threat anymore, the coverage team’s job is actually even more paramount.
Just think if it like this: because return units really don’t have anywhere near as much as they used to, when they do break a big play it is a much bigger deal. The onus (and blame) for those big plays happening (or not) falls mostly on whether the people defending the play — if they do their jobs nothing happens, but if they screw up it can result in a big play.
For the most part, Green Bay’s coverage guys did their job adequately, but there were some hiccups.
The first came on the initial punt. They allowed a decent return on a punt that didn’t go too far into Jacksonville territory, and it ended up with the Jaguars in Packers territory; from there, it took them only three plays to score a quick touchdown to tie up the game 7-7.
The second gaffe was less damaging overall, but it could have been something to point to if Green Bay had eventually lost. A somewhat short kick by Crosby and lackluster pursuit by the coverage team allowed Corey Grant of the Jaguars to get up to their 31 yard line; that wasn’t much more than a touchback would’ve given, but a decent return like that can provide an intangible emotional boost to players and their crowd. Perhaps that was at work as Jacksonville moved down the field, eventually scoring a field goal to put the score at 27-23.
Had Blake Bortles not gotten called for delay of game towards the end of the drive, maybe that becomes a TD and the game is tied up; if Green Bay followed up with the same drive that came next, all of a sudden the Jaguars just need a field goal to win, and could settle for overtime even if they miss. That great stop by the Packers’ defense to seal it would never had even gotten the chance to occur, and maybe we sit at 0-1.
Fortunately that didn’t happen — and there is plenty of projection and speculation in there — but little plays and hidden advantages like this could make a long-reaching difference of that magnitude if a team is unlucky. The coverage unit will have to iron out kinks like this, or eventually the team might suffer the unnecessary consequences.