The Passing Chronicles: 2019 Preseason Week 3

Breaking down some passing plays from the Packers preaseason loss to the Raiders

I'm a sucker for something a little different in the game of football. Watching two teams play on an 80 yard field was kinda fun! I certainly don't want to see it all the time, but, for a preseason game, I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of it. I also found that I didn't miss kickoffs nearly as much as I thought I would.

I didn't love the injuries, though. Hot take, I know. I was really excited about what Equanimeous St. Brown could do in this offense. And, while the injury wasn't as bad as it initally looked, a high ankle sprain is nothing to sneeze at. Here's to hoping for a quick and full recovery.

Alright. Let's look at some passing plays from the Packers loss to the Raiders in the third preseason game. Only one game left and we'll be talking about real, actual regular season football. I can't wait.

Play 1

We've got a little motion from Robert Tonyan [85] before the snap. No one follows him, so we're likely seeing a zone look from the defense. A tight end crossing under the formation is nothing new, but I love his release once he gets out in space. He looks like he's lining up to block the edge defender. That gives the defender a pause as he braces, only to see Tonyan cut up and over the defender. I love that little move up the field.

There's something else to love here, and that's the release of Evan Baylis [49] off the end of the line. I've talked about this a lot before, but I love the late-releasing flat route off the downblock. You can see how the defense reacts once Tim Boyle [8] starts his bootleg. They're crashing down on Boyle, leaving Baylis open in space. Due to the immediate pressure, Boyle can't find Baylis, but there's the possibility of a big gain if Boyle has a little more time.

Play 2

I've talked about the Smash concept before, but let's hit it again. At a high level, Smash is a two-man concept, with a corner route over a shorter, more abrupt route (generally a curl). Here we have a Smash out of a stack look on the left, with a pivot route under the corner.

The Raiders are in man, which makes this an easy read. The pivot route from Trevor Davis [11] keeps his defender shallow, while the flat route from Tra Carson [32] out of the backfield draws another defender. The deep man is picking up the corner, and he's still backpedaling. It's an easy read for Boyle: with two defenders pinching up and the deep defender backpedaling, he just needs to get the ball out to the boundary. Great timing and a nice throw from Boyle.

Play 3

The throw is late and wide, but that's not really what I want to talk about. I just wanted to talk briefly about the route from Tonyan. There's nothing particularly great about it;  it's an in-pushing route with a disengage and release towards the sideline. In fact, it's a pretty standard tight end route. If you watch a guy like Jason Witten, you'll see him doing this dozens of times per game.

That's kind of my point. Tonyan played wide receiver in college and converted to tight end for the NFL. Tight end is a tough position to learn. By all accounts, he has grown by leaps-and-bounds in his role this offseason, which is tremendous news. This little route here, while nothing special, is something every tight end needs to have in their toolkit. Seeing him run this - and run it pretty well - makes me happy.

Play 4

Misdirection, man. This is a one-man shot play that had a good chance to be complete if the throw goes a little more towards the sideline. What are the Packers doing that allow this to spring open?

First of all, it's a tight, I-formation. That's a power-run look, and the Raiders stack the box. We've got a play action to the running back, behind the fullback, which draws up the defense. We also have Jake Kumerow [16] circling behind the line at the snap to fake the end around. That holds the edge defender to his side and prevents him from dropping back. So we've got two different forms of misdirection, holding the defense close to the line. While that is going on, Davis runs a post over the top, and he has a ton of room to work with. There's a defender on his hip, but Davis has inside position and a ton of field to work with. Again, if the ball is thrown more towards the vacated boundary, this has a good chance of being complete.

And why was that edge defender making sure he held the edge?

A one-man shot opened up because of sequencing, a formation and two different misdirection movements immediately after the snap. Imagine that.

