The Passing Chronicles: 2021 Preseason Week 2

Dusty looks back on a play from the Packers preseason loss to the Jets and talks about the Spot/Snag concept

Another preseason game, another week closer to the regular season. It's all happening.

As you're all well aware, Jordan Love didn't suit up against the Jets, and that was a shame. We were all able to bear witness to the Kurt Benkert Show, but I know I had my heart set on seeing what Love could do for at least a half. Here's to hoping we get all the Love we can handle in Week 3.

Due to work being insane, we're only going to be looking at one play this week: the Benkert-to-Sternberger touchdown. I'm hoping to be back to a more extended look next week, then rolling full speed ahead when the regular season starts.

So let's get to it. We're talking Kurt Benkert, Jace Sternberger and the Spot concept.

Spot is not a new concept. The image above comes from the 1997 Packers playbook, but the concept predates that instance. It's a concept born out of Sid Gillman's sacred geometry, and perfected by Bill Walsh. Gillman was really the first coach to make his primary attack through the air. Using a system based on geometry and timing, Gillman's goal was to stretch the defense with the passing game to its absolute limit. 

Don Coryell's philosophy was roughly the same, but with a focus on the vertical stretch (thus the reason his system is named Air Coryell). Walsh took Gillman's philosophy and pushed it forward a bit, combining horizontal stretches, horizontal stretches and man-beating routes to create Triangle Reads.

Without getting too deep into it, the idea behind the triangle read is that, against almost every kind of coverage, at least one of the routes in the triangle is open. It is on this rock that the West Coast Offense was built.

For our purposes today, we're going to call this concept Spot. As with most concepts, it goes by many names (Snag and Triangle being two of the big ones), but the routes stay roughly the same: a corner route from the slot, a hitch/snag route from the outside and a flat route underneath.

Against a two-high defense, it's a high-low read. If the boundary defender sinks under the corner route, throw the flat. If he stays with the flat, throw the corner. The reasoning for that is simple: unless the safety to the Spot side is playing extremely wide, the slot receiver will be able to easily get outside leverage on the corner route. So unless the boundary defender is sinking, a good throw to the corner route is impossible for the safety to cover.

With that in mind, let's go to the game. It's 3rd & 4 and the Packers are sitting on the 5 yard line with 3:46 remaining in the 2nd quarter. Reggie Begelton [84] is originally lined up outside the numbers on the boundary side, but motions in to a compressed split before the snap. Jace Sternberger [87] is standing just off the line and Patrick Taylor Jr. [27] is in the backfield. The Jets have a man over Begelton and a safety shaded to the inside of Sternberger, giving a bit of a two-high look (at least, as much of a "high" look as you can give when the offense is at the 5). That's the read for Benkert.

The Jets end up having a bit of a breakdown in coverage, with both the inside linebacker and boundary defender converging on Begelton, leaving Taylor wide open and angling toward the front pylon. But Benkert's first read is also open. With the boundary defender dropping down on the shorter route, the corner route is open. Benkert throws the corner route just over the outstretched hands of the defender.

The boundary defender is slightly angled back initially, so Benkert doesn't throw this at the top of his drop. He waits a beat, makes sure the defender is staying shallow, then fires it. Ideally this ball comes out sooner and is placed more toward the back pylon, but a laser got the job done on this play.

Albums listened to: Julien Baker - Little Oblivions; Sea Oleena - Weaving a Basket


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 (2)

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stockholder's picture

August 25, 2021 at 03:46 pm

Funchess out for year.

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croatpackfan's picture

August 26, 2021 at 03:13 am

Thanks Dusty!

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