Game Changing Play of the Week: Rodgers Pass to MVS Gives Pack Just Enough Offense

Without the long completion to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, this game may have turned out differently.

With another new season of Packer football, it’s time for the return of my weekly series, the Game Changing Play of the Week! Each week I pick one play that I think was a “turning point” for the Packers (positively or negatively) en route to their victory or defeat.

For this week, I’ve selected Aaron Rodgers’ big pass to Marques Valdez-Scantling that set up the Packers’ first and only touchdown of the game. It might seem weird to select an offensive play, given that the big stories of the game were the Packers’ defense and punting game, but without this one big play to put the Packers in scoring range, the game might not have turned out in the Packers’ favor.

The play

Here’s a look at the play:

Before we talk about Rodgers’ release of the ball, it’s worth noting that this is one of the few times all game the offensive line gave Rodgers a good, clean pocket and plenty of time to look downfield. The whole right side of the line holds well, giving Rodgers plenty of time to watch MVS drifting across the middle of the field on a deep post. Rodgers notices there’s no deep safety help and fires it downfield for a pretty safe shot.

The most outrageous part of this to me is the release of the ball. Watching it live, I felt that something looked a little “off” about the throw, and I wasn’t the only one. All that really stood out at first was that it looked like Rodgers had to exert a whole lot of effort for a throw that wasn’t particularly out of his range.

But when you watch the play over again, especially from behind Rodgers, you can see what makes this throw special. Ross Uglem spent some time going over this on Twitter today already as well, so be sure to follow him (@rossuglem) if you’re not already for some quality content.

Here’s the full, real-time look at the play from behind:

Several things to notice here. Rodgers is falling away to his left while throwing to the right, and doesn’t set his feet. But what I didn’t notice until going through the play over and over again this morning is that what made the play appear so weird in live action is that Rodgers’ body isn’t even facing the direction he’s going to throw the ball.

See here:

Rodgers has his body positioned as though he’s looking to throw on the route crossing just underneath MVS, but then changes his mind at the last second when he sees there’s no deep safety helping cover MVS on top. The result is that when he lets the ball fly, it’s at a completely different angle from where he’s facing.

This accounts for why it looked like Rodgers had to put everything he had on this ball. He’s moving left, not planting his feet, throwing right, and his body is pointed a fully different direction. And the ball STILL travels more than 50 yards in the air.

My guess is if you took every quarterback in the NFL and put them into this same play, the only other quarterback who completes this pass is Patrick Mahomes. That’s just some unreal arm talent on display.

In Rodgers’ postgame press conference, he was asked to go through this play. Here’s what he had to say.

“It was a good playcall by Matt there. We had some run action with a fake reverse there. The protection on the left side just kind of caved in so I moved to the left. I was peeking for a safety who wasn’t there, so I just tried to kind of lead Marquez to the middle of the field and he made a nice catch.”

 

Honorable mentions:

-Adrian Amos’s interception to help seal the game late in the 4th quarter

-JK Scott’s 63-yard punt (yes, really)

-The defense stuffing the Bears on third and one two separate times

 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (57)

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2019 at 07:19 pm

This was a play that has been practiced and was called by the coach. Not an RPO, not a scramble drill. It was executed well.

A good throw, despite the less than desirable mechanics.

But when I start counting up the bounced throws and low throws, it's enough to make a person wonder how his 36 year old, twice-broken throwing arm is. Maybe it's just rust. Time will tell.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

We held these guys to 3 freakin' points on their own field.

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4thand1's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:02 pm

Once again you doubt the one person that has a chance to bring a title to GB again old school. His arm was never broke, his shoulder is just fine. He didn't play a single down until the 1st drive of the first game. The o-line was a sieve but he hung in there and DIDN'T turn the ball over. The bearsstillsuck keyed on him and he beat them, thanks to a ton of help from the defense.

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4thand1's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:06 pm

P.S. AR is having fun, and I plan on having fun watching him have fun. If he stays healthy he will be in the MVP conversation at the end of the year.......................book it.

