Film Study: LaFleur's Playbook - Shot/Wheel

The way these concepts are going, I may have to rebrand this entire column as Dusty's Wheel Corner. Which, honestly, may be the best thing for all of us. Just a handful of people sitting around saying, "Hey, did you see this wheel pattern? Man, that was sweet," while drinking cheap coffee and eating biscuits and gravy. This all sounds great. I have no complaints.

We're going to look at something sort of similar to last week in terms of selling the block, but the overall concept is different. Except for the wheel part. We gotta keep that wheel.

The Titans come out in I Formation and a TE off the right side of the line and two receivers split out wide. This looks like a run formation, and the defense certainly seems to think so as well, loading up with an 8-man box.

We're going to be keeping an eye on Luke Stocker [88], starting the play in the FB role in the I. Much like last week, a lot of this hinges on selling a potential block at the line of scrimmage, as well as running this out of a running formation. It doesn't even take a great playfake to sell this; just a late and half-hearted one. The linebacker is thinking about the run and Stocker sells the block well. 

In this shot, the defender is anticipating the block. You can see him squaring up and getting ready to take on Stocker. 

When Stocker cuts up the field, the defender is caught completely out of position and Stocker gets by him quickly.

Let's go back to the pre-snap look really quick. There's something else going on here as well. After the play action is complete, it looks like the Titans are running a max-protect, two-man shot play. The Colts corners are both showing outside technique, which makes sense given the single-high safety. The goal is to funnel the receivers to the safety in the middle. 

So we've got play action from a running formation, a single-high safety and cornerbacks playing outside technique. That gives us the box defense crashing the line while the secondary is funneling everything inside. It's a perfect combination for this to work. The edges are clear and the linebackers are moving up towards the line. Hit that wheel all day.

What Could This Look Like in Green Bay

For the personnel, I went with 12 personnel (1 running back, 2 tight ends, 2 wide receivers). We need to sell the run but also need a couple legitimate receivers on the outside.

Wide Receivers: Davante Adams [17] and Marquez Valdes-Scantling [83]. I've got Adams on the wheel side for roughly the same reason I did last week: Adams is likely to draw more attention. So if we're dealing with a two-safety look, the safety to that side would be focused more on Adams than a tight end out of the backfield.

Tight Ends: Marcedes Lewis [89] and Jace Sternberger [87]. I've talked about this before, but I've got Lewis in the backfield because I'm trying to sell the run. Speed isn't overly important in this role, but deception is. Lewis in the role of fullback gets the defense leaning a little heavier on the run than they otherwise may be. I've got Sternberger off the right side to give me another passing option once we get into the variations.

Running Backs: Aaron Jones [33], because he's Aaron Jones.

What Could the Packers Do With This

Variation 1

I'm a passing guy at heart. As such, I don't usually talk about the running game so much, but that's something I'm trying to change a bit. Partially because I care about all of you and partially because I've talked so much about LaFleur's marriage of the passing game to the running game that I thought I'd actually show a little of what that means. 

This is nothing special, just a little power running to the left side. I've got the right guard pulling to seal off the interior and Lewis leading through the hole. Both wide receivers push up the field and engage with their defenders. Jones gets the handoff and runs to daylight.

Variation 2

At the top, I mentioned this looking like a "max-protect, two-man shot play." What exactly is that? It's not exactly what I'm showing above, but it's close. When we talk about shot plays, we're looking to hit something big downfield. That generally means fewer passing options and a moving pocket to give the quarterback some time. Basically a half-rollout. With that comes a slide from the offensive line to give some more protection. Here, you can kind of see how that looks. I've got Lewis acting as a kind of personal protector for Aaron Rodgers, kicking out and setting up in front of Rodgers. Meanwhile, the rest of the line all slides towards Rodgers and sets up for protection. 

The two-man route is a nice one, if fairly standard for these. Adams is running a dig, while Valdes-Scantling runs a post over the top. Against the single-high look we saw in the original clip, this combination puts the safety in a tough spot. Both receivers are pushing up the field, being funneled towards the middle. Who does the safety take? If he comes up on Adams on the dig, Valdes-Scantling (and his blazing speed) is open over the top. If he falls back to pick up Valdes-Scantling, Adams is open on the dig. Both routes are run deep enough that they're clear of the linebackers, who will be pulled up by the play action.

On the chance Adams or Valdes-Scantling don't get open, I have Jones leaking out from the backfield as a late checkdown option. So this isn't exactly a max-protect two-man shot. It's more of a max(ish)-protect, two-man shot with a checkdown option.

