The Passing Chronicles: 2020 Week 6

Dusty breaks down some passing concepts in the Packers Week 6 loss to the Bucs

As it turns out, watching your team get dismembered on national TV is not a ton of fun. Who knew?

Losses happen. Even terrible losses can happen to good teams. The Bucs have a good defense, the Packers got punched in the mouth and never recovered. I don't have any long-term conerns about this team as a result of this loss, but it's still not fun to live through.

Today, we'll be looking at 8 passing plays from this past week, all of them taken from the 1st quarter and early in the 2nd quarter. No real reason for that, it's just the way things shook out. Join me as we distance ourselves from the overall result of the game and just talk about a few concepts. Deal?

Play 1: 2nd & 10, 14:18 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

This was the second play of the game, and we all should have known we were in for a long day immediately. The Packers come out with an RPO: an option to run to the left or throw a WR screen under the bunch on the right. The pre-snap numbers are strongly in-favor of the WR screen. The Bucs have an 8 man box against the run, but only have one defender over the 3 man bunch. A 3-on-1 on the perimeter? Take that all day.

The blockers up-front appear to be confused by their assignments. Either that or they don't carry them out well. Robert Tonyan [85] is looking to release under the block of Davante Adams [17] to seal off the inside. Meanwhile, Adams merely chips the defender and continues down the field to look for a block. That allows Carlton Davis [24] to slice through the blockers and break up the pass intended for Aaron Jones [33]. A 3-on-1 that leads to a pass breakup. As far as omens go, that's a pretty bad one.

Play 2: 2nd & 2, 12:52 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

Marcedes Lewis [89] goes in motion pre-snap, signaling man coverage. Based on that look, it appears as though the defender responsible for Adams is the defender lined up 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. Lewis pushes out from his in-line position at the snap and Adams simply runs a crosser underneath.

With the left side cleared out by a vertical route from Marquez Valdes-Scantling [83], there's plenty of room to that side. The defender has to take a path over the top of Lewis, and Adams has a wide open middle of the field to work with.

Play 3: 1st & 10, 12:10 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

We saw this exact play in the Week 2 Lions game (Play 6 in my article that week), just flipped. The Packers have a bunch on the right side, with the two inner-most men pushing up the field to clear space for the crosser underneath. They pair that with a vertical route on the left to clear out that side of the field, then have a drag running counter to the bunch crossers to create a Mesh. They ran this crossers concept multiple times against the Lions, then worked this particular variation in late when they believed the Lions were starting to key on it.

The idea is to get the defense reading the crossers flooding the left, then hit them with a route going the other way. The drag from left-to-right could either help provide a natural rub or confusion in coverage.

The coverage on Adams is the same as the previous play we looked at: a deep defender. The crossers help provide an initial wall, while the drag from the other side creates a sort of secondary wall. The defender has to take a wide path. By the time he makes the tackle, Adams was able to pick up a relatively easy 12 yard gain.

Play 4: 3rd & 8, 10:38 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

The Bucs come out in a two-high safety look and the Packers run out trips to the left, with an eye on attacking the safety on that side. Valdes-Scantling runs a post route that goes in front of the face of the safety, drawing coverage. That leaves Malik Taylor [86] man-to-man on a fade, running away from the safety. 

The safety holds his position between Valdes-Scantling and Taylor, forcing Rodgers to hold the ball a little longer than he wants to. With room running out over the top, Rodgers throws to the boundary. Taylor isn't able to adjust, but the ball is comfortably out-of-bounds, anyway.

Play 5: 2nd & 10, 5:16 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers leading 3-0

This looks like the same crossers concept we looked at above - without the Mesh component - but Jones pulls up into a short curl instead of running across the field. The Bucs defenders on that side fall into zone, taking away Jones.

Rodgers is forced to vacate the pocket, drawing up a defender. Valdes-Scantling reads that defender. Instead of continuing across the field, Valdes-Scantling settles into a soft part of the field and Rodgers finds him.

