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Film Study: Preseason Game 1 Passing Concepts

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Film Study: Preseason Game 1 Passing Concepts

I love watching Packers preseason football. Not only is it a sign that the season is right around the corner, but it's a chance to see all of these guys we've been reading about. 

There is one major thing I dislike though: the league does not provide the All 22 film for preseason games. For those of you who are new to the idea, All 22 is the film angle that shows every player on the field. With my focus on the passing game, All 22 is essential, as so much of the important action takes place away from the line of scrimmage, where the broadcast angle focuses. It's hard to tell how a particular route combination affected the safeties if you can't see the entire route or where the safeties are.

That doesn't mean the broadcast view is worthless, though. We can still talk about the passing game, even if there are some blank spots. And, while the common refrain about preseason concepts are that teams keep them "vanilla," that doesn't mean we can't still dig in a bit.

So let's look at a few plays and talk about them, you and I.

Play 1

This is a quick read for DeShone Kizer [9]. He knows he has the out route pushing up the field, so he's just keying in on that safety. If the safety steps back instead of crashing Danny Vitale [45] in the flat, throw the flat.

Play 2

A little seam/out action. There's a natural rub at the mesh point of Jake Kumerow [16] and Robert Tonyan [85]. The routes themselves could be run a little tighter to each other, but it's not bad for the first preseason game. (If you really want to work this to work as a natural rub, the crossing point of the receivers needs to be tight enough to either knock off a defender or force him to go over or under the pick.)

Kumerow is able to get inside position on his defender with some nifty footwork:

With Tonyan's defender being drug to the sideline and Kumerow with inside position, it's an easy read. Kizer sees Kumerow with inside position and gets the ball out before Kumerow starts his break. Nice anticipation and timing.

Play 3

Nice seam route by Tonyan, with a couple good things to set it up. The go route clears the edge and pushes the safety, while the curl route draws the attention of a linebacker. With the linebacker drawn up and the safety pushed back, there's room in the middle for Tonyan to operate. Once again, nice throw and timing by Kizer to read all of that and get the ball over the linebacker and into the open space in the middle.

Play 4

This is something we saw in Green Bay last year, and it's certainly something Matt LaFleur loves to do: play action rollout. I love the fake block from Vitale off the edge:

It looks like he's going to block the edge, which helps sell the run. Instead, he ducks under the block and continues on the drag and into the open space created about the out route on that side. I love it.

Play 5

Clear out the middle deep defender with the out route - which drags him to the sideline - and hit the post over the top. Tim Boyle [8] throws a nice, high ball and Allen Lazard [13] goes up and gets it.

There is also a deep crosser from the left that is crossing under Lazard as the ball comes. If the deep safety drops back to pick up the post and the edge safety drops wide to pick up the out, that deep crosser would have split all of it. It takes more time to get open, but that option was there.

Play 6

We're going to close out by looking at a couple RPOs. RPO has been the sexy trend that has become integrated in the league, so you've likely heard announcers say that a million times over the past couple years. But in case you haven't, let's talk about it.

RPO stands for Run/Pass Option, and it's exactly what it sounds like. On an RPO play, the offense is setting up for a run play or a quick pass, and it's up to the quarterback to decide what to do, usually immediately post-snap. He's generally reading one or two defenders. If they are playing run, he throws. If they're playing pass, he hands the ball off. It can be incredibly hard to defend. 

I mention that it has to be a quick pass. There's a reason for that. Since the offense doesn't know whether it's going to be a run or a pass, RPOs are blocked as runs. As such, you have the offensive line driving forward to block the run, instead of sitting back to pass protect. If the ball is held onto for too long, the offense will pick up an illegal man downfield penalty.

Alright. Enough of that. Let's look at two RPOs.

The Packers run this, but it looks like they're setting up the wide receiver screen on the left. The Texans have their safeties deep, leaving a pretty sparse box. That's likely the reason Kizer hands the ball off. But with the defender over the screener's first response being to crash the run, this seems like it could have been a big gain if the screen is thrown. But that's neither here nor there.

This look shows what the Packers could do by setting this up. Throw that wide receiver screen a few times. Get the defense thinking about jumping it, then hit them over the top.

Play 7

This is a perfect example of what the RPO is from a passing perspective. Boyle is reading those two linebackers. If they drop to take the pass - or even just stay where they are - there's nowhere to put that slant throw to the slot. He puts the ball into the gut of the running back and holds it. The linebackers crash, leaving a ton of open space in the middle. Like taking candy from a baby, except the baby is really a large, sweaty man.

That'll do it for our look at the Packers passing offense. Not a ton of groundbreaking stuff, but I don't think it was all boring, either. They showed some good looks and some fun concepts they could certainly play with down the road. 

Albums listened to: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Bandana; Bon Iver - i,i; Fionn Regan - Cala; Pete Yorn - Caretakers


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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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (13) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

kevgk's picture

Thanks for the film review! I thought this was a pretty fun preseason. It could be confirmation bias, but I felt there was more play action than what McCarthy ran. I think fewer dropbacks and deep shots kept the QBs from getting sacked as often. Back to back corner fades in the redzone was something McCarthy would have called though.