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Tundraboy's picture

September 07, 2019 at 12:16 pm

First thing I said to a Colt fan friend of mine,was. Rodgers may not be the best of all time (although he does things no one in my lifetime has done imo,and I go back to Starr, Unitas etc) but he is the most fun to watch.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 07, 2019 at 05:46 am

I think you miss what 4thand1 thought. Not that we have or will have fun watching Aaron, but Aaron has and will have fun playing the system.

I agree with 4thand1, Aaron is Baaaaad Man when he enjoy playing football. And when that happens, Aaron is the "dangerous" player in NFL history.

Also, Aaron did not broke same collarbone twice. First broken was left one, second broken was right one.

What I see as problem is 2 things - 1st, the question is do age starts to slow down Aaron's reactions and 2nd, what is the state of his peripheral vision (what is very important for quick scanning of the field).

I hope everything is just the rust.

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murf7777's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:23 pm

Last time we beat Da bears 10-3 we won the SB...just saying.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 07, 2019 at 05:51 am

Last time Packers beat Bears at Chicago with scoring 10 or fewer points was 10/16/1932 (result was 2-0).

https://www.statmuse.com/ask/nfl/when-was-the-last-time-the-packers-won-...

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murf7777's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:30 pm

OS it’s normally the legs that go first not the arm because your velocity comes from the lower body. That said I agree he does have some accuracy issues u didn’t see in the earlier years. Time will tell but I’m betting it will improve. I remember 6 years ago Pats fans thought Brady was done due to age well that would’ve been a major mistake if they sent him to the pasture. Barring injury, I’m betting Rodgers has a hugh year.

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NitschkeFan's picture

September 06, 2019 at 10:45 pm

Old School, it is reasonable to wonder if Rodgers is in decline. But please get your facts straight or you lose all credibility. "36 year old, twice-broken throwing arm" is all wrong.

He is 35 years old (yes I know he'll turn 36 in 3 months)

He NEVER broke is throwing ARM as far as I can tell. His LEFT collar was broken back in 2013 and his RIGHT collar was broken in 2017.

Has he played like an MVP since that Right collar bone repair? No, but in week 1 of 2018 his Left tibial plateau fracture and a sprained MCL most definitely affected his performance for much of that season.

Might he be in decline? We shall see.

But exaggeration and distortion of facts will make you look like a troll.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 07, 2019 at 07:36 am

So far the only thing I see in decline is the Fans. That toss to MVS was a blast from a powerful arm. MVS read the open middle and Rodgers delivered. If it was a designed play, Rodgers would have rolled left faster, set his feet in parallel to the hash and delivered the ball in front of MVS for the touchdown.

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holmesmd's picture

September 07, 2019 at 02:48 pm

That ball was a bit duckish for #12. He may have floated it a bit so that MVS could get under it but that wasn’t a Rodger’s laser that he was throwing that year they won the SB. Something to keep an eye on but that certainly wasn’t his prettiest throw. Got the job done though.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

September 07, 2019 at 09:37 am

He is a troll.

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:09 pm

Not much wrong with the arm there. Low throws are just as likely to be about touch than strength. I’m baffled by the seeming unwillingness to accept that the glass is full sometimes.

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dobber's picture

September 07, 2019 at 05:57 am

It seems to me that he's struggled with accuracy on the short stuff for a long time.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 07, 2019 at 07:05 am

As a fan who tends to be glass half empty, I also don't see why fans can't enjoy a big win.

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Tundraboy's picture

September 07, 2019 at 10:18 am

Yep. How can one not be happy after this one. How?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 07, 2019 at 02:04 pm

Because I can walk and chew gum at the same time.

I am ecstatic about how the D looked. Savage can play (likely he takes a few lumps at various times this season); the DBs all look like tough SOBs; the Smiths look for real.

The STs looked bad again. Yes, a fine individual performance by Scott and Crosby didn't screw up. Way too many penalties on the coverage teams and the return teams. Mennenga has to get these guys to unlearn a lot of behavior,

Offense looked bad. Some, maybe all of the offense is fixable. Time will tell.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 07, 2019 at 02:39 pm

What where you expecting form the offense?

