The Passing Chronicles: 2019 Week 9

Dusty looks at how the Chargers blew up the Packers offense with a combination of disruption and pressure.

I heard a lot of talk about "burning the tape" after this loss, and I can totally see that. Sometimes you get just get the pants beat off of you. It happens from time to time. It's never fun, but I don't think this loss exposed any fatal flaws. The run defense is suspect, but we already knew that. The defense has a tendency to give up big plays and lock it down in the red zone, but we already knew that. The Chargers pass rush wreaked havoc on the Packers tackles, but not every team has Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. In the grand scheme of things, I don't think this loss is overly concerning. To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Sigmund Freud, sometimes a loss is just a loss.

Today was a tough day to look through for me, more because of the lack interesting concepts. As we've seen over the course of this season - and last week in particular - the Packers have been very good at setting up tendencies and running counter to them, as well as attacking favorable match-ups within each game. Due in large part to their inability to get "ahead of the sticks," they weren't able to do nearly as much as they wanted to. So I wanted to take today to show how the Chargers were able to pressure and disrupt a lot of what the Packers were trying to do in the passing game.

The theme of the day is Disruption and Pressure (which is both the theme of this week's article as well as the name of a terrible metal band. Probably.).

As you're looking at these, pay attention to the down and distance for each play and see how the situation informs the play call and the defense. When we talk about playing "ahead of the sticks" or "staying on schedule," we're talking about keeping the down and distance managable. We're looking for something like 2nd & 4 or 3rd & 3. When you get into those situations, a lot more of the offense opens up. The defense may not be as aggressive, since a checkdown could pick up the yardage needed. If you find yourself in a lot of 2nd & 10 and 3rd & 8 situations, it takes away a lot of options for the offense and allows the defense to narrow down what they're looking for.

Play 1: 3rd & 8, 5:09 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers trailing 0-3 [Disruption and Pressure]

There's a nice little post/dig combo off the left side of the line, with a follow dig route. I really like that look. The post attacks the safety, while the dig works underneath. If both of those are covered, the shorter dig from the outside has a lot of room to work with, assuming the receiver can beat his mean to the inside.

I also really like the slant from the right. With two deep in-cutting routes off the left side, there's a chance for the slant to emerge from the other side of that coverage. Get the safeties shading to the post and dig, then sneak right underneath them. It's a really cool look.

Unfortunately, a few things happen that blow it up. Keep in mind that the Packers are facing 3rd & 8. Aaron Rodgers' [12] first read is on the slant, but the safety stays home. Rodgers could have gotten the pass off, but it had no chance to pick up the 1st down, so he moves on.

Jimmy Graham [80] gets manhandled in the middle of the field and can't disengage to run the post. Marquez Valdes-Scantling [83] runs the dig, but finds Graham in his way. If Graham is able to get off the contact, there's a chance to hit Valdes-Scantling [83] on the dig, but even then the timing is tight.

The timing is tight because human wrecking ball Joey Bosa [97] rips through David Bakhtiari [69] and picks up the sack. 

Play 2: 2nd & 10, 13:33 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-6 [Disruption]

Chris Brown - the tremendous football writer, not the domestic abuser - talks about watching football by "finding the grass." Essentially, find the empty spots on the field before the snap and see how the offense tries to attack those areas and how the defense looks to cover them up. It's an interesting and fun way to watch the game, and I've learned a ton by doing it.

So let's take that principle and apply it here. Matt LaFleur likes a lot of tight formations, which means the open grass is on the edges. Pack the defense in tight and attack the outside. You can see how he's trying to do that here by looking at the left side. The receiver runs a go route to remove the boundary corner and there are no other defenders over there. Rodgers has Aaron Jones [33] running into the flat on his left. Provided the boundary corner doesn't drop down on the flat, Jones should be open. The corner steps back with the go route, so Rodgers looks to Jones.

The problem is that Isaac Rochell [98] drops wide from the pass-rushing spot to deck Jones. He stays on Jones, but Thomas Davis [58] is able to get around the go route and rally to Jones. Rodgers comes back to Davante Adams [17] on the dig route, but it's too late.

That little drop by Rochell to knock Jones around completely disrupted the play. 

Play 3: 3rd & 10, 13:28 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-6 [Pressure]

Another unfavorable down and distance. The reason this failed is easy: when Rodgers gets to the top of his drop, not only is no one open, but Melvin Ingram [54] is in his face.

Billy Turner [77] appears to be looking for a counter move to the inside. Ingram sees the way Turner is set up and simply dips his shoulder and sprints to the quarterback. Rodgers never had a chance.

Play 4: 2nd & 10, 8:12 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers trailing 0-12 [Pressure]

This is the same thing as the previous play. This takes place on 2nd down instead of 3rd down, but that's kind of irrelevant. Rodgers gets to the top of his drop and barely has time to set up before two Chargers come crashing down at him. It looks like he has Geronimo Allison [81] on the drag route from the right, but Denzel Perryman [52] is crashing that route as Rodgers looks to throw. 

