Film Room: A Diverse Effort Shut Down Aaron Rodgers

A few plays later (0:04 left in the first quarter), Rodgers footwork got sloppy on a deep pass to Cobb, but it looked like he thought he’d be getting hit soon and rushed the throw, barely stepping into it. After that, a twist by Johnson and Wallace Gilberry got Johnson free on an inside move, which stopped Rodgers from seeing Quarless come wide open on a corner route against a traditional Cover 2 zone. The pressure was working early, while the coverage forced Rodgers into a lot of check down throws when it didn’t. Of course, Aaron Rodgers is going to get his, and found a groove in the late second and early third quarters. Defensive Ends Adjust After Hall’s beautiful interception , and Terence Newman’s touchdown, the defense still had work to do to stop Rodgers and the Packers from putting together a winning two minute drill. If you haven’t watched the interception lately, you should click on that link and just enjoy it a few more times. Johnson’s day can hardly be overstated. He was excellent against the run, in the pass rush, and tipped the fourth down pass that sealed it for Cincinnati. Carlos Dunlap also had a few batted passes in the game, and all of these came on the Packers’ last drive. The Packers were chipping away on that drive, covering 60 yards in a whopping 13 plays, using just 2:21 to do so.

Aaron Rodgers says team’s identity ‘is going to be determined here in the next few weeks’

Those whose size and talent are so overwhelming that they simply can’t be held back. They play with the older kids. And those who have talent, but are forever being forced to prove themselves. That was Rodgers. He was late growing, and so he waited four games to start a game on his eighth grade team in Chico, Calif., and that was the weaker of the two eighth-grade teams in town. He played on the freshman team as a tiny, big-footed 14-year-old and on the JV as a sophomore, as he waited for varsity spots to clear. He stayed in on weekends and hung out with his buddy Ryan Gulbrandsen, while others went out and partied. As a junior, Rodgers was elevated to the varsity and made the starting quarterback at Pleasant Valley High, but only because there was nobody else to do the job. As a senior, he grew to 6-2 and 180 pounds and broke a bunch of school passing records, but Division I recruiters showed no interest. They would make him wait, too. He did that waiting at Butte College, where he lit up defenses for a year and then went to California and waited while well-liked senior Reggie Robertson started the first four games of the 2003 season.

My Sportsman: Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers and the Packers had become dinosaurs, flat-earthers, pistol deniers. When the Packers’ biggest offseason change was letting star wideout Greg Jennings leave, that was it: The Packers had ceded their lane in the title race to teams with flashier quarterbacks like the 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins. Except, well, not. Without Me In the second week of this season, Rodgers showed the world he’s not passing that “NFL’s Best Player” torch any time soon. Facing off against one of the little hellions, the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III , Rodgers completed 34 of 42 passes for a career-high 480 yards and four touchdowns. The final score, 38-20, didn’t do justice to the devastation the Packers levied against the Redskins. Rodgers put on a clinic, beating the Redskins just about every way a defense can be beaten. Is Aaron Rodgers the best player in the NFL? Yes Total votes: 4,430 He beat them on the run and in the pocket, down the seam and down both sidelines. He beat them deep, and by letting his receivers do the work. He rolled out, pump-faked, fit his passes into windows and threw his receivers open.Rodgers and the Packers rolled up 31 points before the Redskins even got on the board. The contrast between Rodgers at the peak of his powers and a still-weakened RGIII was stunning. After two games, Rodgers has completed 55 of 79 (69.6 percent)attempts for 813 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.

