I’m just going to start this post by saying how terrible the All 22 film is at Soldier Field. With other game film, we get a view from high atop stadium. We can clearly see the whole field and how all the pieces move. It helps to see why a play unfolds the way it does.

But not at Soldier Field. No buddy. At Soldier Field, a contest takes place before every game. To win, you must be a very drunk person with very short arms. When you win, you are in a standing-room-only section, directly behind the last seats in the lower bowl. You are then given a camera that you must hold over your head the entire game. But not too high! Still gotta see those fans celebrating.

The game film from this game is always the roughest to break down, simply because we can’t look at the game the way we’re used to looking at it. But we’ll give it a shot. Just keep that in mind as we roll through this week. The Bears may have won the NFC North this year and the Packers may be done after Week 17, but the Bears will always have the absolute worst coaches film to look at. I take a certain amount of pride in that.

Without further adieu, let’s get it.

Play 1: 3rd & 6, 11:24 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

The Packers had their short-passing game working early in this game. On this 3rd & 6, the Packers ran dual slants off the left side with Jimmy Graham [80] and Randall Cobb [18]. Graham gets a chip on Khalil Mack [52] before heading out on his route for good measure.

The angle from behind the line works better to show what happens here.

The route from Graham off the end of the line drags Roquan Smith [58] towards the middle of the field. That allows the route of Cobb behind him to get into that vacated area. With Cobb’s man (Sherrick McManis [27]) in zone, he’s able to get inside position easily.

That’s what this play does well. It creates a small opening in the defense, then runs someone into that opening for a quick-hitter. A nicely-designed quick-hitting play to pick up the 1st down.

Play 2: 3rd & 6, 10:52 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-7

Like Play 1, this one also involves a follow concept to create space. However, since this is a deeper pattern, a drag route is also used to help create space underneath. Randall Cobb is lined up off the end of the left side of the line, while Davante Adams [17] is lined up wide on the left. Cobb begins his break across the field 8 yards past the line of scrimmage, drawing the cornerback across the field with him. Adams runs a dig route behind Cobb and into the vacated area.

Jimmy Graham runs a drag route off the right side of the line. Let’s look at another angle and see how Leonard Floyd [94] reacts to this.

You can see Floyd drop back into his zone from his place on the line. You can’t see Adams in this view at this point, but you can see it clearly on the top gif: the zone he’s dropping into is underneath the route of Adams. The route of Graham draws Floyd’s coverage, so he picks it up and carries it to the sideline.

All this movement creates a nice window for Rodgers to hit Adams on the dig for 13 yards and the 1st down.

Play 3: 3rd & 9, 7:37 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Packers trailing 0-7

This is just a perfect playcall. The Packers have a curl/post combo on the right side against the Bears Cover 1 Robber. Graham is running the deep curl off the right side of the line while Equanimeous St. Brown [19] is running a post from the outside.

One thing I’ve talked a lot about here this season has been the lack of depth in some of the routes run. I don’t have that gripe here. When you’re trying to spring a deep post, I like the underneath route (whether that’s a curl or a dig or something else) to have enough depth to force the safety to make a decision: stay back or come up on the deep middle route. Putting a safety in a bind like that can help to open either of those routes.

Back to this one and why this route combo works so well against this coverage. The curl from Graham is at a good depth, but the safety to that side is playing the Robber. Let’s take a second on that. What is “Robber”?

 

As I mentioned, this is Cover 1 Robber. The Bears look like they’re in Cover 2 (two deep safeties, each taking a side of the field), but at the snap one of the safeties pulls towards the line while the other drops back into the middle of the field in a more traditional Cover 1 look. They’re trying to get the offense to read Cover 2, then take away the throw they think they had. To “rob” them, as it were.

A deep post is a good Cover 2 beater route. Typically in Cover 2 you have the two safeties dropping wide, creating an opening in the deep middle of the field. This isn’t really Cover 2, but it works anyway. The Robber is on the post side, which means the safety is dropping back from the opposite side of the field. Since they have to play the Cover 2 disguise, he doesn’t start the play in Cover 1 middle position. Combine that with the fact that the safety to that side is watching the route from Graham to see if he breaks deep and you’ve got an open receiver on the post.

