The Passing Chronicles: 2022 Week 9

Dusty digs into a couple plays from the Packers Week 9 loss to the Lions

I like to think that I’m an optimistic person. Or, at least, a realistic person who tends towards optimism. That being said, this season feels effectively over at this point. The NFC is pretty weak at the moment, but some teams have started stringing together a couple wins lately. As of a couple weeks ago, the Packers were right in the thick of it in terms of their record. Now? Well, that’s no longer the case. Tampa Bay, Atlanta and San Francisco have all jumped over the Packers in terms of their wins, putting more traffic between them and the wild card spots. Yes, technically they’re still in the hunt, but the Packers are sitting 3-6 and have shown no evidence that they’ll be able to fix their offensive issues anytime soon. 

Still, we’ll march forward! In this space, we’ll keep looking at the passing game, for good or ill. We’ll continue twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

To the passing chart!

More red than we’re used to, for sure. The chart itself is a little more scattered than it has been: fewer points behind the line of scrimmage (LOS) and more in the middle of the field.

The numbers support that, with only 11.6% of Rodgers attempts going behind the LOS (per PFF). The Packers had been throwing behind the LOS more than any other team through the first 8 weeks, much to the chagrin of many (myself included). So it’s nice to see them trend away from that in this game.

Rodgers performed well when targeting the intermediate area of the field (10-19 yards). He went 5/7 (71.4%) for 84 yards (12.0 YPA) and his best PFF grade (83.3) and QB Rating (111.6).

He was terrible in the short area (0-9 yards), due in no small part to the two end zone interceptions. That’s supposed to be an area where Rodgers should be thriving, but against the Lions he was 9/16 (56.3%) for 61 yards (3.8 YPA) and 2 INTs (25.3 QB Rating). Pretty bad.

Much like the Packers have done in recent years against the Lions, they came out chucking. Rodgers ADOT (Average Distance of Target) was 11.0, his highest of the season. And, while they had some success (124 yards), it was also an area that was littered with inaccurate throws and not a lot of separation from the receivers. When throwing 20+ yards down the field, Rodgers was 4/11 (36.4%) for 124 yards (11.3 YPA), 1 TD and 1 INT (71.8 QB Rating).

On the day, Rodgers had an average time to throw of 3.04 seconds, his highest of the season by 0.4 seconds. That is less an indication of having more time in the pocket and more because he was fleeing the pocket and looking for something outside of structure.

Overall, a pretty grim performance from the passing game, especially coming against a defense that was 25th in passing defense per Football Outsiders' DVOA. 

If you want to take one silver lining, it’s how the Packers attacked the middle of the field. In looking at the short-to-intermediate passing game, 60.7% of Rodgers targets went to the middle of the field and he completed 70.6% of his passes. So that’s something…right?

Alright, I think we’re done with this look at the passing game. I’m pretty sure everybody has already left by this point, so let’s look at a couple plays from this game. We’re going in reverse chronological order today so that we can end on a halfway decent note. Because we all deserve love and happiness.

Play 1: 3rd & 11, 12:07 remaining in the 3rd quarter

The Packers have had a number of nemeses (Nemesesis? Nemesi?) this season, and 3rd down has certainly been one of them. Per DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), the Packers are 28th in the league on 3rd down this season (behind Arizona, Denver, Houston and Indianapolis). They performed better against the Lions than they did against the Bills (converting 53.3%), but they still missed some chances. This, Dear Reader, is one of those missed chances.

The Packers come out in 11 personnel, running a Dagger concept on the left with Samori Toure [83] and Allen Lazard [13]. Dagger is a two-man concept, with the slot receiver running a vertical route and the outside receiver running a dig route underneath. The idea is to have the vertical route clear the field for the dig route.

The Lions are showing a blitz look up front, with 7 men on the line and a single LB in the middle of the field. The Packers are keeping Robert Tonyan [85] and Aaron Jones [33] back to help protect against the blitz

At the snap, the Lions drop into an invert coverage, with two men on the line sprinting back to cover their deep quarters of the field, while the man over the center drops back into a shallow zone. The single LB drops wide and under the dig route.

The dig route is the preferred route to throw to on Dagger, so that’s what Rodgers checks first. He looks to the safety over the concept, which also allows him to see the drop of the LB. Right away he sees that the safety is backpedaling and the LB is dropping under the dig. That route is gone.

On this type of Dagger concept, the vertical receiver often has an option route based on the deep coverage he is seeing. Against a middle field closed (MOFC) look, the route will square off and take him across the face of the safety. Against a middle field open (MOFO) look, the route will bend slightly to split the safeties. That’s exactly what Toure is doing here.

During the dropback, Rodgers shifts his view from the dig route to the vertical route. He sees Toure with inside leverage on the deep safety and quickly eating up space against the dropping defender.

So he hits the top of his drop, hitches and throws over to top to a streaking Toure.

It’s a great call and read against this defense…but the ball is underthrown just enough for the defender to be able to get a hand on it and break it up.

A real shame, man. A real shame.

Play 2: 3rd & 1, 5:11 remaining in the 1st quarter

Play Action Bootleg (PA Boot) is a concept we have seen a lot from the LaFleur Packers, and with good reason: it’s a natural counter to the wide zone running system that has long been the beating heart of this Shanahan-style offense. As defenses have adapted to stop wide zone, the usage of that core running concept has declined in this offense. And, while PA Boot is still being run, it’s not being used nearly as often, and it has not been nearly as effective when run. 