Coldworld's picture

Thanks again Dusty. Great section yet again. Probably shouldn’t have mentioned Kizer though because now the haters will be fired up.

NJMagic's picture

That Play 1 is Kizer in a nutshell. Awful placement.

He has 1 read, he KNOWS Vitale is running the flat. HOW DOES HE LEAD THE WRONG SHOULDER UPFIELD?? He leads Vitale directly INTO the crashing defender instead of into the flat so he can maintain momentum and get YAC.

All of the "you don't know the WR route/play" is b.s. there is no way LaFleur would have scripted the FB up the field INTO coverage.

Kizer just blew placement on a 5 yard grade school level throw.

Forget Shepherd saving him in the RZ at the risk (literally) of his neck...

If Kizer is our #2, we'll need at least 9 WR on the team
just to get out of the preseason.... He's literally dangerous.

DraftHobbyist's picture

I agree 100% that the play is not designed to be thrown in the way Kizer threw it. I think the reason Kizer put it where he did was to avoid the Defender, but you just can't put that ball where Kizer put it, because that's a dangerous throw for an INT or injury. Either throw it over the Defender or take a step back and throw it on the other side of the Defender.

holmesmd's picture

You may want to try out for the team or the coaching staff seeing as you have so much insight? DK is on an NFL roster, you’re not. So...your opinions are that of a fan, nothing more. Release, timing, read progression, pocket pressure, throwing angle.....plenty more complicated than you make it. It’s friggin pre-season game #1, chill the heck out perhaps, no? SMH. There will be plenty of time to crucify Kizer IF & when it’s warranted. 1 pre-season game isn’t the time and is premature at best. Kizer looks plenty better than Hundley did here, that’s for sure. Boyle looked good as well. Don’t force the process. All will be revealed. Just sayin...

NJMagic's picture

I said this was emblematic, not one throw. I've watched him for years, this has not improved. Pick any game, his placement is suspect on half his throws. It's the old adage, some things you can't teach a QB.

And yes, of course it's the opinion of a fan, albeit a fan who breaks down film- seriously, how many GMs and Scouts are commenting on a fan blog?

What kind of response is that to a critique of a backup QB's poor technique?

Please answer the substance next time to meaningfully contribute; we have plenty of posters who prefer put-downs, don't join them.

Jonathan Spader's picture

"Kizer looks plenty better than Hundley did here, that’s for sure."

Hundley looked great preseason. Way better than Kizer did. Both were terrible in the regular season. Why is it ok for you to crucify Hindley but not for fans to criticize Kizer?

Coldworld's picture

Time to actually remember what actually happened;

Hundley 2017: attempted 76, completed 48 for 482 and 3 TDs with 1 interception for a passer rating of 88.8. That was statistically and visually his best preseason.

IN 2018, reps were split, with Rodgers rating over 100 on a small sample.

Hundley rated 81.2. 294 yards on 60 attempts With 1 int
Boyle rated 69.2. 263 yards on 53 attempts With 2 int
Kizer rated 88.2. 460 yards on 37 attempts With 1 int

Hundley was a lot better in the vanilla offenses against vanilla defenses than in actual season play, but I think describing him as “great” would be a stretch to say the very least.

To say he looked better than Kizer is simply not true based on opinion at the time and stats.

Jonathan Spader's picture


koberodgers's picture

Great article, cant wait for the regular season (then super bowl run) breakdowns.

Bure9620's picture

I like the RPO clear out with a Verticals concept. Atlanta has run this quite a bit under kyle shannahan, destroyed us with it in the NFCCG. I would want Davante Adams to be the RPO option and then MVS and Trevor Davis take off as the Verticals. You can torch teams with this because it's just pure speed, typically the corners play off here and the WRs dont need to beat press at the LOS. Really beats the slant/flat bullshit MM ran every other play. A guy like Trevor Davis can really excel in this offense, in fact you need a speed guy to stretch the field which is why he is on the 53.

porupack's picture

Thx Dusty,
Always enjoy your breakdowns. Now that we're seeing current packer play, its nice to see some clues for the season. So as the wisdom goes, we're only seeing vanilla offense in pre season and these pass patterns above, I suppose are basic patterns all teams employ, and now to see how GB personnel will execute them.
It was great seeing your earlier breakdowns on what Lafleur tendencies were in previous gigs at TennesseeT. Once vanilla begins to turn to exotic flavors oreo crunch and mango splash, look forward to your breakdowns what works. It would also be cool to see a similar piece on what goes wrong during the games, when WR concepts don't work, ie. just great defense, or does the offense not run the concept correctly, or is it just the wrong sequence of plays? Or was it correct execution, just lack of talent such as speed or agility to make the connection.
Its a long and heated debate regarding the offense; was failure to move the chains due to i.) talent, ii.) scheme, or iii.) poor execution (or not to exclude iv. stupid penalties). You will now be the "go-to" guru on whether it is iii.) well or poor execution of play design. :-)

Spock's picture

Dusty, I greatly appreciate these type of articles as for someone who never played the game (a shotgun to the knee at 15 tends to limit that, lol) this is a great education tool for me. What I REALLY like about your graphics is the pre-snap ARROWS as they let me know where and what to watch on the play once the action starts. Thanks so much. Please keep this up!

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