He pulls it down and is enveloped by Bosa and Ingram. Really, it was nice of them to both hit Rodgers on this play instead of spreading it out to 2 different plays. Just a couple of gentlemen, those guys.

What's that? They still spread out pressure on other plays? I retract my comment. Scoundrels, the lot of them.

Play 5: 3rd & 13, 0:56 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers trailing 0-19 [Disruption]

For our last play in this little section, we'll look how a bunch formation can get wrecked. Again, please note the unfavorable down and distance.

From the bunch formation on the right, we've got a dig under a deep crosser, with an out route off of that. The releases are tight, and that's generally good in these situations. The Packers are looking to introduce a little chaos into the world. Release tightly from a bunch formation, then scatter like cockroaches. It makes it tough for the defense to track and react to.

Desmond King [20] has a nice take on this: blow it all up. He chucks his receiver at the line, which throws everything off. When Rodgers gets to the top of his drop, that grouping is all basically in the same place. Marcedes Lewis [89] has a clear path on the deep crosser, but Kumerow can't release on his out route because he's actively trying not to trip over his own teammate.

On 3rd & 13, the margins are pretty thing anyway. Add in a couple guys tripping over each other and those margins become even more thin. 

This pass ultimately fell incomplete, but even if Kumerow had caught it it wouldn't have made a difference: he would have been well short of the 1st down.

Before we go, let's take a quick look at 3 plays that showed a little of the quick passing game the Packers likely would have featured a bit more had they been in more favorable situations.

Play 6: 2nd & 5, 3:27 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers trailing 0-19

The Packers are running mirrored curl/out combos on either side. The Chargers defenders are aligned with with feet facing the receiver in front of them, indicating man coverage. This comes down to a pre-snap read for Rodgers. He wants to get the ball out of his hands quickly, so who does he trust to win their match-up. Why, the newly-returned Davante Adams, of course!

Rodgers hits the top of his drop, sees the boundary corner bailing and the slot corner not rotating over and throws to the outside. They pick up 9 yards and the 1st down.

Play 7: 2nd & 7, 8:36 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers trailing 3-26

Let's run it back. Adams on the outside, looking like man-to-man. Rodgers hits the top of his drop, sees the boundary corner bailing and fires it to Adams. Packers pick up 7 yards and a 1st down

Play 8: 2nd & 6, 10:11 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers trailing 3-26

Geronimo Allison is attacking the middle with a curl from off the right side. At the snap, the middle defenders spread out, leaving a nice, open space between the hashes. Rodgers hits the top of his drop, Allison curls and the Packers pick up 8 yards on the 1st down.

Finding mismatches and getting the ball out quickly is a lot easier when you're looking at 2nd & 6 instead of 2nd & 10. Had the Packers been able to stay on schedule, we likely would have seen more of this quick-passing game.


Albums listened to: Eliza Hardy Jones - Because Become; Earl Sweatshirt - Feet of Clay; Apollo Brown - Sincerely, Detroit; Why? - AOKOHIO; Leif Vollbekk - New Ways; Michael Kiwanuka - KIWANUKA

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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 (13)

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SterlingSharpe's picture

November 07, 2019 at 04:04 pm

It's time to do something that New England & Seattle have done & that Ted Thompson never did.

Instead if bringing in guys like Josh Bell & other never-drafted scrubs, bring in:

WR Dez Bryant
ILB Malcom Smith
DT Robert Nkemdiche

They might not be in their primes, but they're far more talented than our current depth & anything else iut there that we're used to Teddy bringing in.

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Handsback's picture

November 07, 2019 at 08:04 pm

Every team has a plan until they are smashed in the mouth. MLF and AR have to be ready for the copy cat defenses that will try and duplicate the Bolts gameplan.
They will need to suppress targeting it to Adams and let it come naturally.

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porupack's picture

November 08, 2019 at 12:21 am

exactly right HB. That is why not to burn the tape. That tape is being watched by the next 6 or so opponents.

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porupack's picture

November 08, 2019 at 12:21 am

exactly right HB. That is why not to burn the tape. That tape is being watched by the next 6 or so opponents.

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porupack's picture

November 08, 2019 at 12:21 am

exactly right HB. That is why not to burn the tape. That tape is being watched by the next 6 or so opponents.

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murf7777's picture

November 08, 2019 at 02:32 am

Those same plays work when players execute. All you have to do is look at their scoring average of the prior 6 games. They played bad and had too many penalties was the issue, not schemes IMO.