Play 5

Pre-snap motion can do wonders when determining what to do with the ball. Darrius Shepherd [10] goes in motion pre-snap and is followed, signaling man coverage. We've got a couple in-cutting routes from the left, getting Trevor Davis isolated up the sideline. Facing 3rd & 3, the defense is looking to protect the sticks. When Davis makes his initial cut on a dig, it gets his defender to jump on that route just a little bit. Not a ton, but enough for Davis to be able to turn up and get a step on him. 

Due to the pre-snap motion, Boyle knows he's facing man coverage. You can see him looking at Davis during that inital in-cut. With no safety help over the top and Davis getting his man off-balance, Boyle throws over the top and hopes Davis can make a play. Naturally, Davis obliges.

I'm a huge Trevor Davis fan. I've been waiting for his breakout for years. With his speed and skillset, he's exactly the kind of receiver who can thrive in Matt LaFleur's offense. Barring injury, he's primed to be a difference maker in 2019. It has been a long time coming.

Play 6

I love me some divering bunch routes. If you get a few receivers in the same area and have them break off from each other, it can really help the quarterback read what's going on without tipping his hand. He can look in one direction and read how the defense is reacting to three different defenders. The defense can't jump the route, because they don't know which one he's throwing to.

It's tough to see exactly what plays out based on the broadcast view, but we can guess what Kizer is seeing here based on where he ends up going and where the defender is. Davis is on the outside of the bunch, running an out route. With two of the routes pushing up the field on that side, the outside defender backpedals. Kizer sees it, knows where Davis is cutting and lets the ball fly as soon as his back foot hits. 

Play 7

Last but not least, I wanted to highlight this. Both because it's a great throw, and because it shows a way to help keep the linebackers close to the line. I've talked a lot about play action, but you can see here how curl route from Keith Ford [27] draws the attention of the linebackers. That little curl route brings them up just enough to fit this throw over the top on the dig. 


Albums listened to: Jidenna - 85 to Africa; Taylor Swift - Lover; Poor Old Lu - A Picture of the Eighth Wonder; Seratones - POWER; Francoise Hardy - The Yeh-Yeh Girl From Paris; Cape Francis - Deep Water

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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 (11)

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dobber's picture

August 26, 2019 at 03:42 pm

Thanks for your work, Dusty. It's a nice breakdown on some of the concepts that were emphasized in the lead-up to camp. Much appreciated!

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kevgk's picture

August 26, 2019 at 04:21 pm

Great work as always

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

August 26, 2019 at 04:37 pm

I love these. Keep em coming.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 26, 2019 at 05:48 pm

I thought Boyle played well. I believe PFF or somebody said he had a real good night throwing to his left. He doesn’t seem to have much trouble getting the ball to open guys.

Considering it was a meaningless game in Canada, you really have to admire some of those catches. Davis and Shepherd both had beauties.

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Coldworld's picture

August 26, 2019 at 05:35 pm

Very interesting. I like the way this offense seems to be operating to create opportunities. It also may perhaps give some pause for thought in considering QB merits on this occasion.

Thank you for the perspective and explanation as always

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Since'61's picture

August 26, 2019 at 06:10 pm

Rashan Gary returned to practice today.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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EdsLaces's picture

August 26, 2019 at 07:28 pm

Much like in the games tho ....nobody noticed him. Lol sorry I'm only kidding ....kinda.

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Branden Burke's picture

August 26, 2019 at 06:17 pm

This is good content

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wildbill's picture

August 26, 2019 at 08:51 pm

Great breakdown, as these make me really anxious to see Rodgers at center with the opportunities we have seen develop. The great fun will be in the real games as it’s been all vanilla in the preseason and hoping for some real eye opening, unscripted, plays with Rodgers conducting the symphony.

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croatpackfan's picture

August 27, 2019 at 04:49 am

Dusty, you are not alone when we are talking about Trevor Davis. I like the guy a lot. I'll admit he did not show his potential as WR yet, but lets hope this will be his season... And, if you are dusty, I'm rusty one! ;-)

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PatrickGB's picture

August 27, 2019 at 10:57 am

Dusty, I love these breakdowns. They get me more aware of what’s going on in the field during the games.

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