The first half of Monday night’s game showcased what can happen when two NFL quarterbacks come under pressure. Combined, Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger either under or over threw their intended receivers 16 times – the most by any two QBs in one half this season.
The stat could be good news for a Packers defensive front that has yet to generate much pressure in the first two games this season. This coming Sunday, the Packers defense could have a field day if Andy Dalton continues to misfire when under pressure.
But the stat also spells trouble for the Packers offensive line. Since losing Bryan Bulaga early in training camp, the Packers offensive line has been a weak spot for the team. Starting rookies and inconsistent play has led to Aaron Rodgers being hit ten times and sacked six times this season.
After being sacked on back to back plays early in the game on Sunday, the Packers offensive line seemed to rebound allowing only two more sacks for the rest of the game. However, Washington’s defense also stepped back.
While Rodgers’s career day is a testament to his talent and the team, it also came while facing a vanilla defense.
In the first half of Sunday’s game, Rodgers was pressured just 7 times. On 25 of his 34 drop backs, Rodgers faced four or fewer rushers. 23 of Rodgers’s 26 first half completions and over 75% of his first half yards came when facing this standard pass rush.
It is doubtful that Rodgers and the Packers offense will see a similar attack from the Bengals this coming Sunday.
In Monday night’s Bengals game, Ben Roethlisberger was under pressure from the Bengals defense for more than 25% of his drop backs. On those pressured plays Roethlisberger’s performance was abysmal, completing only one pass for one yard and throwing one interception.
With the Bengals stout running defense, one that allows less than one yard after contact on rushes, and the Packers banged up core of running backs, the odds that the Bengals will come after Rodgers are high. The Packers offensive line will have to rise to the occasion.
ProFootball Focus credits T.J. Lang with a perfect game against Washington’s pass rush, but Rodgers will need more than just Lang. Rookie David Bakhtiari will need to shake off early rough starts and Don Barclay will have to do better than letting defensive linemen spin him back and off the line. The Packers offensive line might also have to play without the help in pass protection provided by Eddie Lacy and John Kuhn, as both suffered injuries against Washington.
The Bengals will provide a crucial test for the Packers offense. If the Packers have serious goals to be an elite team in the NFL this season, they will need to keep Rodgers safe from the Bengals pressure.
Jayme Snowden is a feature writer at CheeseheadTV and a contributor to Today’s TMJ4. She also co-hosts CheeseheadRadio, part of the Packers Talk Radio Network at Packertalk.com. You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at Jaymelee1@gmail.com.