The Passing Chronicles: 2022 Week 12

Dusty digs into the passing game from the Packers Week 12 loss to the Eagles

Another game, another loss. But, more importantly, some reasons for excitement going forward. Christian Watson is on an absolute heater. Over the last three games, Watson has caught 12 passes (on 20 targets) for 265 yards (13.3 YPA) and 6 TDs (30% TD rate). 

Right now, Watson is tied for 7th in the league in receiving touchdowns with 6. That’s the same amount as Cooper Kupp, Tyler Lockett, Jaylen Waddle, Brandon Aiyuk and Ja’Marr Chase. The difference is that Watson has done it with far fewer targets: his 34 targets is the least amount of targets among receivers with 6 TDs. The next guy? Ja’Marr Chase & Brandon Aiyuk, both with 74 targets. Among players with at least 15 targets this season, Christian Watson has the highest TD rate in the league (17.6%).

Is all that sustainable? Probably not, but watching him take a dig route 63 yards for a touchdown made me excited not just for the present, but also for the future. He’s a true difference maker, and it’s thrilling every time he gets the ball in his hands. In a season that sees the Packers sitting at 4-8, I will live for every one of those moments.

Alright. Let’s look at Aaron Rodgers’ passing chart:

Next Gen Stats doesn’t do a passing chart for every player, so there’s not one for Jordan Love today. We’ll get to him later. For now, let’s look at Rodgers.

Of his 16 attempts, only 1 was past the line of scrimmage (LOS) and to the outside. Everything else was either behind the LOS (43.8% of his targets) or in the middle of the field. I have to assume this was due him hearing about how he never targets the middle of the field. “I’ll show them. I’ll show all of them.” This chart is a spite chart. 

Overall, not the best day for Rodgers, but he did do some nice work when throwing against the blitz. When blitzed, Rodgers was 4/5 for 50 yards and a TD (per PFF).

After seeing a double-digit ADOT (Average Depth of Target) over the last few weeks, Rodgers dipped down a bit this week: a result of all of those throws behind the LOS. His ADOT was 7.2 this year. 

He had a few notable scramble drill throws, but, for the most part, he stayed on schedule, getting rid of the ball in 2.54 seconds. He also continued playing more from under center, with 40% of his snaps coming from under center.

With Rodgers getting injured, Jordan Love came in for the entire 4th quarter, logging 9 total passing dropbacks. He did well with his time, going 6/9 for 113 yards (12.6 YPA) and a TD. He had a higher ADOT than Rodgers (11.4), and he also turned in a higher average time to throw (2.82 seconds). 

Given the situation, Love operated primarily out of shotgun (given his spread offense days at Utah State, I’m sure he felt right at home). He had a single under center passing snap, which was also his only play action snap. That snap was the 63 yard TD to Watson on the Strike concept.

Here’s one thing on the Love front before we dive into a couple plays: I thought he looked good in his limited time, but there’s still more that needs to be seen. He put together a really nice 2 drives in this game. He did well reading the defense and knowing where to go with the ball when the first option wasn’t there. He was confident and threw a really pretty spiral. His accuracy looked good.

He was also working with an extremely limited playbook, which is to be expected: not only was he coming off the bench, but the Packers were down and likely wanted him out there operating with stuff he liked. That was cool, but how does he look when the playbook expands and defenses mix up their looks a little more? Can he put together a full game? 

It was certainly encouraging watching him operate like he did, but I don’t know if I feel any differently about him now than I did after watching him in the preseason. The confidence and footwork certainly look better than they did last year, but we still don’t know if he’s ready to be the guy. 

Alright. Enough of that. Let’s look at a couple plays that I really liked this week. Today we’re looking at…RB screens? Is that right?

Play 1: 2nd & 11, 7:34 remaining in the 1st quarter

Being a Packers fan, I am naturally a big fan of RB screens. As much as I love a well-run screen itself, I also love seeing the different ways a team can look to attack behind the screen. It’s something the Packers have been doing for a while, and it always brings a smile to my face.

Basically, they pair a vertical concept with a RB screen. This can do a couple different things. For starters, having your wide receivers push vertically down the field will remove defenders from the screen, giving it more room to operate. But it can also act as a way to hit a vertical concept if you like that look better.

