The Passing Chronicles: 2020 Week 12

Dusty breaks down some passing concepts from the Packers Week 12 win over the Bears

You know what is better than a win? A win over the Bears in prime time that sees the Packers putting up a 40-burger (with some help from the defense, of course).

This week, I wanted to focus on two core concepts the Packers ran this past weekend, along with some variations on those. We're going to start with the Mesh concept.

Play 1: 4th & 2, 6:40 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers leading 13-3

Let's start with a fun one. 4th & 2. The Packers are in control, but it's only a 10 point lead. Given where they are on the field, they could have trotted out the field goal unit, but Matt LaFleur instead opted to step on necks early and often.

The Packers come out with a bunch on the right, with Robert Tonyan [85] running the crosser under the vertical routes. Jamaal Williams [30] is running a dueling drag from the other side to set up the Mesh. We also have a dig over the mesh point, and a high/low read on a post-corner/flat route on the right.

Tonyan starts to pull up in the middle of the field to sell a block on the defender covering Williams. That little stop gets Danny Trevathan [59] to pull up, allowing Tonyan to create separation when he accelerates towards the sideline. 

The throw from Aaron Rodgers [12] allows Tonyan to catch it and turn up the field, picking up 14 yards and a 1st down.

And, of course, he finishes it off by tossing Trevathan to the ground by the side of his helmet. Grown man move right there.

Play 2: 1st & goal, 4:40 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers leading 13-3

Here's the touchdown to Allen Lazard [13]. Pieces of this should look familiar. Being down at the 2 yard line means there isn't a vertical route here, but the Packers do some criss-crossing in the backfield. With the defense all packed in, that motion can really help knock some bodies around.

We also have the mesh action from Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scanting [83], with Lazard running a sit route in the middle of the field after crossing over Valdes-Scantling. That helps create a natural rub, but Lazard also finds himself kind of lost in the shuffle.

Rodgers is looking to get the ball to Tonyan, but he's covered up extremely well. With the defense drifting with Tonyan and Valdes-Scantling to the left and Adams out of the backfield on the right, Lazard finds a nice piece of real estate in the middle of the field.

Lazard makes eye contact with Rodgers, then keeps drifting away from coverage. Rodgers goes up high and the Packers come down with 6 points.

Play 3: 2nd & 10, 5:28 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers leading 34-10

This is not Mesh, but it does have the crossing action, just deeper down the field. Since it fits into that category I wanted to show it, even if part of me doesn't want to.

Packers are running a high cross with Adams and Lazard. Where Mesh is generally run between 3-5 yards of the line of scrimmage, this high cross is being run 9 yards down field. Because of the increased depth, we don't see the curl/dig over the top of the mesh point that we've become accustomed to seeing in the Mesh concept.

The Bears are showing a single-high safety, and the crossing motion in the middle draws three defender. Two run with Adams, one with Lazard. 

The defender under Lazard is Danny Trevathan; a good coverage linebacker, but no match for a wide receiver. Lazard outruns him to the sideline and Rodgers hits him, only to have Jaylon Johnson [33] peel back from the boundary and put a hit on Lazard to separate him from the ball.

That'll do it for our Mesh section, so let's move on to the next core concept: PA Boot.

Play 4: 2nd & 9, 13:03 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

I talked about the PA Boot concept at length last week, and how the Packers used it to build up to a variation on 4th down. 

The mechanics of PA Boot are simple, and we'll see them in this clip. Play fake one way, bootleg to the other and find 2-3 receivers running parallel to the quarterback on different planes. You'll typically see a shallow receiver in the flat, another receiver 10 yards down the field and potentially another 15-20 yards down the field. There are, of course, other ways to run it, but that's what you will typically see.

We see that action here, and I want to focus on the deep route. Adams veers inside then cuts to the sideline with the bootleg from Rodgers. The Bears drop two over the top, both of whom run with Adams to the sideline.

With the downfield stuff covered up, Rodgers hits Tonyan in the flat.

Play 5: 1st & 10, 12:24 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packed leading 13-3

About a quarter later, the Packers give the same look: PA Boot with Adams running the deep route running with the bootleg. The previous play saw Adams and Lazard lined up tighter to the line, but the initial releases are the same. Lazard blocks down, Valdes-Scantling works across the field and Rodgers boots after faking the hand-off.

But instead of continuing with the bootleg, Rodgers pulls up on a half-boot and Adams cuts back to the middle of the field. 

The deep defenders are looking for the traditional PA Boot, so Adams is wide open in the middle of the field. 

Rodgers tries to throw on the run, but he can't get enough on it. Shame, because Adams was wide open.

