The Passing Chronicles: 2019 Week 13

Dusty breaks down some passing concepts in the Packers Week 13 victory over the New York Giants

It may not have always been pretty, but a 31-13 win on the road - in the snow - is something to be celebrated. Beyond that, the Packers busted out some fun passing concepts this week, so we're going to take a look at some of those in a little more detail.

We're going to start off with every Allen Lazard target. Considering he only had 3 of them, that should be pretty easy. He caught all 3 of his targets, racking of 103 yards and 1 touchdown in the process. Some of his success was just due to the confusion of the Giants defense, but 3 catches for 100+ yards is nothing to sneeze at, regardless of how it happened. So let's break those suckers down, then get down to a few other plays that were a lot of fun. This was a good week.

Play 1: 2nd & 3, 12:03 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

Allen Lazard [13] is running a post over a push-out route from Marcedes Lewis [89] off the right side of the line, while Davante Adams [17] is running a very sluggish route from the left. I'm thinking that's supposed to be a hard curl, but we'll never know because Adams never does a thing with it. He just kind of saunters down the field, assuming that attention will be paid to him. Thankfully, the Giants oblige.

The Packers are trying to open the post for Lazard. In that case, it would make sense for the route of Adams to be a hard-cutting, mid-level route. Something like a 12 yard curl or a 15 yard dig. Something that would force the defense to step up towards the receiver and open the route over the top. It doesn't matter here because the Giants send to men to lightly jog alongside Adams, but against a better defense, that route needs to demand attention from the secondary.

In this case, it doesn't matter. The Giants bite on Adams and Lewis draws the attention of the safety sneaking down in the box. Lazard has inside position on his man and just keeps running. Aaron Rodgers [12] appears to be looking at Adams on his initial read. He's not open and pressure starts coming off the edge, so he drops back a little further, sees Lazard streaking down the field with no one underneath, and throws across the field. 

Taking a shot on 2nd & 1 is never a bad idea and it pays off here to the tune of 43 yards.

Play 2: 2nd & 1, 1:23 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 7-7

Pre-snap motion gets Lazard matched-up with Antoine Bethea [41] in the slot. Getting a wide receiver one-on-one with a safety is pretty much always going to be a mismatch, but when the safety in question is a 35 years old and never really made his bones in coverage, it's really a mismatch. Rodgers knows that. If he didn't before, he certainly would have seen the way the Cowboys worked Bethea in Week 1:

Some shorter routes help clear out underneath and Lazard spins Bethea like a top with a...slight step to the outside? There's not much, but Bethea bails to the corner as Lazard cuts on the post. Rodgers has more than enough time to find him and delivers a nice ball for the touchdown.

Play 3: 3rd & 13, 14:11 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers leading 17-10

The Packers are facing 3rd & a mile, so the Giants are sitting back in a soft zone. The Packers are initially working a post/curl concept, with Geronimo Allison [81] working the post from the right slot and Lazard working a deep curl underneath it. Adams is running a post/corner on the other side to help draw attention away from the middle of the field.

The initial routes aren't open, but watch Lazard keep working. He and Rodgers both recognize the soft zone coverage in front of him. Lazard works away from the zone and Rodgers throws to the vacated middle. Nice 23 yard pick-up.

Overall, a nice day from Lazard. This past week saw him on the field for 55.2% of offensive snaps. I'd still like to see that number tick up a little, but he has come a long way since only seeing the field for 23% of snaps in the Week 6 win over the Lions. That's good to see. 

Play 4: 3rd & 17, 14:29 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers leading 17-13

The Packers roll out four verticals on 3rd & long. The Giants have 12 men on the field at the snap, so Rodgers snaps it quickly. Adams veers toward the sideline before absolutely cooking Deandre Baker [27] with a step to the corner and then coming back to the post route. Lazard clears the middle with his route, so there are no defenders in the middle of the field to help with Adams.

Markus Golden [44] has a nice rush off the edge, but Rodgers is able to hang in the pocket and deliver a touchdown pass to Adams. 

Play 5: 2nd & 13, 12:38 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers leading 17-10

I don't want to spend too much time on this, but I can't let a post/wheel go by without acknowledging it. They run a post/wheel off the left side with the two wide receivers. The wheel is covered well, so Rodgers throws back shoulder to Allison, who can't come up with it.

I do want to mention the flat route from Aaron Jones [33] underneath. On this particular play he's running a flat route, and the defender treats it as a flat route. When the Packers are watching the film, I would expect them to take notice of that. If the defender crashes the flat the next time, Jones could take off on a follow-wheel route up the sideline. A little post/double-wheel. Just like I dream about every night.

Let's close it out with two of my favorite things I saw this past weekend.

Play 6: 1st & 10, 6:37 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers leading 17-13

The main action of this play should look familiar to you: it is originally sold as a play action bootleg to levels, which Matt LaFleur runs on a regular basis. It has all the initial hallmarks: play action with Rodgers on the bootleg, a receiver running under the line to the bootleg side, and a couple receivers beginning their routes across the field.

But then they change it up. Instead of continuing across the field, Adams cuts on a corner route from the left and Jake Kumerow [16] cuts on the post.

I've said it a thousand times in this column and will say it a thousand more. As an offense you set up your tendencies. Run the same plays over and over again. Get the defense recognizing that look and start playing that look. When they do, hit them with a counter.

