In an earlier post, I broke down why the Packers were 0-6 on third down. Drops, bad throws, and poor execution on first and second down led to an abysmal day on the money downs. Contrast that with the Commanders, who were 7-16 on third down with several conversions extending point-scoring drives, one that went for a touchdown, and one that killed the clock, preventing the Packers from mounting a comeback.
Despite all of that, the Packers still had their chances to win. One play, in particular, would have all but ensured they would have: 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter.
4th quarter, 4th-and-1 @ WAS 37, 11:27 remaining
On 4th-and-1, the play call is a 3x1 stick/flat concept out of a trips bunch to the left. It is a good play call versus the Commanders' “stab-and-combo” coverage to the trips.
The offense passing concept to the left of the formation is an “Arrow” concept and the screenshot above is from Matt LaFleur’s time with Washington from 2010-2013. Sammy Watkins (No. 11) is running the alert route which should be thrown versus a single high safety coverage shell with man/plug coverage underneath.
In “stab-and-combo”, the defense plays “banjo” over the trips with a “man everywhere he goes” (MEG) corner on the point receiver, the #2. The defender over inside #3 receiver is responsible for the first in-breaking route.
The Packers do not run an in-breaking route and automatically cause a coverage bust with no one covering Sammy Watkins (No. 11) deep. Rodgers pre-determined this throw before the snap and did not even give the play a half-second longer to develop. He certainly had time. Watkins was wide open on the coverage bust.
The real question is not the Commanders’ coverage bust. The real question is did Watkins bust this play or did Rodgers? The Fox Sports broadcast crew called this a bust on the Packers, specifically Watkins, because they were sure Watkins was supposed to block the corner on the edge.
The Packers run so many RPOs that even the broadcast team was fooled. But look at the offensive line. It is a true pass set, not RPO run blocking. If Watkins had blocked the corner right away on a pass play like this, he would have been flagged for offensive pass interference. He ran the correct route. Rodgers instead threw a pass that Doubs could not hold onto but he should have let the play develop for a second longer and thrown the wide-open touchdown pass to Watkins.