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Rodgers Not Running Like He Used To

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Rodgers Not Running Like He Used To

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers may be putting up unprecedented numbers in yards, passer rating and completion percentage that's worthy of the NFL's MVP award, but there's one area of his game that's way off pace from the past couple seasons: rushing yards.

Through the 2011 season's first seven games, Aaron Rodgers has a mere 75 yards on 29 carries, a 2.9-yard average that's a far cry from the numbers he put up in 2009 and 2010.

In 2009 Rodgers had his first real good rushing season when he ranked second in the NFL among quarterbacks with 58 rushes for 316 yards (behind only Jacksonville's David Garrard) with a 5.4-yard per carry average. His average per carry was tops among all quarterbacks that played in at least 10 games that season.

Then in 2010 he was third in the NFL among quarterbacks with 64 carries for 356 yards with a 5.6-yard per carry average behind only the incomparable Michael Vick of Philadelphia and Josh Freeman of Tampa Bay.

This year Rodgers' 75 yards ranks ninth in the NFL in rushing yards among QBs, his average per carry is much lower, though his two rushing touchdowns is second only to Cam Newton.

So what's the difference between the past two seasons and this one? Only Rodgers or the Packers could say for sure, but one has to wonder whether his two concussions from last season have taken their toll.

In terms of rushing attempts, Rodgers is not running significantly less than than the past few seasons, though that average is much lower, perhaps signifying that he's more hesitant or less willing to fight for the extra yards by sliding or going out of bounds more often.

The Packers offense has been a juggernaut so far this season, leading the NFL in points per game and fourth from the top in yards, so it could be argued that Green Bay hasn't needed Rodgers contributions on the ground with a knowledge and confidence that yards can still be gained in less risky ways.

One could also say that in Aaron Rodgers' seventh season in the NFL, he's hit his peak athletically and is not quite as fast as he once was. But at only 27 years old and not playing much his first three years in the NFL, there would still seem to be a lot of tread left on the tires, which would make for a less compelling argument.

Perhaps the sample size is too small to draw any significant conclusion. Only seven games into the season, the Packers haven't even hit their halfway point yet. A single 30-yard scramble in Sunday's game against the Chargers could make the debate a moot point, but it's worth pointing out that Rodgers' longest run is only 11 yards this year.

One thing is for sure, fewer rushing yards haven't made Rodgers any less a player this season. Rodgers is the near unanimous choice for the NFL's mid-season MVP that columnists and analysts like to hand out.

Yet it's also a facet of Rodgers' game that bears watching as the rest of 2011 plays itself out, especially given his concussion history.

Brian Carriveau is the editor of the Maple Street Press Packers Annual. To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (14) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

dullgeek's picture

Could it also be that defenses are focusing more on his ability to run in order to avoid one of the things that happened to Atlanta in last season's playoff game? Specifically, every time they got pressure on him, he ran out of it.

Maybe a focus on Rodgers running contributes to the gaudy numbers that he has passing...?

Chris's picture

+1

packsmack25's picture

With Finley back and Cobb as an additional option, I think it's more a result of someone ALWAYS being open. Also, the o-line is playing as well as it has in years.

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

Maybe he's just not very good any more.(smiley emoticon should go here)

Ken's picture

Excellent observation, Brian.

The lack of runs obviously correlates to the higher completion percentage.

We'll need him to move the chains with his feet at times in January at Lambeau.

Lynn Dickey 12's picture

Scares the hell out of me though. He took a nasty hit vs. the Broncos on a TD run. Bronco dude took a fairly cheap shot at him 2 yards deep in the end zone.

1 concussion in a career...well, that happens. 2? OK, fair enough. From what I read it seems like once you get to three the dangers start to pile up.

Keep QB12 in your prayers, gang.

BrianD's picture

Most of Rodgers running occurs in the backfield as he rushes outside of the pocket to complete perfect throws on the run, more accurately than any QB I've ever seen.

Bearmeat's picture

1. His receiving options are always better than what the Defense can counter with, so someone's always open.

2. The RB's are better than he's ever had here.

3. The OL is better than he's ever had here.

4. With the possible exception of the 1st Q in ATL, no game has ever become a desperate fight where he'd have to sacrifice himself to get some very needed yards.

5. He's smarter and more aware in the pocket.

deelux523's picture

All of these factors lead to more manageable down and distance, giving MM and AR more options to create and exploit matchups and keep defenses on their toes.

Past years' seemed to have a lot more 3rd and long's where defenses would drop 7 or 8 into coverage, leaving AR few options but to run in the wide expanses and hope to make the first-down.

I was amazed he made it as often as he did, and grateful he's not in that position as often any more.

redlights's picture

Now can we stop calling those silly QB sneaks? Talk about exposing the QB! Save those plays for playoff's; right now we have KUHNNN.

Also, noted that 49ers ran plays to OLman and DLman; winced watching them get tackled at knees. Especially Staley; PackerNation would short out the electrical grid if ARodg threw to Clifton. Gadget plays are fine, but save the high risk for the playoffs.

T's picture

I thinks its due to the fact that he is just throwing short passes to WR's for modest gains hoping for YAC.

Cole O's picture

Good!

Bohj's picture

Ummmmm. Franchise. Do we really care to risk our teams MVP? How good did we fair against the lions after Rodgers went out last year? Can we afford to have him take risks when we have two solid backs this year? Qbs last longer when they're not running around. Just ask Vick. And I think that Rodgers has the deepest grasp of this offense now. It's his to call, his to audible. This is an offense that exploits mismatches now. Weaponry at every position. No need to take risks with that kind of firepower. Stay healthy a-rodge.

arodgersisabeast95's picture

A-Rod doesnt need to run because his offensive line will pick up the pressure and his receivers will make the plays. He doesnt need to put himself in danger anymore. His offensive core will take care of him.

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