Play 6: 1st & 10, 8:58 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers leading 13-3

Back to regular ol' PA Boot. This time Marcedes Lewis [89] is the deep man off the left side of the line, Adams is the middle crosser and Tonyan works under the line and runs into the flat. The previous two plays were play action, left, bootleg right. This play is play action right, bootleg left.

Once again, Rodgers hits Tonyan in the flat, but keep an eye on those deep defenders. The middle defender crashes on Adams on the middle route, while the other appears to be sleepwalking on coverage of Lewis on the deep route.

Play 7: 2nd & 8, 6:38 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers leading 27-10

We all know what comes next. Let's set it up.

According to Rodgers appearance on The Pat McAfee Show this week, Rodgers specifically requested this play to be play action right, bootleg left, as the bootleg action would take them away from Khalil Mack. And so, just like the previous play, they fake the run to the right and bootleg left. Tonyan is running the deep route off the left side of the line, while Adams runs the middle crosser. The Bears have more defenders dropping deep, but, as it turns out, they all react the exact same way the single deep defender did in the last play: they crash on Adams. That leaves a single defender playing the route from Tonyan.

And, while Eddie Jackson [39] is very good, he's shading the outside of Tonyan, expecting the route to continue to the sideline.

Rodgers pulls up on the half-boot, Tonyan cuts back to the middle and everything is beautiful.

I repeat: everything is beautiful.


If you need more passing concepts from this past week's drubbing of the Bears, you're in luck! I put a bunch of them in a Twitter thread:


Albums listened to: Smashing Pumpkins - CYR; Radiohead - In Rainbows; mewithoutYou - Pale Horses; Escondido - The Ghost of Escondido; Poor Old Lu - A Picture of the Eighth Wonder; Pixies - Doolittle; Death Valley Girls - Under the Spell of Joy

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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 (15)

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Coldworld's picture

December 02, 2020 at 05:39 pm

I want to say you watch too much film, but really grateful that you do. Really interesting as always. Thank you.

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PeteK's picture

December 02, 2020 at 06:28 pm

Fantastic offense to break down. On most plays the Pack has two miss directions to either side of the field which opens up so many options that a great veteran QB can exploit.

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HoppyTime's picture

December 02, 2020 at 06:53 pm

As always, love your stuff Dusty. Also love Doolittle.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 02, 2020 at 08:22 pm

One thing that happens over and over is two defenders following Adams. The number two and three options on these plays often have one on one matchups. Hmmm.

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Minniman's picture

December 03, 2020 at 02:21 am

Good observation.

The lack of a legit #2 receiver really hurt the Packers the last 4 weeks.

Having Adams doubled and the other 2 receivers covered by DB’s leaves that TE - LB or RB - LB matchup. Using the Mesh approach with this personnel group really stresses all but the fastest LB’S to cover this.

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JerseyAl's picture

December 02, 2020 at 09:34 pm

On that very first play, I'm not convinced that it's a fake block. I think he realized they were on the same path so he backed off a bit so as to not collide with Williams. The sideline view looks that way to me.

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Minniman's picture

December 03, 2020 at 02:13 am

Either way Al, I think that it’s the change of pace that does Trevathan in and makes that play.

....... Adam’s just does that to CB1’s!

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JerseyAl's picture

December 03, 2020 at 08:13 am

I definitely
agree it had the effect described I'm just not convinced that it's actually a planned part of the play.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 03, 2020 at 09:34 am

Double

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Leatherhead's picture

December 03, 2020 at 09:33 am

That was my impression as well, but it has the net effect of a well-timed and legal screen/pick. The defender tried to avoid the collision/ block . To me, Tonyan sold it well and it sprang both receivers open and Rodgers, behind solid protection, made his choice.

A play similar to this is part of every playbook past Pop Warner, but the execution is what sets this apart. Bears did a lot of things right or they could have given up a long TD. Plays like this really put defenses on their heels.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 02, 2020 at 10:02 pm

On that first video: HOLY CRAP the Bears are bad. 3 out of 5 receivers running patterns were WIIIIIDE open for the first down.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 03, 2020 at 12:12 am

The Packers are #1 in passing TDs, #1 in passer rating, and #2 in adjusted yards per catch tech.

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Lphill's picture

December 03, 2020 at 07:38 am

Thank you Dusty, great work as usual.

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Spock's picture

December 03, 2020 at 09:01 am

Dusty, I'm a big fan of your breakdowns of concepts. Your weekly passing chronicles articles really have helped me to better understand what's going on. Keep 'em coming!

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 04, 2020 at 06:47 pm

Thanks, Dusty. I really enjoy your work. Look forward to it every week.

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