The 2022 Call Sheet: Low Red Zone

Dusty finishes off his call sheet series by looking at 4 plays from the low red zone in 2022

We find ourselves at the end of all things. Or, at least, the end of this specific series. Today, we build out the low red zone section of our call sheet, then look at where we ended up on the whole.

To the matter at hand.

The low red zone is the area between the goal line and the 10 yard line. The Packers averaged 3.9 trips to the low red zone per game, 14th in the league.

How good were they are in this area? I don’t think I need to tell you - the informed fan - that they were not good. They scored a TD on 25.8% of their plays in this area, which was 29th in the league. They somehow found themselves behind the Texans. The Texans! That’s not great. They were also 29th in yards per attempt (1.3 YPA), so maybe they get points for consistency? (They do not, in fact, get points for consistency.)

They did have some things that worked, so we’re going to lean into those in this section. When we’re building out this section, I’m not really concerned with YPA. We’re going to focus on TD Rate. You ready? I’m ready.


Mesh (1, 4.0 YPA)

Okay, I’ll admit that the numbers aren’t great. Frankly, the numbers on Mesh haven’t been good for a couple years now. But if I’m building a call sheet and looking towards the future, buddy, it’s going to have Mesh on it, and it’s certainly going to have Mesh in the low red zone.

You can describe the concept in a number of different ways. For me, it’s a concept that is built around chaos. At the heart of Mesh are two drag routes running at each other and crossing in front of the quarterback. That act is the chaos creator, and that goes double for the low red zone where defensive bodies are packed in tighter. You’re looking for those routes to act as a natural rub against man, or cause confusion against zone. 

All the other routes are up for grabs. Down in this area, you’re looking to cause collisions and false steps, then take advantage of those things. Create the chaos then thrive in it.

The Packers ran it once in the low red zone this year, and they would have gotten away with it if not for that meddling turf monster.

If Lazard was able to push another 1 foot up the field or the ball was thrown to Watson’s outside shoulder, maybe this ends a little differently.

But don’t let the end result of that one play take away the potential for what this concept can give you in the low red zone. You could have your wide motion man run this little half-motion/arrow route to take advantage of the defense switching assignments on the motion.

The Eagles had a tendency to rotate coverage on that motion side, something that the Chiefs took advantage of in a pretty big game.

Or you could run Mesh from bunch, send all the receivers across the field then leak the RB across the face of the QB and out the trips side.

My main point is that Mesh can be a powerful concept run a number of different ways. With the weapons the Packers have, they could have a lot of fun with it this year.

TE Release (3, 1.0 YPA, 2 TDs)

I’m always a sucker for this kind of play, especially in a situation where the defense is forced to bite a little harder on play action than they might in other areas and situations. It plays off the defense's expectations and how they’re forced to play in the moment. They’re looking for the run, so sell the run hard. That includes having your TE with a nice initial block, then throwing that man away and releasing into the wide open freedom of the end zone.


Inside Zone (4, 1.8 YPA, 1 TD)

Sometimes you want a well-designed run. Something so beautiful that poets will be moved to tears and will sow the seeds of world peace.

But sometimes? Man, sometimes you just want to take a mass of humanity and have it drive at the same point until the referee lifts his arms in a triumphant signal.

This is absolutely the latter. Although maybe a few poets will still be moved to tears.

Motion in an extra man to get a little extra heft at the point of attack if you need to. It doesn’t already need to be tricky: it just needs to get the job done. As much as I love a good power run, a more aggressive front in this area can lead to a defensive lineman slicing through a spot where a puller just vacated and blowing up the run in the backfield. If this offensive line is better out of the gate this year, then I maybe consider it. But, for now, I’m leaning on Inside Zone.

Although, if you go in feeling pretty good about the offensive line, I wouldn’t be mad at this one-man pulling/lead concept (but good luck getting one of the current TEs on the roster to hold the point of attack like Big Dog).


Inside Zone/Bubble (3, 4.7 YPA, 2 TDs)

This RPO combo did not treat the Packers well this year, but it did nicely for them in the low red zone.

This is a pre-snap read that depends on how the defense is aligned to the pass side. If the Packers have a numbers advantage or a leverage advantage to the pass side, they’ll throw it. If they don’t have either of those things, they’ll hand it off. 

This is a concept that they used heavily over the last few years, but it finally fell off a cliff this year. That was mainly due to the loss of Davante Adams, as this is a concept that can rely on the receiver to be able to make a man miss in space (although, to be fair, it was on life support even in Adams’ last season in Green Bay). The Packers leaned on this a little too heavy and also didn’t have the personnel for this to be consistently effective, so it didn’t hold up between the 20s.

But down in the low red zone? It’s perfect. You’re just looking for that little edge to get a man open momentarily. This allows the offense to either take advantage of numbers/leverage in the passing game or run into a light box.

A massive thank you to every person who read even one of these entries this season. If you want to read them again - or read them for the first time - I’ve gathered the links below.

1st & 10
2nd & long
2nd & medium
2nd & short
3rd & long
3rd & medium
3rd & short
4th & short
High Red Zone

This was the first time I’ve tried doing this exact thing, and I think it worked out okay. For me, it was a fun way to review some things that worked during the season, but in a way that’s a little different from what I usually do. It certainly opened my eyes a bit in terms of how many times a team finds itself in certain situations every game and how that can impact what you’re able to call. It’s something I’ve read about a number of times, but it’s my first time going through the exercise and I learned a lot.

