The Passing Chronicles: 2019 Week 12

Dusty breaks down what happened on each of the 5 sacks in the Packers Week 12 loss to the 49ers

My normal process for this column is a pretty straight-forward one: I watch every single pass attempt and sack in the game multiple times, make videos of roughly 75% of them, then find the most interesting plays to write up here. The benefit of that process is that watching every passing snap gives me a better feel for the passing attack overall in that game. It also allows me to pick out patterns and themes on a game and season level. It may not be perfect, but it's a process that is working well for me.

Sometimes that process fails. As you can probably tell, it takes a lot of time to do that, and time has been in short supply for me this week. This week has been extra busy at work, and one of my children has been sick. Life happens, I guess. As a result, I was forced to take shortcuts. I apologize, but I still think it's going to be an interesting look.

Today, we're going to be looking at all 5 sacks of Aaron Rodgers. Will it be fun? Probably not, but it will be interesting. 

Play 1: 3rd & 10, 13:17 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

3rd & 10 is tough to pick up - particularly against this 49ers defense - but the Packers had a decent plan here. To the right, you can see that the Packers have the 49ers outnumbered, 3-2. A safety is hovering over the top, but the immediate area is open. Beyond that, the slot corner is showing blitz before the snap, and Davante Adams [17] sees it, gesturing wildly to Aaron Rodgers [12]. The safety shifts to line up directly over Adams, which further sells the blitz.

Out of trips alignment ("trips" is three wide receivers to one side) against a blitz, you'll often see linebackers dropping back out of the middle to cover the receiver closest to the line. With the outermost receiver lined up against the cornerback, the slot receiver is the one that needs to be accounted for on the blitz. Not only is his man blitzing, but he's lined out too far for a linebacker to drop from the line and pick him up. So the safety shifting is a good sign that the blitz will be coming and that it's not just a fake-out.

Rodgers goes through his reads after the snap, not paying particular attention to the slot corner. He looks to Allen Lazard [13] first, but Lazard gets tripped up by the blitzing cornerback and stumbles his way down the field. If Lazard stays upright, it's likely Rodgers throws this ball to him before the linebackers can rotate over. There's a nice lane there and it seems likely he would have been able to pick up the 1st down. But he doesn't stay upright, so Rodgers moves on.
Even if Rodgers' first read is Adams, Lazard stumbling makes the spacing pretty tight on that, so it's possible Rodgers looked to Adams, then looked elsewhere before coming back to see if anything had been cleared up.

His second read appears to be to Jimmy Graham [80] on the pivot route on the left. Rodgers was likely looking to see if Emmanuel Moseley [41] would be bailing to a deep zone at the snap. If he was, Graham would have been open in space. But Moseley stays home, so Rodgers goes back to his right, and to Adams on the dig.

Here's the really fun thing: the route of Lazard is intended to clear room in the middle for Adams on the dig route. Timing is important on that, as Rodgers would need to throw to Adams out of his break, as the linebackers would still be dropping and the deep defender wouldn't be in a good space to break hard on the route. Even through he stumbles the entire time, Lazard still clears the dig for Adams before the break. That's astounding! If he fell, the linebacker would be able to fall under the dig from Adams. The fact that Lazard stayed upright is impressive, but the fact that he allowed the routes to stay on-schedule is insane. Good on him.

Adams is open out of the break. Everything works well. DeForest Buckner [99] is screaming off the edge on a twist, but Rodgers still has time to throw to Adams on time. But he looks at Buckner and he pulls the ball down to escape. There's nowhere to escape. There is nowhere to go. There is no Dana, only Zuul. Fred Warner [54] picks up the sack-fumble, Nick Bosa [97] recovers the fumble and the 49ers went up 7-0 on the next play.

It's tough to know if Lazard stumbling down the field made Rodgers think the dig to Adams wouldn't be open, but Adams was open out of the break. Rodgers would have been walloped by Buckner, but he had time to get the throw away.

Play 2: 2nd & 25, 8:17 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-10

Mirrored sluggos! Let's talk about what that means for a beat.

"Mirrored" is exactly what it sounds like: both sides are running the exact same thing.

"Sluggo" is a fun way of saying "slant-and-go." A slant is a route that generally takes a couple steps down the field before cutting at an angle across the field, while a go route is basically just telling a guy to "run fast and straight." A sluggo is a combination of those two: start up the field, take a step or two inside to sell the slant, then cut up the field on the go route.

The Packers have a long love for slant routes (every West Coast Offense based team uses them), so the idea behind a sluggo is pretty easy to understand: run the slant over and over again, get the defense looking to jump it, then hit them with a sluggo. The cornerback bites hard on the slant, opening the field behind them and suddenly you have a big play. Set up your tendencies, get the defense leaning, then run counter to them.

To further sell it, the Packers are running flat routes underneath the sluggos on both sides. The Packers love slant/flat combos. They're looking for the defense to react to the initial release by the slant and flat routes, then go over the top.

