The Passing Chronicles: 2023 Week 14

Dusty takes a look at the Packers passing game in their loss to the Giants

Once again, we’re going to have to roll with an abbreviated edition of this article this week. Since it was a loss, I don’t feel bad about not being able to spend a lot of time with it, but since I’m a professional I’m going to pretend to feel bad about it.

To the chart!

On a day when the wind seemed to be wrecking havoc randomly on passes, the Packers focused more on their quick game than they have in the past couple of weeks, while still taking some strategic shots downfield. I don’t want to say the intermediate portion of the field was ignored - because that would be an untrue statement - but there was certainly less a focus on attacking that portion of the field than we’ve seen in recent weeks.

Which makes sense when you think about it. Outside of Brian Flores’ Traveling Blitz Show, Wink Martindale is the most blitz-happy DC in the league. He’ll run some sim pressures and try to confuse you, but, more than anything, that man just wants to blitz. The Packers leaned heavily into quick game this week when they saw the blitz coming, while their shots came with a heavy protection plan up front. 

We saw a lot of “Can” signals from Love this week. I did a piece on Can calls over at Packer Report earlier this year so I won’t take a ton of time here, but we can at least do a bit of a refresher. A Can call is something that LaFleur uses as a part of his offense. Essentially, the QB will walk up to the line with two plays, joined by “Can”. The first play is the default, but, if the QB doesn’t like it based on the look, he will “Can” it (usually by saying “CAN” and tapping his helmet) and they’ll run the second play. 

“Lense to Duece Right Claw Z Short Lander Z Strong X Revo Z Lockback Can 2 Jet X Monday Astro Read Alert Money Deacon Flow F Panama on the Omaha,” is an example of how this might look (that’s a McVay call). In that call, "Lense to Duece Right Claw Z Short Lander Z Strong X Revo Z Lockback" is the first play, while "Jet X Monday Astro Read Alert Money Deacon Flow Panama On the Omaha" is the second play. (While it would be an interesting conversation, we won’t be breaking down the language of those right now.)

I believe the Packers had a plan to attack the intermediate area with more regularity in this game, with the intermediate passing attack being the first call in those sequences. Love did a great job using cadence to spot the blitzers pre-snap. Once he found those, he would “Can” the intermediate call and go with quick-hitters and the occasional deep shot. As with all of this, I don’t know if this is 100% true because I was not on the sideline or in the huddle, but I feel good about it as an educated guess.

Love actually performed well against the blitz. Per PFF, the Giants blitzed Love on 46.3% of his dropbacks. On those dropbacks, Love was 13/18 (72.2%) for 171 yards (9.5 YPA) 1 TD, 1 INT and 1 sack (97.2 QB Rating). He got the ball out quickly, averaging 2.26 seconds to throw, with an ADOT (Average Depth of Target) of 5.7 yards.

Let’s get to a couple plays.

Play 1: 1st & 10, 2:28 remaining in the 1st quarter

As we have already covered, Love did not have his best day at the office, but that doesn’t mean it was all bad. There were quite a few plays of his I liked, either because of his decision-making, execution, or both. Since time is limited, I was only able to write about one this week.

It’s 1st & 10 in a scoreless game. It was windy, but they were still looking to take some shots downfield. On this play, LaFleur dialed up High-Cross. It’s not something they run too often, but they’ve had some nice success with it over the years.

They’re running it from a balanced formation out of 12 personnel, with Tucker Kraft [85] and Josiah Deguara [81] both lined-up as in-line TEs. The high-cross itself is coming from Dontayvion Wicks [13] and Romeo Doubs [87]. Both WRs are breaking at ~17 yards, with Doubs running an over route and Wicks running a dig underneath. AJ Dillon [28] is the lone running back.

The Packers are showing play action, but the linebackers don’t really bite and drop back deep. Between the deep drops from the linebackers and the three-deep safety look, the high-cross is not available. It’s a longer-developing, two-man deep concept, with three checkdowns underneath. Kraft and Deguara are both chip-and-release, while Dillon is releasing through the line after the playfake.

Love recognizes the coverage immediately and knows that he won’t be able to throw the high-cross. That quick recognition of the linebackers allows him to get the ball out quickly to Dillon in space, in the space the linebackers had just vacated.

Dillon does a nice job of bringing in the pass, making the first man miss and finding room to run.

Nicely done all around.

I had originally wanted to write about the big gain to Tucker Kraft, but, as I started marking up the video, I realized how complicated it would be to try to explain it all by writing, so I did a video instead. This was a really cool play with a lot going on. It also shows off some nice recognition from both Love and Kraft, so I wanted to make sure I spent a little time with it.

Albums listened to: Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights; The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground; TV On The Radio - Nine Types of Light; Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation; Yeasayer - Odd Blood




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].


3 points

Comments (3)

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Lphill's picture

December 13, 2023 at 03:19 pm

There was no wind I was at the game .

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T7Steve's picture

December 14, 2023 at 08:35 am

Thanks, Dusty.

You say it was an abbreviated session, but it looked ok to me. Have you already gotten me used to these?

We that thought we knew the game inside and out already, and need to learn more till we actually do.

Loved the Tucker Kraft connection.

Are you starting to see trends or tells with personnel packages or alignments that can help you pick out the play before hand? This was a problem in the past. There should be any number of plays in each package to keep the D guessing, but as in the end around sweeps we don't do enough of them to cause the D to stay honest, it seems to me.

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PeteK's picture

December 14, 2023 at 10:27 am

I was also in the stands and there was no wind, proven by the goal post flags not fluttering. However, Love improved his game in the second half. Thought we had a hard fought win, until*&%$#@!!

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