The 2022 Call Sheet: 3rd & medium

Dusty talks about the murky middle-ground of 3rd & medium and builds out his call sheet with 3 concepts from the Packers 2022 season

We’re back! After spending last week looking at 3rd & long and talking about the philosophy around how you approach that down & distance, we’re stuck in a murky middle-ground this week. That’s right; we’re talking 3rd & medium (4-6 yards to go). 

I say murky middle-ground because of what you’re realistically trying to accomplish in this down and distance. With 3rd & long, you can make a call based on your 4th down philosophy. Maybe you decide you’re comfortable with a play that will pick up 90% of the needed yards because you know you’ll go for it on 4th down. But 3rd & medium? If you’re throwing short of the sticks here, it’s likely a concept you like a lot for short-yardage situations, so you don’t necessarily want to burn it here. 

Let’s look at how the Packers did on 3rd & medium in 2022.

They faced this situation 2.8 times per game, 25th in the league. “They didn’t face this too many times per game, so it should be easy to find 3 concepts that worked for them, right?"

Wrong. They were not particularly successful in this area. They picked up a 1st down 39.6% of the time, 21st in the league. To make that look even worse, they needed an average of 4.7 yards to get the 1st down, tied for second lowest in the league (the Patriots faced the longest distance with 5.2 yards). However, they only gained an average of 4.3 yards per play, 28th in the league.

The Packers had a passing rate of 85.4% on this down and distance, which is actually fairly low from a leaguewide perspective. That ranked them 26th in the league in terms of passing % on 3rd & medium. The Dolphins didn’t dial up a single run in this down and distance all season. (Just wanted to make sure I put this in here before people started saying “they should run more in this situation.”)

Alright. Enough of all that. Let’s look at the plays.


Follow-Slant (8.0 YPA)

This is one of my favorite concepts, as simple as it is powerful. The inside receiver runs a slant, then the outside receiver follows with a slant. The QB reads this inside-out. If the defender over the inside slant follows to the middle, throw the follow slant. If the defender over the inside slant holds in place or fades back under the follow, throw the first slant.

Rely on your playmakers to create space and create a quick, easy read for the QB. Sounds like a winner to me.

Sail (8.7 YPA)

Seeing this concept off a straight dropback from the QB is a little like when you saw your kindergarten teacher in the grocery store: you knew you recognized them, but it took your brain a minute to register what it was seeing. They live at the school, right?

Anyway, the Packers run this concept almost exclusively off their play action bootleg look. It’s one of the keys to their entire offense, but you rarely see it in this state. One thing I like about this is that you have the ability to attack the main flood concept (choosing between the clear-out/go route, deep corner route or flat route). But if that’s covered up, the QB can work back to the backside dig in a way that he can’t if he’s rolling towards the main concept.


Inside Zone/Stick (8.0 YPA)

As I’ve talked about before, the Packers’ RPO game mainly consisted of pre-snap reads, and this one is no different. The QB will look at the Stick/quick-out receiver in the slot before the snap and make a decision to hand off the ball or throw based on the leverage of the defender. If the defender is playing inside leverage and the QB likes the match-up, he’ll throw. If the defender is playing straight-up or outside leverage, he’ll hand the ball off.

If you missed the prior installments, no worries! I've gathered them all here.

The Introduction
1st & 10
2nd & long
2nd & medium
2nd & short
3rd & long

Albums listened to: Sarah Bethe Nelson - Weird Glow;boygenius - The Record; My Lucky Day - All Shimmer in a Day; Eliza Hardy Jones - Because Become 


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].

5 points

Comments (5)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
croatpackfan's picture

May 25, 2023 at 02:39 am

It is hard to get reaction from fans when you have to battle with Polluted mindset & 2025 draft!

Just for you to know, I'm waiting your articles as I learn a lot from them. So, you may call me your hardest fan here :-).

Another nice lecture. Thanks again Dusty!

2 points
Handsback's picture

May 25, 2023 at 07:32 am

Love these sessions that you do.
Just MHO

2 points
T7Steve's picture

May 25, 2023 at 07:57 am

Just remember Dusty, you promised we'd look back at these and compare them after the preseason and season start.

I really look forward to these.

1 points
T7Steve's picture

May 25, 2023 at 07:57 am

X2 X2

0 points
jont's picture

May 25, 2023 at 06:59 pm

A very good and interesting series on CHTV, this edition prompts a few (scattered) thoughts.

"If you’re throwing short of the sticks here..," you had better get the first. What is more frustrating to a QB, coach, or fan than to see a completed pass on 3rd and makeable not get the first down? The guy might be open enough for the completion but a good tackling defender can ruin the play. In this fan's opinion, you've got to throw past the sticks.

Lots of wide, toward-the-sideline passes here. It's been made very clear that most CHTV commenters really, really don't like going down field on these short and medium situations, but I am not as averse to it. I am especially not opposed to it when it is known that our 3rd and medium list is heavy on short throws.

And I'll make another plug for RPR, the ran-pass-run option. It depends on Love's ability as a ball carrier, of course-- and must be selectively done to protect him from unnecessary contact-- but Hurts, Josh Allen, Lamar, Fields, and others beat defenses with smart runs on option plays.

1 points