Do the Packers Have Their Frank Zombo?

To Make a Run, They'll Need One

If the Packers are to make a late-season run to the playoffs, they’ll need more than the emergence of wide receiver Christian Watson and safety Rudy Ford—they’ll also need a contribution from an edge player other than stud Preston Smith.

When they made a run to the title in 2010-2011, they had Clay Matthews pressuring the quarterback, but they also got occasional help from edge player Frank Zombo. You might laugh but, in the Super Bowl, Zombo had the team’s only sack and added five tackles, including two for loss.

It's unlikely opponents will cower in fear of edge rushers Jonathan Garvin, Kingsley Enagbare, or La’Darius Hamilton. But as the 2010 Packers proved, they don’t necessarily have to, if the interior linemen press the pocket and the coaches put the young edge players in the best position possible.

The 2022 Packers did that in their overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys:

  • On the first drive, Enagbare crashed down on a run using what appeared to be box technique, allowing safety Rudy Ford to come up and tackle skilled Dallas running back Tony Pollard for no gain.
  • Then on 3rd down, Enagbare applied heat to the quarterback, forcing an incomplete pass, and the Packers defense was off the field.
  • On the third drive, Pollard got outside Enagbare, but 55 fought off his block, ran down Pollard to the sideline and tackled him short of the 1st down. Pollard is no tree sloth.

There, Enagbare demonstrated strength, desire, effort, and burst.

  • On the following drive, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott juked Enagbare, but 55 chased him toward the sideline, forcing Prescott out of bounds.
  • There were plenty of plays where Enagbare got nowhere. No shame in that, given that Dallas RT Terence Steele is a solid player who outweighs Enagbare by approximately 60 pounds. 
  • On Dallas’ early touchdown drive, Enagbare applied pressure that led to a throwaway then grabbed Steele near the collarbone and bull rushed the bigger player into Prescott, nearly preventing the touchdown pass.
  • On Pollard’s touchdown run, Enagbare again was close. He played “half the man” well, keeping an arm free from the blocker, but couldn’t close the gap enough and Pollard ran through his one-arm attempt at a tackle. Not good enough? Clearly. Something to build upon? Seems like it.
  • There were sneaky-good plays, too. Like the one where the Cowboys tried to leak running back Malik Davis out in the flat but Enagbare stayed home and prevented the outlet pass—and Prescott not only threw it away but got called for intentional grounding.

Strangely, the Cowboys seemed to mostly run away from the young Packers edge players—as if they had expected star edge player Rashan Gary to be there. But Gary isn’t coming back due to a torn ACL.

Will the Tennessee Titans watch the film and focus their offense on attacking Enagbare this Thursday night? Will running back Derrick Henry run right at the lighter player?

Maybe. Or, maybe the Packers play more defensive linemen on early downs and hold up. 

Maybe on a passing down, the Titans will call a play like Dallas did in overtime that let Garvin come unblocked. Garvin made the play by tipping the pass incomplete.

Then, on 4th and four, Enagbare finally got the edge on Steele, helping Smith and tackle Jarran Reed collapse the pocket.

That was enough to win. Garvin and Enagbare don’t need to be like Gary. They just need to be like Zombo.

__________________________

Chris Hollenback worked for the Packers in 1998-1999, he has written for Packers.com and other media outlets, he's much shorter than Derrick Mayes and Brett Favre nicknamed him Chris "To-hell-en-back." Follow him on twitter at @CHollenback

5 points

Comments (26)

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4thand10's picture

November 15, 2022 at 06:58 pm

The last time the titans were beat by GB….There were adjustments on both sides specifically for that game. At that time , Pettine used a 3DL 2olb approach…he’s also used a 4 DL 1 OLB front . None of the cute 2 DL 3-4 that never stops the run and leaves the middle of the field wide open ( think Dom Capers)The more big DL….the less impact Henry had on the game. On the O, Quadzilla got ample snaps…Jones is explosive but #28 will flat out wear a defense down if given 20+ carries. And when the D is focused on the run….play action is brutal. If the packers have any chance for success a similar scheme should be used. It all starts with running the ball and stopping the run. 5 wide only works if you can pass protect and against the titans front…I don’t think that’s quite possible. Barry made adjustments which was a shocker, but he only made them because Gary went down..he used a 3 DL front a 4 DL front which took pressure off of Garvin and company. Hamilton, Enegbare and Garvin performed well with help so it was a good plan and a good team effort to beat Dallas. Stopping henry will require a similar scheme and effort.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 15, 2022 at 10:32 pm

Good post

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T7Steve's picture

November 16, 2022 at 08:04 am

Didn't they have to play Dillan because Jones and Williams were hurt or on a pitch count?

