The Passing Chronicles: 2019 Preseason Week 2

I'm not going to mince words here: that was ugly. It's not about the loss - there's not much in this life I care about less than preseason win/loss record - but it's about the evaluation of some of the individual pieces. The talk of the first preseason game was the play of Ty Summers. There were reasons to be excited, but there were also some reasons for concern. All those reasons for concern showed up this week, with missed tackles all over the field. It wasn't just Summers: the entire defense was missing tackles left and right.

But there were reasons to be encouraged, too. Today we're going to look at a handful of passing concepts the Packers ran this past week. Like I said last week, the common refrain about preseason is that all the concepts are "vanilla," but that doesn't mean there isn't still some fun stuff to look at.

Play 1

Okay, so I said "Play 1" but then sprung two plays on you. Because I'm tricksy. Both of these play off the same idea, so I decided to group them together. They feature the same kind of look: three in-cutting routes from the same side. In both cases, the quarterback is reading the defender over the tightest player to the line. If he stays with the inside receiver, all the slot receiver needs to do is get inside position on his defender and he'll have open field to work with. In both cases, that's exactly what happens. Key on the defender. Once he takes a step, look to the slot man and let the ball fly when the last foot of the drop hits.

Play 2

This particular play doesn't work even a little bit, but that doesn't mean the idea is bad. In fact, this look is something we are likely to see a lot of this upcoming season. Matt LaFleur loves him some play action rollout.

I'm a big fan of running a receiver to the flat, then having someone starting the play as a down-blocker off the line leak out behind him. What I like about this particular look is that the down-blocker is Darrius Shepherd [10]. Yes, he's small for a blocker, and yes, he gets blown up. But if you keep an eye on him, you'll see him with a bit of a seam to work with. He ends up behind Chris Board [49] and ahead of Michael Pierce [97]. There's not a ton of room, but there is a bit of a seam, provided Tim Boyle [8] has the time and space to hit that. Alas, Boyle doesn't have time or space.

Play 3

Just a hot route behind play action. Quick. Simple. Beautiful.

This also has the look of an RPO (Run/Pass Option). If you watch the offensive line, you'll see them firing up and looking for a linebacker to hit. I like that even more! Over the past couple seasons, RPOs in Green Bay have primarily been horizontal throws. This is designed to push vertically down the field, which is something I've been begging to see for a while.

Play 4

I know slant/flat has become something of a dirty word in Green Bay under Mike McCarthy, but it can be an effective combo. And LaFleur makes use of it as well, so prepare yourself for a steady dose.

What I love about this one is the spacing. You generally don't see the routes run that close together. The way this is done, there's the possibility of a natural rub occurring. Now, a lot of that probably has to do with Equanimeous St. Brown [19] not able to get a clean release off the line, but that's neither here nor there. I kind of like this tight mesh point. Just because it may have been an accident doesn't mean it can't be useful.

Play 5

Robert Tonyan [85] shifts before the snap. Nothing major, but the defense doesn't react, telling Boyle that the Ravens are likely in zone. The coverage over Jake Kumerow [16] - tight coverage shading inside and another defender 10 yards off - and the single-high safety in the middle tells him that this is likely Cover 3, meaning the deep defender over Kumerow is likely bailing to play the deep zone. If that's the case, he won't be in a position to jump the slant to Kumerow.

Now we've got the middle of the offense. Play action helps draw the linebackers up. Tonyan has an interesting release, shuffling inside looking to block before releasing through the middle. A defender sticks with him, meaning that route is a bust, but it also helps to create a ton of room for Kumerow in the middle. 

Nicely drawn up and executed.

Play 6

I like this one. It feels like it's designed to spring Shepherd in the middle. We've got one route pushing downfield to occupy the safety, while the others spread out and attack the edges. Shepherd runs a crosser, splitting all that action. He breaks the same time the out route cuts. Timing is everything here. The out route prevents that defender from falling underneath the route of Shepherd. The ball is out when both of them hit their breaks, not giving the out defender a chance to recover. Nice timing and some good routes. Shepherd couldn't haul it in, but the play itself is good.

