The Passing Chronicles: 2021 Week 12

Dusty breaks down some plays from the Packers Week 12 victory over the Rams

Week 12? No no no. That can't be right. Why, the season only started a few weeks ago. 

And yet, it's true. Through 12 rough-and-tumble weeks, the Packers are sitting at 9-3, despite being beat-up to an almost hilarious degree.

Next week is the much-needed bye week, and we're all thankful for that. If I can pull everything together, I'll have a fun post in this place next week. But for today? Today we look back on Week 12 and talk about a few plays. I'm ready if you are.

Play 1: 3rd & 2, 9:55 remaining in the 1st quarter

The Packers had the quick game working against the Rams, which makes sense. When your offensive line is basically second-and-third-stringers across the board (no offense to those gentlemen, who played a nice game overall), you want to get the ball out of your quarterback's hands quickly. That's doubly true when you're facing a defense line with Aaron Donald and Von Miller and a defense that likes to play out of a lot of two-high shells. If the defense has a good pass rush and is trying to take away the deep plays, take the short game all day.

It helps when you have a guy like Davante Adams [17] playing out of the slot. This play is Stick, a short game staple of pretty much every team in the league. The Packers run it multiple times per game. You can dress it up different ways, but it's pretty much a short out route with an option route to the inside. The option route can run a slant, out or quick-hitch - or "stick" route - behind it. It's often run out of Trips formation, with the outside receiver running a vertical route to clear out space.

On the pre-snap read, Aaron Rodgers [12] already knows where the ball is going. The defender over Adams is a linebacker, shaded to the inside shoulder. Adams is going to be running an out route. If the slot defender crashes on Adams to trap the route, Rodgers will throw to Randall Cobb [18].

The defender doesn't crash. The Rams just left a linebacker shaded to Adams' inside shoulder. Like that's something acceptable to do. Like it's something society will allow. Adams wins easily, Rodgers hits Adams and it turns into a 15 yard gain.

Play 2: 3rd & 3, 12:00 remaining in the 2nd quarter

We're going to wade away from quick game for a bit and look at the complete opposite of that. We're moving to Verts. Three verts, I guess? 

On paper, it's an easy concept. Basically, run vertically and adjust your route based on coverage. Or, to quote the great Charles De Mar, "Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn." It can be lethal as long as the quarterback and receiver are seeing the same things.

The Packers are in a 2X2 look and the Rams have a single-high safety shaded over the offensive left. At the snap, he rotates back into the middle of the field.

Cobb pushes at the outside shoulder of Donte Deayon [21]. Deayon turns to carry Cobb up the field. Cobb simply adjusts his route to the inside. With the safety rotating and his defender flipped, there's a nice little spot of space. Cobb catches the ball, the safety overpursues, and Cobb has a lot of green grass.

By the time all is said and done, it's a 54 yard gain.

Of course, it's not as easy as all that. Ernest Jones [50] had a fairly deep drop, so Rodgers has to get the ball over the top of Jones, but it needs to drop in before the safety can get there.

I believe the technical description for this is "great googly moogly."

Play 3: 3rd & 5, 9:48 remaining in the 2nd quarter

We talked about Stick earlier. One of the ways to punish teams for leaning on Stick is to trot out Stick-and-Nod. The Packers take that up a notch and run dual Stick-and-Nod. You sell the out routes, catch the defense leaning, then break vertically. When run right against a defense that's leaning, Stick-and-Nod is one of my favorite things to watch.

Cobb is in the left slot and Adams is outside. They both take a break on the out route at the same time, then break up field. Darious Williams [11] is over Adams and he's not biting on the out route, so when Adams breaks upfield, Williams is capping the route. 

But Cobb? Cobb has Deayon again. Deayon leans hard on the out cut and is on Cobb's hip, so when Cobb breaks upfield, Deayon is totally unprepared. Rodgers sees that Cobb is winning on the route, so he throws.

Unfortunately, there's a great deal of contact on the route. Cobb can't break free and the pass falls incomplete. A real shame. This would have been pretty.

The Packers are running Spot/Snag to the other side, but Rodgers never looks that way. Why? Because the single-high safety is shading to that side, so Rodgers reads the Stick-and-Nod side first. Cobb wins the route, so there's no reason to look elsewhere.

