The Passing Chronicles: 2019 Week 2

Another game against a good defense, another win. It wasn't the prettiest thing I've ever seen in my life (outside of the first 17 minutes, which were gorgeous), but a division win is a division win. The offense obviously still has some things to figure out, but if you can pick up two wins against good, divisional opponents while you're not at your best, that's not too shabby.

Let's get to the film.

We're going to start with 3 plays that highlight a bit of the "illusion of complexity" that Matt LaFleur has talked about.

Play 1: 1st & 10, 14:19 remaining in the 1st quarter

2X1 alignment (two receivers to the left, one receiver to the right). The Packers start with a two-man backfield - lined up on either side of Aaron Rodgers - but Aaron Jones [33] goes in motion before the snap, wide left. That leaves Rodgers in the backfield with Jamaal Williams [30] on his left. I've shown the blocking of the offensive line to show that this is an RPO (Run-Pass Option), with the run pushing to the right side. Rodgers sees the two-on-two match-up on the left with the wide receivers and figures that will give Jones room to maneuver. 

The play action does a good job of making sure the linebackers in the middle can't jump to the outside. They flow to the run, Rodgers throws to Jones in the flat and the Packers pick up an easy 6 yards to set up 2nd & 4.

This isn't technically a pass since the ball went backwards, but we're including it in this section, because it's close enough and I don't have standards.

Play 2: 1st & 10, 12:59 remaining in the 1st quarter

2X1 formation, Jones in motion to the left, Williams aligned on Rodgers' left. It's the exact same look and only a couple plays later. Keep your eye on Eric Kendricks [54] in the middle. Because the Packers just showed this, Kendricks spreads out wide to help pick up Jones. But it's not the same play. Instead of an RPO, the Packers are running a screen to Williams. With one of the linebackers removed from the equation, the Packers have better numbers on the screen. Lane Taylor [65] leaks out on the block and doesn't have a soul to block until he's 5 yards downfield. If Kendricks doesn't vacate, Taylor picks up Kendricks and the crashing defensive back is has a free run.

But Kendricks is removed, Williams gets the screen in space and rumbles for the touchdown.

Play 3: 1st & 10, 11:48 remaining in the 4th quarter

It's the same, but also different. For starters, the alignment is different. Instead of both running backs starting on either side of Rodgers, Aaron Jones starts in the right slot before running underneath the line on a jet sweep look. And, while we technically still have a 2X1 look, one of the "receivers" on the left is a tight end off the end of the line. Instead, it has more of a max protect look with jet sweep motion before the snap. The call is a screen to Williams - just like Play 2 - but the defense sniffs this out and Rodgers throws the ball into the turf.

This particular play didn't end well, but this grouping of plays helps to highlight a small part of what LaFleur is attempting to accomplish. Give the same look and run something different, or mix up the look and run the same thing that was run out of a different look. Play 1 and 3 are the same play from different looks, while Play 1 and 2 are different plays from the same look. What a time to be alive.

Play 4: 2nd & 10, 4:56 remaining in the 1st quarter

We've got one more play in this grouping to look at. It's small, but it's important.

Again, 2X1 look, in the same way Play 3 is: with a tight end off the line. Rodgers in shotgun, Williams to his left, Jones crossing the formation pre-snap. The difference this time is that he runs in front of Rodgers, who gives him a little touch-pass for the jet sweep action. If you watch the Vikings linebackers, you'll see that they crash hard on the touch-pass. It's played well, but Jones still slithers for a respectable 6 yards.

The linebackers are clearly - and violently - reacting to that motion. Pull this up in a big moment, fake the touch pass, watch the linebackers crash then hit them with something counter to that movement. A lot plays off of this motion. If you can get the defense to crash it, a big play can open up.

We're now going to move our attention to a couple other plays that roughly fit this same idea, but with a concept LaFleur loves: play action bootleg

Play 5: 1st & 10, 1:16 remaining in the 1st quarter

Geronimo Allison [81] goes in motion pre-snap and is followed, so this is looking like man coverage. Play action goes to the right while the bootleg comes back left. Davante Adams [17] gets inside position on his defender with a nice release, then carries the route across the field, gaining more separation with each step. 

The play action draws the defense up and over, but Kendricks recovers well in the middle to fall back under Adams. However, Adams isn't the only receiver running to the left. The Packers release two receivers to the left flat: Jimmy Graham [80] crossing under the line and Allison releasing on a Slam route after blocking down on the end of the line. Coverage draws up to take away those options, leaving a nice, clean lane to hit Adams. Rodgers is moving to his left and has a man closing hard, so it's not an easy throw...

...but he is still Aaron Rodgers.