Play 7

Last but not least, we've got this quick-hitter to Allen Lazard [13] on the right side. Like the last play, we've got a deep-pushing route to occupy the safety. We also have some play action, which is important. The play action draws up the linebackers in the middle, which provides room underneath. Shepherd pushing up the field takes the safety in the middle away from the action. Boyle completes the play action, looks up and finds Lazard with plenty of room to operate. Pitch and catch, man.


Just like the players, I am also trying out some things this preaseason. I'm making the leap from gifs to video, which I'm pretty hyped about. However, trying out new things also means changing how I've been doing things. In that case, that means something as simple as how I show the videos in these articles. Last week I embedded tweets of the plays. This week I'm embedding YouTube videos. Do you have a preference? I'm open to feedback, as I'm hoping to get this ironed out by the time the season starts.


Albums listened to: Young Thug - So Much Fun; Why? - AOKOHIO; Sleater-Kinney - The Center Won't Hold; Fionn Regan - Cala; Weyes Blood - Titanic Rising

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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 (25)

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packerbackerjim's picture

August 19, 2019 at 03:21 pm

Good stuff, Dusty. Can’t wait till it’s hitting on all cylinders most of the time!

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GBPDAN1's picture

August 19, 2019 at 07:51 pm

Thank you for this article. Great read

Also, I just read this on another site. "Rodgers is back at practice today, and GM Brian Gutekunst is expecting Rodgers – who hasn’t participated during the preseason – to play against the Raiders.

“The plan is to get him out there Thursday night,” Gutekunst said Monday.
If all goes well Monday and over the next few days, Rodgers should make his preseason debut in Canada – providing a first-time opportunity to operate Matt LaFleur’s offense in a game environment."

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nostradanus's picture

August 19, 2019 at 03:29 pm

Great stuff Dusty this is really appreciated And extremely well done kudos

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sonomaca's picture

August 19, 2019 at 03:46 pm

Nice job! Some of these concepts will work much better with Aaron Jones in the backfield. The threat of a big run makes play action much more effective.

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Unglued's picture

August 19, 2019 at 08:59 pm

I think both Aaron's may make things better : )

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Lphill's picture

August 19, 2019 at 03:47 pm

Great job , it’s a chess game and this is what makes Rodgers special , this season with better protection should be rewarding.

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Since'61's picture

August 19, 2019 at 04:09 pm

Thanks Dusty. These are excellent examples of how MLF’s offense can work. To me the keys are play action which means the running game must be effective and second, the Packers need to play with a lead or be no more than one score behind.

Once the defense can ignore the run game for either reason they can rush with 4, ignore the play action and let the LBs drop into pass coverage.

This means the Packers defense needs to keep the games close and Rodgers needs to give the ground game a chance to work before he audibles out of running plays. Play action and RPOs can be huge in this offense, especially if Jones and our WRs remain healthy.

Timing is also a key component here so hopefully AR can get back to practice ASAP and work on his timing with the WRs and TEs. Thanks, Since ‘61

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flackcatcher's picture

August 19, 2019 at 04:51 pm

The main difference between MLF offense and McCarthy's, is the huge range of options Rodgers had in the pass offense last year. MLF pass game features pass routes with checkdowns in the routes. The main advantage is all three elements of the offensive know what is being run. In McCarthy's system, every route was the option it self depending on what QB 1 called at the line. It meant that QB 1 himself had total responsibility for all elements of the offense including check outs and changing plays at the line. And we all know how that turned out. As you point out '61, these are excellent examples of how MLF offense is suppose to work. The one major plus, is it imposes structure on the player caller, which should force better technique and mechanics for the offense overall. As last year proved for Rodgers, sometime have too much of a good thing (play calling) is bad after all.

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Since'61's picture

August 19, 2019 at 10:06 pm

Flack when you have a QB like Rodgers it makes sense that the HC (MM) would give him complete control of the offense. MM was consistently criticized for either being too conservative or giving up on the ground game too soon. Then in 2018 Rodgers took hits for either holding the ball too long or for too many throw aways. Rodgers was just trying to play through his injuries and make the best of a train wreck roster playing around him and on defense and STs.

No team with an injured QB1, one legit WR threat, a porous OL, a sieve for a defense and penalty ridden STs is going to have a very good season.