To even further sell it, Rodgers pump fakes to the left on the slant. The timing on the pump fake is great. It occurs as the receiver is rounding the flat defender, so right around the time Rodgers would be looking to throw this pass if it were a slant.

All of that set-up and it works! The safety is pulled up by the pump fake. But there's a problem:

Damontre Moore [90] drives David Bakhtiari [69] directly into the face of Rodgers right as he's getting ready to release the ball. Rodgers has a strong enough arm to get the ball to Adams, but the safety recovered pretty well, making it a tighter throw than it originally appeared. He steps around the rush to get a better angle to step into the throw and is brought down by Arik Armstead [91] coming off a twist. 

It's a real shame, because this would have been beautiful.

Play 3: 3rd & 8, 0:40 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-20

The down-and-distance dictates that this be a throw that is either past the 1st down marker, or has a chance to pick up the 1st down. At the top of his drop, no one is open. There is simply nowhere for the ball to go. Davante Adams is absolutely manhandled out of the right slot for a solid 5 yards, which is certainly one way to make sure he isn't able to get off the line.

Rodgers is able to go through a couple reads, but no one is open and Nick Bosa easily overpowers Alex Light [70] with a speed-to-power-to-rip move. I don't really have a major issue with Alex Light, but Nick Bosa is Nick Bosa and these things happen to back-up tackles.

Play 4: 2nd & 6, 10:19 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers trailing 0-23

The 49ers had been killing the Packers on 3rd down, so picking up some yards here would have been big. Make it a manageable 3rd down situation. The Packers roll with mirrored slant/flat with Jimmy Graham running a middle curl. 

At the top of Rodgers' drop, Geronimo Allison [81] is open in the left flat. Between Allison's speed and the closing defender, it's unlikely this is more than a 3 yard gain, but 3rd & 3 is better than 3rd & 6 or worse. (Spoiler alert: it will be worse.) Rodgers passes it up and moves on to Graham in the middle.

Graham is covered well, so Rodgers moves off of that.

At this point, the pocket is a bit of a blob and Bakhtiari is being pushed back into him, but there is plenty of room to step up and Lazard is open on the slant on the right. If Rodgers steps up, he'd find an open Lazard and everything would be beautiful and nothing would hurt.

Instead, Bakhtiari backing up into him spooks him a bit, he looks to escape the confines of the pocket and is promptly dropped by Buckner. I'll chalk his reaction up to getting sack 3 times in the first half and being a little on-edge. Still, not a great reaction and things would have turned out differently if he had just taken a few steps up in the pocket.

Play 5: 4th & 8, 11:35 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers trailing 8-30

4th down and the 49ers are showing an all-out blitz. They have 3 defenders sitting back - one for each outside receiver - and a single-high safety. Everyone else is on the line, and Rodgers has to assume they will all be coming on the blitz. Jimmy Graham is uncovered out of the left slot, which is what we'll be keeping an eye on. There are only a few ways the defense could account for him:

1. Aggressively crash the safety.
2. Drop a defender on the line underneath him.

That's it. They could slide Moseley off of Adams and under Graham, but then Adams is uncovered. If a defense is looking to leave either Adams or Graham uncovered, they're likely picking Graham as the uncovered man every time. That's not a shot at Graham, it's just the truth.

As it turns out, a defender drops off the line to pick up Graham, but he drops at such an angle that it allows for a throw to Graham and gives Graham a lane that he would likely be able to pick up a 1st down with.

Graham sees the defender over him blitzing and immediately looks back at Rodgers on his route, looking for the throw. Rodgers appears to be looking at him, but doesn't pull the trigger and is dropped by Arik Armstead for a 4 yard loss and turnover on downs.


Recent(ish) studies have shown that sacks are usually more the fault of the quarterback than the offensive line. I believe that's true to an extent, but also misses a decent amount of context. I'm a big advanced stats guy, but I also very much believe in the marriage of stats and film. Sometimes stats are a result of film study, but sometimes it's looking at numbers and trends outside of the film. There can be value there, but I also don't believe in always taking those at face value.

So I'm not saying that every sack that Rodgers takes is on him, but of the 5 he took this past Sunday, I'd put 3.5 of them on him. I'm letting him 50% off the hook on Play 2 and completely off the hook on Play 3. On the rest of them, he had an opportunity to get rid of the ball before being sacked for a gain that would make sense given the down-and-distance the Packers were facing. I don't subscribe to the theory that Rodgers always holds onto the ball for too long, but he was certainly guilty of some of that in this game and it came back to bite him.

That being said, I think this offense will be fine going forward. They ran into a really good defense, got down early and never found their footing. It was ugly, but I still very much believe in this offense. Even after an ugly game, the Packers are 8-3 and in first place in the division (technically they have the same record as the Vikings, but the head-to-head win gives them the edge). I know recency bias has all of us down, but this has been a tremendously fun season and I can't wait to see how it ends up playing out.


Albums listened to: Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue; Action Bronson - Lamb Over Rice; Tegan & Sarah - Hey, I'm Just Like You; Beck - Hyperspace; Harry Nilsson - Losst And Founnd; Various Artists - Come On Up to the House: Women Sing Waits

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

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].

