The Passing Chronicles: 2019 Week 17

Dusty breaks down some passing concepts from the Packers Week 17 victory over the Lions

We made it! The 2019 regular season is in the books. And, while the Lions game itself may not have been the game we all hoped it was going to be, it ended with a victory and the Packers clinching the #2 seed and a first round bye. Not too shabby.

We have a lot of get through today, so let's start cracking. The Packers had a lot of fun stuff to look at in the passing game this week. The production may not have been there all day, but the thought process was solid and guys were getting open. 

We're going to start out with three plays with the same pre-snap look.

Play 1: 3rd & 10, 7:41 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers trailing 0-7

Allen Lazard [13] starts in the bunch but motions wide before the snap, leaving Davante Adams [17] and Geronimo Allison [81] in a stack look in the slot. At the snap, Allison looks like he is setting up a pick for the slant, but ends up running a stop-and-go to try to catch the defender off-balance. By attempting to avoid the pick, Lazard's defender jumps behind Lazard, giving him a free run to the middle. That's nice!

Meanwhile, Adams runs an out route over the top. He has a nice move at the top of his route to fake back inside. That little move keeps the defender on hit outside hip and gives Aaron Rodgers [12] a clean throw to the sideline. Between the two shorter routes, the underneath is cleared out. Rodgers throws out of the break and the Packers pick up 17 yards.

Play 2: 3rd & 8, 13:40 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-7

Same pre-snap look. Lazard starts in the bunch then motions wide, leaving Adams and Allison in a stack look in the slot. Only this time everything pushes vertically. I'm sure the safety is thinking about the out route from Adams the last time this was run, which helps give him a free release through the middle. Pressure gets to Rodgers before he has a chance to release, and the end result is a sack. This play is looking pretty nice before that free rusher decided he felt like mucking it all up.

Play 3: 3rd & 7, 9:19 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-7

This is on the other side of the field and with slightly different personnel, but you should recognize the look. Lazard starts in the bunch before motioning out wide, leaving Marquez Valdes-Scantling [83] and Allison in a stack look in the slot. This is essentially the same as Play 1, but with Valdes-Scantling in for Adams on the out route. Lazard runs a slant and Allison fakes a pick before running upfield. Valdes-Scantling even gives a little fake to the inside before releasing towards the sideline.

Here's the difference: the timing is just a little off. Rodgers doesn't trust Valdes-Scantling in the same way he trusts Adams and Valdes-Scantling is slightly slower out of the break than Adams. Those two tiny delays are enough to throw this off. Rodgers throws sideline, but those two delays mean there isn't a ton of space over there and Valdes-Scantling can't haul it in with his feet in bounds.

Two small, almost imperceptible delays. Sometimes that's the entire difference.

Alright, let's move on to the Mesh series. A couple of weeks ago I talked about how the Packers had been tinkering with the Mesh concept by combining some of the core concepts from LaVell Edwards and Hal Mumme. Last week I talked about how the Packers were going to basics a bit and focusing more on the Mumme Mesh. Well, I'm happy to say that they are back at it, taking the Mumme Mesh and tweaking it a little here and there. I counted 7 instances of Mesh from this past week, and I'm going to go through 4 of them here.

Play 4: 1st & 10, 7:53 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers trailing 0-7

We've got our Mesh concept in the middle with the two drags and the in-cutting dig over the top. We have a little window-dressing this time too, in the form of Tyler Ervin [32] running a jet sweep before the snap. (Before I go any further, I'll just say that working Ervin into the offense has given the Packers some of the speed element they've been missing this year and I am very excited about it.)

Jones is matched-up on a linebacker in the middle of the field. The drag from Adams makes it incredibly difficult for him to buzz out and pick up Jones out of the backfield. Jones clears the defender and Rodgers just misses him. This gets him wide open, though.

Play 5: 3rd & 4, 15:00 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-7

They missed it that time, but they remembered what they had so they went back to it on 3rd & 4. Slightly different releases from the receivers on the inside, but the mesh is still there. Instead of a dig route, we have a curl over the mesh point, and instead of a flat route we have a post over the mesh.

That brings a lot of eyes to the middle and no eyes whatsoever on the perimeter. As soon as Jones clears the line, Rodgers throws & doesn't miss him. It's not a massive gain, but it picks up 12 yards and the 1st down. Nice work if you can get it.

I also love the tail end of this play, with Jones leaping into the waiting arms of Lucas Patrick [62].

Play 6: 1st & 10, 4:54 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers trailing 3-17

We just saw two plays where they basically did the same thing with Jones from the backfield; release wide from the backfield.

Watch him here. He starts his release the same way, but cuts it back up the seam instead of continuing to the outside. The defender recovers, but he starts by shading towards the sideline. He has to flip back inside to pick up the seam wheel from Jones. With the dig route from that side taking a defender, there's a small window to hit him before the safety can cover.

There is pressure off the edge so Rodgers simply steps up and throws to Adams on the drag for 6 yards. But I love the thought process here. Show the same thing a couple times, get the defense leaning, then tweak it just enough to open up a lane somewhere else. Beautiful sequencing.

