The Passing Chronicles: 2023 Week 15

Dusty digs into the passing game from the Packers week 15 loss to the Bucs

No preamble today, because I’m tired, man. To the passing chart!

Kinda pretty! There’s a big ol’ empty spot between the hashes, but the edges of it are peppered, and Jordan Love did some nice work on the outside. His +7.7% CPOE (Completion Percentage Over Expected) was his second best mark of the year, just slightly edging out the +7.3% CPOE he posted in the Week 12 Thanksgiving game against the Lions.

Love’s numbers overall look good. On the day, he was 29/39 (74.4%) for 284 yards (7.3 YPA) and 2 TDs (111.5 QB Rating). Per PFF, he had an adjusted completion % of 80.6%. For the third time this season, the receivers were not credited with a single drop (although we saw the issue of receivers in the same spot on the field rearing its ugly head).

Last week we talked about Love’s performance against the blitz, as he was going up against noted blitz enthusiast Wink Martindale. Well, this week was no different as he faced the blitz-happy Todd Bowles. Love was blitzed on 56.1% of his dropbacks, which forced him to settle for quick-hitters or going single-read more than he might like. Still, he performed well. When blitzed, Love was 15/22 (68.2%) for 172 yards (7.8 YPA) and 1 sack. He averaged 2.77 seconds to throw - which is longer than it was against guys like Martindale and Flores - but the ADOT (Average Depth of Target) of 6.4 yards says that Love was targeting short more often than not. As Love has gotten more comfortable in the offense, his ADOT has been pretty low against the blitz. That's good! It shows that he's able to recognize the blitz and knows where his answers are when they bring it.

Overall, a pretty nice day from Jordan Love. Obviously there are a few throws (and at least 1 RPO decision) he’d like to have back, but he once again showed good command of the offense, good decision making and flashed some creative throws. 

To the film!

Play 1: 1st & 10, 9:55 remaining in the 2nd quarter

This is the big play to Tucker Kraft [85] and it comes off a look that is both familiar and unfamiliar.

On its face, this looks an awful lot like Strike/Drift/PA Bang Dig. The Packers are running under center play action from 11 personnel, with Romeo Doubs [87] running a dig on the left and Dontayvion Wicks [13] running a vertical route from the left. But they’re also adding in Tucker Kraft on an out-and-up from his in-line position on the left, and they run it against the perfect coverage.

The Bucs are showing a Quarters look pre-snap, but they rotate to a Cover 6 (Quarter-Quarter-Half) look on the jet motion from Jayden Reed [11].  Both safeties to the Quarters side pick up Wicks on the vertical route, while Lavonte David [54] picks up Kraft. David carries Kraft up the field initially, but slightly releases Kraft on the outbreaker at ~10 yards of depth. 

When Kraft breaks vertically, there’s no one to pick him up and Love puts the ball on him.

If you want to be nit-picky about it, this ball could be thrown a little further up the field, allowing Kraft to catch it while running up the sideline. However, with Kraft being so wide open and the safeties rallying on the throw, I’m fine with this being a little underthrown. Better to be underthrown and have your guy make the catch than to put the ball in danger, or risk it drifting out of bounds.

A side-note: hurdles can look cool (shout-out Larry Centers), but I’m rarely a fan of them, especially on the sideline like this. The best case scenario is you gain a couple extra yards. The worst case scenario is getting upended. Or, in the case of Kraft, getting hit in a particularly sensitive area.

In this age of safeties going low rather than high - especially against a TE - I understand the thought process of hurdling. Protect your knees and jump over a man in the process. But along the sideline? Just step out of bounds, man.

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

Mesh is a concept I haven’t really talked about this season, but, after a couple years of being stored in the basement, the Packers have dusted off this concept this season and have been including it in their arsenal throughout the season. Not every game, but there are match-ups they seem to like it against so you’ll see it a couple times in those games. The success has been a bit spotty, but they’ve had some nice moments with it.

The Packers are in 12 personnel, with Josiah Deguara [81] and Tucker Kraft in a YY Wing in-line on the right, while Dontayvion Wicks and Romeo Doubs in a stack on the left. 

I like this instance of Mesh because it works to give a free release to Doubs on the drag. At the point man in the stack, Wicks’ job is to create that room. The Bucs don’t make it easy, putting a defender right in Wicks’ face and shading him to the inside. Wicks does a great job here, working hard to get (and maintain) inside leverage on the defender and releasing up the field to create a wall.

That gives Doubs a free release on his drag. Deguara runs the dueling drag, doing a great job by staying engaged with his defender as he drives across the field. Kraft ends up running a return route over the drag from Doubs, which is a nice way to keep the second and third level of the defense from driving on the drag, while also giving you an opportunity to hit a deeper route on the play. (We’ll talk about that later.)

Really nice design to get Doubs a free release in space.

They came back to this a little later, with Ben Sims [89] running the return route this time. Love just barely misses the throw, which is a shame because this is a beauty.

