The Passing Chronicles: Cruisin' in Dallas (aka, Leak)

Dusty takes a look at Musgrave staying on his feet in the Packers Wild Card win over the Cowboys

We’re closing out this series in style. Not only are we looking at one of my favorite concepts, we’re looking at that concept in an absolute stomping of the Cowboys in the playoffs in their own house. It’s hard to get much better than that. 

The Packers were up 34-10 with 6:38 remaining in the 3rd quarter, then the Cowboys scored a TD on their next drive to make the score 34-16 (the 2 point attempt failed) with 3:03 left in the 3rd quarter. The Packers were still in control of this game, but, boy, another touchdown sure would drive the dagger in, wouldn’t it?

Yes. Yes it would.

We’re looking at the call itself and the responsibilities. As a reminder, this is how the Packers structure their calls (although not every section is used in every call):

  1. Motion/Shift
  2. Formation & Strength
  3. Formation Variation
  4. Motion
  5. Run Concept or Pass Pro
  6. Pass Concept

Playcall: Y Mo Snug LT FK 18 F Sift Keep LT Y Leak

Here’s how that may sound when called in the game:

Motion: Y Mo

This tells the Y TE to align away from the formation, then shift into his position of the formation when the QB gives him the signal. On this formation, he’ll align initially on the right, then motion to the left, next to the tackle and off the ball.

Formation & Strength: Snug LT 

This is a 2x2 formation with the Y TE aligned on the left side of the formation. This particular formation doesn’t need a variation tag, because the tag is embedded in this formation itself. “Snug” is a combination of “Sink” and “Clamp,” with Sink being a 2x2 formation with a stack to the weakside and Clamp calling for the strongside Z to align in a 5 yard split from the end man on the line of scrimmage and take the ball. It also tells the Y to line up next to the tackle and off the ball.

Pass Protection: FK 18 F Sift

As you may have guessed, FK 18 F Sift follows the blocking rules for the 18 blocking scheme, which is what we typically know of as a wide zone blocking scheme. Dancing bears, trains on a track, etc. The “F Sift” is what we typically think of as split-zone. In other words, 18 F Sift is a wide zone run, with the F running under the formation to block the backside defender.

It follows, then, that FK 18 F Sift is meant to look exactly like 18 F Sift to draw in the defense. The main difference being that, since this is a pass play, the offensive line is not looking to push downfield.

Pass Concept: Keep LT Y Leak

This is pretty easy. This says that they’re running the Keep play - what I typically call PA Boot - to the left, and Y will run a Leak route to the other side. 

(As always, I used Dan Casey’s Play Caller’s Club book as a template for the above image. It’s a really fun book to mess around with.)

The Cowboys are in a single-high look (because Dan Quinn loves him some single-high), and the defense they’re playing allows this to work perfectly. The playfake does exactly what it is intended to do in yo-yoing the defenders (bringing them up to the line on the fake, then retreating in the other direction once they realize it’s a fake). 

While the linebackers are currently in hell, Christian Watson [9] draws the boundary defender to the left. As soon as Watson releases across the field, Stephon Gilmore [21] follows him at a dead sprint. 

The single-high safety has his eyes on the route of Bo Melton [80] on his High Corner route. Melton pushes vertically, drawing the safety over.

While all that is happening, Luke Musgrave [88] is leaking out to the right side. The right side that has been completely and utterly vacated. He plays his part well, putting his head down and following the blocking down the line, then exploding out the other side.

When Jordan Love [10] pulls up from the center of the star, he finds Luke Musgrave more open than anyone has ever been open. NextGen Stats tracked Musgrave as having 17.2 yards of separation, the 6th most on a TD pass since they started tracking data in 2016.

Micah Parsons [11] is bearing down on Love, but Musgrave is so wide open that Love doesn’t have to make a perfect throw: he just needs to get the throw off. So Love lofts a throw off his back foot, Musgrave hauls it in and makes his way into the end zone.

And, of course, the most important part of this play was celebrated in the locker room after the game.

By my count, this was the 3rd time the Packers trotted out this concept on the year. It was covered well by the Steelers in Week 10, but it went from 37 yards against the Bears in Week 1 and 38 yards (and a touchdown) against the Cowboys in this game.

It’s a beautiful concept and it paid off huge here.


If you want to go back through the rest of this series, I thought I'd gather all the links up here. Hope you're learning half as much reading this as I am writing them.

Week 1: Gun Trio RT Open 2 Scat H Choice Buffalo
Week 2: Motion Sink LT Zoom Z Fly P19 Waggle Z Dagger
Week 3: Shift Gun Trips RT G Open H D 3 Scram Z Shot Bow
Week 4: Gun Dyno RT 2 Jet Coco Stitch
Week 5: Bunch LT FK 19 Keep LT
Week 7: Shift Crush LT Z Insert 12 Dos Shield
Week 8: Shift Gun Crush RT Z RT 365 Shield Return
Week 9: Motion Gun Trips RT F Behind FK Mirror Swinger Y Cross
Week 10: Motion Gun Crip LT Open F Counter 2 Jet Coco Swab
Week 11: Motion Gun Bin RT Z Fly 2 Jet Y Surge Z Dagger
Week 12: Motion Gun Trio RT Clamp Y LT P18 Weezy Z Strike X Blaze Out
Week 13: F Mo Gun Bin RT 3 Jet Arches Y Corner
Week 14: Z Mo Gun Dixie LT Lox 38 Wanda Can H2 Z Stick X Pile
Week 17: Y Mo Gun Dixie LT Off 2 Jet F Flag Aggie


I had originally wanted to get to at least once more - the touchdown to Bo Melton against the 49ers - but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. Apologies. Apologies all around.

