The Passing Chronicles: 2022 Week 15

Dusty talks about his trip to Green Bay then breaks down the passing game in the Packers win over the Rams

After a week away to gather our thoughts and get healthy, The Passing Chronicles is back. While I don’t presume to speak for you all, I, for one, could not be happier.

I’m particularly happy this week because I got to spend a couple days in Green Bay and take in the game in person. There is a group of 4 of us that try to head up once a year (two brothers and a good friend who is basically another brother), but, due to a variety of factors, we haven’t been able to make the trip since the 2019 Bears game.

We’ve got a system worked out at this point. We drive straight to Lambeau (about 8.5 hours), spend some time at the Pro Shop then find something to eat. We usually hit Kroll’s, but opted for Hinterland this time. While we waited for a table, we wandered around the Titletown District for a bit. 

We usually stay in Sheboygan, so we headed back for the night and woke up the next morning: bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and needing to kill nearly the entire day because it was a night game. So we hit up a lovely spot called Parker John’s with a beautiful view…

…then back to the hotel to do things that all cool people do: play PGA Tour 2K1 until it was time to head up.

We got to spend some time hanging out with some lovely people…

…then take in a Packers win on a frigid-but-not-too-frigid evening. As always, a lovely trip. Can’t wait to get back up there.

But enough about that. You’re not here to listen to a trip to Green Bay: you’re here to read too many words about the passing game. Before we get to the pass chart, let’s talk about the game as a whole. The Packers ended up with a near perfect balance: 33 passes to 32 rushes. They also dominated the time of possession with 37:19. That’s 65 plays (excluding the 3 kneeldowns at the end of the game). By comparison, the Rams only ran 43 plays on the day.

That pass rate of 51.5% on the day isn’t a mirage boosted by the end of the game or anything, either. The Packers had a total of 9 drives on the day. If you take out their two drives to end each of the halves (a 3 play drive to end the first half that ended with a Hail Mary call and a clock-killing drive to end the game), the Packers pass rate on all other drives was 52.9%. They committed to running the ball and it served them well.

Alright. Let’s get to the passing game.

I said earlier that it was “frigid-but-not-too-frigid,” but I wasn’t the one dialing up plays or throwing the ball. On the night, Aaron Rodgers only attempted one pass further than 20 yards down the field. It was off the Leak concept and it was beautiful and it ended in an INT and it broke my heart.

As the offense tends to do, there were a fair amount of throws behind the line of scrimmage. However, at 20% of attempts (per PFF), it’s a lower number than we’re accustomed to seeing on a weekly basis. On those throws, Rodgers was 6/6 for 41 yards (6.8 YPA) and his lone TD. He got the ball out extremely quickly here, averaging 1.82 seconds to throw on these attempts.

He shredded the Rams in the short game, going 12/16 (75%) and 126 yards (7.9 YPA) in the area from 0-9 yards from the LOS. (There was one drop in this area, bringing his adjusted completion % to 81.3%.)

Rodgers also did some nice work in the 10-19 yard range, going 4/4 for 62 yards (15.5 YPA). All 4 of those attempts went for 1st downs. Some of these throws were out when the back foot hit, while others saw Rodgers moving off the frontside concept and finding the backside dig.

If we want to dig into EPA (Expected Points Added), Rodgers came in at 0.16 EPA/play, which had him as the 7th most efficient QB in Week 15. That puts him ahead of guys like Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence and Kirk Cousins and behind guys like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott and…Mitch Trubisky? Sam Darnold? Andy Dalton? I didn’t get a chance to watch much football because we were on the road but what happened this week, man?

(Chart from RBSDM Stats)

The interception looms large, but a pretty nice day overall from Rodgers in a game that kicked off with the thermometer showing 15 degrees.

I’m a bit scrambled this week, so I apologize for that. As such, I didn’t have time to do more than one play this week, so let’s get to that play. An oldie but a goodie.

Play 1: 1st & 10, 8:52 remaining in the 2nd quarter

This is a play that I first wrote about way back in week 3 of the 2019 season. Though I didn’t have a name for it at the time, someone ended up dubbing it “The Cheese Wheel,” and the name stuck. To be absolutely clear here, it is not an accurate description: there is not a wheel route to be seen. But it’s a fun name and I’ve never come up with one I like better, so I’m sticking with it.

Packers are under center in 12 personnel. They start with a completely balanced look: one in-line TE to each side, one WR to each side and one RB lined up directly behind Aaron Rodgers [12]. Before the snap, Josiah Deguara [81] motions from his in-line position and becomes an offset upback.

At the snap, Christian Watson [9] runs a vertical route from the left, angling at the safety to his side. Deguara releases through the hole as if he is going to be the lead blocker, with AJ Dillon [28] behind him. Instead, Deguara releases on a vertical route past his defender and to the boundary. They also release Dillon underneath Deguara, and we’ll get to the mechanics on that in a minute.

This is a concept that works really well against single-high defenses, and not so well against a Quarters look. Unfortunately, the Rams are in a Quarters look here. Jalen Ramsey [5] is the boundary defender to the concept side. In a single-high coverage, he would be looking to funnel the receiver to the safety in the middle, so the boundary would be free. In this coverage, Ramsey passes off Watson to the safety, then turns his attention back to what is in front of him. That doesn’t give Rodgers anywhere to throw the ball.

Fortunately, Bobby Wagner [45] is still running with Deguara, which leaves a lot of room for Dillon. Rogers flips the ball to Dillon in space, and Dillon ends up picking up 17 yards.

Now, to the Dillon of it all. Usually on this concept, the running back stays back to pass protect. They’ll release the upback through the line, then have the RB pull up before the line to meet any potential rushers. It looks like Dillon is keying on Ernest Jones [53]. If Jones rushes the B gap, Dillon will stay back to protect. If Jones drops out into coverage, Dillon will release through the line and to the left.

I will always love seeing this concept, and today is no different.

Albums listened to: The Smile - A Light For Attracting Attention; The National - I Am Easy to Find; Chad Lawson - Breathe; Cape Francis - Don't Let Your Heart Walk Away




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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LeotisHarris's picture

December 22, 2022 at 08:44 pm

Thanks, Dusty. Attending a night game a Lambeau is always special, and you got a win. I suppose if you have to hang out with people *those* people will do; beautiful group.

Happy holidays to you and yours, and thanks for all your work. Much appreciated.

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pantz_bURp's picture

December 22, 2022 at 08:52 pm

Thanks Dusty! Man you are a detail-oriented guy, aren't you. Appreciated...what I look forward to are the various music selections you add at the end. Love me some new music. I haven't been to Lambeau since all the thanks for sharing the Titletown District pictures...nice touch before Christmas. I love those big ol' Superbowl Rings!


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PeteK's picture

December 23, 2022 at 05:28 pm

Thanks for the offense breakdown during the season. "No One Knows What Tomorrow Brings" by Smile is my personal favorite song on that album and is very apropos to the future of the Pack this season and next. Have a great holiday season!!!

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