Play 6: 2nd & 6, 2:00 remaining in the 4th quarter

Same general idea as the previous play - play action right, bootleg left - but with different routes. the route from the left pushing up the field while still having Adams cross the field. 

There's less traffic in the middle, which means fewer bodies to fall back under Adams. The defense plays the run hard, and that makes sense: given the down, distance and circumstance, the Vikings are thinking the Packers are looking to drain as much of the clock as possible. Bodies flow to the run, but Anthony Barr [55] stays at home on the edge, waiting to greet Rodgers as he comes out of the bootleg. There's a clean lane to Adams, but Barr is a problem.

Rodgers is able to stop short, pull up and get the pass to Adams. Look at his feet as he delivers this ball then look at the placement on that pass. It's beautiful.

One thing I really like about these is how much can open up as a result of Rodgers being so good while rolling to his left. For a lot of right-handed quarterbacks, you would prefer to do the play action to the left and the bootleg to the right, in order to get the quarterback in a better position to throw. But Rodgers can throw from either side, which can really help with the deception. The defense may be a little less willing to bite on a run look to the right, knowing that Rodgers can bootleg back to his left. When they actually do hand the ball off, that could leave the running back with fewer defenders in the box.

Play 7: 2nd & 12, 3:23 remaining in the 1st quarter

Let's close up shop today by looking at this beautiful little touchdown to Geronimo Allison.

We've got a nice little follow-post action from the left with Jimmy Graham and Geronimo Allison, with Jake Kumerow [16] running a shallow slant underneath. The follow-post is meant to attack the single-high safety, and we can see exactly how it works.

The underneath coverage converges on Kumerow, opening everything up underneath. I thought that was nice of them. I think this is a touchdown regardless, but clearing out the mess underneath makes for an easier play.

Alright. Back to the follow-post. Graham runs his post directly at the safety. The safety has no choice but to pick up Graham. The post route takes the safety to the middle of the field, opening up a nice space behind it for Allison on the follow. Allison gets inside position and simply works into the space created by the vacated safety. 

From this angle, you can see a little better just how much space was created by the post from Graham. Rodgers has good timing on this, throwing the post to Allison just as Graham is going into his break to take the safety away. 


Albums listened to: Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger in the Alps; Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road; Charli XCX - Charli; The Antlers - Burst Apart; Pixies - Beneath the Eyrie; Belle & Sebastian - Days of the Bagnold Summer; Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence; Future Teens - Breakup Season; Earth - Full Upon Her Burning Lips

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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].

5 points

Comments (10)

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HoppyTime's picture

September 19, 2019 at 03:47 pm

"it's close enough and I don't have standards."

As always, love your analysis Dusty.....but that is gold.

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DustyEvely's picture

September 19, 2019 at 11:32 pm

Thanks man. I certainly try hard.

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cms's picture

September 19, 2019 at 03:54 pm

Love the details here! Thanks for all that work!

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murf7777's picture

September 19, 2019 at 04:00 pm

My favorite play was 2nd and 6 with 2:00 min left in the game. We ran the ball effectively the 3 plays in a row prior and Vikings had to play the run as we were trying to run out the clock and were successful the prior 3 plays. Sounds easy run the ball, but if we don't get a first down trying to run we leave them with over 1 minute left as Vikings have timeouts left to stop the clock. MLF, calls a gutsy play action pass and it works perfectly for a quick slant to Adams for a first down. This first down provided us an extra two downs to run the clock down to 15 seconds. Game Over!

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Wjstamper's picture

September 19, 2019 at 06:04 pm

Great Job showing how the offense operates. I can see great things happening as the season goes on.

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Lphill's picture

September 19, 2019 at 06:43 pm

Nice analysis, I think we will see a more consistent offense this week plus the Denver defense has been called out for no sacks so I think the Packers know this and we will see the short passes with the runs mixed in to keep the defense guessing. When the time is right Rodgers will look for the big play downfield.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 19, 2019 at 08:03 pm

Great stuff, Dusty! Thanks so much!

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pacman's picture

September 19, 2019 at 09:08 pm

Really great work - with the highlights and delays. I always loved these WYMM segments.

Now can you tell us how the Vikings adjusted to shut the Packers out the rest of the game?

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pack69go's picture

September 19, 2019 at 09:15 pm

Awesome Stuff. Good to see!

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Turophile's picture

September 20, 2019 at 08:24 am

Lovely cut-ups, Dusty. It's like winning the game all over again, seeing these plays laid out.

Of course it will be more painful to watch the clips if the Packers lose, but them's the breaks..............and the Packers haven't lost yet !

Do you know if Andy Herman will be grading the players each game, like he did last year ?

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