In this case, you can see the deep defender passing off Adams to the safety in the middle of the field. That defender is completely unprepared when Adams cuts on the corner. This is perfectly sold by the offense and it picks up 25 yards.

Now, the Packers have forced defenses to consider this. They can't necessarily bite hard on the crossing action or they could get burned by the counter. Because of this, more room will be created on the original concept. When defenses start getting comfortable, hit them again.

Play 7: 2nd & 8, 8:49 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

If you have read much of anything I've written this year, you will likely recognize Mesh. Mesh is an Air Raid concept, pioneered by BYU's LaVell Edwards and run to perfection by Hal Mumme and Mike Leach. The concept centers around having two receivers cross each other on drags in the middle of the field and run something over the top of the "mesh" point of those receivers. The Packers have run dozens of iterations of Mesh this year, but I have not seen this one. It made me entirely too happy.

The central idea of Mesh is there: two receiver crossing on drags and a receiver taking advantage of the chaos created in the middle of the field. Only this time the receiver running over the mesh is really just shadowing the drag from the left and settling in.

Lazard is lined up on the left side of the line while Adams is lined up just outside of him. Adams runs the same drag route as Lazard, but he pulls up on a curl directly over the mesh point. You can see the confusion this causes in the middle of the Giants defense.

The defenders drop wide to pick up the receivers on the other side of the mesh, but no one notices that Adams has stopped.

The middle parts like the Red Sea and Rodgers sidearms a pass to Adams for the touchdown.

Beautiful concept. Just beautiful. I'll be watching this on a loop for the next few weeks, and I would invite you all to join me.


I had a bit of fun this week and recorded a video, breaking down a failed wide receiver screen. I spent less time breaking down what actually happened and more time talking about what I thought the concept was. Or, at least, what the concept could have been. Hope you enjoy it!


Albums listened to: Billie Eilish - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?; Angie McMahon - Salt; Vivian Girls - Memory; William Patrick Corgan - Cotillions; Anna Flyaway - Tomorrow I Will Take a Knife to Your Confidence; Gary Murray & LN - Downstream Angels

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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].

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Comments (8)

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ShooterMcGee's picture

December 05, 2019 at 06:26 pm

Dusty great stuff as always. I hope the offense starts finding a rhythm as we approach the playoffs since the defenses will be better. I would like to see more players involved in the passing game. Heck just call a play for each player every game, many of which could utilize quick passes. Is this too far fetched?

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DustyEvely's picture

December 05, 2019 at 11:46 pm

Yeah, it's pretty far-fetched. Let's do some rough numbers.
I count the Packers as having 12 skill players that can see the field:
WR: Davante, MVS, Kumerow, Allison & Lazard
RB: Jones, Williams, Vitale
TE: Graham, Lewis, Tonyan, Sternberger

All of those guys saw offensive snaps this past weekend, so that's the group I'll roll with. On average this season, Rodgers has attempted 34.4 passes per game. To accommodate my group & deal with what could happen in a game, let's round that number to 36 attempts for our hypothetical. That's 3 attempts per player. This past game, 5 players got 3+ touches, while the rest had less than that. Let's say we want to shave down some of Davante's targets. Where are those going? Tonyan? Vitale? Not all attempts are the same.

Beyond that, if the idea is to force the ball to every player, the gameplan is just done at that point. You're not playing mismatches; you're manufacturing plays for a single player every time. I have zero issue with attempting to scheming a guy open, but if you're working extra hard to scheme open Tonyan 3 times a game as opposed to going with the best mismatches you can, that's an issue.

I've got a thousand thoughts on this, but I'll stop here. I love the idea of spreading it out a bit, and I love the idea of trying to get other guys involved. But when we're looking at Aaron Jones and Jake Kumerow getting the same number of balls thrown their way? I don't like it.

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Lphill's picture

December 05, 2019 at 07:04 pm

Dusty good job as usual, I would like to know how many negative 2 Nd down plays the Packers have , I seem to feel that they have a poor success rate on 2 Nd down which leads to a more difficult 3 rd down conversion.

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DustyEvely's picture

December 05, 2019 at 11:31 pm

This season, their average 2nd down has seen them needing 7.5 yards to pick up a 1st down, which puts them 5th in the league in terms of fewest yards needed on 2nd down. They have averaged 6.1 yards gained on 2nd down, tying them for 9th in the league with the Lions and Bucs.
So if we're just looking at average yards needed and gained, that puts them at needing 1.4 yards on 3rd down to convert the 1st down, which is really good!
They're also 4th in the league at converting 1st downs on 2nd down, doing so on 38.3% of their 2nd downs.

Based on their average throughout the year, they're really good! As Packers fans we live and die with each play, so I'm sure they seem worse than they are. They have also had some really terrible games, so this stick out. But if we're looking at the season as a whole, they're top 5 in yards needed on 2nd down & 1st down conversions on 2nd down, and top 10 in yards gained on 3rd down.

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Lphill's picture

December 06, 2019 at 06:39 am

Wow , excellent thanks!

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albert999's picture

December 05, 2019 at 11:43 pm

Put the new running back they just signed in the slot and throw quick slants to him....hear he’s pretty good there.

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PatrickGB's picture

December 06, 2019 at 10:08 am

I liked what you did. I hope the skins don’t watch this.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

December 06, 2019 at 01:15 pm

Outstanding work again! Thank you for the effort.

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