The Passing Chronicles: 2021 Week 11

Dusty takes a look at some plays from the Packers loss to the Vikings

This game started off with somewhat of a wimper, then ended in a very loud bang. Unfortunately, the Packers were on the wrong side of it. They scored touchdowns on all 3 of their 2nd half drives - 75 yards, 94 yards and 75 yards, respectively - but a hole was dug too deep early and they couldn't capitalize on some potential turnovers throughout the course of the game.

But we're not here today to talk about wins and losses. No, today we bury our heads over the results and look at a few plays from the Packers/Vikings game. You with me? Let's go.

Play 1: 2nd & 6, 8:00 remaining in the 1st quarter

Last week we talked about a switch vertical concept the Packers ran against the Seahawks. It was a tight release, with one receiver trailing the other up the field until the routes diverged downfield. In the comments, I mentioned that I hadn't seen that release from them before. Well, it certainly looks like something they're going to be leaning into. The follow isn't quite as long this time, but there definitely is a trailing aspect to this one.

To the Trips side, Marquez Valdes-Scantling [83] is lined up outside, Randall Cobb [18] is in the slot and Davante Adams [17] is inside. (You typically count up from the sideline, so MVS would be the 1, Cobb would be the 2 and Adams would be the 3.) At the snap, MVS pushes down the field while Cobb cuts underneath and follows for a few steps before releasing outside and up the sideline. It's the same general release, but instead of diverging, the concept ends up being more of a deep curl/vertical idea. Post/wheel, without the post or wheel.

The defense is falling back and taking away the vertical, so Rodgers throws underneath to AJ Dillon [28], who has a little room to roam. The throw is high, but Dillon - a talented pass-catcher - goes up to get it, then rumbles for 13 yards. 

I love AJ Dillon more than AJ Dillon loves Door County.

Play 2: 2nd & 5, 1:22 remaining in the 1st quarter

And they weren't done. This one falls more into the Dagger concept, but the release is the same. This time it's out of a 2X2 set, with Adams & Cobb on the left side. But let's talk about the other side first.

The Packers are looking to hit something in the quick game, and they do that with a curl/flat concept on the right, with MVS on the curl and Josiah Deguara [81] on the flat. Rodgers is looking at this as he's dropping back. He hits his back foot ready to throw, but the concept just isn't open. So he pivots and points to the Dagger side, looking to drive the ball. But, again, the concept isn't open. The defense falls back with the vertical routes. Rodgers sees that, but he knows where his checkdown is.

Patrick Peterson [7] is able to peel off and make the tackle after a 3 yard gain.

I love watching this angle and seeing just how quickly Rodgers goes through everything. Hits the back foot, hop/pivot to deep, hop/pivot to checkdown. Nice and clean.

Play 3: 1st & 10, 3:44 remaining in the 3rd quarter

Before we get to the play at hand, we're going to start with the previous play: an end-around to Equanimeous St. Brown [19] built on the back of a lot of misdirection and moving pieces.

EQ has certainly been more down than up over the course of his career in Green Bay, but one thing he has always been is a demon in space. Get him a sliver of space and he'll slither/accelerate to get as much yardage as he can. On this play, they bring Cobb in motion, bring EQ over post-snap and have him follow a block from Dominique Dafney [49]. EQ makes a man miss in the hole and picks up 11 yards.

On the very next play, Tyler Davis [84] splits under the line and Cobb streaks behind Rodgers post-snap. Rodgers fakes the handoff, turns to show the pitch to Cobb, then turns back to the field. The Packers are running a kind of condensed Portland concept, with Adams running a dig route opposite a crosser from MVS. Usually this is a way to scheme up a deep shot against two-high coverages (something the Packers did in this game), but here it acts more as a high-cross. Try to get bodies flying around in a condensed area, cause some confusion in the coverage and hit whoever comes out the other side.

The Vikings pick it up well, with the left boundary defender falling off on MVS while the right picks up Adams.