 

St. Brown beats his man to the inside and there is no safety help in the middle.

Unfortunately, Rodgers just missed the throw. Still a beautiful playcall, though.

Play 4: 1st & 10, 11:44 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers trailing 3-14

1st & 10 in enemy territory? Might as well look for a shot. The Packers run a post/wheel off the left side with Davante Adams (post from the outside) and Equanimeous St. Brown (wheel from the slot).

The idea behind the post/wheel is simple: use the post to the defense to the middle, then hit them up the sideline with the wheel route. Since the wheel starts off looking like a flat route, defenses will either sag off of it/abandon it so they don’t get beat on the post, or charge down on the flat only to be caught out of position when it wheels up the field.

The Bears cover it well here. Rodgers sees that neither route is open, so he checks down to Lance Kendricks [84]. As we’ve talked about in the past, he’s looking touchdown-to-checkdown. The touchdown isn’t there, so he hits the checkdown for 3 yards.

Play 5: 2nd & 15, 9:34 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers trailing 14-21

Another play, another follow concept. I don’t feel the need to rehash it all again here – Graham pulls the middle defender away from Cobb in the slot, creating an opening – but I wanted to put this one in here just to show that the Packers were doing a lot of this kind of thing this past weekend. They must have seen something in the Bears defense that told them they could be successful running this kind of concept. Were it not for a Cobb drop, the Packers would have picked up at least half the necessary yardage needed to convert a 1st down here.

Play 6: 1st & 10, 6:43 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers trailing 14-24

At first blush, this looks like the kind of play we just looked at: a slant follow concept, albeit a slightly wider follow slant than we have looked at so far. After watching it entirely too many times, it actually looks more like a mesh variation.

We’ve talked mesh concepts before. Here’s a short rehash:

We’ve got two drags crossing each other from the slot – I generally refer to them as “dueling drags” – while an outside receiver shadows one of the drags and sits in the middle of the field. The idea is that the drags will act as a natural rub in man coverage or work to spread the linebackers wide in zone. Either one of those reactions will help to spring one of the digs or open up a free spot in the middle of the field for the crossing route.

If you look at the above gif, you can kind of see this setting up. Drags from either side by Graham and Cobb and the shadow drag by Jake Kumerow [16] from the outside. You can also see how this affects the defense. The Bears are dropping back in zone. Keep an eye on Roquan Smith [58] watching the routes. You can see him reading the mesh and dropping off Graham to pick up Cobb on the drag coming into his zone.

Instead of crossing in the middle, Cobb pulls up on a curl and Graham cuts up the field. With Smith peeling off to pick up Cobb and Cobb pulling up on a curl, some space is created in the middle of the field.

Rodgers hits his back foot and lets it fly, hitting Graham as he’s veering up the field. It ends up picking up a nice 13 yards.

Play 7: 2nd & 4, 5:53 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers trailing 14-24

It’s our old friend on the left, the slant/flat combo. Jamaal Williams [30] runs to the flat from the backfield while Davante Adams runs a slant from the outside.

The Bears are in man coverage, so Rodgers simply waits for the flat defender to clear the area, then fires a rocket into Adams.

Let’s look at the routes on the right side for a second. Back in Week 11 (Play 3), the Packers ran a slant/flat on the right with dual-digs from the left. My issue with that particular play was that the routes on the left hindered the yards after the catch ability from the slant. With in-cutting routes on the other side, the slant route was running directly into the middle, which is where the defense from the left would be. That play picked up 11 yards, but I pitched out a variation where the routes were either run shallow or pulled up short of the middle; something that would allow for more yards after the catch.

On this play, the routes on the non-slant/flat side are a go route to clear out the right side of the field and dual out routes. You can see what that does to the defense: it opens a much larger swath of field to operate in after the catch.

It paid off here. They picked up 23 yards off a simple slant/flat and it could have gone for much more if not for a shoestring tackle.

This was very nicely done.


Albums listened to: Glasvegas – Glasvegas; Hive – Devious Methods; Haley Heynderickx – I Need to Start a Garden; Hussey – Hitchens; My Brightest Diamond – A Million and One; U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited

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