Now with MLFs new offense Rodgers is going to play within the offense until he masters it the way he mastered MMs offense. As that evolves Rodgers will be given more latitude to run the offense. If not this season then in 2020 or 2021. The key point as you correctly point out is the structure. Even if/when Rodgers is calling the plays he will need to work within the structure for the offense to work. This offense evolves as the game goes on. Show a look and use it to set up multiple variations, read the defenses response and hit the most favorable matchup. There should be no reason to audible as often as in the past unless an obvious opportunity is presented. It's all good. Thanks, Since '61

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flackcatcher's picture

August 19, 2019 at 04:22 pm

Well, I hate to be a 'wait a moment' here guy. But overall your video work has little value right now Dusty. Not because it's preseason, but us fans will not know what context you are showing us this game video in. Now like much in life, I'm sure you have a plan, a structure on how to grade, understand what you are showing us. (And if you don't, an excellent starting point is Andy Herman work from last year -:) Still, I think you will just be fine. Looking forward to your work this season.

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DustyEvely's picture

August 19, 2019 at 08:46 pm

There may be some confusion. I have no plans - now or ever - to institute a grading system of any kind. Andy is great with that, but my focus is on scheme more than players. I like to show what was run, what the thought process was, and why it worked or didn't work. If you don't find value in that, that's perfectly fine. My purpose has always been the same: explain what we've seen and hopefully teach others a little more about the game (and learn more myself). That's the basis of what I've been doing for 6+ years and it's been working for me pretty well so far.

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flackcatcher's picture

August 20, 2019 at 02:12 pm

Dusty, my point was very simple. There are those like myself who are not familiar with your work or style here on CHTY. When coming on a new platform, it helps to explain how you got here, and your overall view in your breakdowns. You may have to do it more than once because, and to be blunt most readers don't know you and your work. (Twitter does not count. You and other sports media types are mostly tweeting among yourself, not to the greater Packer fan base.) So get out of the defensive crouch, the season hasn't started yet....-:)

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freddisch's picture

August 19, 2019 at 05:33 pm

Great work as usual Dusty

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BradHTX's picture

August 19, 2019 at 05:43 pm

Wicked! Tricksy, false! It says it posts one play, and posts two, Precious!

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BradHTX's picture

August 19, 2019 at 05:44 pm

(Great article, Dusty, and a thumbs up for the Gollum reference.)

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DustyEvely's picture

August 19, 2019 at 08:43 pm

Thanks man. And glad you dug the Gollum reference. Gotta sneak 'em in where I can.

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ottscay's picture

August 19, 2019 at 06:06 pm

Great read. Also, I really prefer this set up with embedded YouTube videos over the Twitter gifs of last year.

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DustyEvely's picture

August 19, 2019 at 08:50 pm

Great! Thank you! I was leaning that way, but it's nice to hear it from others.

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Spock's picture

August 21, 2019 at 10:05 am

Dusty, I love the breakdowns (something to watch even in "vanilla" pre-season). I second keeping the embedded u-tube video vs. tweets. I watched the one about "knowing the rules" and remembered Cobb's heads up play on downing the "out of bounds" kick, lol. I've mentioned before that the arrows alerting the reader where to watch who's doing what is a very valuable tool for me in particular. Keep up the nice work!

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wildbill's picture

August 19, 2019 at 07:20 pm

Nice work and I also prefer the videos to the gifs

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Leatherhead's picture

August 19, 2019 at 07:26 pm

A very nice breakdown. Liked it.

But I am kind of laughing because we keep saying "we want to run the ball more", but 90% of the articles and comments are about the passing game.

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DustyEvely's picture

August 19, 2019 at 08:55 pm

For my part, I'm interested in passing concepts, so that's where I'm focusing. Depending on how much time I have, I may try to fit in some run stuff, as well. Especially with this offense, seeing how the passing & running games are married should make for an interesting look at the offense.

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Unglued's picture

August 19, 2019 at 09:02 pm

I think it would be interesting to see how a run sets up a pass. i.e. case where same formation and movement, one time a run and then how a pass is done off from same look.

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4thand1's picture

August 19, 2019 at 08:33 pm

Sure glad Gute didn't enter the Antonio Brown sweepstakes. What a tool, maybe he played without a helmet for a while.

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PatrickGB's picture

August 20, 2019 at 11:01 am

No preference here dusty. Yet the playback today was pretty clean on my pad.

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