No one is open, but part of that is because the Vikings rushed 4 and dropped everyone else back. The offensive line does a great job against the initial push, then the Vikings all just kind of sit back and look for a scramble that never comes. It really does just look like they dropped 11 to see what would happen.

That gives Rodgers time to survey everything going on. He directs Adams back to the middle of the field, shifts to his left to get a better lane, then fires a missile that Adams hauls in.

And the throw? The throw is absurd.

It didn't look that crazy when I was watching it live, but I didn't realize at the time just how little separation there is between Adams and the defender.

After a rough offensive start and a defense that was having a tough time getting stops, this touchdown brought the Packers to within 6 points.

Play 4: 1st & 10, 11:31 remaining in the 4th quarter

For our last play today, we're also going to start with an earlier play in the game: a split-zone run by Dillon, keeping our eyes on EQ.

His job is to block down on #24, and he does a good job of it. Releases outside, sets and engages. Before the 2020 season, I did a deep dive into EQ and one of the parts focused on his run-blocking. Here is what I said then:

He's not amazing in the blocking game, but he knows where he is supposed to be and he works hard. For the vast majority of wide receivers, that's all you can ask for.

He's never going to be an all-world blocker. He has certainly had his whiffs. But he's still that same guy: he knows where he needs to be and he tries hard. The ability may not always be there, but he has recognition and effort.

So when you put him on the end of the line - or just off the line - in the run game, you know that he's at least going to try to get in your way. He's not going to be Allen Lazard, but he's gonna work. 

On this play, the Packers run PA Boot out of a compressed formation, with EQ in-line on the boot side. He's running a Slam route. It's a wrinkle off this concept that I haven't seen the Packers use very often, but it's one that I've always loved. Typically on this concept, you have 3 routes running parallel with the QB on different planes: a deep route, an intermediate crosser and a flat route. The Slam route works off the run-blocking expectation. It initially looks like you're blocking down on the end, then you release back and follow the flat. As defenses widen to pick up the routes, you can find little pockets that have been vacated. The Slam routes works in those pockets.

Rodgers fakes the handoff and boots to the right, only to find two defenders screaming down at him. The defense is widening to take away the typical boot routes, but Rodgers doesn't panic. He throws to EQ in a vacated pocket. EQ turns, finds space and gets a really nice 26 yard gain.

Nice work by Rodgers to get the ball away, and a tremendous job after the catch by EQ to find space and maximize yardage.

EQ is never going to be a world-beater, but if they can find ways to get the ball in his hands in space a couple times a game? I certainly wouldn't be mad at it.

Also this Slam route? Using the motion of the downblock to open something up? I think we're pretty close to finally seeing Y Leak in Green Bay.


Albums listened to: Jimmy Eat World - Clarity: Phoenix Sessions; Jimmy Eat World - Futures: Phoenix Sessions; Amigo the Devil - Born Against; The Black Keys - Delta Kream; Pom Pom Squad - Death of a Cheerleader; Richard Swift - Dressed Up for the Letdown; Stanton Moore - Conversations

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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 (5)

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 24, 2021 at 06:07 pm

Thanks Dusty. I need to take notes. You're dishing out a ton of knowledge. You should write a book. NFL Passing for Dummies.

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LeotisHarris's picture

November 24, 2021 at 08:07 pm

Thank you, Dusty. Thoroughly enjoyable and much appreciated as always.

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Philarod's picture

November 25, 2021 at 12:30 am

Well done, Dusty.
This article is one of the best, if not the best, article on this site.

You always deliver!

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PeteK's picture

November 25, 2021 at 08:45 am

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for all your insight. I love how the Pack is running a variation of that miss direction to the TE which was a staple to Tonyan. PA boot slam?

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Minniman's picture

November 25, 2021 at 12:31 pm

“I love AJ Dillon more than AJ Dillon loves Door County.”

EDIT

I love AJ Dillon more than AJ Dillon loves “Leg Day”

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