I can’t thank you all enough for indulging me in this deeply nerdy Xs & Os project. Diving deep into the minutiae of individual playcalls may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but I wanted an excuse to dig into LaFleur’s playbook in a way that was something different than just opening it up and reading it. I wanted it to be a project. I wanted to interact with it. This was an incredibly challenging and rewarding project, so I hope you all were not bored to tears every week.

Thanks again. I have a newfound respect for the structure of this offense and those who run it every week, and I hope some of you all do as well.

I wanted to end by thanking you all for the support over the years. This will be my final post here on Cheesehead TV. It has been a great run - starting with an analysis of what Rodgers numbers in Super Bowl XLV could have looked like if not for a bevy of dropped passes - and ending with this in-depth look at Leak. Along the way I looked at the passing game each week during the season, filling my offseasons with digging into historic plays from the Packers history (the iconic Power Sweep, Favre's comeback drive in 1992, Willie Wood's INT in Super Bowl I, a Masthay-to-Crabtree TD against the Bears, etc.),  building call sheets, doing a little quality control on passing concepts, and so on. I'll be joining the fine folks over at Acme Packing Company. And, while I'm excited about this new opportunity, I'm a bit sad to be leaving the equally fine folks here. It's been a really fun 5+ year run here, and I can't thank everyone involved in this site enough for the support, love, and freedom to follow these little rabbit trails.

And, of course, thanks to all of you who have ever read a word I've posted here. As I'm sure you've noticed, I tend to get a bit wordy and I realize that I don't always write aobut the things that a lot of fans care to dig into, so thanks to you all for being willing to dig in. I appreciate you all more than you can know. I'm looking forward to my continuing education in this world of football, and I hope you all will continue to join me on this journey.


Albums listened to: Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime; Maya Hawke - Chaos Angel; Broken Records - The Dreamless Sleep of the 1990s; Horsebeach - Things To Keep Alive; The Smile - Wall Of Eyes; Dua Lipa - Radical Optimism

 

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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 (7)

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Bitternotsour's picture

July 10, 2024 at 06:18 pm

Godspeed.

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porupack's picture

July 10, 2024 at 06:44 pm

Impressive research and presentation. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the complexity of terminology. The concepts seem quite apparent. So thanks for unveiling the technical directions in the play calling. As you hoped, it shows the complexity of the playbook, and just imagining that of all the playbook options, here is one that is only called 3 times in the whole year. Wow. You achieved your goal. All the best in your new gig.

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DustyEvely's picture

July 10, 2024 at 11:18 pm

While it's true that it's a lot of complexity for a play to only be called 3 times in a season, it's important to understand that only a small part of this is the concept itself. "Keep LT Y Leak" is the concept, so that has only been called 3 times (although at least one of the other 3 was actually "Keep RT", and the other was probably "Z Leak" since Watson was the target).

Portions of the rest of that - Y Mo Snug LT FK 18 F Sift - were used quite a bit, but for different concepts.

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LLCHESTY's picture

July 11, 2024 at 01:40 am

"Musgrave stayed on his feet" and the players reaction to it is a classic. Shows they were thinking the same thing as us fans about his previous stumbles.

Good work as always Dusty, I wish someone would do defensive breakdowns like these. Cody Alexander is excellent but it would be fun to have some one Packer focused.

https://x.com/HoggNFL/status/1748030467478085683?t=Kkk6uzIA3pwFTD1yS21o4...

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T7Steve's picture

July 11, 2024 at 06:45 am

Dusty, you promised this was going to be an easy one then you started me out with, “Snug” is a combination of “Sink” and “Clamp,”. Go to the back of the class Steve! Start at square one again. HA!

Again, you've given me a very healthy respect for the young players having to learn this stuff in a short time and the coaches designing the plays.

The Bears' motion was more pronounced, and I wonder if the call looked a little different from the "Y mo" on the play call in the Dallas game? If Love had been able to put more on the ball, they would have been easy TDs I think.

Going to miss you here Dusty. Hope you still come on and comment to some of the articles now and then. Especially after games. I learn almost as much from you guys such as TGR, Gill and Al by their answers to our comments as I do their articles. I'm not yet ready for my graduate classes and will try to look you up at Acme Packing Company for further education.

Good luck!!!!

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Leatherhead's picture

July 11, 2024 at 10:51 am

Thank you for these articles. Sorry to see you go.

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GB@Germany's picture

July 13, 2024 at 08:29 am

Hi Dusty,

thanks for your great work. I really enjoyed your snalytic pieces and mostly your chats with Kuhn.
Hope you do something similar on ACME.

Best regards,

Michael

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