3 points

Comments (15)

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

November 28, 2019 at 03:19 pm

I think this was an excellent article and I agree with your conclusions.

If you have 10 legitimate possessions and you kill 5 of them with sacks or turnovers.......hard to score points like that.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
flackcatcher's picture

November 28, 2019 at 03:38 pm

Great overview Dusty. As you point out the game was lost on the LOS. Painful indeed...

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
Bearmeat's picture

November 28, 2019 at 06:40 pm

Rodgers needs to throw the EFFEN ball. He has long been his own worst enemy with sacks. The problem is, his legs are no longer a plus. Those highlight-reel plays with Jordy and Jennings etc.. are long gone. ARod can't get away from pressure like he used to be able to, and the only two weapons we have on this offense are Jones and Adams (in that order). ARod has to trust the SCHEME and throw the damn ball ON TIME. Then you throw in his moodiness and wild gesticulating (which hasn't been as obvious this year, granted), and I'm pretty frustrated with him. He reminds me of BLF around about 2004.

12 is a 1st ballot HOFer for sure, and I am thankful for his unreal play from 2008-2016 (2015-early 2016 notwithstanding). But he has not been great since 2016. Yes, I'm highly concerned about the offense - partly because of 12 (as well as no WR2 and Graham being bad). Bottom line: it's time to start looking for a replacement in the draft. Yeah. I said it. Downvote away.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
Lphill's picture

November 28, 2019 at 06:08 pm

Bearmeat maybe if Rodgers was not under duress the whole game he may have had time to find the open receivers. Just a thought .

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
Bearmeat's picture

November 28, 2019 at 06:09 pm

That's the thing - as Dusty said - he had enough time on all the sacks except one to stand tall in the pocket and deliver a strike for a 1st down. He chose not to or panicked. Neither is good.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Leatherhead's picture

November 28, 2019 at 07:41 pm

He’s under duress because he isn’t getting rid of the rock quicker.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
sam1's picture

November 28, 2019 at 08:58 pm

Rodgers is OLD SLOW and can't be the hero any longer but he tries continuously top do so! Bench him if needed to knock him down a peg or too! And yes now with two weaker teams coming up just might be time to do it! Time has caught up with Rodgers! Thumbs down away!

+ REPLY
-2 points
1
3
Packer_Fan's picture

November 28, 2019 at 09:13 pm

Dusty, thanks for these articles. On the fumbled sack, the RB safety valve was open for a first down. And in time before the sack. And the other sacks, there really wasn't a safety valve. We are just not using the backs enough. And we are not helping in this game, Light who needed help. Like Rodgers said, execution and I say play calling. And Rodgers trying to make a plays down the field rather than short passes. Teams will play man to man as much as they can until these things are corrected. So I still say they are fixable.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
WestWi_Packfan's picture

November 29, 2019 at 06:30 pm

I agree Aaron has to take what the defense gives him, they should have been throwing quick hitters and let the WR run after catch, instead of continuously trying to throw deep make big plays but end up taking the sack. I would think after enough sacks they would have figured this out.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
MarkinMadison's picture

November 28, 2019 at 09:31 pm

Seriously Sam1? You trolling?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RedRight49's picture

November 29, 2019 at 05:54 am

Thanks for the excellent visual and written analysis of the sacks endured by Rodgers.

Being able to see those plays again with the benefit of the arrow / route / rushing diagrams was quite informative.

The 49'ers D - coordinator, Robert Saleh, drew up an outstanding defensive game plan and his D executed it to near perfection all game long
and the Pack had no real answers / adjustments to counter that unrelenting rush.

That game is thankfully long over but sure hope the sting of that loss motivates a return to winning form for the Packer's offense.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Leo492's picture

November 29, 2019 at 08:56 am

Waiting to see the final lookup setting of the https://freebooksummary.com/the-lottery-characters-setting-and-theme-93188 that create impact on the design. The company focus on the galaxy series to make it more successful in the market.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Handsback's picture

November 29, 2019 at 09:37 am

Thank you Dusty. I also saw some clips shared at other posting sites and for sure there were problems with Rodgers during the game. Doesn't mean he's the reason for the loss, more like a contributing factor along with the defense and STs.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
FITZCORE1252's picture

November 29, 2019 at 03:36 pm

Watching the Saints and Falcons last night the commentators said that Brees talked to them about getting the ball out quicker after Atlanta roughed him up a couple weeks ago. I think last night he was getting the ball out in something like 2.2 seconds on average. The stat line for Atlanta was 0 sacks, 0 hits. They didn't touch Brees. If NO can make an adjustment like that is it too much to expect the Packers to do something along the same lines when they know they're facing a D that creates a lot of pressure? I don't think so. Giving them the benefit of doubt I suppose I can see being caught flat footed against the Chargers, but I can't think of a viable excuse for what happened in SF. This league is about adjustments and I'm waiting for the coaching staff to show me they are up to the task.

Also: "There is no Dana, only Zuul" = well done!

GPG

+ REPLY
1 points
1
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.