Aaron Rodgers caused a small commotion after the game yesterday when asked about the gameplan going into the Lions game. Greg Bedard posed the original question and got this as Rodgers' initial response:
Offensively we’ve got to find our identity again I think we've got to make sure that we've got our best players on the field at all times and find ways to get them the ball. We had some ad-libs today where we hit Donald (Driver) on the big play today. Take that play away and there’s clearly not a whole lot of production...I think we need to find ways to keep our best players on the field and find ways to get them the ball.
Bedard, much to his credit, followed up on that, asking Rodgers to clarify his statement in regards to keeping "the best players on the field".
We had great production last week getting in the shotgun, spreading them out. Chicago is a tough scheme. I think Detroit runs their scheme well but I don't think we gave them a chance (by) spreading them out enough to find those mismatches. When we did, I think we were pretty productive.
And after a few other questions, Bedard circled back one last time, asking Rodgers specifically if he though the offenses identity should be the spread we saw last Monday night, specifically throughout the second half against the Bears.
I think you have to see what's working. We had a lot of success last week. Chicago plays a different scheme than Detroit does but I think we can dink and dunk out of the spread and I think we can attack down the field. We need to continue to find ways to keep our best weapons on the field at all times.
Let it be said loud and clear, far and wide:
Aaron Rodgers is absolutely right.
Now, Bedard has a point when he says that all quarterbacks are biased, that they almost always want to throw more and think they are the best option when it comes to moving the football. At least the better quarterbacks do. But Rodgers is spot on when he looks at an offense that, when presented with a 3rd and 2 in the first quarter, ran John Kuhn on a stretch play out of a shotgun set.
That, in a word, is stupid. And Rodgers knows it.
Mike McCarthy will no doubt be having some words with his quarterback tomorrow, if he hasn't already. But when he does, I hope he allows Rodgers to plead his case. In a way, this is similar to what they went through last year after the Bengals game, where Rodgers made a public plea to McCarthy to send more guys out in pass patterns and let him take care of getting rid of the ball, rather than keeping more guys in to protect. (This concept was the basis of an article in the Maple Street Press' Packers Annual by Chris Brown of Smart Football. If you haven't yet, but your copy here. And thank me later.)
I know some fans might point at Rodgers two interceptions as reason for trying to "establish a running game" (I hate that phrase) and "take some pressure of Rodgers" (another ridiculous concept) but I have zero problem with either of the throws Rodgers made there. The throw up the right sideline where he thought Jennings was ready for a back-shoulder throw was just a case of two guys being on different pages. It happens. And on the second one, he has Jennings one-on-one after the Lions double Finley. Like Rodgers said after the game, you throw that 10 out of 10 times, no questions asked. It was almost a freak play how Jennings was off balance just enough for the cornerback to take it away from him and come down with it.
Look, I've been one of the people saying Rodgers needs to be more aggressive - a thought he echoed this summer during training camp, saying he wanted to take more calculated risks when guys were seemingly "covered". With that, you take the good and the bad. Yes the deep ball to Jennings was unfortunate, but how could anyone argue with the laser to Finley in the endzone? That's a throw Rodgers has no business making, but the result is a touchdown. The only concern I might have with the second Jennings throw would be that it came on first down after the defense had already been on the field for a day and a half. But again, with Jennings singled up deep, its hard not to take a shot.
Rodgers is absolutely right to say the Packers did their best work on offense when they spread the Bears out and moved up and down the field using short passes in lieu of the running game. If Thompson and McCarthy are steadfast in their belief that Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn are all they need at running back, the least they can do is ride the player and the gameplan that gives them the best chance at winning - and that is Aaron Rodgers throwing the football, not trying to prove that they can run the football.
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