The Passing Chronicles: 2021 Preseason Week 1

Dusty breaks down a few plays from the Packers Week 1 preseason loss to the Texans

We're back! Almost like we never really left. 

As we all know, the preseason is a weird time. It's football, and that's exciting, but we can't really evaluate it like we would a regular season game, because the goal of a preseason game isn't the same as the goal of a regular season game. The goal of a preseason game isn't always to win. Coaches are getting their game rhythm back a bit, but they're also seeing how players do in game situations. We're watching second and third stringers battle out some simulations in front of us and coaches aren't using their whole playbook. Because of that, it doesn't do us a ton of good to dig into scheme in the same way we do during the regular season.

Still, there are things to be looked at. Pieces of information to glean. And, most importantly, there are talking points. That's where we come in.

This isn't going to be the article we get during the season. We're only looking at a few plays, and one of them is on the defensive side of the ball. I'm easing into the season just like everyone else. You ready? I'm ready.

Play 1

This play was in the 1st quarter, and, while it only went for a modest gain, it was impressive for a couple reasons. The first thing that jumps out is the throw itself. It's not a long throw, but Jordan Love [10] throws an off-platform bullet while breaking out of a crumbling pocket. The Packers are running curl/flat to one side and Dagger to the other, with AJ Dillon [28] running a flat route under Dagger.

With it being 2nd & 9, Love's first read is the curl/flat combo on the right. He hits his back foot and sets to throw, but it's covered, so he moves to Dagger. Jace Sternberger [87] splits the two-high coverage with a vertical route, but the pocket breaks down and prevents Love from hitting the throw. Love escapes pressure and keeps his eyes up. He sees the boundary defender inching in to guard against a potential scramble, but Love knows where his checkdown is. He clears the muck in front of him and whips a pass to Dillon.

I wanted to take a look at Love's footwork on this progression. He works a three-step drop, then hops to load for the throw. He's reading the curl/flat during the dropback and is ready to throw on the load. It's not open, so Love resets to his next read. His feet are tied to the read, so he's ready to throw if it's open.

Unfortunately, there is already a rusher in his face at this point, so he has to break contain. But he doesn't drop his eyes; he calmly breaks to his left, keeps his eyes up, then utilizes his checkdown option.

Really nicely done.

Play 2

On 3rd & 9, the Texans are playing two-high safeties. It looks like they're playing Tampa 2, with the inside linebacker sinking to the middle of the field. I've talked about this before, but every coverage has its weak spots. In Cover 2, one of the weak spots in deep coverage is the middle of the field. Tampa 2 attempts to solve that by dropping a linebacker to take away that gap. 

The Packers attack the two-high alignment with a Dagger concept on the right and a vertical route on the other side. Jace Sternberger is running straight up the middle of the field from inside spot on the right side. With the two outside receivers pushing vertical, the safeties are held in place, opening a nice area of space in the deep middle. The Tampa linebacker tilts his body and sinks back, but he doesn't sink quite enough.

Love hits his back foot, steps up into the pocket and drives a throw over the sinking linebacker.

Play 3

We're going to end on a defensive play; specifically, the sack by Oren Burks [42]. Burks showed some really nice things in this game. I'm currently caught between telling myself "it was just one preseason game" and "I think it's all starting to click for him." But we're not really here to talk about Oren Burks specifically on this play.

There are two main things I'm expecting to see out of Joe Barry's defense: 5 man fronts and pre-snap two-high alignments. Right now we'll just talk about the 5 man fronts. I'm not going to get into the specifics of the Tite/Mint front here - Maggie Loney did a good job with the philosophy on that alignment a couple weeks ago - but we will talk about the general thought behind a basic 5 man front. It's really pretty simple: against a 5 man protection scheme, you've got one-on-ones for your entire defensive line. With some of the talent the Packers have up front, they'll be able to take advantage of those opportunities.

It can also mess with protections. On this play, the Texans have a tight end on either side of the line, but both of those men are running routes. The Packers show a 5 man front, with 2 linebackers behind them. The Texans offensive line has to pick up the men on the line first, as that's the immediate threat. 

The Packers only end up rushing 4, with 3 from the line and 1 from the second level. The two edge rushers drop off, leaving the LT and RT dropping back without anyone to block. That leaves the center and two guards blocking against 4 rushers. The center and right guard block right and the left guard blocks left, leaving the middle wide open. Burks times it perfectly and hits the QB before the RB can even try to block.

When we think of overload blitzes, we typically think of that in terms of overloading one side of the field. On this play, the Packers isolate and overload the middle of the line. They only send 4 men on the rush, but they get a +1 rush advantage with a direct line to the quarterback. Nicely drawn up and very well executed.


I had a lot of fun over the offseason, diving back into plays from Packers history, as well as a few deep dive into concepts we're going to see this year. But there's really nothing like writing about a game we all just watched. Even if it's just preseason, football is back, and I couldn't be happier. Thanks for joining me this week! I look forward to spending the rest of the season with you all.