One more note about this play. With the dig and drag from the left - combined with the wheel to that side - that side of the field is pretty well cleared out. If Adams is able to evade the tackle and get the corner, this could have been a huge gain.

Play 7: 2nd & 10, 12:21 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers trailing 10-17

Went back to the well one too many times. Jones releases on the wheel out of the backfield. And, while the linebacker and boundary defender aren't looking, the safety is lurking and breaks on it as soon as the ball is released. He waits to make sure it's not kicking up the seam then attacks. Pretty un-Rodgers throw to lay his guy out. He clearly didn't see the safety.

So that's 4 instances of Mesh with the wheel out of the backfield. Three of them had Jones wheeling up the sideline, while one of them had him up the seam. The releases of the receivers inside was different, but that action was consistent.

To me, seeing the Packers run this 4 times in week 17 could mean one of three things:
1. They saw something in the Lions defense and this is simply game-planning for their opponent.
2. They're setting something up for the playoffs and wanted to get this version of it on film as many times as they could.
3. Something I'm not considering, which is totally possible.

Four slight iterations of the Mesh concept, all with Jones wheeling out of the backfield. But if you look at how they did it...

Each one is the same, while slightly different. They don't reuse the same formation and they don't even reuse the same releases from the non-mesh/wheel receivers, but they have an eye on the same thing. Illusion of complexity, man.

Let's finish this off with a couple other plays I liked.

Play 8: 1st & 10, 4:09 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers trailing 0-7

If you know me, you know I love wheel routes. And this one has two of them! Ervin and Lazard are wheeling up the left side. Rodgers liked the angle of Ervin - and also the pick that almost came as Lazard's defender was coming over to pick him up - but Ervin doesn't end up with a ton of separation and Rodgers overthrows him.

I love the in-cutting routes behind the wheels. Jones is running a slant from the outside while Adams is running a dig route from the bunch formation. The wheel is covered, but Adams springs wide open on the dig route. Rodgers liked the Ervin match-up so he threw it early, but you can bet they'll be paying attention to those in-cutters in the playoffs.

Play 9: 3rd & 10, 5:24 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers trailing 13-20

Lastly, here is the Allen Lazard touchdown pass. The Lions come out in a single-high safety look, and the combination of Jimmy Graham and Geronimo Allison in the middle draw the attention of the safety. Rodgers also does a nice job staring down the middle of the field all the way up until he throws to Lazard. Lazard does a great job selling the outside-pushing route before flipping back to the inside. 

With the safety stepping towards the line, there's no one over the top.

The throw is a little high, but Lazard is able to go up and get it. 


This season has absolutely flown by. The Packers get a bye, so I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing next week. Maybe a little light film study on the upcoming opponent. If you have thoughts, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

I have a few other things going on this week. For starters, I broke down 2 instances of the Packers running the Smash Fade concept this past week against slightly different coverages and how that shakes out, and I talk for a bit about the illusion of complexity.

I also have a Twitter thread out there for a bunch of passing concepts I drew up from this past week but didn't make it to this article.

 

Albums listened to: boygenius - boygenius; Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks; The Gaslight Anthem - Get Hurt; Counting Crows - Recovering the Satellites; Lightning Dust - Spectre; Seeker Lover Keeper - Wild Seeds; Acres - Lonely World

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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 (9)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 02, 2020 at 04:51 pm

Kudos Dusty

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Lphill's picture

January 02, 2020 at 05:55 pm

Great job as always, did anyone else know the Packers had a receiver in for a visit today? I am trying to find out more.

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Bure9620's picture

January 03, 2020 at 02:39 am

Lazard did a great sell to the outside on the TD, just as the other safety comes up. Jordy Nelson was great at this as well, all of those inside leverage post shots, Lazard is so big he can box out the corner with leverage.

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Lphill's picture

January 02, 2020 at 07:17 pm

Reggie Begelton 6’3 from Canada

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 02, 2020 at 08:54 pm

Thanks for another stellar article, Dusty. I really appreciate your easy conversational writing style and all the effort you put into sharing your knowledge with fans across several platforms. I look forward to your weekly work here, and follow on Twitter. Keep serving up the great brain food. Your attention to detail and focus on process rather than outcome provides us with a unique perspective.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 03, 2020 at 03:22 am

Thanks Dusty for an outstanding season. I believe the mesh was an checkdown for Rodgers this game. But it's clear MLF loves the concept. So expect more of the same for the playoffs..

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Daren726's picture

January 03, 2020 at 04:22 am

Idea for next week: maybe a comparison of how things/concepts have changed or evolved over the course of the season.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

January 03, 2020 at 06:33 am

How about evaluating the passing concepts of our next opponent which will most assuredly be the Saints. Their offense is 1 of rhe most creative in the NFL.

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porupack's picture

January 03, 2020 at 01:12 pm

Excellent analysis for this site. very appreciative of your work. Thanks to all CHTV writers. Great site.

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