Since a screen will have offensive linemen releasing down the field, the read on the vertical concept has to be quick, or you’ll get hit with an ineligible man downfield penalty. Sometimes it’s a pre-snap read and sometimes it’s a quick post-snap look. It’s basically an Alert. If you like the initial look, throw vertical. If you don’t, that quick look operates in the space when you’re trying to get the screen set up, so it won’t kill you. Look vertical, give the screen time to get set, then come back to the screen. The timing still works.

On this first play, they run a post/wheel look off jet motion, and pair that with boot action from Aaron Rodgers [12]. The idea is to get the defense flowing to the bootleg, then have Rodgers pull up on a half-boot and either throw the screen or chuck it deep. The half-boot can also give the quarterback a chance to survey the defense while the pocket is moving, making him a harder man to track down.

Rodgers briefly scans across the field as he comes out of the bootleg turn, then immediately turns to fire to Aaron Jones [33].

The Eagles are showing a Cover 0 look pre-snap, but they bail to a single-high look just before the ball is snapped. If they actually did run Cover 0, this option would have allowed for the possibility of Christian Watson [9] on a post/crosser with no safety help. And that would have been a nice match-up.

With the boundary cleared by the deep post/wheel combo, the Packers have a ton of space to work with. Three offensive linemen initially block two defenders, allowing Jones to make a clean catch, survey the situation and make a cut into space. It initially looks like Jones has a lane between the blockers, but he sees the outside defender pushing to the inside shoulder of Elgton Jenkins [74], so Jones bounces outside.

He slips through a couple defenders at the end to maximize the gain. By the time the dust has settled, the Packers picked up 30 yards.

Play 2: 2nd & 13, 3:46 remaining in the 2nd quarter

On this play, the Packers release vertically to the jet motion side, but they’re all looking to block for the screen. The more vertical option on this play is Randall Cobb [18] isolated away from the screen side. He’s running a quick-out and the defender is giving him 9 yards of cushion before the snap. 

Rodgers is reading the defender on the dropback and sees him backpedaling, so he simply fires to Cobb once he hits the top of his drop for an easy 8 yards. It’s not a huge gain, but an easy 8 yards on 2nd & 13 is nothing to sneeze at. If the defender is flat-footed or breaking towards Cobb, Rodgers likely moves to the screen.

On this play, it’s a good thing that defender was backpedaling. With the way things were going up front, moving to the screen ends up with Rodgers getting sacked before he can get rid of the ball. 

There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but I always love seeing this. It’s a way to give yourself an additional option on a concept that typically only has one option. The Run/Pass Option (RPO) is such a well-known idea around the league; this is a Pass/Pass Option, with one of the passes being a screen.


Just to show you that this is not a new concept, here's a throwback to something I did on the touchdown to Jordy Nelson that kicked off scoring in Super Bowl XLV (I apologize for talking so much):

If you want a deeper look at Jordan Love's performance from the game, I did a deep dive into all 9 of his attempts over on my Substack. Got into the concepts, footwork, progressions and overall takeaways.


Albums listened to: Kodaline - In a Perfect World; The Lone Bellow - Love Songs for Losers; Old Sea Brigade - 5am Paradise; Fitz & The Tantrums - Let Yourself Free; Banner Pilot - Resignation Day

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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 (3)

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croatpackfan's picture

November 30, 2022 at 04:26 pm

I just watched your analyses of all 9 throws of Jordan Love. Thank you for your effort, it was, as always, educational for me. What was specialy interesing was to see MLF adapted his play calling to help Jordan Love to perform good. I understand that he had just basics to fulfill, but still, when you count on adrenaline that was rushing his organism, for me he showed poise and patience to pick the right moments for throws. Also, he may be better with the receivers he is throwing to them much often (second tier WR) through the practices, as he should have more timing developed with them.

Thanks Dusty again.

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beautiful_mystery's picture

December 01, 2022 at 09:18 pm

Thanks for all the great info and attention to detail Dusty, it is appreciated. I enjoyed the analysis/film on Love's throws and the why behind it.

The icing on the cake are the song selections. I dig music and always enjoy when one I wasn't even aware of, gets you going in the right direction. 👍✌️👌

GPG!

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DustyEvely's picture

December 02, 2022 at 07:55 am

Now I'm wondering which one you weren't aware of.

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