Variation 3

We've established a power run and a half-roll bootleg shot play from this look. So now we're going with something LaFleur absolutely loves: play action bootleg to levels. (If you need a refresher on that concept, I covered it here.) The play action pulls the defense up and over, then everything rolls to the other side of the field. We've got a little pre-snap motion with Lewis moving to the slot and running a drag route after the snap. Sternberger starts the play blocking down before releasing up the opposite side of the field on a wheel route. Adams, Lewis and Valdes-Scantling all set up the levels, with Lewis as the shallow level, Valdes-Scantling as the mid level, and Adams as the deep level.

And then, to top it all off, we have Jones running an angle route out of the backfield that goes vertical. It doesn't interfere with the mid-level route like a regular angle route would, and it allows Jones to take advantage of a safety potentially vacating his zone to shade towards Adams on the dig.

Between the wheel route, the vertical angle route and the levels, we're stretching the field horizontally and vertically, across the entire field. Look upon this and rejoice.


I've been writing about the Packers from a film perspective for about 6 years now. Over that time, I've always tried to present the things happening on the field as clearly as possible. That meant the use of common terms, as I found that terminology-heavy articles had a tendency to lose me. As I've dug more into the game, I've started using more terminology, but I've always tried to explain things I felt could be a little confusing. The last thing I want to do is lose anyone because I'm throwing out terms left and right that people don't have knowledge of. I'm trying to convey these concepts in a way that makes sense, not get bogged down in terminology. 

If I'm losing anyone along the way, feel free to ask questions in the comments. "What does this term mean? What does it mean when you say this?" I don't live in the comments, but I typically check in at least for at least 3 days after I post an article. Of course, if you're a Twitter person, you can always catch me there as well. I'm here for fun, but I'm also hoping to educate, not confuse.


Albums listened to: Little Simz - GREY Area; Unbelievable Truth - Almost Here; Bad Books - III; The Raconteurs - Help Us Stranger; Mark Ronson - Late Night Feelings; Frightened Rabbit - Painting of a Panic Attack

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Dusty Evely is a film analyst for Cheesehead TV. He can be heard talking about the Packers on Pack to the Future or Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter at @DustyEvely or @All22Talk or email at [email protected].

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Comments (13)

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Coldworld's picture

June 27, 2019 at 04:03 pm

Always come out wiser. Thank you!

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Bear's picture

June 27, 2019 at 04:50 pm

Appreciate your work. Thanks

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ejr450's picture

June 27, 2019 at 06:05 pm

I think my favorite part of the variations is the last one... and the best part didn’t even get a mention! The throwback route to Sternberger - it’s all the way across the field but it could be WIDE open.

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ejr450's picture

June 27, 2019 at 06:06 pm

Or I’m an idiot and didn’t read the sentence where Dusty wrote “Sternberger on the wheel”... my bad.

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Dusty Evely's picture

June 28, 2019 at 08:57 pm

All good. I should have called a little more attention to it, because it's also my favorite part of the play.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

June 27, 2019 at 07:40 pm

"Dusty's Wheel Corner."

I was always annoyed that MM seamed to ignore this concept. Trips too for a long time, but then they started to use it a few seasons ago.

Does LaFluer do much with trips? I know he sort of lacked the WR group to do that in Tenn, but is there anything from LA? With a recievers group like that Packers have 3 6'4+ dudes coming out in all directions and setting "picks" out of trips sounds fun.

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Dusty Evely's picture

June 28, 2019 at 09:01 pm

He LOVES bunch routes. I saw a lot of that from him both last year and with the Rams in 2017. Based on the personnel in Green Bay, I'm sure we'll see a lot of it this year.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 27, 2019 at 09:06 pm

It all goes back to Bud Wilkinson.

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4thand1's picture

June 27, 2019 at 09:09 pm

This won't be the 2011 offense.

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Community Guy's picture

June 27, 2019 at 11:47 pm

"Look upon this and rejoice."

Dusty Evely for Offensive Coordinator?

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dobber's picture

June 28, 2019 at 08:49 am

Here's the previous sentence:

"Between the wheel route, the vertical angle route and the levels, we're stretching the field horizontally and vertically, across the entire field."

Yes. Reason to rejoice...modern NFL football.

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Dusty Evely's picture

June 28, 2019 at 09:04 pm

I'd settle for Low-Level Route Consultant.

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Ponderthis's picture

June 29, 2019 at 05:22 pm

My first time to this site and I really enjoyed the route combinations and stress on a defense you presented. If this is what Green Bay runs on Sunday it's going to be a fun season. I can already see the every facet of our offense getting better.

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