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ricky's picture

November 15, 2022 at 07:42 pm

What a difference a week can make. Last week, the articles were about whom the Packers could choose with a top ten pick. Whether to bench Rodgers and play Love, and play some of the younger players, to evaluate them for next season. The question of which coaches to replace was asked. After all, the Packers had lost five in a row, during games that were supposed to be the soft part of their schedule. Then, they beat the Cowboys. Suddenly, there is light at the end of the tunnel; there is still hope for the playoffs, and once there, who knows? A sentiment I've been pushing for years. For myself, this team has disappointed me so much, they have not earned the right for me to be excited about their prospects. Instead, they'll have to keep proving themselves, week by week, until they make those coveted playoffs. Until then, I'm still in a "wait and see" mode.

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GregC's picture

November 15, 2022 at 09:09 pm

I'm in the same boat. I haven't given up on the season, but I'm not expecting anything either. I wasn't even very nervous at the end of last week's game, because I thought they were going to lose. One thing that can be said in defense of that five-game losing streak is that three of those teams (Giants, Jets, and Commanders) have proven to be much better than most people thought they were.

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Houndog's picture

November 16, 2022 at 06:42 am

I'm with you, Ricky, (more than a little) cautiously optimistic, I'll believe it when I see it. We've watched the Packers under-perform all season, so it's hard to think they'll make any kind of serious play-off run without some kind of 'Frank Zombo' or 'Andre Rison' stepping in to help.
With all the injuries to the "D", Barry is going to be tasked to adjust (something he hasn't done well) and not only keep it together, but try to improve.
Even if the "O" plays as well as they did against Dallas, if the "D" can't step it up that light at the end of the tunnel you speak of just might be an oncoming train.

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T7Steve's picture

November 16, 2022 at 08:08 am

That's Andre "Bad Moon" Rison, per Chris Burman.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 15, 2022 at 07:55 pm

I'm just hoping we don't lay a Cleveland Steamer. We looked like we might be improving on offense, and if we are, then everything just got a lot more interesting.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 15, 2022 at 10:35 pm

Cleveland steamer—-lol—excellent—still laughing.
Like the time you told me, in Texas you can watch your dog run away for three days…lol.

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Fubared's picture

November 16, 2022 at 01:08 pm

Had a controller guy ask me, You know what a steamer is, and I said no I dont think so. Its when a dog does a big one in the winter and the steam comes off the pile. Gosh we laughed over that.
Cleveland Steamer is a new one though.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 15, 2022 at 08:27 pm

Throughout the fifth round, I was rooting for the Packers to get Enagbare. He has exceeded expectations drastically for a 5th round rookie, but some sites had him graded as a 3rd and even second round prospect. He fell because of injury concerns, but he seems to be doing fine. I knew that the Packers would get a steal with him.

Enagbare, I think, is more than capable of being a Zombo. He sets a great edge, is well-versed in rushing the passer, and has been surprisingly good in run defense, his college weakness. For me, the question is whether Preston Smith can be Clay Matthews.

Preston has been consistently getting to the QB, ranking in the top 13 of the NFL in pressure rate, but I think we may need more for a good playoff run. I think that we should use our roughly 5.5 million of cap space to sign free-agent EDGE Benson Mayowa to further stabilize the pass rush and provide another man (the Packers only have 3 OLBs on their active roster currently). Mayowa had 13 sacks, 37 pressures, and 5 forced fumbles from 2019-2020 while playing 31 and 61 percent of snaps, respectively. In 2021, he was mis-utilized with the Seahawks and played ILB, not his natural position. He has provided consistent production along the EDGE, and would be cheap on a one-year contract. I think the Packers would have little to lose and much to gain by signing him.

