The 2022 Call Sheet: 2nd & medium

Dusty builds out the 2nd & medium section of his call sheet based on how the Packers performed in 2022

After taking a week off to watch Gutekunst absolutely crush the draft, we’re back to building our call sheet. As a reminder, we’re building this based on what concepts worked best for the Packers in 2022 by each down & distance grouping. 

First things first: how did the Packers perform on 2nd & medium in 2022? They faced an average of 5 plays of this down & distance per game and had a success rate of 62% (where a success is defined as a play that gained at least 60% of the yards needed for a 1st down). That success rate ranked them 7th in the league by this down & distance in 2022. They gained an average of 6.1 yards on 2nd & medium, which ranked them 5th in the league.

Overall, a pretty good performance in this area. Let’s take 5 concepts that performed well to build our call sheet for this area.


RB Screen (14.5 YPA)

As a Packers fan who came of age in the 90s, it's nearly impossible to think about the Packers without thinking about the screen game. While it's not quite the weapon it once was, it can still be a useful play. The Packers like to tag vertical routes and concepts to their screen game, so they have the ability to quickly exploit a favorable match-up in lieu of the screen. Those routes also work to move defenders away from the line, opening up more room for the screen to breathe. They typically throw the screen anyway, but there are some occasions - including one huge one - where they opted to go vertical with it.

There are a lot of things I love about watching a good screen. I love the beautifully precise timing of the release from the linemen. I love the variety of ways it can be deployed. I love the trickery of it. I love how maddening it is for the defense to think they have a free run at the QB, only to watch a big play going the other way. Such a simple play, and one that can be potentially devastating for a defense.

On top of that, it worked well for the Packers on 2nd & medium in 2022, so we're keeping it, and we will see it continue to prosper in 2023.

Smash (26.0 YPA)

Smash is a well-worn concept that (reportedly) finds its roots in Green Bay, said to have been created by the late Lindy Infante. It consists of a high-low read on the outside: a short route from the outside (typically a hitch) and a corner route over the top. Smash never truly left, but its usage saw a decline in the face of so many defenses playing single-high coverage. It converted to Smash Fade, with the corner route converting to a more vertical fade route, running away from and past the defender. With more defenses leaning on a two-high philosophy, we're seeing a bit more traditional Smash than we had been. Which is great! It's a simple, powerful concept and I'm always happy to see it. 

With nice success in this area last year, it's an obvious inclusion in 2023.

Dragon (20.0 YPA)

A staple of offense with roots from the West Coast system. A simple, three-step ball control concept. If you can identify man coverage, it's an easy read: wait for the flat defender to clear the throwing lane, then fire to the slant. If you can get the ball in front of the receiver with room to operate, it has the possibility to pick up a nice chunk of yardage. If nothing else, it can be an easily completion that will either get you a 1st down on 2nd & medium, or get you on the doorstep of one.


Inside Zone/Bubble (6.4 YPA)

It feels like this particular RPO is the bane of the existence for a lot of people. And I kind of get it. The point of an RPO is to always give the advantage to the offense. No matter how the defense decides to defend it, they are always wrong. It will give the offense a +1 advantage in the run game or the pass game, depending on how the defense reacts. 

The issue with this RPO is that the Packers leaned a little too heavily on it at times, and defenses were able to dictate whether the Packers handed the ball off or threw it. Because of that, they were able to make themselves right in situations where they would otherwise be wrong (if that makes any sense at all).

Overall, this was not a great concept for the Packers in 2022, but it worked well for them in this down and distance, which makes sense. 2nd & medium is an area where a defense has to be on their toes for a run or a pass, making an RPO a little more effective here than it may be otherwise. This is a pre-snap read, with the decision made based on what the numbers look like in the passing game. If the Packers are +1 to the passing side, they'll throw it. If they have even numbers there, they'll run it.


Wide Zone (5.5 YPA)

Only one run for this down and distance. The Packers ran Inside Zone more times in this area in 2022, but it went for 4.3 YPA. Not a terrible average, but a full 1.2 yards less than Wide Zone. It's an area where we would definitely be looking at depending on the match-up, but, based solely on season-long performance, we're going to roll with Wide Zone on our call sheet. 

