Revisiting 2019 - Week 12: The Power of Two Dropped Passes

Dusty breaks down two plays that could have made a difference in the Packers week 12 loss to the 49ers

Last week we saw the Packers get back to their winning ways with a victory over the Panthers. We got to look at 4 expertly executed plays that gained 91 yards and ended with a touchdown. It was beautiful and thrilling.

Today? Today has none of that. That's because we're returning to the scene of a crime that occurred in Santa Clara, CA. The Packers lost that game 37-8. Aaron Rodgers passed for 104 yards and no one on the Packers gained more than 45 yards on the ground. It was ugly.

But it wasn't always ugly, and that's what we'll be looking at today. We'll be looking at two plays, both of them drops on 3rd down. Doesn't that sound like an absolute blast? 

Play 1: 3rd & 4, 11:43 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers trailing 0-7

The Packers first drive got to a less-than-stellar start,  as Davante Adams got flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for lightly touching the shoulder of a 49er after a play. A few plays after that, Fred Warner got a strip-sack of Aaron Rodgers, and the 49ers scored a touchdown on the very next play. 

The Packers second drive started off with a 7 yard completion to Jimmy Graham and a 1 yard loss by Aaron Jones. On 3rd & 4, the Packers went with a follow-slant concept, something we saw a decent amount of last year.

We've got an out route from the right slot to help clear the middle, as well. The concept here is pretty simple: run two slants, breaking around the same point, one slightly behind the other. You're reading the first defender. If he runs with the lead slant, that clears room for the follow slant, so you hit the follow slant. If the defender in the middle doesn't take the lead slant, hit the lead slant. Obviously there is more to it than that, but that's the general idea.

I say there's more to it than that, and we'll see that here. Fred Warner [54] starts this play on the line, across from Billy Turner [77]. It looks like he's rushing, but he bails at the snap and falls back into a zone, reading Aaron Rodgers [12]. With Rodgers looking to his left and Warner coming from his right, that's an incredibly tough read to pick up. But Rodgers sees him.

Rodgers holds the read to the left a beat longer than he probably needs to. Rodgers also keeps his feet set as if he's throwing to the left, just to sell it. That keeps Warner moving across the field and forcing him to overrun the passing lane.

Even with that, coverage on Geronimo Allison [81] is tight, so Rodgers throws high and away from Allison. Sadly, it slips through his fingertips and the Packers are forced to punt. High-level quarterback play from Rodgers.

Play 2: 3rd & 8, 6:29 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-10

The game has been dominated by the 49ers, but, to this point, their only touchdown had come on a drive that started at the Packers 2 yard line, and their only field goal had come on a drive that started at their own 49 yard line. Yes, the 49ers were dominating, but the Packers were still very much in the game at this point.

Allison motions in before the snap, dragging Richard Sherman [25] with him. Sherman is still in zone - you can tell by the fact that he's angling his feet toward the line as opposed to faced directly at Allison - but the motion of Allison pinches Sherman closer to the line. At the same time, the single-high safety rotates back to the middle of the field. 

The Packers are running what appears to be a follow-slant from the stack look on the right, but Davante Adams [17] ends up veering up the field instead of continuing on the slant.

All of that action opens up the boundary for Jimmy Graham [80]. Graham is running a wheel route from his in-line position. He is being covered by Jimmie Ward [20], a safety who starts the play over the outside shoulder of Alex Light [70]. At the snap, Ward drops back and picks up Graham on the wheel. Ward picks him up well, but that's a tough ask: he's dropping from off the line to be a man-to-man cover guy on a wheel route with zero help over the top.

Rodgers is flushed from the pocket and delivers an absolute beauty of a throw over Graham's shoulder. The ball is knocked out, and officials rule incomplete. Instead of picking up roughly 40 yards and a first down just outside the red zone, the Packers punt.

Over the next 6+ minutes, the 49ers put up 13 points and the Packers go into the half trailing by a score of 23-0.

