The Passing Chronicles: A Wickensian TD (aka, Z Dagger)

Welcome back! Just like we did last week, we’re taking one play from a game from the 2023 season and digging in deep. Last week we looked at the 35 yard TD to Aaron Jones against the Bears. This week we’re looking at Dontayvion Wicks’ [13] first career TD: a 32 yard catch-and-run against the Falcons.

We’ll start with the call. As a reminder, all calls in this offense are structured to hold the following information, in this order:

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

With that in mind, the call here was Motion Sink LT Zoom Z Fly P19 Waggle Z Dagger

Unlike last week, we have motion on this play, so we get to see what that looks like. The Packers used motion-at-the-snap on 47.8% of plays in this game, which ended up being their 3rd highest motion rate in a game this year (only behind the week 16 game against the Panthers [52.4%] and week 14 against the Giants [51.5%]). 

Let’s get to the structure of the call.

Formation & Strength: Sink LT

This is an under center, 1 back, 2x2 formation with the strength of the formation defined to the left (thus the “LT”). In this formation out of 12 personnel, the second TE is aligned just off the line on the right and off the ball, which leaves the X receiver on the line.

Formation Variation: Zoom

Sink calls a stack look, with the X as the front man in the stack on the outside and the F (TE) inside and off the ball. The “Zoom” tag calls for the weakside X receiver to line up in the slot, opposite the strength of the formation. Since the strength is to the left, this puts the X in the right slot.

Motion: Z Fly

This tells the Z to go in Fly motion. The tagged player will align off the ball and motion at full speed across the formation. When under center, Z is to motion behind the QB at 3 yards.

Pass Pro: P19 Waggle (aka, Pass 19 Waggle)

This calls for the offensive line to slide away from the Y and have the Y take on the defender across from him. The F will bend to the strong side and block the first defender outside of Y.

Pass Concept: Z Dagger

This is a widely-used concept around the league - and has been for quite some time - and the Packers are heavy users of it. There are different variations, but, at its core, it’s a two-man concept, with the inside man running a Deep Thru route and the outside man running a (Widen) Dover route.

On the Deep Thru route, the receiver is to set his initial angle at the nearest high safety, push to 15 yards then “break to daylight”. Against a Middle Field Closed (MFC) look, he is to work to get head up on the middle safety.

On the (Widen) Dover route, the receiver is to sell a Go route for 15 yards, plant his outside foot and roll to 20 yards between the numbers & the hash.

(As I will be doing for the entire series, I'm using Dan Casey's Play Caller's Club notebook for diagramming these.)

How does this look on the field? Let’s start with the protection.

As I detailed, the left side of the formation is the strong side, which has Luke Musgrave [88] as the Y. The offensive line is blocking down to the right, while Musgrave takes the man aligned on his inside shoulder. Josiah Deguara [81] is the F and he’ll be flowing under the line with the assignment of blocking the first defender outside of Musgrave. 

Musgrave gets beat on an inside move and the man Deguara is supposed to block falls back into coverage, so Deguara shifts his eyes to Musgrave’s man and takes him out low.

Now to the rest of the play. We’ve got Dontayvion Wicks [13] doing the Fly motion pre-snap, then launching right into his role in the Dagger concept. The Falcons have a single high safety, which means they’re playing Middle Field Closed. That has Romeo Doubs [87] working across the face of the safety to clear room for Wicks on the Dover route behind him.

Wicks does a great job at that route, selling the Go route for 15 yards then rolling to 20 yards between the numbers and the hash. 

Love has a clean pocket and finds Wicks in the middle of the field with a perfect throw. The initial tackle attempt helps Wicks to reverse field and run away from the single high safety.

This is the type of play the Packers couldn’t have run in the not-too-distant past. Having a motion man with the speed to run fly motion then be a key part of a long-developing concept? The Packers simply didn’t have the speed or skillset at that position to be able to pull that off. With the additions of the last couple of years, they can run this kind of concept with a few different receivers. It’s an exciting time. 

Albums listened to: The Prayer Chain - Shawl; The Rocky Valentines - Erase; Ride - Interplay; Sarah MacDougall - Grand Canyon; William Fitzsimmons - Goodnight; Eddie Cochran - The Best of Eddie Cochran




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].


4 points

Comments (6)

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golfpacker1's picture

April 03, 2024 at 03:46 pm

Not trying to steal a thread, but has anyone else heard about Green Bay talking with the Cardinals about acquiring Budda Baker? I just read that on Hiptoro, Fansided and Heavy Packers rumors. Wow that would be a shock especially after signing McKinney.

-1 points
cdoemel's picture

April 03, 2024 at 04:14 pm

BG has said repeatedly they will leave no stone unturned and will look at and be involved. Why is it always a shock that they actually do that?

-1 points
LLCHESTY's picture

April 03, 2024 at 04:41 pm

Ugh, I really hope not. An expensive safety that's bad in pass coverage.

At least I know some more sites to stay away from

-1 points
Johnblood27's picture

April 03, 2024 at 07:25 pm

It is the season of LIES!!!

-1 points
golfpacker1's picture

April 03, 2024 at 07:42 pm

It has to be Bull$hit at this point. No way GB commits almost $30 million to the 2 Safety positions. They will wait until after the draft for an upgrade player @ a discount.

-1 points
T7Steve's picture

April 04, 2024 at 08:40 am

Dusty, it looked like 87 was more open and had an easier path to the endzone. Would that have been an option, or would he have even been looking for the ball? I noted on almost all the plays you worked with there have been other players open, so that's nice play designing, and wonderful to have.

Just got done reading your "Hafley" article on the D. Want to learn as much about the new D and DC as possible. Thanks!

Mabe this season or even during camp and preseason you can help me by breaking down some of the D looks when you get them on film. As complicated as all this stuff is, you seem to make it easy (easier?) to understand. Sort of like what Hafley preaches. HA!

2 points