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Packer_Fan's picture

November 07, 2019 at 08:55 pm

What happened to splitting out Jones and Williams to get mismatches? Didn't seem to happen. And if the defense is attempting to disrupt the routes, how do the Pack stop that? On the pass where the DE checks Jones and disrupts the route, if Jones ran more of a wheel route where his first steps are to the sideline, no disruption can happen and Rodgers has a clear line of sight for a quick pass and Jones is in position to make the linebacker miss. With that alignment, if Jones runs toward the sideline for the first 2-3 steps, no one can be there to stop the pass. And with Jones in the open field, then it opens up for him to break one or two of those passes into bigger plays. I would run that play multiple times until the defense brings the linebacker in and further out. Then alot of things can happen. Same thing for the bunch formation when the defense checks the lead receiver and blows up the play. Later in the game they were were spreading out the receivers more and getting the short passing game going.

Lafleur must learn faster when on the first series your best tackle gets blown apart by the DE. Teams must adjust all the time as the defenses learn how to stop you. The Packers have to keep doing that too.

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flackcatcher's picture

November 07, 2019 at 08:59 pm

Nice Post Dusty. I'll only add that the Chargers slid their coverage over to Rodgers right, and overloaded their rush on that side because Rodgers bails out on that side. Rodgers does not trust sliding to Bahk and Jenkins side, and teams starting with the Raiders have adjusted. I suspect Bahk injuries are more serious and Jenkins footwork does not allow Rodgers to slide left in the pocket. But as you stated, if Rodgers is on schedule, then those problems become manageable. We'll see...

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porupack's picture

November 08, 2019 at 12:33 am

Dusty ,
Great material. Kudos.

In watching your first 3 plays, even with the long yardage needed, there seem to be 2 things that are better than QB holding the ball;
1) release early even if short of the sticks; give your receiver the opportunity to beat his man for YAC.
2) the tight ends could have neutralized the early pressure with a chip block, and give an advantage to Oline.
3) seems a few WR routes unfolded slowly, and the WR at the bottom of the screen took a cut way too late; had he cut earlier and crisper, he had a lot of green turf toward the middle, and sure, it would have been a tough place to pick up the first, but well....that is what you draft for, someone above average. Alternatively he could have faked his cut, as the CB played the cut, and broken casually on a go route alllll the way down the fairway.

While I take your point that the down and distance limited the options, I don't think it should excuse what seems to be a lack of in-game study on routes, quick throws even short of the sticks, and insufficient blocking support by TEs.

I do believe that game is far more concerning than just a "bad day at the office", They are correctable as you suggest by better discipline and early down execution, but needs some more boldness and aggressiveness to go make plays on 3rd and long.....ESPECIALLY when nothing else has worked for 3 quarters!!!!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 08, 2019 at 08:53 am

Nice article. I should write another nice article. No play action on the 10 plays shown. Part of that is the flat concept. GB was able to run the ball early. In fact, LaFleur ran the ball 7 times out of 18 plays in the first half, and the RBs got 3 targets as well. RBs were involved in 10 of the first 18 plays.

GB ran once (-3) to open the 2nd half and passed twice for a 3 and out. Down 12, LaFleur passed 5 straight times. That's where someone might say he gave up on the run too soon, but it seems a trifle harsh to me. GB picked up a first, then had an INC, and then a big sack for -6. so a pass is dictated.

I think LaFleur stuck to the game plan from the previous few games pretty well, all things considered. We just can't play 5 hungover offensive linemen. [Okay, I don't know that they were hungover. Something made them look half asleep and otherwise not ready to play. They were slow. They lunged a lot.]

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Max.Payne's picture

November 08, 2019 at 11:31 am

IMO, the videos I saw, more than once there was one thing that stood out in all of them to me. Maybe others see it as well: the actual routes these guys are running are chaos.
In one you have two receivers running at three defenders almost running the same route? I mean they arent separating and trying to widen the field, one long one short one in the middle one outside? No they are all running towards dbacks in waiting.
The guys going on short curts are taking so long to get their, Rodgers is buried by them.
I mean this is a piss poor offensive scheme as I've seen. Not to mention all these routes are developmental in that they are designed for big gains versus short passes and ball control. Great if your O line are superhuman and can protect forever.

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jlc1's picture

November 09, 2019 at 11:00 am

the empty field concept is great. Even applying it as the play develops I think I see cases where the Chargers are moving to fill just enough of the empty field, around the hash marks, to prevent some crossing routes to develop well enough to get the ball to the spot. Also it is clear, once again, that the GB receivers can't get off the line when pressured. Somehow the scheme needs to get the opposing DB's a little further off (play action to get them to bite?) to get this group into space.

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jlc1's picture

November 09, 2019 at 12:48 pm

the empty field concept is great. Even applying it as the play develops I think I see cases where the Chargers are moving to fill just enough of the empty field, around the hash marks, to prevent some crossing routes to develop well enough to get the ball to the spot. Also it is clear, once again, that the GB receivers can't get off the line when pressured. Somehow the scheme needs to get the opposing DB's a little further off (play action to get them to bite?) to get this group into space.

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