The Passing Chronicles: Beauty and the Rain (aka, Swinger Y Cross)

Dusty dives into the Packers playbook to break down the TD to Luke Musgrave against the Rams

After a 4 game losing streak to the Lions, Raiders, Broncos and Vikings, the Packers finally got back to their winning ways in a rainy, 20-3 victory over the Rams. For our purposes today, the outcome isn’t really all that important: what is important is that the Packers broke out a fun play design that resulted in a touchdown. This is a concept I’ve seen other teams run and have just been waiting for the Packers to show it off. And lo, they did.

For all the plays up until this point, I’ve had a pretty nice time tracking down all the terminology. It has involved a lot of hunting-and-pecking in the playbook and watching the line closely for the pass pro call, but I’ve been able to find pretty much everything. That’s not the case this week, which presented a fun challenge. Over the course of these last 7 weeks, I’ve gotten pretty familiar with the Packers playbook. For this week, the challenge was finding similar enough concepts in the playbook to come up with a call, then fill in the gaps with terminology that matched the spirit and structure of the playbook.

As a result, this call will be a mix of speculation and Frankenstein terminology. I’m pretty excited, 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: Motion Gun Trips RT F Behind FK Mirror Swinger Y Cross

Motion: Just the word “Motion” to indicate that a motion call will be coming as part of the call

Formation & Strength: Gun Trips RT

No formation modifiers needed here. A shotgun, 3x1 formation with the Y in-line and on-the-ball on the right, with F and Z off-the-ball and aligned wide. With this being run out of 21 personnel, the F on this play is a running back.

Motion: F Behind

This calls for the F (Aaron Jones [33], in this case) to motion behind the QB, widening out of the break on a swing route.

Pass Concept: FK Mirror Swinger Y Seam

The naming of this play is slightly different in that “Swinger Screen” is both the protection and a screen call, so there doesn’t need to be a separate indicator for the pass protection. I briefly toyed with using the “38/39 Bounce” call - which is a “pin-pull” run blocking concept - but ultimately decided that Swinger did the job just fine. No need to overcomplicate an already lengthy call. These are the things that keep me awake at night.

In the Packers playbook, the “Swinger Screen” involves a lot of action moving to one side of the formation (motion and 2-3 routes), while the other side sees the H run a swing route while the tackle pulls out to the boundary in front of him.

A mirrored version wouldn’t involve any more action to one side, as you’re trying to open up the middle of the field. So the “FK Mirror” indicates a fake Swinger Screen to each side of the formation, while the Y still pushes vertically to the middle. To help with protection, the FK Mirror Swinger sees the guards pulling instead of the tackles.

The success of this play is based around how hard you can sell the toss/screens to either side of the line, with the linebackers being the main focal point. Get the linebackers to commit to the horizontal attack, then sneak the TE behind them. The Packers accomplish this through the pulling of the guards and the fakes to the running backs in the flat. You’re looking to trigger those linebackers with both of those motions.

By pulling both guards, you’re opening up the middle of the line, but the protection plan works well against this specific Rams front. It allows the tackles and center to essentially block straight-up, while the guards have a chance to seal/chip the edge.

(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.)

Let’s start with the protection. Josh Myers [71], Rasheed Walker [63] and Zach Tom [50] are staying in to block, while Elgton Jenkins [74] and Jon Runyan Jr. [76] are pulling to the edges. The job of Walker, Myers and Tom is to block to the inside, leaving the widest defenders for the pulling guards. Musgrave’s job is to block the widest blocker, then disengage and release vertically.

This type of misdirection comes with a weakness, and that weakness is inside stunts from the defensive line. There simply aren’t enough bodies to pick up those stunts. The Rams stunt here, resulting in two rushers up the gut. But the offensive play - for all the misdirection - is a fairly quick-developing one, so Love is able to get the ball out before the rush gets home.

The Rams are in a two-high defense, which is perfect for this play, as it allows Musgrave to release and split the middle of the field. 

The wide receivers on the outside release vertically, with outside releases to pull the boundary defenders to the sideline. It looks like they’re working to inside position to block downfield if the need arises, but the need never arises (Doubs is in much better position if this is the case). Those vertical routes also spread the two safeties to the sideline.

Love does a good job selling the fakes to either side, and the backs do their part: both Aaron Jones [33] and AJ Dillon [28] put their hands up as if they’re catching the ball. 

The Shallow Cross route calls for the receiver to stay on the move vs. Man coverage and sit down vs. Zone. Basically, keep running against man coverage or find some grass against zone. Musgrave releases into an ocean of space, so he turns in space, catches the ball, evades a tackle attempt and finishes off this lovely play with 6.

Beautiful design, man.


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
Week 7: Shift Crush LT Z Insert 12 Dos Shield
Week 8: Shift Gun Crush RT Z RT 365 Shield Return


Albums listened to: Quivers - Golden Doubt; Yellowcard & Hammock - A Hopeful Sign; John Carpenter - Lost Themes IV: Noir; Camera Obscura - Look to the East, Look to the West; Early Day Miners - Outside Lies Magic; This Beautiful Mess - Falling on Deaf Ears

 

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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 (4)

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GB@Germany's picture

May 16, 2024 at 01:52 am

A very nice play, showing the increasing complexity of the game book during the season.
The movement from Jordan still looks somewhat odd.
The turns are not realy in motion, but it worked out this time.
Looking forward to next weeks Chronicle.

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T7Steve's picture

May 16, 2024 at 07:53 am

What down was this play, Dusty? I can see it's about 6 yards to the stick. Just wondering if the play worked because of the down and distance or they used it because of the 2-high the Rams were in at the time? I guess there's no way to know if it was the first or second play called in the huddle or complete audible.

Never like to see two free rushers coming up the middle, but it worked.

I'm so far behind the class here. I didn't even realize any O-line ever pulled on passing plays. Guess I have to watch closer. I thought I always paid close attention to the line blocking on all plays and had a complete whiff on this one. LOL!

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GB@Germany's picture

May 16, 2024 at 08:14 am

2nd and 7, 3:47 to go.
Shortly before Watson caught a 37 y pass on 3 and 11 . GB ran the ball 38 times.
Still painful to watch with all the stupid penalties and two fumbles.

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T7Steve's picture

May 16, 2024 at 08:19 am

Thanks. I was wondering because I didn't think that play would work on third and long, or that the Rams would use that D and those stunts.

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