It was also striking - once again - how numbers don’t tell the whole story. There were numerous times through this exercise where I had my section all filled out, then had to rework it due to what the film was showing. A concept looked good on the spreadsheet, but 75% of the successful plays were due to an extended play or a coverage bust or something else you can’t count on repeating.

I really hope this has been half as interesting for you all as it has been for me.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing in this space for the rest of the offseason, but I'll be trying to think of something interesting and fun. I'll likely go underground for at least a couple weeks, as I've got some NFL-wide stuff I'll be working on that will take a bit of time. So we'll see!

To play us out, here is our completed call sheet.

A note about that last little section. You'll sometimes see coaches have something written on their call sheet: usually in the margins. Something that means something to them. Maybe it's something to get them back on track when it feels like they're spinning a bit. Mine is from the closing pages of JD Salinger's Franny & Zooey. To me, that little phrase is simply a reminder to treat every person and every situation with respect. If the thought is that I'd be using a call sheet in an actual game, then that means there would be people who would be looking at me and my actions. It is a reminder that whatever I do, I want those actions to reflect who I am, or at least who I'd like to be. 

Albums listened to: The Clash - London Calling; Bat For Lashes - Two Suns; Chris Staples - Cloud Souvenirs; Amy Stroup - Since Frank; The Utopiates - The Sun Also Rises, Radiohead - OK Computer


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].

4 points

Comments (7)

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croatpackfan's picture

July 05, 2023 at 03:34 pm

I already proclaimed that you become the LEGEND!

Nice and interesting stuff for us to learn about.

Grand thank you, Dusty!

3 points
Leatherhead's picture

July 05, 2023 at 05:07 pm

Well, it looks complicated to me, but lots of things look complicated to me. The colored charts and stuff are good.....this is consistently the best presented regular column. Lots of info. Too much for me to absorb, but the video says a lot . If a picture is worth a thousand words...

It did inspire me to do a little fact mining at pro-football-reference today. It's no secret that the best offensive teams make the playoffs and advance, and it's a passing league and all, but I'm an Old School kind of guy and would prefer to ram it in on the ground.

So I checked,. 10 of the top 11 scoring offenses made the playoffs. It included the Top 8 passing teams, (not Philly!) and five of the Top 8 teams at rushing TDs. The Eagles were anomalous with 32 rushing TDs, but another group of about 8 teams were between 18-24 rushing TDs. So other than Detroit and Cleveland, If you could score on the ground, you were probably a playoff team. Philadelphia, and Chicago, have runnning QBs, but Dallas and SF do it by handing the ball off to good runners with good blocking in front of them.

IMO, Dallas and SF and Philly will probably be good again this year. Once we get to the top of the division, these are the teams we'll be comparing ourselves against.


While digging through this, I couldn't help but notice that Chicago moved the ball on the ground pretty darn well last year. In fact, they got more yards on the ground than anybody, by quite a bit, averaging 17 yards/game MORE than #2 Baltimore. This will be a real good statement, right out of the box, on the run defense. Last year, we did OK against the league's best rushing offense. I mean, they got 155 and 180 on the ground against us, but that resulted in them getting 10 and 19 points. And GB dominated time of possession. So if the Bears come out and get another 150-165-180 yards on the ground, I'm sure people will notice, but won't make the connection to the 14 points they scored.

5 points
SoCalJim's picture

July 05, 2023 at 08:54 pm

Thanks again for a highly informative article, Dusty! You put a ton of work into this and I feel like I’ve learned a lot.

2 points
T7Steve's picture

July 06, 2023 at 07:01 am

That's good enjoyable stuff Dusty! Thanks for the links for me to look back on. You say there's nothing to go on but, I want to compare this season's execution in certain areas to the film you show of other lineups. The other teams shown was a great idea.

Have a great time away. We'll be here when you get back.

2 points
jont's picture

July 06, 2023 at 12:21 pm

More good stuff.

As with any play calling, the sequence of plays is important as defensive players can't help but think of what they've been seeing as they anticipate the play unfolding in front of them. So, as much as I am tempted to run, run, run when we get close, I get it that we also have to pass inside the 10. Still, I'd like to see one or two more running plays added to this section of the call sheet.

"The mass of humanity run" is one of this fan's favorites. On a goal line situation, it was Eddie Lacey behind BJ Raji and Ryan Pickett or some combo like that which the TV announcer called the heaviest backfield in the history of the NFL. Picture AJ Dillon (247) running behind Caleb Jones (370) and TJ Slaton (330). Can 947 pounds get three yards?

The TE release is good if the D respects the run-- that is, if they believe they need LBs to help on the run immediately. If the D-line can hold up just for a second, then the LB can sneak a quick look at the TE and shut down any release he sees. As this fan watches the O-line this season, these plays will be important.

Meanwhile, the mesh, to be effective, requires a QB to read the D really well, really quickly, and release a dart in 0.30 seconds on target while under pressure. The RPO is the same. As this fan watches Jordan Love this season, these plays will be important.

1 points
Leatherhead's picture

July 06, 2023 at 03:42 pm

Mass of humanity. Do you remember the Fridge?

1 points
SoCalJim's picture

July 08, 2023 at 08:17 pm

Who could possibly forget! Hahaha! That’s a big man.

0 points