The Passing Chronicles: Preaseason Week 2

Dusty takes a look at the Packers use of PA Boot in their win over the Saints in the preseason

To paraphrase a poet:

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to regular season football

Today, we'll be spending time with an old friend: PA Boot.

It's a concept we dove into during the offseason, so we don't need to get too deep into the mechanics here, but here are the basics:

The blocking up front resembles a wide zone run. The offensive line releases laterally to one side. The QB releases to that side to fake the hand-off, then he bootlegs out the other side, where the receivers are flooding the zone with a three-level Sail concept (Sail route deep, crossing route intermediate, flat route short). You can dress it up and throw a little flair into it, but those are the main pieces. Basically, make it look like wide zone to get the defense flowing, then bootleg out the other way.

It's a core passing concept for any offense running a wide zone offense, a group of which the Packers are proud members. 

In the second preseason game, the Packers ran this concept - or a version of it - 4 times. On those plays, Jordan Love was 2/4 for 29 yards (7.3 YPA). Middling results, but it could have been so much better. Let's dig into those plays.

Play 1: 1st & 10, 5:35 remaining in the 1st quarter

This first one feels pretty basic, which is good! Makes for a good starting point. The Saints are showing a two-high look pre-snap, but that changes once the route paths start to establish. Juwann Winfree [88] is running the sail route from the outside. He finds himself carried by a cornerback and is capped over the top by the deep safety from the opposite side. Romeo Doubs [87] is running the crossing route from right-to-left. He's being trailed by his cornerback so he has some separation, but the safety to the route side drops down to take away the throw.

That leaves Josiah Deguara [81] in the flat. As is the case with most reps of PA Boot, Deguara starts the play looking like a split-zone blocker under the line, then releases into the flat. (If this were a run, Deguara would act as the backside blocker on the play.) Deguara is picked up by the linebacker, but there's plenty of separation.

A simple pitch-and-catch picks up 11 yards.

Play 2: 2nd & 6, 2:39 remaining in the 1st quarter

Remember when I said "simple pitch-and-catch"? (I hope so, because it was the last sentence in this piece.) Well...sometimes it's not quite so simple. 

The Packers are now down in the confines of the low red zone. The Packers will use this concept down here, but not often. It tends to work better with a little more space.

It's the same three main routes - sail, crosser, flat - with an added follow crosser from the backside. The Saints play this in a way we've seen more and more teams do: the defensive edge to the boot side doesn't aggressively play down the line to stop the run. Instead, he slow-plays the run, then crashes straight down to take away the bootleg. When Jordan Love [10] spins around, he finds a very large man closing fast with ill intent. Deguara is open in the flat, but Love sails the pass wide.

Love gets his shoulders square, but, with pressure bearing down, he's just a little off-target.

Play 3: 1st & 10, 14:55 remaining in the 2nd quarter

Back on the sunny side of life right here. This looks like a wide zone run and Love takes the turn to bootleg, but instead settles back back into a deep pocket. The initial release from the left side (on what would normally be the crossing route) looks the same, but Doubs never really looks to be running a sail route. He gives a false jab to the outside, then releases to the inside. This has a lot of the same hallmarks of Drift, but Doubs is running more of a rounded crosser than a sudden, foot-in-the-ground dig route. They're still attacking the middle, but in a more meandering way. The goal is to attack the middle of the field, which should be vacant of any pesky linebackers who have been pulled up to the line on the playfake.

I say it's "meandering", but that's not a negative thing and certainly no shot at Doubs. He does a really nice job creating separation at the top of his stem. He pushes on a crosser for 10 yards, then suddenly cuts the route horizontal. That suddenness creates the separation he needs.

Winfree ties up the safeties with his deep route and Tyler Goodson [39] acts as the flat control, holding the boundary defender close to the line and discouraging him from dropping back under Doubs.

Loves works his way to Doubs and throws a really nice ball: over the boundary defender and before the recovering safety can get there. 

Play 4: 1st & 10, 4:17 remaining in the 3rd quarter

This should have been a highlight. This should have been the highlight. Really, it still does work as a highlight for Love, but the ending leaves a little to be desired.

This play starts a little late on the film so you don't get the full picture, but I tried to fill it out a bit. The Packers start in a 3X1 look and a RB lined up directly behind Love. They motion to a balanced, 2X2 look pre-snap. The Saints started in a two-high look, but they make a check when the Packers motion, bringing a safety down to the line while dropping the other back to a single high look. That's important, because, with a single-high look, the deep boundaries of the field are open in a way that they aren't against two-high.

Love sees this and makes a check at the line; a "Can" call. (The QB will go to the line with two calls. They'll go up with the assumption of running Play #1, but if the look isn't favorable, the QB will put his hands to his ears to to signal a move to Play #2.) Samori Toure [83] is running a go route from the outside, Amari Rodgers [8] is running a quick-out from the slot and Ishmael Hyman [5] is running a crossing route. 

When Love comes out of the fake and scans the field from the bootleg, the single-high safety is backpedaling and staring straight down the middle of the field, while Toure is in the process of putting a nice stutter-and-go move on his man to create separation. Love lofts a beautiful ball to Toure; fading just a little to the sideline and away from the safety in the middle. It's beautiful. It's perfect. It is a leaf on the wind; watch how it soars.

Unfortunately, Toure can't haul it in. Some things are just too beautiful for this cold world.


Hope you enjoyed this. After a one-off play last week, it felt nice being able to dig into four plays like this. It felt a little more like the season. And that is a very good thing.


Albums listened to: Bon Iver - i,i; Pixies - Doolittle; Smashing Pumpkins - Pisces Iscariot; Unwed Sailor - The Faithful Anchor

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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 (6)

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LeotisHarris's picture

August 23, 2022 at 04:15 pm

Thanks for this, Dusty. After kicking around on a piece of ground in my hometown
waiting for someone or something to show me the way, it's good to have you ramping up to regular season brain food levels. I appreciate it.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 23, 2022 at 04:38 pm

Taking away the moments that make up a dull day?8

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

August 23, 2022 at 05:21 pm

Dusty, I always love your writing, both the substance and style, but this perfect use of the Firefly quote was *chef's kiss.

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DustyEvely's picture

August 23, 2022 at 08:15 pm

Ha! Appreciate that, man. There a few I sneak in from time-to-time, but I think it's been a while since I've used that one.

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Roadrunner23's picture

August 23, 2022 at 09:40 pm

I absolutely love these Dusty!
Well done as always 👍

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PatrickGB's picture

August 24, 2022 at 08:55 am

🧑🏼‍🍳 nice!

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