Play 4: 1st & 10, 7:15 remaining in the 2nd quarter

A big play doesn't always have to come in the form of a deep throw. Sometimes it's just as simple as finding your playmakers quickly in space and letting them work. On this play, the Packers run what appears to be their Middle Read Dagger concept, with Allen Lazard [13] pushing from the slot and looking to split the two-high safeties, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling [83] runs a dig underneath. It's a concept the Packers liked a lot last year, and I think they like it even more this year.

Rodgers looks to Adams on the backside hitch first, but a linebacker drops into the throwing lane, so Rodgers moves on to Dagger.

The Rams aren't letting them win with that. Not on this play. No sir. They drop back deep underneath the concept. So what does Rodgers do? He simply hits Cobb in the flat with a lot of room to move.

Cobb catches the ball, gets vertical and makes a man miss on his way to a glorious 27 yard gain.

Play 5: 1st & 10, 1:23 remaining in the 2nd quarter

With the clock winding down at the end of the first half, the Packers go with the Double China concept (something I've also heard called "Dusty") on the trips side. Double China is two in-cutting routes from the outside, with a corner route over the top. For Packers fans, the play that will likely come to mind first is the second Greg Jennings TD in the Super Bowl

Generally, this route is run with two short in-cutters, cutting around the same depth. I don't know that I've ever seen the Packers run it with routes this deep. In addition to the routes being deeper than normal, the breaks are also staggered. It's more of a corner route over a Levels concept, but now we're still getting in the weeds.

Whatever you want to call it, the Packers have two in-cutting routes from the outside and MVS running a corner from "3" slot. The Rams are in a split-field safety alignment, with the safety to the trips side basically playing straight over Adams in the slot.

MVS pushes hard up the field, drawing not only his man, but also drawing the attention of both safeties. The trips safety is dropping back to respect the speed of MVS, while the other safety is angling back and keeping an eye on the middle of the field, ready to drive if the throw goes there.

With MVS helping to clear that side, Adams is now matched-up on Ramsey. Adams has inside leverage and uses that when he breaks off on the dig. With no one in the middle, Adams has a nice little window and Rodgers hits him.

The throw is a little low, which is a good thing (and likely intentional). With the safety looking to drive to the middle, a throw that leads Adams perfectly likely ends in a big hit. By throwing low, Adams is able to go down and protect himself.

Play 6: 4th & 2, 8:41 remaining in the 3rd quarter

On 4th & 2, the Packers went to an old friend: Slant/flat. When you need a couple yards, you'll often see teams go with a concept they're extremely familiar with. And when I think Packers, slant/flat is one of the first concepts that comes to mind. Rodgers is so good at looking off defenders when going to their quick game, creating tiny windows in a small amount of time.

On the left side, they go slant/flat with Josiah Deguara [81] on a sit route, while they go with a follow-slant on the right. Rodgers hits the top of his drop and sets to fire to Adams, but the Rams are ready for it, dropping a couple linebackers to that side. 

With Adams out, Rodgers comes back to the middle and the sit route. Deguara comes out of the break, then drifts ever-so-slightly away from the middle defender to provide just a little more room.

It's not a ton - just a half step - but I really like the awareness to just buy that little extra space.


Really fun week. Always nice to head into the bye week with a big win. Beyond that, I've really enjoyed watching how LaFleur has changed up the approach depending on the opponent. It's something he has done since he arrived, but he gets better at it every week. When the Packers are hitting the quick-game, it's just really beautiful to watch, so I had a blast with this one.

Like I said, I'm hoping to pull something fun and interesting together for next week in this space, so I'm hyped about that. Enjoy the bye week, everybody!


Albums listened to: Rock Plaza Central - Are We Not Horses?; The Perishers - Let There Be Morning; Tegan & Sara - The Con; Keren Ann - Keren Ann; Roy Orbison - Mystery Girl; Charly Bliss - Young Enough; Damien Jurado - Ghost of David; Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson; Koushik - Out My Window; Weyes Blood - Titanic Rising

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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].