Like 4th&10 said, I would like to see more 3DL and 4DL fronts. Reed has also been emerging as a good contributor, especially in the pass rush, on the DL. I still want to see more of Wyatt! We could use Jonathan Ford as NT too. He is massive, and could plug running lanes. I also wonder what it would be like if we replaced Walker with McDuffie on some downs and used Walker more in the pass rush, both on inside blitzes from ILB (or up front) or as an OLB going around the edge. I seriously think we should utilize him as an OLB going around the edge; he could be seriously effective around the edge getting to the QB with his 4.52 speed. Other ILB-OLB transfers have had success throughout the league, such as Micah Parsons of the Cowboys and Baron Browning of the Broncos. I think Walker could also follow that path (he is exactly the same weight as Browning and is the sane height as Parsons; only five pounds lighter than Parsons and one inch taller than Browning). We’ll need to see, of course.

Look for the pass rush to have a big day on Thursday, as the Titans have the worst pass blocking O-line in the league.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

November 15, 2022 at 09:01 pm

PC I 100% agree with using Walker on the edge. Use him like the seahawks used to do with Bruce Irvin where you mostly rush the passer but are fast enough to cover rbs and tight ends manned up. Let him not have to think. See qb, hit qb or cover that guy. Now would be the time for him to play and learn too with Gary out for the year.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 15, 2022 at 10:36 pm

Like it—let’s do it!

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

November 15, 2022 at 08:54 pm

2nd round talent with a 5th round 40 time. Looks like the next Aaron Kampman to me.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 15, 2022 at 09:00 pm

The 40 is distorted because Enagbare is quick at accelerating to the passer. Kampman had .5 sacks in his rookie season starting 6 games. Enagbare has started only 1 but already has 2 sacks.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 16, 2022 at 11:07 am

We do know Enagbare is better than Zombo and Garvin is playing with solid technique. Four man fronts will help keep the Titans TEs from leveraging the edge. Enagbare can also put his hand in the dirt. Need Walker to pay attention to the TEs crossing his face. Stop Henry, put the pressure on Tannehill.

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BirdDogUni's picture

November 15, 2022 at 09:02 pm

Kingsley Enagbare is better than Zombo ever was. Hell, Jonathan Garvin is better than Zombo ever was... SMH

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Starrbrite's picture

November 15, 2022 at 10:38 pm

Yes—agree.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 15, 2022 at 11:57 pm

I don't know about Garvin...Zombo was probably better than he was...

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Houndog's picture

November 16, 2022 at 07:03 am

Oh, I don't know BirdDog,
Enagbare maybe, but I haven't seen enough of Garvin at this point to agree or disagree.
The thing about Zombo was that he always seemed to make his biggest plays at the biggest time. Kinda' what made him a fan favorite back then.
I'm hoping you're right about both, two more studs are always an asset.

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BirdDogUni's picture

November 16, 2022 at 07:47 am

I saw enough of Zombo that's for sure and for certain.

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Coldworld's picture

November 15, 2022 at 11:57 pm

I’m not sure about whether either have what Zombo had. He was a marginal athlete that just wasn’t going to quit. I see some of that in Enagbare, but more in Heflin. I’d be elevating Heflin and going 4 DL on Thursday.

As to rush, If Garvin ever puts it together he’s got the potential to be a true player. Be great if that happens, but this far it’s more the odd flash.

We just added another to the PS, Tim Ward. He actually might have a little Zombo in him. Ward started playing football late and was really unpolished to start. Then he tore his ACL and couldn’t test and play in ‘19 He’s reputed to have some athleticism according to scouting reports from college. He started in one NFL game in ‘20 and got a sack and 5 tackles. The Chiefs fans thought him a shoe in after a great preseason in ‘21, but he was a surprise cut. The Jets picked him up on waiver and he didn’t do much with them over a couple of hundred snaps as a sporadic rotation piece last season. Waived in cut downs this year. Good length and strength though.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 16, 2022 at 08:52 am

Heflin should be elevated for the Titans game, I ageee. After that, we should sign pass rusher Benson Mayowa in free agency. Ward is also an interesting option that I think we should elevate for the Eagles game

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Fubared's picture

November 16, 2022 at 01:04 pm

I miss Zombo. Him and Geronomo. Great names. How could you let people with those names go? What were they thinking? LOL

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Starrbrite's picture

November 16, 2022 at 03:04 pm

What I’m saying “Fubar”—and Fubar—that’s another cool name.

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PackerGravy's picture

November 16, 2022 at 01:36 pm

Kingsley is having a good rookie season for a fifth rounder. I’m looking forward to watching him develop over the next few years. Garvin sure looks good in a uniform and I’m sure coming off the bus but hasn’t done a whole lot then again he’s only 22 or 23 years old so who knows? 

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