The Passing Chronicles: 2020 Week 13

Dusty breaks down some passing concepts from the Packers win over the Eagles

It got a little hairy at the end, but it's tough to complain about a 30-16 victory that helped to convince the opponent to give up on their franchise quarterback. I mean, you could complain about something - punt coverage, for example - but it just feels a little nit-picky at some point.

As always, I'm here to walk through some fun stuff we saw out of the passing game this week. So let's get to it.

Play 1: 1st & 10, 2:08 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers leading 20-3

I wanted to start off with this play. It ends up as a throwaway, but it's a concept we've looked at in this space on numerous occasions, so I couldn't let this go by without mentioning it. That's right, boys and girls: it's The Cheese Wheel! (Disclaimer: Cheese Wheel does not actually contain a wheel.)

The mechanics of The Cheese Wheel are pretty much always the same, and that is certainly the case here. The backfield is in I-formation, with Dominique Dafney [49] in the upback role. Davante Adams [17] is on the outside, pushing vertically towards the middle of the field.

It is set up to look like a power run, with Dafney as the lead blocker. As he approaches the line, he accelerates through and runs a vertical route up the sideline. This is designed to get the outside receiver (Adams, in this case) to remove the boundary defender, then shoot the upback (Dafney) through the line and fly past the linebacker waiting to meet him in the hole.

In this case, the boundary defender passes off Adams to a dropping linebacker, then fades back to the boundary, taking away the vertical route from Dafney. As always, a fun idea, but it just didn't work out here.

Play 2: 2nd & 9, 0:35 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers trailing 0-3

We've covered plenty of PA Boot in the past - we looked at it extensively against the Colts and again last week on the Tonyan TD - but it's a core concept in this offense, so it shouldn't come as a shock that we're looking at it again. The reason I'm adding it this week is because of the target. Typically when they run this, Aaron Rodgers [12] ends up throwing it to the flat receiver in space. In the variation they ran against the Bears last week, he threw it to the deep man.

On this play, he throws to the intermediate receiver. 

The mechanics are the same: play fake one way, bootleg the other and find receivers running parallel to the quarterback on different planes. The defense is brought close to the line by the play fake initially, but a couple defenders to the boot side end up staying close to the line. That's likely due to the Packers throwing to the flat after the boot. 

WIth the deep route removing the top defenders and the flat route drawing the shallow defenders, Adams is wide open on the crosser. Easy 24 yards.

Play 3: 1st & goal, 9:56 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-3

If you know me, you know I love a good TE screen off the end of the line. And oh! What's that? Why, it's a TE screen off the end of the line. 

Adams clears out the boundary defender on the left with a vertical route. The offensive line does a good job of selling the run-block, getting some double-teams up front and driving forward. That movement - along with the play fake to Aaron Jones [33] - brings up the linebackers. Robert Tonyan [85] crosses under the line to sell the split-zone block, then simply turns around once he gets to the end of the line.

It doesn't end up in a touchdown, but it's a nicely designed play that picks up 6 yards and puts the Packers at 2nd & goal from the 3. Not terrible!

Play 4: 2nd & 10, 2:27 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers leading 7-3

There are quite a few routes going on here, but Malik Taylor [86] is the only real option here. Think of it as a WR screen on a deep crossing route.

Taylor goes in motion before the snap, signaling man coverage. Rodgers shouts out a couple instructions and then calls for the snap. Taylor is outside of Tonyan on the left side. Tonyan fires out vertically at the snap and Taylor releases underneath, the route of Tonyan acting as a wall between Taylor and his defender. 

On the right side, the two receivers fire out, but they're never actually running routes: they're just killing time until they can engage in a downfield block to help spring Taylor underneath.

The Packers sell a screen pass to Jamaal Williams [30], drawing the linebacker in the middle of the field towards that action, which is away from the route of Taylor.

Taylor catches the ball in a wide open piece of land is easily able to pick up the 1st down.

I've seen the Packers run plays like this occasionally on 3rd & long when they don't have much of a chance of converting, but I don't know that I can recall them running this on 2nd & long.

Play 5: 1st & 10, 2:00 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers leading 7-3

This is the very next play. On the previous play, the defender following Taylor across the field signaled man coverage. Here, the defense shifts with the motion from Adams, indicating zone coverage. The Packers dial up a flood concept to the left. Flood concepts can work well against zone coverage, as you can take advantage of the fact that some defenders will be anchored to your zone. You're essentially trying to send more receivers to a zone than the defense has defenders.

If case Eagles sag on the flood, the Packers release Williams out of the backfield counter to the flood action.

The Eagles sag on the flood so Rodgers checks down to Williams in space. It's only a 5 yard gain, but an easy 5 yards on 1st & 10 is better than 0 yards. I have often said that.

Play 6: 1st & 10, 12:00 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers leading 14-3

Here is the shot to Adams from the shadow of their own goalposts. The concept itself isn't anything crazy - or maybe it kind of is - but, with it being such a huge play, I thought we should touch on it for a minute.

This is, basically, a one-man route off of play action. The play action and the personnel aspect of this is huge to its success. The Packers are in 13 personnel (1 RB, 3 TE, 1 WR), with Marcedes Lewis [89] and Tonyan on the end of the line and Dafney and Jones in the backfield (Dafney is acting as the FB, but he's listed as a TE. That's why I have this listed as 13 personnel instead of 22 personnel). The Packers are selling a power run, which is not uncommon in these situations. With the offense pinned inside their 1 yard line, teams will often opt to run to the middle of the field and pick up a few yards to give themselves a little breathing room. The Packers load up and the Eagles follow, trying to shut down the run.