10 points

Comments (11)

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Brockrice99's picture

December 01, 2021 at 03:11 pm

2 pass plays really stood out to me most. The 4th down to Deguara, only because as they lined up I told my buddy who was with me at the game "I'd go to Deguara here, catch the Rams off guard" kind of as a joke, and hey it worked out pretty good. Then the 3rd down in the 4th quarter before the missed field goal, 1. I did not like passing the ball there, I just wanted a run to really kill the clock. 2. It was an extremely dangerous pass to Davante over the middle in like double coverage. I am not sure what was going on there and I know theres a lot of trust between 12 and 17 but double coverage middle of the field is not the move especially late in the game, just be safe and get rid of it or even try to step up in the pocket slide down and kill the clock that way too. But I really loved a lot of the out of the backfield angle schemes and out of the backfield swing pass schemes that MLF drew up this week because they were killing the Rams on those two things, really forcing their linebackers to tackle Dillon or keep up with a faster guy like Cobb.

4 points
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Savage57's picture

December 01, 2021 at 06:06 pm

This is without a doubt some of the best content in the pro football blogosphere. Insightful, not preachy, not second-guessy. Just the facts, ma'am.

You need to take this to another level, Dusty, and see if you can partner with a player mouthpiece for cred's sake, and take this to the NFL.com level for multiple teams.

You've produced better content than what we see the 'pros' produce. The world is yours if you want it.

6 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

December 01, 2021 at 07:51 pm

I agree. There's always room for someone who can tell a great story, and Dusty does that consistently by sharing his vast knowledge in a conversational tone. His enthusiasm comes through loud and clear, too, and we're invited to share in it. This guy loves what he does, and loves sharing it with us. Love the format. Love the content. Always feel like I'm listening to an old friend who knows a ton about the topic, and I don't want them to stop talking.

5 points
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DustyEvely's picture

December 01, 2021 at 10:33 pm

Thank you so much. That's really all I've tried to be. I really love having the freedom to write in a way that is comfortable and entertaining for me. Glad it's coming through!

5 points
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DustyEvely's picture

December 01, 2021 at 10:32 pm

VERY much appreciated. My goal is really just to learn more about the game itself and understand why everything worked the way it did in a game/play/season. It's just a bonus that people actually like reading it.

I have poked around on occasion, seeing if there's a spot for me to try to make a run at a career out of this. I'll keep poking, but I'm not holding my breath at this point. Which is fine. I'm happy doing what I'm doing, where I'm doing it.

5 points
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PeteK's picture

December 01, 2021 at 07:27 pm

Rodgers's calm and accuracy are amazing. He has that fluid motion that has some zip, but is easy to catch and allows for YAC.

2 points
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MarkinMadison's picture

December 01, 2021 at 09:55 pm

Thanks for the break-down of the stick-and-nod route. That was one of those things where I wondered why the ball is going to Cobb but now I get it. Keep bringing the knowledge. Eventually you will get smarter fans.

4 points
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michael562's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:14 am

Dusty,

I really look forward to your reports every week. Keep up the good works.

4 points
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CWolf's picture

December 02, 2021 at 04:58 am

Interesting point about the low throw probably being on purpose. Thank you, I always enjoy the passing chronicles.

3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 02, 2021 at 08:13 am

Play 1 - Adams on a LB playing inside leverage on an out route is just criminal. GBP bandits take the plunder and carry on!

Play 2 - Wow, check out the downfield block by Deguara. On 2 occasions in this play 2 rams take each other out of the play, that is sadly reminiscent of the 2019 and 2020 versions of the GBP defensive backfield...

Play 3 - Cobb seemingly wins the route off his up break, but the defender has an inside position on him which is a legal defensive position to hold (if your speed allows) and Cobby cannot outrun the angle. There is a little contact, but I do not believe that negated the play as much as the position off the break of the DB.

Play 4 - Outstanding example of taking what the defense is giving. Going for the shot on plays like this where there are open men underneath is where the term "Hero Ball" was born. Unless the deep man is very open or there are no underneath open men, I would like to see AR take this offering more.

Play 5 - MVS basically took 3 guys out of the play and left an enormous hole for the dig to be completed. MVS speed provides benefits beyond getting open deep. Great example of this.

Play 6 - Love Deguaras work here, "feeling" the coverage in his area and drifting to gain space. AR does a good job finding him in a critical situation-4th down. MVS is also open on the far right and could have had an easy catch for the first down as well.

Thanks Dusty, nice selection of plays to show how the GBP offense works when things go as planned. Enjoy the bye week.

2 points
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JerseyAl's picture

December 02, 2021 at 09:16 am

I highlighted play #3 yesterday. What got me was the end of Adam's route where, after he sells the corner of the end zone route, he does a quick stop and turn. That's an easy TD and I think they'll come back to that somewhere down the line.

3 points
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