The Passing Chronicles: Core Play in an Ugly Loss (aka, Keep)

If we’re locking ourselves into how we felt at the time, we find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of an ugly run from the Packers. Last week we looked at a play from their loss to the Lions. This week we look at a play from their loss to the Raiders. The next two weeks will find us looking at plays from their losses to the Broncos and Vikings. That’s four straight losses to some less-than-stellar competition (Lions excluded, as they were playing some really good ball).

But that’s okay, because we’re not living in the moment. We are not living and dying with every game. What’s past is past, and we know how the season turns out. So, instead of being upset over losing to the Raiders - THE RAIDERS - we can simply look back at a play and break it down.

I chose the play this week for a handful of reasons. For starters, it was the Packers biggest gain of the day. In fact, it was the biggest play the Packers had all season in terms of yardage. They picked up 77 yards on this play and the next biggest play they had was a 59 yarder to Jayden Reed against the Bears in Week 18.

That’s a good reason to look at this, but the main reason we’re looking at this is that it gives us a look at one of the core plays from the Packers offense in the LaFleur era. I usually just call this PA Boot, but let’s get into the nuts and bolts of it all.

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: Bunch LT FK 19 Keep LT

No motions, shifts or formation variations, so we don’t need to concern ourselves with those sections. Pretty easy one this week.

Formation & Strength: Bunch LT

No formation variations on this call. Bunch LT is exactly how you see it on this play: a 3x1 set with the X receiver on the backside and a bunch formation on the left.

Pass Pro: FK 19

FK (or, “Fake”) 19 uses their 19-18 run blocking principles. Which makes sense, as the success of this play hinges on selling the run then running routes back the other way as the QB boots out. “19-18 Weak” is a run-blocking concept designed to attack the perimeter of the defense to the weak side. The numbers tell the offensive line whether they are blocking to the strongside (18) or weakside (19). On this play they are blocking away from the strongside (a reminder that the “Y” is always aligned on the strongside), so the call is “FK 19” as they’re blocking away from the Y.

I could get into the nitty-gritty, but this is what you think of as your standard zone blocking. One of my favorite ways to describe zone blocking comes from Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz. “You’re on a track, like a railroad track, with your buddy, or all your buddies on the offensive line. If a defensive lineman or linebacker crosses onto the track, your job is to take him and move him.” (Quote taken from Tim Layden’s terrific book, “Blood Sweat and Chalk”).

The directions to the offensive line on FK 19 are essentially, “run 19-18 run concept full speed to OLB.”

The specific assignments can differ slightly based on the alignment of the defensive line, but, based on the front the Raiders show here, they are able to just run the track.

Pass Concept: Keep LT

(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.)

The concept is pretty straightforward. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written, chances are you’ve seen me talk about this play. Fake the wide zone to one side then boot out the other to find 2-3 routes running parallel to each other on different planes. You have shallow (Z), intermediate (X) and vertical (F) options. On this call you also get a delayed release off the line (Y) that is sifting through the mess and looking for an opening between the flying defensive bodies.

We used to see offenses leave the wide defender to the bootside unblocked, as his pursuit of the run would take him out of the bootleg on the pass play. One of the ways defenses have countered that is to simply leave that man at home, figuring that blowing up a pass play is worth more than chasing down a run on the backside. The Raiders leave Tyree Wilson [9] on the end here, but Luke Musgrave [88] is able to get a piece of Wilson and take him into the middle of the line, giving room for Jordan Love [10] to boot out without a man in his face.

The Raiders appear to be in Cover 3 and they simply have a miscommunication in coverage assignments. The single high safety and the boundary corner both converge on Romeo Doubs [87] on the Low Cross route, leaving Christian Watson [9] wide open on the High Corner. Love gets the ball to Watson who makes a move and flies for 77 yards before getting brought down by a horse collar tackle.

We rarely see the ball go to the High Corner route on this concept. By my count, they ran this play 26 times in 2023 and this was the only time it went to this route. It usually ends up going to the Low Cross or whatever route happens to be running to the flat (would would be the Stalk Flat by Z here).

A shame they didn’t pick up a touchdown here, but it was still a huge gain. And, to my earlier point, this is one of the most important pass concepts in the Packers playbook, so I wanted an excuse to really dig in for a bit.


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


Albums listened to: Zao - Liberate Te Ex Inferis; The Allman Brothers - Brothers and Sisters; Taylor Swift - The Tortured Poets Department; Pearl Jam - Dark Matter

 

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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 (2)

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GB@Germany's picture

April 25, 2024 at 02:25 am

Great analytics, as every week.
While rewatching the season, this was their worst game for me.
Nevertheless a really nice play and showing, what a healthy Christian Watson can do for GB.
While big plays seemed to come more and more regular during the season, I still feel that they were subbar on short passing game and passes in the flat.
Plays, our competitiors seem to take easy yards on our D so often, were a non- contributer for our O.
Would be great, to get your take from an offensive perspective on this.

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T7Steve's picture

April 25, 2024 at 06:57 am

Thanks, Dusty. My weekly jolt of learning.

As it seems to have affected you, that clip brought back memories of how pissed I was when we lost that game. Those types of losses (ones we should have won) I was sure at the time, would keep us out the playoffs.

That play enforces the perception of how valuable it was to have (even on a pitch count) Jones lined up in the backfield and Love playing under center.

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