The Passing Chronicles: 2021 Week 8

Dusty takes a look at the Packers use of the WR screen game in their victory over the Cardinals

Last week I was harried and rushed and a little late, so we only got a chance to look at one play. This week, the Thursday game gave me a little more time, so we're looking at 1 concept spread across 5 plays: 3 that helped set it up, 1 that didn't quite work and 1 that knocked it down.

The play in question is the WR screen. In the LaFleur era, we've seen a lot of WR screen looks off of RPOs, but those are a little different. Most of those are thrown to a numbers advantage. If the offense has 3 and the defense has 2, throw the screen. If not, hand it off. (Sometimes the Packers throw even if there's a 3-on-3, because Davante Adams can still win those). Since RPOs are thrown to numbers, the blocking is usually pretty simple: the two receivers to that side who aren't catching the ball block the men across from them.

These kinds of RPOs are nice, because it can simplify the read for the quarterback and make the defense wrong. In the pre-snap, it's clear to the quarterback whether he should hand off or throw.

WR screens are a little different. The play can, of course, be changed at the line, a screen is a screen. Unless something changes drastically post-snap, that's the only throw on the concept. There's no decision to be made: the quarterback is throwing the screen. You can set up some additional blocking, leak the offensive line out for a tunnel screen, etc. 

Today, we're looking at the Packers use of the WR screen game in their thrilling win over the Cardinals.

Play 1: 1st & 10, 4:53 remaining in the 1st quarter

The first 3 plays are all going to follow the same general look: Packers in 4x1 set with a tight end to the backside and Aaron Jones [33] as the in-line player on the quad side. That alignment works in part because the Packers have been showing a lot of spread looks lately, and Jones has been one of the players chipping edge rushers from an in-line position.

The two outside receivers block the men across from them while the inside receiver strafes toward the sideline, looking back for the first defender in his area to block and seal off from the screen.

Jones releases to the flat, Aaron Rodgers [12] finds him quickly and the downfield blocking provides a nice alley to run through.

On this play, the backside tight end runs a slant. That's important to point out because not every play has that same route tagged on the backside.

Does Equanimeous St. Brown get absolutely killed while making his block? Buddy he sure does, but he does his job and I commend him for that.

Play 2: 2nd & 9, 10:57 remaining in the 2nd quarter

Same thing on this play. 4x1 set with Jones as the in-line (or close to in-line). Two outside receivers block down, the inside receiver drifts and seals, and Jones releases underneath.

This time, the backside route is a TE screen option. Given how many TE screens the Packers have run this year, seeing a TE screen tagged onto the back side of this concept makes all the sense in the world.

Play 3: 2nd & 9, 4:07 remaining in the 3rd quarter

Same thing as the last one. 4x1 set with Jones as the in-line receiver. Outside receivers block down the field, inside receiver drifts and seals and Jones releases underneath. Just like last time, the backside route is a TE screen.

Play 4: 1st & 10, 0:40 remaining in the 3rd quarter

Now you show them a different look, make it look like the same thing, then try to hit something against the flow of the defense. The Packers are in a 2x2 set, but Juwann Winfree [88] runs jet motion before the snap to change the math to 3x1. The two receivers to the outside look to block down while Winfree releases in the flat. It looks like they're setting up a WR screen to the outside, with the safety recognizing it and screaming over to shoot the blocking gap.

WIth the defense flowing on a WR screen, the Packers release Jones through the middle of the line on a middle screen.

It's sniffed out and Rodgers ends up throwing the ball at the feet of Jones, but they're hunting for something here, even if it didn't pan out on this play.

Play 5: 3rd & goal, 15:00 remaining in the 4th quarter

Just a few plays later, it would pan out. The Packers were ahead 17-14 to start the 4th quarter and they wanted to expand their lead. Packers are in shotgun in a 2x2 set, with St. Brown going in motion pre-snap and releasing to the flat. The outside receivers are looking to block the two men across from them. The single-high safety sees it setting up and drifts over the screen side to give support.

That leaves the middle of the field wide open, which is what the Packers are looking for. With the WR screen successfully sold, the blockers run a follow-post concept. With the safety vacating the middle of the field, there's plenty of room for Rodgers to hit Randall Cobb [18].

Rodgers does a great job with the pump fake to help influence the defense, then fires to Cobb up-and-away from the defender.

Really nice sequencing to set the defense up, then having a nice counter to that after the defense starts reacting to it. It's worth noting that the first three WR screens we looked at gained a combined 30 yards. Nice work if you can get it.

Albums listened to: Ingrid Michaelson - Stranger Songs; The Verve - Urban Hymns; Bee Gees - Rare, Precious & Beautiful; The Beatles - Let It Be: 1969 Glyn Johns Mix; John Carpenter - The Fog Soundtrack; Zola Jesus - Conatus; CHVRCHES - Screen Violence: Director's Cut; Noah Gundersen - A Pillar of Salt; Mark Korven - The Witch Soundtrack; ROB - Gretel & Hansel Soundtrack


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].

4 points

Comments (10)

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albert999's picture

November 03, 2021 at 03:50 pm

I guess Shailene's lemongrass baths, lavender enemas, and hummus diets don't grant total wellness...

-4 points
Irish_Cheesehead's picture

November 03, 2021 at 05:30 pm

It was only funny the first three times you posted this

3 points
Reghamster's picture

November 03, 2021 at 04:44 pm

It may help in the Packers WR screen plays though Dusty didn't mention the bath's and other treatments possible impact . An unfortunate oversight on Dusty's part.

-2 points
Dr.Rodgers's picture

November 03, 2021 at 05:56 pm

Next week’s Passing Chronicles just might feature JorDan Love. Could be fun. Lotta season left . Go LOVE GO!

1 points
LeotisHarris's picture

November 03, 2021 at 06:31 pm

Here's hoping. Could be the Blake Bortles show the way things are going today.

1 points
Reghamster's picture

November 03, 2021 at 06:44 pm

Why aren't Dusty's impeccable incites garnering more responses
Is there some other news ...?

-1 points
packer132's picture

November 03, 2021 at 06:54 pm

Yes: Other news is Packers signed two guys to the practice squad today. lol

1 points
Reghamster's picture

November 03, 2021 at 07:18 pm

Yes I heard about it from a local spelling bee. When asked to use their names in a sentence the judge said " Isaacc Yiadom was waived and Tipa Galeai was turned into the team's good luck stone before Abdullah Audera and Auzoyah Alutohai were added to the practice squad.

-1 points
Bohj's picture

November 03, 2021 at 10:44 pm

Love these. Keep em coming. Also how do feel Winfree did in the blocking department? Is the Lazard method rubbing off on these guys?

0 points
Reghamster's picture

November 04, 2021 at 01:03 pm

The 64 thousand dollar question is does this get rich quick money scheme help you with WR screen plays ?

-1 points