Play 3: 3rd & 8, 7:57 remaining in the 3rd quarter

This is such a beautiful play, man. On 3rd & long, you want to run something that has multiple answers that you can get to quickly. You also want to run something that you believe in and that your quarterback is comfortable with. I give you Cross-Country Dagger with a Spin tag.

The main routes of Cross-Country Dagger are the crossing route from the inside and a dig route behind it. The idea is that the crossing route will either be open or it will clear room for the dig route. The hitch route that is added on in this version is used to pin down the hook defender, giving you one more way to help clear room for the dig route.

The Bucs show pressure up the middle with their linebackers pre-snap, but they drop out into deep zones post-snap. Dropping into deep, spot-drop zones tells Love a couple things. It tells him that the linebackers don’t have eyes on the crossing route and they’re dropping too deep for Love to be able to hit the dig.

So Love manipulates Lavonte David with his eyes, then fires to Wicks into open space.

Wicks does a great job climbing the ladder to snag this ball. 

And about that manipulation…

Love stares down the middle of the field to hold David in place, then slings the ball outside of David. We’ve seen Love do this a handful of times on this same concept. It doesn’t always work, but it’s fun when it does.

I know there will always be dissenters, but I appreciate it when I see him do this. There’s a chance he can get the ball to Wicks if he sets and throws this like he normally does, but the window gets smaller. I’m a fan of doing whatever you can to hold the problem defender in place before throwing this pass.

As I always do, I got a chance to sit down and talk with John Kuhn for a few minutes this week. We usually focus on the offensive side of the ball, but we both agreed that the defensive side may actually make a bit more sense this week. So here we are, talking about 6 defensive plays and talking about some of the defensive confusion we saw.

Albums listened to: Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away; Anathallo - Hymns; Brian Fallon - Night Divine; Sara Bareilles - Kaleidoscope Heart; Phil Keaggy - Beyond Nature, mewithoutYou - [untitled]; Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me; Tan Dun - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Soundtrack




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 (9)

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PeteK's picture

December 20, 2023 at 04:52 pm

Great idea studying some of the defensive mishaps. No look from Love was a thing of beauty.

4 points
Leatherhead's picture

December 20, 2023 at 06:07 pm

Did anybody realize that the Packers haven't had a 100 yard game from a rusher or a receiver yet this year?

When I see Love, behind good protection, throwing strikes downfield, I'm very encouraged by the future. That's when our offense looks good.

6 points
LeotisHarris's picture

December 20, 2023 at 07:51 pm

"Did anybody realize that the Packers haven't had a 100 yard game from a rusher or a receiver yet this year?"

I read that earlier today, so someone realized it and cast it out into the ether. The Packers and the Patriots have that distinction this season. What a time to be alive!

1 points
dblbogey's picture

December 20, 2023 at 09:26 pm

They could fix that if they gave Aaron Jones 18 carries this week.

0 points
Bitternotsour's picture

December 20, 2023 at 10:40 pm

c'mon man. that's ludicrous.

1 points
SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 20, 2023 at 11:07 pm


yes, I did. It's not concerning when you win. I think it's a difficult ask of JL to connect with so many different receivers.

I remember after the draft we said O line was key, and set up the running game, and from there opens up the passing game.

None of that really happened.

Imagine the 2 rookie TEs, and however many of the WRs they choose to focus on (Reed & Wicks please) with a dominant O line. Even without a star RB that would be a serious offense.

For all the ongoing problems, there's still the makings of a good team here. Need to get coaching staff developing individual players, and whatever other tweaks are necessary ...


0 points
dblbogey's picture

December 20, 2023 at 09:34 pm

Nice article. Thanks. We have what looks like 4 very talented receivers. Christian apparently will miss 6 games a year on average but will be dynamic for 10-11, Wicks may be the best of them all, Doubs is impressive at and Reed is the 2013 version of Randall Cobb, which is really good. I've seen enough from both TE's to think they are the real deal, and I think Love has shown a lot of positives (improve the accuracy). Let's load up on Offensive lineman and a RB in the draft and this team would be an offensive power. (Then, fire Joe Barry).

4 points
SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 20, 2023 at 11:13 pm

All 8 WRs are very talented, and each is unique. Amazing depth!

Don't give any more assets to JB. If they replace him before the draft, some DBs would be a good idea. I'd like to see the top 3 draft picks on interior offensive line. Will be interesting to see what Gutey does at RB. #31 Wilson seems set to come back from IR this season. I'd love to see him get Goodson back. #32 Nichols, too. Trying to draft someone better is a crapshoot.

-1 points
T7Steve's picture

December 21, 2023 at 08:14 am

Dusty, after looking at the passing chart and moving down, I saw Love was 29 of 39 so I went back up to the chart. It shows only 7 incompletions.

Is the chart based on the adjusted completion of 80% due to throw aways and stuff? If so, that would explain it.

Thanks, I really enjoyed this learning session. It DID overwhelm the last couple of tough weeks you had. Hope all's now well.

0 points