The Passing Chronicles: 2022 Week 17

Dusty takes a look at a couple passing plays from the Packers resounding victory over the Vikings

The Vikings have had incredible luck in one-score games this year, so how did the Packers counter that? By beating them by 24 points. I honestly don't know why more teams don't try doing that. In their 13 wins, the Vikings have outscored teams by an average of 5.8 points. In their 4 losses, they’ve been outscored by an average of 22.3 points. That’s insane. If you’re gonna lose, lose big I guess.

To the passing chart:

As I’ve brought up here seemingly every week, the Packers have thrown behind the line of scrimmage a lot. That wasn’t the case in this game, with only 1 attempt listed behind the LOS per PFF. On the chart there appear to be two attempts behind the line, but it ended up being listed as being thrown at the LOS, as opposed to behind it.

With the pass rush of the Vikings likely a concern, the Packers came out with a quick-game heavy approach. Rodgers targeted the area from 0-9 yards with 54.2% of his attempts, and he did some really nice work in that area. He was 11/13 (84.6%) for 106 yards (8.2 YPA) with a QB Rating of 100.6. He got the ball out in a blazing 1.91 seconds when targeting that area.

Rodgers had been doing some really nice work in the intermediate section of the field coming into this game, but they didn’t really target that area very often. Rodgers only had 2 attempts between 10-19 yards. He completed both of those attempts for 31 yards, but his average time to throw was 4.35 seconds. The Vikings did a good job muddying up that area of the field, making it difficult to get anything other than gains off extended plays.

The Vikings played more single-high looks against the Packers than they tend to, and the Packers countered by trying to hit some deep shots up the sideline. Due to a handful of factors (timing, refs letting the WR/DBs play, etc.), those shots didn’t really connect. Rodgers was only 1/5 for 21 yards when targeting 20+ yards down the field, with that 1 completion going for a TD to Robert Tonyan off a secondary route. PFF does have one drop in the 20+ yard range, giving Rodgers an adjusted completion percentage of 40% when targeting that area.

Even with the emphasis on the quick game, the 5 deep shots - combined with only 24 passing attempts on the day - saw Rodgers push his ADOT (Average Depth of Target) back up to double-digits, closing the day at 11.8 ADOT.

The Packers ended with an even 50/50 split in their pass/run calls on the day, with Aaron Jones turning in a 14 carry, 111 yard performance (7.9 YPA). With that in mind, I like how they approached the pass game. Operate the quick game, take a few strategic shots. The shots largely didn’t work, but I was still a fan of the approach.

Now, let’s look at a couple plays.

The great Paul Noonan has written about the impact of Allen Lazard as a “first down machine.”  That came through a couple times against the Vikings, so I wanted to walk through those. Both of these came on the Packers 3rd drive of the game.

Play 1: 3rd & 10, 1:27 remaining in the 1st quarter

This is about as simple as it gets. The Packers come out in 11 personnel in a 3x1 look, with Robert Tonyan [85] as the nub TE on the right (with AJ Dillon [28] as the RB set to Tonyan’s side in shotgun) and all three WRs in trips to the left. Romeo Doubs [87] is the #1, Allen Lazard [13] is the #2 and Randall Cobb [18] is the #3 receiver in trips.

The Vikings are showing a two-high look and the defenders to the trips side gradually sitting deeper off the line the closer they get to the sideline. Chandon Sullivan [39] is the defender over Lazard, and his stance is of particular interest. Sullivan starts by playing the outside shoulder of Lazard, angling toward the QB. It’s a look that would be looking to take away an out-breaking route. As the ball is snapped, Sullivan shifts to the inside shoulder, which would take away in-breaking routes.

The Packers come out with a quick-game staple: Two-Man Stick. The #1 receiver (the man closest to the sideline) runs a go route, intended to clear out the boundary. The #2 receiver runs a quick-out route. The #3 receiver has an option route: slant, stop or out, depending on the coverage of the defender.

Aaron Rodgers [12] is reading Sullivan on his drop. He sees the shift to the inside shoulder of Lazard, so Rodgers hits the top of his drop and fires to Lazard.

Between the quick release (1.8 seconds) and Sullivan stumbling, Lazard is able to get upfield and pick up 14 yards.

Play 2: 3rd & 6, 15:00 remaining in the 2nd quarter

Another 3rd down, another 11 personnel grouping. In fact, it’s the same formation and exact same personnel on the field. Tonyan as the nub TE, Dillon as the RB, Doubs as the #1, Lazard as the #2 and Cobb as the #3 in trips.

This time they run a follow-concept with Lazard and Cobb, and have Doubs run a sluggo (slant-and-go) on the outside for a potential shot. The read is inside-out (Cobb-to-Lazard), and Cobb is uncovered at the snap. 

Rodgers checks the middle of the field on the drop and sees Eric Kendricks [54] dropping off the line to pick up Cobb, so Rodgers moves on.

Lazard pushes vertically at Sullivan, then breaks to the inside. With Sullivan on Lazard’s back hip and the middle cleared by Cobb, Rodgers hits the top of his drop and fires to Lazard.

The ball is out in 1.6 seconds and Lazard simply turns upfield and falls forward to 9 yards and a first down.

It should be noted that Doubs absolutely cooks Duke Shelley [20] on the sluggo. I don’t fault Rodgers for not going there - the #2 read was open so there’s no reason to look elsewhere - but I’m sure that’s something they’ll be making a note of in case they find themselves with this match-up again.


Albums listened to: Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour of the Bewilderbeast; The Wind and The Wave - Racing Hearts; Old Sea Brigade - 5am Paradise; Counting Crows - Somewhere Under Wonderland


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].

2 points

Comments (3)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Leatherhead's picture

January 04, 2023 at 04:20 pm

We completed 15 passes in a game where we crushed the opponent. That's why I get so tired of these "we need another superduper WR" arguments. If you can push people around on the line, our WRs are plenty good enough, and if we can't, then having another WR isn't going to solve anything.

THIS is what I've been wanting ever since the 49ers crushed us in 2019 and only threw 10 passes, or something crazy like that.

1 points
LeotisHarris's picture

January 04, 2023 at 06:27 pm

Thanks, Dusty. Always a pleasure.

There's been a good amount of chatter here in the comments this week regarding the Packers passing game. Some posters expressed, even in a 41-17 win, that LaFleur was unimaginative in his game planning, and that the passing game plan in particular was pathetic. You watch a lot of film, and have a handle on what this offense can do. What's your take on how well LaFleur is game planning, and how well this O is performing now that we have a healthy QB, O line, and receiving corps?

5 points
croatpackfan's picture

January 05, 2023 at 06:40 am

Dusty, you are the legend! Thank you again for this small, but important schooling us.

0 points