Albums listened to: The Killers - Pressure Machine; Kississippi - Mood Ring; William Fitzsimmons - Ready the Astronaut; The Lonely Wild - The Sun As It Comes

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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].

8 points

Comments (10)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
splitpea1's picture

August 18, 2021 at 03:28 pm

Nice job with the clips. The Sternberger play was well-executed on both ends. As for Burks, maybe he's a real late bloomer, who knows, he's had some injuries. Loved the little caption on that last clip by the way--humor always helps!

6 points
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Dr.Rodgers's picture

August 18, 2021 at 04:00 pm

You’re the best Dusty! That Oren Burks/defensive alignment scheme looked pictur perfect.

9 points
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PeteK's picture

August 18, 2021 at 06:42 pm

It's hard to see everything that's going on downfield while watching on TV. I especially liked the clips showing Love's progression and foot work. He remained relatively calm under duress, not easy for a young QB. Thanks again for the analysis.

4 points
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TheVOR's picture

August 18, 2021 at 06:59 pm

Nice job trying to build a case for the following:

Love was exactly what Love is on the nice touch pass to Sternberger. It's what his college Film said.

Are we going to be complementary for Check Downs? While check downs are seriously part of the game, they're not the entirety of the game. If it's 3rd and 8, and a QB checks down? In the real world of the NFL starting and prepared defenses, if you're check down Sally, which Love is, you're going to be punting, end of conversation.

Here's the final word, I see where you conveniently decided not to show the very AVERAGE arm strength and accuracy issues. Jordan Love completed 3 passes to the amazing contorted efforts of his WR's. Show the pass to Funchess, where Funchess makes the UNBELIEVABLE contorted catch? How many of those horrifically inaccurate catches can we expect from the likes of MVS? Ya right, brink hands wouldn't gather that one in? Heck, I was flabbergasted that Funchess, who's hands have been NFL "Questionable" made the catch, which he pretty much had to, his career riding on?

Here's the real non-biased breakdown of Jordan Love, so the media doesn't BLIND packers fans. He's exactly what his college and camp film says he is, and he hasn't changed one IOTA from what his film says he is:

Positives - Nice looping Rainbow touch passes. He's exactly what his Film says he is!!!! Nice looping Unicorn Rainbow passes!!!!

Negatives -

Not terrifically Mobile
Ball security issues
Accuracy issues, especially when he has the "BRING THE HEAT, which by he way? His fastball? Sorry People, it's average at best.
Footwork nightmare (in his defense, true #1 draft picks even have to work on footwork, and he's not a true #1).

Not a true #1 draft choice, never was, never will be, but watch the Packers organization act like this guy is the 2nd coming of Mahomes.. In truth, he's the 2nd coming of D. Kizer..

Sorry, need to bring some reality to this relentless attack by the Organization and Media on my football acumen. Jordan Love is not a starting NFL QB. ANY, and I mean ANY NFL camp QB makes those throws, including Benkert. In fact I'll just say, neither Benkert or Love took care the ball, but Benkert shows more IT FACTOR than Love ever will.

You heard it here first.. Tighten up your jock straps Packers fans, the post Aaron Rodgers era is going to be Brutal, REALLY BRUTAL!! And we have dumb and dumber in the front office who found a way to drive out and alienate a Generational all time MVP/HOF QB from wanting to play in GB. And what's worse.... They want you to want Jordan Love and Believe in Jordan Love.. Brutal..

-6 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

August 18, 2021 at 07:51 pm

Amazing comments and insight TheVor! Appreciate your wisdom and amazing all knowing insight!

We will check back in with you a year to 18 months or so from now.

3 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

August 18, 2021 at 07:51 pm

Amazing comments and insight TheVor! Appreciate your wisdom and amazing all knowing insight!

We will check back in with you a year to 18 months or so from now.

0 points
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DustyEvely's picture

August 19, 2021 at 07:45 am

Not building a case for anything, brother. I picked out two plays that I thought were interesting for a couple reasons. This isn't a full breakdown of his start. It's two plays.

2 points
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PeteK's picture

August 19, 2021 at 09:52 am

Fair enough it was a very mixed performance , but you lose non biased credibility when you mention rainbow pass, ball security issues, Benkert comparison, and leave out his coolness under duress. Take another look while not a bullet in no way was it a rainbow, fumble was totally RB's fault, and when Benkert was playing the D was not blitzing and stunting.

0 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

August 18, 2021 at 06:52 pm

Thanks, Dusty. I look forward to this every week and you never disappoint.

5 points
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Leatherhead's picture

August 18, 2021 at 08:05 pm

VOR…..I do appreciate a good rant. It doesn’t have to be on target as long as it’s funny.

You’re worried about the post -Rodgers era, but I’d bet we’ll go to the Super Bowl in the first 10 years after him as many times as we’ve gone in the last 10 years with him.

5 points
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