Aaron Rodgers’ hidden weakness

Green Bay has allowed 20 game-winning drives since 2008, which is third-most in the league over that span. Last season, there was a Hail Mary to Seattles Golden Tate on that games final play. In Week 1 this year, Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to a 28-24 lead, only to watch Colin Kaepernick and the Niners score the games last 10 points for a San Francisco win. The Big Lead took that a step further and found that the Green Bay defense has been abominable in games where Rodgers did, in fact, lead a comeback. As it turns out, Rodgers and the Packers have won only 9 of the 16 games he has been the QB for a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. Thats pretty bad. The other quarterbacks all won between 75% (Flacco) and 96% (Peyton Manning) of games they took a lead in the fourth quarter. The average was an 84% winning percentage when scoring go-ahead points in the fourth. As you might expect, its not as though Rodgers is wilting in the fourth quarter at a historic rate. The Packers simply havent been as good as the teams around other comparable elite quarterbacks.

In Case You Forgot, Aaron Rodgers Is Still NFL’s Best Player

But it’s also important you are able to field a healthy football team. And this situation, just like Carolina is going to be dealing with and teams with a week five bye, because that’s early as well, week six is early, teams that have to go 10, 11, 12, 13 straight it’s going to be a more difficult stress on the guys to be healthy come week seventeen, when you want to be playing your best and when you to be your healthiest, if that is possible. That is kind of the main challenge you see.” Rodgers was asked about the quarterback sneak, a play that used to be run routinely in the National Football League, but not so much anymore, unless you’re Tom Brady in New England, who still has success using it. “League-wide you are not seeing a ton of those consistently converted,” Rodgers said. “A lot of times it depends on the length. It’s almost a lower percentage play when it’s fourth and a couple inches, compared to maybe third and two feet. If you watch some of the games, you can see Tom (Brady) has had some success obviously throughout his career converting one-and-a-half yards on a third down. You are less likely to get two A-gap defenders on a third and one, maybe, as opposed to a third and six inches or a fourth and a couple inches. You are more likely to get everybody in the box tight. It shrinks their splits. I really feel like it’s a difficult play to convert when you have those circumstances tied together.

Scouting the Opposition: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers Offense not Missing Greg Jennings

The Packers are just 5-24 (.172) in games when Rodgers had the ball in the fourth quarter, trailing by 1-8 points. Five comebacks in 29 tries? Tony Romo , considered by some to be a choker, led five comeback wins in the 2012 season alone. Among active starters, only Cam Newton (2-16) has a worse record than Rodgers. He has numerous passing records, both a regular-season and Super Bowl MVP, but this is the one area on the resume that continues to be a sore spot for Rodgers. Sunday was one of his worst finishes yet. This time, while the drive was long in plays (13), it ended at the Cincinnati 20 after Rodgers’ pass was tipped on fourth-and-5. That was the third tipped ball of the drive, as the Packers’ offense ended the game with two interceptions, a fumble returned for the go-ahead score, and this turnover on downs. These close-game failures have been the hush-hush hallmark of coach Mike McCarthy’s otherwise successful tenure as Packers head coach. While the blame should be distributed everywhere, why are we not looking at the quarterback more? To read the rest of Kacsmar’s analysis on Rodgers, plus all of Insider’s NFL content, sign up for Insider today.

Does Aaron Rodgers deserve blame for Packers’ struggles in close games?

Packers’ Major Strength: Quarterback Play. With a talent like Rodgers, a team like Green Bay is never out of a game, division or playoff race. His presence alone makes the Packers a threatening team, despite anything that’s gone on with the running game or receiver departures. Worse for Detroit , Rodgers has been a Lions tormentor in his career, going 8-1 with 18 touchdowns to only five interceptions. The fact that Green Bay has a savvy, winning quarterback could help them against a Lions’ team which has had its share of mental and physical meltdowns in the past. Intangibles: The Streak. Everyone knows about it. The Lions haven’t won in Wisconsin for 22 straight seasons. Mentally, this cloud follows Detroit around during every trip to Lambeau Field and manifests itself in games, and questions will linger about why the Lions haven’t been able to get the job done until they finally do. That, in itself, helps the Packers tremendously on their home field, and the Lions will have to rise above talk of the streak in order to win.


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