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Packers Film Room: An open letter to the play-action bootleg pass

In another sign of the times passing Green Bay, we look at the failures of a mis-used play.

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

My dearest Play-Action Bootleg pass,

You are a noble play. Another offspring from the powerful lineage of Play-Action, the most heralded of offensive origins, your cohorts have made even the most incompetent offenses successful at something. You and your brethren also have an allure of deceit; it’s sinister, really, how you all hide behind the run and then suddenly appear as a pass just as your foes have committed otherwise. But, my beloved Bootleg, none of the other Play-Actions have your unabashed bravery, your willingness to expose the most valuable of your pawns to conditions like no other play. Yes, sweet, glorious Play-Action Bootleg, you are one of a kind. And it is your time to leave the nation of Green Bay.

You did read correctly; just as the fearless Roman Empire or one of the best TV shows of all time, The Office, had to end, my fair Bootleg must diminish into obscurity when called by the hands of the next Green Bay head coach. Too frequently are you called upon, and our mutual enemies have taken notice. When the end result often is this:

a change must be made. The adage of ‘touchdown or checkdown’ is no longer relevant to the 2018 lexicon for astute coaches. Fortunately for all parties involved, the man responsible for calling upon you to lead the offense has been replaced. You are a special creature; not one to be trifled with or continually exploited, but one to be opened on the odd occasion. Before we discuss your tenuous future, lets reminisce about the good times we’ve had.

Remember when you were called to start the prime time game against the Niners of Forty? Truly a magnificent execution:

And let us not forget when Equanimeous St. Brown made a glorious extending snag on a laserbeam:

This is an example of when you’re executed well. The middle receiver gets enough depth to be behind the linebackers yet shallow enough to not run into the deep receivers’ coverage. There are five people running routes, enough to occupy the defenders and not allow any free running cover men. It’s still not an easy throw; if the linebacker covering the short receiver drops back a bit he can easily tip it, and there’s a defensive end bearing down on Aaron Rodgers.

Yes, there is still occasionally a spark between us, Bootleg. Occasion, unfortunately, is not enough. When I refer to you as part of the Play-Action family, that is really a stretch. You are more of the red-headed step child, an outcast even among your own peers, and are dragging your family down with you. Green Bay ranks 29th in yards per play-action, a number that is simply unacceptable given the offensive talent at its most important positions.

Too often, Bootleg, you leave the signal-caller with a tough decision to make, or even worse, no time to make a decision. You should remember the next clip as it was one of several times you were called upon against the Cardinals.

You never stood a chance; if any pressure is applied on your free running side, you are dead before Aaron Rodgers can turn his head around. Missed blocks and pressure can ruin even the most powerful teams — ask the 2007 Patriots — but assume Lance Kendricks makes his block here, do you see anyone open?

No, Bootleg, you do not. Could a ball have been thrown into a tight window? Absolutely, but that’s not an issue I have with you. The issue — or rather, issues — I have with you relate to your route structure and timing. You’ve always been a bit slow, especially slow to develop. The Play-Action family needs to have someone slow on their side to provide a new perspective, but they should not be relied upon nearly as frequently as you have been. Combining your slow nature with your natural ability to cut the field in half, open receivers may be missed:

It’s a shame you do this to your own constituents. It cannot reasonably be expected that Rodgers, rolling to his right, has the time to look back 20 yards to his left, while he has three receivers straight in front of him to choose from. It’s not as if this is an unacceptable route; in fact, it’s a great idea, because if the backside receiver gets forgotten about, Rodgers is throwing to a wide open target.

The problem, Bootleg, is that he will never have time to make this throw. Allowing a free edge rusher takes away his time to make these types of reads, so you might as well left him in to block.

Even if the deep receiver is open when you’re called, Bootleg, it’s one of the worst throws in football. A quarterback on the move to his off-hand to a deep receiver close to the sideline is statistically one of the hardest throws to complete, yet here you are telling me that’s what should happen. Well this is what happens:

If that ball was thrown by a robot that had been programmed to have pinpoint accuracy 100% of the time, it’s a magnificent sight to behold. Instead, a human has to attempt it, and it’s not thrown perfectly. And we can all ignore Davante Adams open in the middle...

Again, I want to reiterate, you’re not always a bad idea. Calling you, Bootleg, is akin to having a glass of egg nog. When it’s right, it’s so right, but if you have too much, you’ll become sluggish or nauseating. And God help us all if someone has a glass of egg nog in June.

Do you recall this play? This was good, wasn’t it?

Oh. I remember it differently. MVS was wide open though, wasn’t he? Hoo, what a memory. Perhaps I’m thinking of this play against the Bills from Buffalo:

Ah. Not that one either, forgive me. Ah, now I remember! It was this play I was thinking of. How could I have forgotten?

Glorious. Those Vikings sure looked like fools! Ahh, such good memories.

Well Bootleg Play-Action, I have enjoyed this conversation. While it will be unfortunate to see you go, it will only be for the sentimental value. You were a frequent guest on Sundays and the Packers accepting, understanding hosts, but you have become a burden. Let’s stay Facebook friends, OK?

— Bob