The aiming point for the RB on Wide Zone is the Tackle to the run side, but he is also looking for cutback opportunities. In the example below, you'll see Wide Zone with a slicer who is looking to cut off the backside. The slicer doesn't move the backside defender in this case, but it halts momentum and opens the cutback lane for Jones.

Since some of these categories don’t have many plays, I’ve considered combining some of them. Ultimately, I decided against it. Partially because the formatting and language would likely be a bit confusing, but also because I realized that not every piece I write needs to be 2,000 words. In fact, most of them shouldn’t! A more bite-sized approach can work, so that’s what we’ll be doing.

If you haven’t already, give the previous articles in this series a look:
The Introduction
1st & 10
2nd & Long

Albums listened to: Josh Ritter - Spectral Lines; The National - First Two Pages of Frankenstein; Rodrigo Y Gabriela - In Between Thoughts…A New World; Cappaqua Wrestling - Plus Ultra


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 (11)

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PatrickGB's picture

May 03, 2023 at 03:35 pm

That’s a nice mixup. Thanks Dusty.

5 points
SoCalJim's picture

May 03, 2023 at 05:16 pm

Great job on this week’s Call Sheet series, Dusty! Thanks!

5 points
LeotisHarris's picture

May 03, 2023 at 06:32 pm

Always a pleasure, Dusty. Thanks for this Call Sheet.

I really enjoyed this piece on The National:

How'd you like the new album?

3 points
DustyEvely's picture

May 07, 2023 at 11:41 pm

Great piece.
LOVE the new album. I typically go through the same process with every new National album. I don't particularly like it at first, but then it continues to grow on me until I'm madly in love with it. For whatever reason, I fell in love with this one immediately.

0 points
croatpackfan's picture

May 04, 2023 at 05:38 am

Dusty, very educational! Thanks again!

2 points
Handsback's picture

May 04, 2023 at 07:15 am

Always enjoy your work Dusty!!!!!!!!

1 points
dobber's picture

May 04, 2023 at 07:44 am

My brain is getting full!

Thanks, Dusty!

2 points
Tingham's picture

May 04, 2023 at 09:35 am

Great stuff as always. Extra credit for the Josh Ritter shout out.

0 points
DustyEvely's picture

May 07, 2023 at 11:42 pm

He's the best, man. Tremendous songwriter & musician. I actually got a chance to meet him when he was touring for So Runs the World Away. Just a genuinely good person.

0 points
jont's picture

May 04, 2023 at 12:11 pm

Another good one, Dusty, but why aren't we looking at more run plays here?

I get it that this play sheet is intended to move the sticks (or better). Of course that's good. But I am thinking about another variable-- the strength of the roster. Jones and Dillon have some decent run blockers in front of them, and if the Pack wants a solid offense they need to get their carries-- balance the attack to keep a D honest, TOP, and all that.

Looking at this and earlier call sheets I am getting a feeling of a pass heavy offense. Maybe it's not as skewed as I think, but where does this come into the scheming and play selection?

0 points
DustyEvely's picture

May 07, 2023 at 11:53 pm

I touched on it a bit in the intro, but the actual exercise will change based on the opponent. Some weeks will certainly be more run-heavy than others. Just depends on strengths/weaknesses and all that.
As far as this series, you kinda hit it on the head. I'm looking at a full season and seeing what was the most efficient. If there weren't a ton of plays in a situation, I lean towards the ones that gained more yardage. (During this, I'm also revisiting the plays, so I've scrapped some plays just because the yardage came as a result of an extended play, which isn't something you bank on). So there is a natural bias toward the passing game due to the numbers.
There's also a natural bias because I tend to lean more on the passing game. I enjoy it more, and I enjoy writing about it more.

Still, the goal is to not have a game plan comprised entirely of passes. That's unrealistic. I took a look at what the Packers did in 2022 vs how I created this, based on a run/pass ratio. As it turns out, I did okay! Overall, I have a pass rate of 62.9% across all of these situations. In 2022, the Packers had a pass rate of 60.0%.

0 points