When the Packers came to FedEx Field to play the Redskins in the playoffs last January, Aaron Rodgers used two of his favorite tricks in the second quarter to rally his team from an early 11-0 deficit.
With the Redskins up 11-0 they were trying to get in some defensive substitutions. Rodgers got up to the line, ran a quick snap, and caught them with too many still on the field. A fourth and four turned into a first and 10. The drive continued and the Packers got on the board with a touchdown.
“You’ve got to sub and you’ve got to sub with urgency,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry, recalling the play during his weekly press conference. “And it’s not only the guy running onto the field subbing, it’s more importantly the guy running off the field because he looks for it.”
Barry suspects that Rodgers might get a little help looking for late substitutions.
“I don’t know if it’s truly just him looking for it or if the coaches on the sideline see it and give him the green light through the headset,” said Barry. “But he’s outstanding at it.
Later in the second quarter Rodgers used one of his other tricks, a hard count to draw an offside flag. What would have been a third and 11 was a second and five. Green Bay drove in for a field goal.
“The first thing with the hard count, the key thing is that any defensive linemen should get off on the ball. You don’t get off on sound, you get off on movement,” said Barry.
MORE REDSKINS: NO ROOM FOR ERROR IN TIGHT NFC EAST
They set up their practices to build that habit into their defenders.
“You’ll see in individual,” he said. Our defensive linemen, every drill they do it always starts with what? Not ‘set, go’ but the ball. But in the heat of the moment, that’s why quarterbacks do it, especially quarterbacks like him who use that voice inflection very well.”
And, true to his word, the outside linebackers were working on just that. Position coach Greg Manusky tried to get them to jump with his voice but they all kept their eyes trained on the ball.