Last year, defenses started keeping a guy home on the boot side and have him close in on the quarterback, as opposed to crashing the backside of the run. This year, we’ve seen defenders rushing the B gap when they see the wide zone action, which has created even more immediate pressure in the face of the quarterback.

While the Packers still use wide zone, they’re leaning heavier into a power running scheme this year than they have in the past. The defensive adjustments have certainly driven that shift in approach, which in turn has seen the decrease in PA Boot. In 2021 they were running some variation of it 3+ times a game. In 2022, we tend to see it about once a game.

Even within that one time per game, we’re seeing the Packers use some variations they haven’t done much with in the past. Which gets us - finally, mercifully - to the play at hand. 

The standard PA Boot action is to playfake in one direction, then boot out the opposite side to a Sail concept (deep corner route, middle crosser and flat route). On this rep, the Packers go to a frontside boot, which is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of faking to the right and booting to the right, the fake is to the right, then Aaron Rodgers [12] simply follows that motion to the right where he finds a Sail concept waiting for him.

Christian Watson [9] is running the deep run-off route, Marcedes Lewis [89] is running the middle crosser and Aaron Jones [33] releases to the flat. 

Watson removes the deep defenders while Jones drags the LB to the boundary. Rodgers keeps the bootleg rolling while Lewis keeps drifting a little deeper on the crosser. The LB playing under the crosser eventually drifts towards the booting Rodgers, which opens room to hit Lewis for 19 yards.

Albums listened to: Low - Things We Lost in the Fire; Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness; Semisonic - Feeling Strangely Fine; The Verve - Urban Hymns; Starflyer 59 - Gold


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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LeotisHarris's picture

November 09, 2022 at 03:24 pm

A well-placed Simpsons reference, and discussion of a few of our nemeses. Thanks for helping to lighten up a horseshit game. May we all stay twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

2 points
Leatherhead's picture

November 09, 2022 at 08:05 pm

The top chart seems to show a preference towards targeting outside the right hash, followed by outside the left hash, with few attempts down the middle. Was there really only one completion inside the hashmarks in about 50 dropbacks?

I'd like to ask a favor. The web is awash is All22 shots of Rodgers just not apparently seeing open guys. Is it really as bad as it looked?

1 points
LeotisHarris's picture

November 09, 2022 at 08:22 pm

Have you seen this, LH? It's been posted in comments on a couple threads on CHTV. Kurt Warner some insights, Interesting stuff.

3 points
Leatherhead's picture

November 09, 2022 at 09:03 pm

That's some good stuff, man.

I know it's not all Rodgers. He depends on other people doing their job.

But the Hero has to get the job done when things go wrong, too, because as you know, stuff always goes wrong. I mean, look at Bruce Willis in Armageddon. Lots of stuff went wrong but he still got the job done. Look at Bart in the Ice Bowl....lots of stuff went wrong there, too.

I'm officially on the "unload Watkins" bandwagon. The Packers thought he could maybe make up some of the snaps we lost with Adams and MSV, but apparently he can't even know what he's supposed to do. This team is undisciplined and you have to start somewhere. Show this guy the door.

6 points
Since'61's picture

November 09, 2022 at 10:50 pm

Leotis - I appreciate you sharing the YouTube video. I've been posting that our receivers our not in the places where Rodgers expects them to be. I don't know what is happening during preparation and practice prior to the game. And as I have stated numerous times I have no idea what the coaches are doing because if we play like we practice our practices must be a disaster.

I'm not saying that Rodgers can't play better because he can but his receivers just seem lost out there especially Sammy Watkins.

Kurt Warner is correct, the offense is a mess at this point and there is no excuse for it 9 games into the season.
Thanks, Since '61

4 points
Packers1985's picture

November 10, 2022 at 10:54 am

May be it has to do with receivers practicing in limited roles as most of them were literally injured every week and also Rodgers injured his thumb didn't help either. He too is limited or DNP list on Wednesday's. At the end of the day it all comes to coaches getting their players ready on Sunday's which our coaching staff failed at.

0 points
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 13, 2022 at 07:46 am

I think Warner got it essentially correct, though he was a little too kind to a fellow QB.

The pick by the DB down the middle on the seam route if a really nice play by the DB, but the throw is also late, with AR looking there, reloading and then pulling the trigger. The INT that was deflected would have been behind the receiver even without the deflection - i.e., it was inaccurate. The pass at the 21 minute mark should have been a TD but AR inexplicably never pulls the trigger even though it appeared he was looking right at 81.

Warner provided the reasons why the offense is crappy. Receivers falling down (Lazard four times by my count). Receivers getting jammed. Receivers not running good routes by allowing the DBs to push them where they should not have gone. A lot of the reasons he shows to be pretty good excuses. Others, like seeing color (pass rush) coming at him which caused him to drop his eyes even though the OL recovered (a Bakh example is in there) are reasons that don't amount to excuses.

0 points
croatpackfan's picture

November 10, 2022 at 03:10 am

It was very insightful to watch Kurt Warner video.

From video I got that Amari Rodgers had 2 misroutes, Lazard 3 and every f*cking time Sammy Watkins was in his universe, doing nothing but wrong reading and routes. So, why he is still on team? On the other side, S. Toure was running crisp and correct routes all 20 minutes of the video!

Also, I would like to hear what went wrong on the other snaps baring those 10 showed in this video. Is there were wrong routes or there is some other factors involved in.

1 points
stockholder's picture

November 09, 2022 at 09:57 pm

We need to keep a stat on many times the WRs fall down?

3 points
Since'61's picture

November 09, 2022 at 10:51 pm

They fall down even more often than they drop the ball. Thanks, Since '61

3 points