At the snap, the Eagles crash hard to the run fake side. That includes the safety on Adams' side. As soon as Rodgers fakes the handoff, the safety crashes hard. With the defenders all up to the line, Adams is man-to-man on the post route. Avonte Maddox [29] sprints back under the post after the fake is complete, but he can't quite get there in time.

Rodgers has great protection up front and he goes over the top to Adams. It looks to be slightly underthrown, but if it's thrown too much further to the outside Maddox would have had a shot at it. Still, I believe it could have been a better throw.

Hard to imagine a better catch, though. Tremendous concentration from Adams.

Play 7: 1st & goal, 7:45 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers leading 14-3

That leads us to Rodgers 400th career touchdown. Of course it went to Adams. However, there was a chance that it wasn't going to.

The Packers come out in shotgun. Lazard goes in jet motion before the snap, dragging his defender along. That signals man coverage, but it also leaves Adams on an island against a suddenly backpedaling Darius Slay [24]. The Packers are blocking for the tap-pass to Lazard and a jet sweep around the edge. You can see how it's all setting up: Williams runs around the edge as the lead blocker, and the offensive line is driving forward to pick up the second level of the defense. 

The Packers don't hand off a ton to the jet sweep man on a game-to-game basis, but they have been known to run this tap-pass jet sweep in the red zone. The Eagles are reacting to that and crashing the jet sweep side.

Rodgers likes the match-up for Adams with a cushion, so instead of tapping the pass to Lazard, he rises up and throws to Adams. Adams takes care of the rest.

It's the same action we see weekly from RPO calls, but, since the other option was a tap-pass, it's not techinically an RPO. The rules are still the same, though: make the read and the ball needs to come out fast, or else you can get hit with ineligible receiver downfield.

Really fun concept from the Packers, and a tremendous effort from Adams to get to the pylon.

Poor David Bakhtiari couldn't truly enjoy the moment, though.


As I do pretty much every week, I draw up entirely too many plays and have nowhere to put them, so I dump them in a Twitter thread. So if you need some more passing concepts in your life, here ya go!


Albums listened to: Death Cab for Cutie - We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes; Tom Waits - Bone Machine; Tom Waits - Bad As Me; Tom Waits - Heartattack and Vine; Tom Waits, The Heart of Saturday Night; Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea; Dave Brubeck - Time Out; Falcon Jane - Faith; Douglas Pipes - Krampus [Original Soundtrack]

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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 (17)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PeteK's picture

December 09, 2020 at 04:48 pm

If I was playing in the defensive backfield against this offense , my locker would be filled with Depends.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 09, 2020 at 06:00 pm

No shit. ;)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 09, 2020 at 05:01 pm

Because of you Dusty I was able to see when the Packers used Mesh concepts quite a few times in replays during the Eagles game!

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DustyEvely's picture

December 10, 2020 at 01:33 pm

That's amazing man!

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Lphill's picture

December 09, 2020 at 05:59 pm

Thanks Dusty great work , I think Rodgers is doing a better job of selling his fake hand off's as well .

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 09, 2020 at 09:44 pm

No kidding! Yes, he is much better now.

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porupack's picture

December 09, 2020 at 07:05 pm

Really great article Dusty, So easy to watch and see the whole play design. I miss so much watching games on my little laptop. So cool to see this after the game and re-see how it sets up future plays. Great contribution to CHTV

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 09, 2020 at 07:39 pm

Great stuff again, Dusty. Thanks!

Hell of a way for Bakhtiari to have to remember number 400. Some things are literally a kick in the nuts.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 09, 2020 at 09:04 pm

I laughed. I am a terrible person...

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PeteK's picture

December 10, 2020 at 09:27 am

That makes two of us. Hahahahaha

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DustyEvely's picture

December 09, 2020 at 09:13 pm

On the plus side, he'll always remember where he was when it happened, I guess.

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PeteK's picture

December 10, 2020 at 09:48 am

I have listened to some of your music selections and think that you might enjoy the band Wand and Great Gable.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 10, 2020 at 12:54 am

Great work as always, Dusty.

I always enjoy your music choices. Do you have something else going on as you listen, or are you focused solely on the music? I often find myself lost in thought while listening to my favorite albums, realizing after awhile that "hey, I think I missed that song ".

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PeteK's picture

December 10, 2020 at 09:30 am

Only happens to you , appropriately named Drifter.Listen to a UFO album and you won't have that problem. Hahaha

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DustyEvely's picture

December 10, 2020 at 01:50 pm

I don't get a chance to just sit and focus on music too much at this point. Just too much going on. I'm always listening to something when I'm at my desk working or writing, so I listen to a ton, but not intently. It's unfortunate.
When I'm writing, I can't listen to anything I know too well that has lyrics, so I listen to a lot of stuff I'm not overly familiar with, or instrumental.

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jlc1's picture

December 10, 2020 at 09:30 am

Dusty can you imagine doing this for, say, the Bears? This group is executing so well your weekly columns must just be fun to do while educational for the rest of us. And Tom Waits is an entire education too, great choices.

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DustyEvely's picture

December 10, 2020 at 01:52 pm

On a purely conceptual basis, I think I'd be able to find something interesting with every team, it's just that the end result would be much sadder.
The Bears are calling some fun stuff from a scheme perspective, but watching the execution would certainly drag me down.

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