The Passing Chronicles: 2023 Week 3

Dusty takes a look at the passing game from the Packers comeback win over the Saints in week 3

What a game, man. A lot of ugliness early on the offensive side of things, but Matt LaFleur made some really nice adjustments along the way. Combine that with some high-level playmaking down the stretch - and a great decision to go for 2 points after that first TD - and the Packers were able to pull off a win. They lost a game they should have won against the Falcons and they won a game they should have lost against the Saints. That’s the nature of living in the one-score world: sometimes the bounce of the ball will go your way and sometimes it won’t.

As we always do, let’s take a look at some numbers then jump into a few plays. First, his throw chart:

For the 3rd straight game, Jordan Love came out with a negative CPOE (Completion Percentage Over Expecation) and a positive EPA/play (Expected Points Added per play). His CPOE was -8.9% and his EPA/play was 0.11. 

Per PFF, Love’s receivers were credited with 2 drops and Love had a throwaway, so his Adjusted Completion Percentage was 57.1%. Better than the 50% he actually had, but still below average.

To be clear, Love was absolutely chucking the ball against the Saints. Per PFF, his ADOT (Average Depth Of Target) of 12.6 yards was the highest ADOT of any QB in a game through the first 3 weeks of this season. So far this season, only two QBs have posted a game with an ADOT above 12 yards: Tua Tagovailoa (12.4) and Derek Carr (12.3), both of those occurring in week 1. Through the first 3 weeks, Love’s ADOT is 10.9, which is the highest in the league (Carr is 2nd at 10.4). Tua led the league in ADOT in 2022 at 10.1 yards (as a point of reference, Aaron Rodgers was 9th at 8.5 yards). So Love has not been afraid of chucking the ball this year, and that certainly continued in this game.

Love’s accuracy issues continue to pop up. The deep ball placement has been less-than-ideal through these first 3 weeks, but the ones that concern me the most have been his placement on intermediate out routes. He has the arm to get them there, but the placement has been consistently to the inside shoulder of the receiver where the ball should be placed more to the sideline. Throwing it to the inside shoulder gives the defender a chance to make a play on it. If that keeps happening, we’ll no doubt be seeing some interceptions on that.

But we’re not here to talk about that. We’ll keep an eye on it, but, for now, let’s look at some film. Unfortunately, due to the travel time of going to the game and the short week, I only really have time to dig into one play today in this space. Apologies.

Play 1: 2nd & 9, 9:06 remaining in the 3rd quarter

Beyond the fact that we’re only looking at one play, we’re looking at an incomplete pass on 2nd & long with the Packers trailing 17-0. Because I know what the people really, truly want.

This is a concept I want to point out because it’s something we’ve seen for two straight weeks. The Packers haven’t hit it yet, but it has been open both times. I want to get in early and say that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, the Packers are going to hit big on this. It’s analysis as a way to point back and say, “See! I told you!” Which is the best kind of analysis. (That last statement is not even remotely true.)

The Packers run to love this Two-Man Stick Concept out of a trips look. It’s a quick-game staple and will be until the end of time. The outside man will run a vertical route to take the boundary DB downfield, then the other two receivers will run quick outs at 5-7 yards. The #3 receiver in trips (the inside most man) will often have the option as to whether to run a quick out or a hitch, but the Packers almost always run him on a quick out.

Here’s an example of how that looks. Jordan Love [10] hits the checkdown on the backside on the play below, but you can see the Two-Man Stick action on the left side.

They run that concept a ton and have for years. Now here’s the twist.

The Packers are in 11 personnel, with Emanuel Wilson [31] as the RB, Luke Musgrave [88] as the TE and Jayden Reed [11], Dontayvion Wicks [13] and Romeo Doubs [87] as the WRs. Wilson motions wide left pre-snap and functions as the vertical receiver on the concept. Wicks is in the slot on the left and Musgrave is in-line.

It looks like Two-Man Stick, with Wilson running vertically and both Wicks and Musgrave initially breaking out at around 5 yards. That’s when they switch it up. Wicks breaks back inside on a pivot route and Musgrave cuts vertically on a Stick-Nod route.

Just like last week, the LB commits to the out route from Musgrave and is in no position to recover when Musgrave cuts the route vertically. The ball is already out by the time Musgrave cuts, so the position of the safety is a bit misleading in terms of how much field Musgrave would truly have to roam. But, again, the LB can’t recover, so even if the safety is in better position, we’re still looking at a pretty big gain here.

Two weeks in a row and both times Musgrave has been open. You’d better believe the Packers have noticed this and will look to hit it for a nice gain this season. I’m already excited about it.

I was able to walk through a few plays with John Kuhn this past week, which still feels like an absolutely insane thing I get to do on a weekly basis. We walked through 3 plays and Kuhn did a great job pointing out how an in-game adjustment from LaFleur led to a big 3rd down conversion late in the game.

I also did a video on the big gain to Romeo Doubs, and how a play against the Falcons in the previous week may have helped to inform this play.

I was lucky enough to be able to go to the game this week with some of my favorite people in this world. (And no, my voice still hasn’t fully recovered yet, as I'm sure you can tell from the videos I posted above.)

A quick story from the game. We were sitting behind a fairly large group of people. As you do during the course of a game, I had bits and pieces of a conversation with some of them. The one I talked to the most was a woman in her 60s who had flown out from Arizona for the game. By halftime she was pretty down about it. “Yeah, but the comeback is gonna be great,” I told her. She laughed at me, and she was right to do it. 

As the Packers were kneeling out the clock, she had tears of joy in her eyes. The woman next to her said, “This is so special to me because this is my first time here and they won. THEY WON!”

There is truly nothing like watching the Packers at Lambeau. 

Albums listened to: Jenny Owen Youngs - Avalanche; Phosphorescent - Muchacho; Sixpence None The Richer - This Beautiful Mess; Lydia Loveless - Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again; Brand New - The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me




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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Rebelgb's picture

September 28, 2023 at 09:10 am

Great article! Thank you for all the work and the insight!

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