They didn't play at all together in the preseason. Regardless of whether anyone approves of that ir not, it means they are going to need a few games to be playing well.

I have a lot of respect for Rodgers. But like most he is a poor judge of his self. His comments on how the best reps in preseason come "in practice" are a crock of BS.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 08, 2019 at 01:41 am

Not much.

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Demon's picture

September 06, 2019 at 07:46 pm

You just refuse to accept that AR is still a very good QB dont you? I will guarantee you that if the Packers mgt were to suddenly get very stupid and release him, all 31 other teams would be contacting his agent before the end of the day.

Unlike your idols MM and TT when you and others predicted they would have another job before they reached the Lambeau parking lot.

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Samson's picture

September 06, 2019 at 07:56 pm

No, he stills prefers Trubisky or Lamar Jackson or maybe even Drew Lock yet... Anyone other than AR.--- OS has done nothing but trash both AR & BF in the time he's surfaced on the net. -- It's strange & virtually impossible to be a "real Packer fan" & diss probably the two best Packers over the last 30 years or so. ---------- The dude's got problems.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:25 pm

Yet another Demon/ Samson post that has nothing to do with the article, football, or the Green Bay Packers but is nothing more than an attack on me because I don’t idolize their hero

I think Arod is a future HOFer. Is that trashing him? I think he’s one of the better QBs in the league. More trash?

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Demon's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:24 pm

Does anyone have some Preperation H? Old School is butthurt again.

AR is not my hero. I do however think he is still a very good QB. i dont know if he has any MVP seasons in him anymore but i still think he has enough talent to take the Pack to another SB.

Your constant bashing of him gets old.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:01 pm

Who is bashing him? The voices in your head? I agree with you that he is still a very good QB. What’s your problem?

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Demon's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:25 pm

.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:20 pm

When did OS say he preferred any of the QBs you listed to AR? What OS said is we have a 36 year old QB who has suffered multiple concussions, leg, and collarbone injuries. It's about time GB drafted a heir apparent and a quality backup QB. One that we can develop and trade if Rodgers stays healthy and plays at a high level. I would have loved to see GB have Lamar Jackson behind Rodgers over Tim Boyle.

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Minniman's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:50 pm

Granted that it's only week 1 but I like what the Packers did in the off-season and think that they are positioning themselves well to seriously draft Rodgers replacement whilst maintaining a competitive (first) team through that process.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:02 pm

Thank you. At least one person can read and understand.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 07, 2019 at 05:20 am

Make it 2 people!

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Gort's picture

September 07, 2019 at 10:22 am

Three

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Packers2019's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:22 pm

Old School actually has a point. AR was rusty. He missed numerous throws low. He even said himself he did not play well.

We beat a Bears team with defense. A great display on Thursday. Good tackling, pressure on Trubisky, stopped the run, and we won the turnover battle. Great win!

That being said, I think there is still another issue. I know alot of you will dislike my post because you wear rose colored glasses but we still have issues at WR. Let's look at our WR's:

Adams- 2nd rounder
MVS- 5th rounder
ESB- 6th rounder
Davis- 5th rounder
Allison- Undrafted FA
Kumerow- Undrafted FA
Shepherd- Undrafted FA
Lazard- Undrafted FA

We have no WR's that are good enough to be #2 WR. This is why sometimes AR is sitting in the pocket waiting.
Our WR's do not get open alot of the time (except Adams). Why do you think AR had to throw a ton of balls away last year? Pressure but also WR's not getting open and coming back to the ball. I have been saying this for the last couple of years. We have not drafted a WR in the top 2 rounds since 2014 when we drafted Adams. This is a major weakness and you will continue to see issues until we draft another top flight WR in the top 2 rounds.

OK, dislike and rip away!

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:55 pm

There are literally hundreds of day 3 and UDFA that have gone on to have great careers. There are more than a dozen in Canton, and more than a half dozen Packers in the Packers HOF.

There are also hundreds of 1st round players that never even made it to the end of their rookie contracts. Total busts. Happens every year.