I do want to touch on one thing before we leave. This was ruled an incomplete pass on the field. Matt LaFleur did not challenge it. After the game, the officials said that, if LaFleur had challenged it, it would have been ruled a catch. Here's a pretty good angle on it:

Now let me ask you: how many times have you seen a play like that get overturned to a completed pass? Because I am having a very hard time thinking of an instance where that was the case. He doesn't control it immediately and it is dislodged after he hits the ground. I'm having a hard time seeing a scenario where this is ruled a complete pass. Maybe that's just me, though.


If you want to look back at some of my favorite concepts from this game, you can do that here. The final score was bad, but the Packers ran some fun stuff.


Albums listened to: Lewis - Even So; The Gloria Record - A Lull in Traffic; Ester Drang - Infinite Keys; The Appleseed Cast - The Fleeting Light of Impermanence

-------------------------------

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

5 points

Comments (10)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Packer_Fan's picture

April 29, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Thanks Dusty for this analysis. That drop by Allison for me is one of the big reasons why Allison is not with the team anymore. Those early game drops on 3rd down are killers.

And the second play was the whiff by Turner on Ward's blitz and the miss by the back. Adams was open if Rodgers could have thrown in rhythm.

Sometimes these blowouts was just as much poor performance in critical plays as being beat by a more talented team. These two plays plus the Adam's roughing penalty were huge factors in starting out and getting on the wrong side of a good team.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
PhantomII's picture

April 29, 2020 at 11:30 pm

Don't forget Rodgers being down on the ground with the ball still on his hip being held by his hand. Refs did not whistle him down and instead waited a ridiculous amount of time before someone on the pile knocked the ball out of his hand and was jumped on by SF. Watch it at game speed it's crazy.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Point-Packer's picture

April 29, 2020 at 12:40 pm

"They just need to play" - Aaron Nagler

The more the 2019 season is reviewed, the more WRs mistakes/drops are seen as a huge part of GB 's offense being inconsistent. Its almost like the fans calling for greater WR depth were right and the so called "experts / sheep" were way off in their judgement of GB's WR talent. Case in point, Geronimo Alison. The fact that anyone who proclaims to know anything about football was ok with him being GBs #2 is insane. In reality, the contract he just received from the dumpster of the NFC North is more in line with how the NFL judges his talent - a fringe NFL player that is best as your #4 WR. Maybe.

On that second play not only did Graham fail Rodgers (sort of), but the O-line blocking (mostly Turner, some Bulaga) was absolutely pitiful.

+ REPLY
3 points
4
1
bodei1newbie1's picture

April 29, 2020 at 12:57 pm

Dusty Evely thanks guy you really know how to break down plays kept up the good work . It helps me out. graham should have held on to the ball

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 29, 2020 at 01:15 pm

Graham and Allison

Dropped by the Packers for Drops.

Dusty's stuff is complete.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
dobber's picture

April 30, 2020 at 10:35 am

Allison was exposed the more snaps he got. Maybe part of it was usage...those WR screens and flat passes they threw him were mind-boggling. I don't think there's any other WR on the roster who would be a worse choice to catch those passes. But in general, not very dynamic, lousy hands and iffy ball security. You can sign a Geronimo Allison off the street at pretty much any time.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Ryan3468's picture

April 29, 2020 at 03:24 pm

When ever Allison drops a ball, makes a catch, and then is on the ground immediately after contact. I will yell Geronimo. He doesn’t have the physical skill to be a dependable receiver on any team.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

April 30, 2020 at 06:40 am

I also believe MVS had a catch at the back of the end zone he didn't keep his feet in? I don't remember what the score was at this point but I think it was still at a point that they could have made a comeback? I could be wrong about that I just remember the catch that MVS didn't make.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Point-Packer's picture

April 30, 2020 at 10:41 am

Yes, but "he didn't keep his feet in" is generous. It was that play in the back of the end zone where he caught it, but apparently without knowing he was like 2 feet plus out the back of the EZ. The guy has great field awareness.....

"they just need to play" - Aaron Nagler

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.