The Passing Chronicles: Ricochet in the Mountains (aka, Shield)

We’re still in the midst of this 4 game losing streak, but we’re also looking at one of my favorite plays of the season. There are a lot of feelings happening.

There are a few reasons I love this play. For starters, it’s a touchdown that happens in a weird and fun way, and those always stick in my mind. It also comes on one of my favorite low red zone concepts, and it gives us our first look at an RPO. Lastly, it shows Love thinking on his feet and ripping off a really cool throw. All kinds of fun, so let’s get to it.

We’re looking at the call itself and the responsibilities. As a reminder, this is how the Packers structure their calls:

  1. Motion/Shift
  2. Formation & Strength
  3. Formation Variation
  4. Motion
  5. Run Concept or Pass Pro
  6. Pass Concept

Playcall: Shift Crush LT Z Insert 12 Dos Shield

Formation & Strength: Crush LT

This is the standard Crush formation: a 1x3 look with the Y TE on the strong side (LT) and a bunch on the other side.

Shift: Z Insert

The “Shift” at the top indicates that there will be shift in the call, and “Z Insert” is our call. This tells the Z (Christian Watson [9], in this case), to align behind the Y and between the Y and the left tackle.

Run/Pass Concept: 12 Dos Shield

12 Dos is the run concept. It’s a single-back gap scheme concept, but with zone blocking. (Duo/Dos are usually called “power without the pulling,” so the above phrase is just a fancy way of saying that.) It’s designed to attack the strong side A gap. Everyone is getting double teams up front and the running back will read one gap at a time, inside-out.

Out of a 2x2 alignment, the pass tag becomes the Alert depending on how the defensive box is aligned. 

The Alert is “Shield,” a two-man concept made up of a Shield route from the X and a Now Slant from the F. The Shield route is never intended to be the target: he’s simply clearing room for the Now.

(As always, I used Dan Casey’s Play Caller’s Club book as a template for the above image. It’s a really fun book to mess around with.)

As I mentioned, this pass tag - Shield - is one of my favorite concepts in this area of the field, as it is an extremely difficult concept to defend. With the tight routes being run, there are a couple ways you’ll see the defense reacting, each with their own issue:

  1. The boundary corner will try to stay with the F through the wall created by the X. If the routes are run as they should be, it’s nearly impossible to pick it up that way.
  2. The corners will Banjo the coverage (that is to say, they’ll switch assignments, with the inside corner picking up the F and the outside corner picking up the X). In this area, you’ll often see a false step or miscommunication on that type of coverage, leading to an open receiver.

Like I said, it’s a difficult concept to defend.

The Packers are facing 4th & 2, down by a score of 16-10 with 8:55 remaining in the game. When Watson shifts down to Insert behind Tucker Kraft [85], one safety creeps down into the box while the other aligns over the offensive strong side. That puts 9 defenders in the box and 2 defenders over the Jayden Reed [11]/Romeo Doubs [87] stack. At this point, Jordan Love [10] is mentally checking to the Shield Alert.

But he still needs to be sure the throwing lane is clear, so he’s reading Justin Simmons [31] as the conflict defender. If Simmons crashes down on the run fit, Love will throw the Now to Doubs. If Simmons falls back under Doubs, Love will hand it off. Simmons makes this decision easy, as he starts his blitz before the ball is snapped.

Everything looks great! The box is packed and the conflict defender is out of the picture. So Love pulls the ball and…finds Jonathan Cooper [0] fading off the line and under the Now. Love sees him and double-clutches, which throws off the timing. Love is able to drop down and get the ball out with a sidearm missile, but Doubs is unable to bring in the fireball.

Thankfully, Jayden-On-The-Spot is there to bring in the ricochet.

Great concept, good read, nearly disaster and a great heads-up play. This play has it all.

Let's watch that one more time, just because.

If you want to go back through the rest of this series, I thought I'd gather all the links up here. Hope you're learning half as much reading this as I am writing them.

Week 1: Gun Trio RT Open 2 Scat H Choice Buffalo
Week 2: Motion Sink LT Zoom Z Fly P19 Waggle Z Dagger
Week 3: Shift Gun Trips RT G Open H D 3 Scram Z Shot Bow
Week 4: Gun Dyno RT 2 Jet Coco Stitch
Week 5: Bunch LT FK 19 Keep LT

Albums listened to: Cloud Nothings - Final Summer; Maggie Rogers - Don’t Forget Me; Fleetwood Mac - Rumours; Anguish Unsaid - The Chronicles of the Restoration of the Church; August Burns Red - Messengers




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 (4)

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ArlenWilliams's picture

May 02, 2024 at 02:08 am

Love it. West Coast upgraded to the 2020's.

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PatrickGB's picture

May 02, 2024 at 07:59 am

Wow, I missed that when I watched it the first time.

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T7Steve's picture

May 02, 2024 at 09:17 am

Thanks again, Dusty.

I'd totally forgotten that play. Because we lost the game?

I can't wait to be able to call out these plays when the new season starts. Hopefully I'll be able to come back and review the whole play book.

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MadJam's picture

May 10, 2024 at 08:51 pm

Sweet breakdown. Ballin’

0 points