Play 6: 1st & 10, 4:28 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers leading 3-0

This is one of my favorite plays of the day. The Packers have run a lot of RPOs over the past few years, but the vast majority of the throws are on WR screens. It's a horizontal throw, not a vertical throw. There is a benefit in that: as we saw in the first play, you can read the defense pre-snap and determine where you're going to go based on the numbers advantage. For more of a vertical RPO, you're reading a defender or two. You're still able to determine what you're doing, but you're doing it based on post-snap movement of one or two players. It can get a little tricky. They had a good call against the Broncos last year that was ruined when Von Miller fell under the lane.

That was last year. This is this year. The Packers have a run option to the left, with Rodgers reading the edge defender. If he crashes, Rodgers has the option to rise up and throw the slant to Adams.

Rodgers holds the mesh point for the hand-off to AJ Dillon [28]. The end crashes and Rodgers hits Adams for 13 yards.

One other note on this. The Packers are really setting up a power run. They've got a two TE look on the left and Dillon in the backfield. Dillon hasn't gotten many snaps this year, but he's a big, bruising runner. The combination of the two TE set and Dillon in the backfield helps to get the Bucs to sell out on the run. All Adams has to do is win inside position on his defender.

Play 7: 2nd & 20, 2:21 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers leading 3-0

Time for something simple and beautiful: Smash. As a reminder, Smash was a concept said to have been developed by former Packers Head Coach Lindy Infante. It's a two-man game, meant to stretch the defense vertically on the boundary, while giving the quarterback a high-low read. It's a corner route over a shorter route (typically a curl or slant). On this play, Adams is running the corner while Darrius Shepherd [82] runs the curl.

The deep defender on that side falls under the corner route from Adams, while the safety helps over the top. Meanwhile, the slot defender falls into a zone. That leaves Shepherd all alone on the boundary. Rodgers finds him and they pick up 16 yards on 2nd & 20. They would score a touchdown two plays later, giving them what I assume was an insurmountable 10-0 lead.

Play 8: 2nd & 10, 10:57 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Peackers trailing 10-14

This one hurt a bit. Lewis wide open in the middle and Rodgers overthrows him by a hair.

The Packers break out an Air Raid staple: Four Verticals, or "Four Verts." While there is more to the concept than just telling 4 men to run fast down the field, that's exactly what the Packers end up doing here. In reality, there are a number of options on each route, depending on how the defense reacts to it. 

On this play, the two defenders on either side of Lewis fall into shallow zones, while Mike Edwards [32] sprints to the other side of the field to play over Adams and Tonyan. That leaves Lewis wide open in the middle of the field. Rodgers double-clutches the throw - most likely to draw the inside zone defender up half a step to make sure Lewis is open over the top - then throws to Lewis. Lewis does everything he can, but he's not able to haul it in. Huge miss at a pivotal point in the game.


Albums listened to: The Beatles - The White Album; Black Thought - Streams of Thought, Vol. 3; Elvis Perkins - Creation Myths; John Carpenter - Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998

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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 (5)

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Bearmeat's picture

October 21, 2020 at 04:25 pm

Thanks for this Dusty.

Well, we just played like crap. If it happens again, I'll worry. As it stands, I expect to go 4-0 over the next month and be sitting firmly in the #1 seed by the time we face duh Bares. And by then, Seattle will have dropped a game or two to a NFCW foe.

As a reminder, this Bucs team got steamrolled by the Saints team we soundly beat.

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PeteK's picture

October 21, 2020 at 06:30 pm

Well, it was going great for a while.

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Packer_Fan's picture

October 21, 2020 at 08:49 pm

Dusty, it would be great to see what went wrong. That last play over throwing Lewis was the dagger for me. It showed Rodgers was out of sync. It never got any better and just got worse. And eventually the team gave up

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Bizarro's picture

October 21, 2020 at 10:52 pm

Dusty, fantastic work.

I personally think the more appropriate question re: Mercedes inability to get his aged and battered legs and tired blocking arms to that wide open pass down the seam is thus:

‘Where in the hell is Jace Sternberger?!?’

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 22, 2020 at 01:42 am

Passing Chronicles is my favorite on CHTV. Thanks for the effort.

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