Look, I tend to be a bit on the pessimistic side as a fan. (Ask Sparkle Pony RC lol) but this is an asinine take. Just because you're not drafted highly doesn't mean that you can't have a great career. And the reverse is obviously true as well.

Gute feels good about the WR depth, and so does QB1. After how damn good he's looking right now, I'm inclined to trust them.

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Packers2019's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:52 pm

Bearmeat,

I did not say you cannot have a low draft pick or undrafted FA work out but the likely hood is very low. Go back and watch the tape from Thursday and I think you will see that there are not a ton of WR's open and there route running is not great. We will see what happens the rest of the year and I will eat crow if I am wrong. In fact, I would be happy to do that but I am not optimistic at this point.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 07, 2019 at 02:28 pm

Bearmeat, I love the depth at WR. GB has more really good #4 and #5 type WRs than I can remember in other years. It has a couple of good #3 WRs in MVS and Allison (I'd hoped one would prove to be a solid #2).

Every offense needs three good receiving options. Good depth doesn't mean GB has the receivers it needs, imo.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 07, 2019 at 05:30 am

Packers2019,
2019 was the offseason for the defense. Lots of season left and things can change, but I see 2020 offseason about offense.

No doubt strong consideration will go into QB, OT, TE, and RB next year. Dexter William's development may very well factor in. I think Dexter has the ability to be a top back along lines of A. Jones. Tonyan and Sternberger have huge upside but they need another TE. Baylis may be the guy as has talent. At WR I really think they are set including having ESB in the wings. The continued growth of these WR's will be fun to watch.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 07, 2019 at 07:43 am

You are absolutely correct.

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murf7777's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:38 pm

I really don’t understand that comment he isn’t MM and play calling is either run or pass with variations. What I saw was more TE plays, more movement and some FB play. Also, Bears r difficult to run against and have the ability to take any O out of Rhythm. Give it time there is an obvious difference. .

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Joe Jetson's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:05 pm

I think Trubisky could have made this throw. But the ball would have ended up thirty rows up in the bleachers, and his arm would have landed somewhere around the thirty yard line.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 07, 2019 at 07:49 am

Tru-bear was lucky King and Jaire dropped two picks or the game would have been over long before Amos'pick in the endzone. Stop the Vikings running game next week and it will be a Cousin's pick fest. Just the 4.29 speed of Savage roaming the middle makes a world of difference. Safeties that actually tackle the receiver in front of the first down marker is very easy for the eyes.

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56 Packfan's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:08 pm

I can't recall most of the players that appeared over the past decades. The only great Packer receiver drafted late that I remember is Driver, the Olympic-caliber high jumper from Alcorn. Anybody else? Lofton, Sharpe were top-ten picks. Freeman (3), Jennings (2), Jones (3), Nelson (2). This is not a science and mistakes are made. But players are drafted higher because they display characteristics suggesting higher ceilings. I think the odds are better if the pick is higher. If the Packers' defense had been better the last few years, perhaps they could have afforded a high pick receiver.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:14 pm

If the Packers defense had been better their record would have been better lowering their draft capital. Doesn't automatically mean they would have drafted more on offense. There are 32 teams in the NFL lets look in the NFC North at the Vikings WRs. Treadwell a 1st round pick, Thielen UDFA, Diggs 5th round pick.

MVS has flashed and it was him not Adams that created the big play that led us to a TD. I expect MVS to take a leap this year and show he's a quality #2 WR.

The Packers might not have high draft picks invested at WR but they have still invested multiple draft picks at WR. Yancey, Moore, Dupree, Aberderis, the list goes on.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 07, 2019 at 07:56 am

The WR talent is at a low mark from the draft a scrub philosophy. The reload has to continue with a high pick in 2020 or by the trade deadline in October. 56 has it right.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:09 pm

Went back and rewatched the game.

On OL: Brian Brulaga was impressive. For the people that wanted to cut Brulaga and replace him with Turner at RT can eat crow. Turner was overpowered multiple times as was Lane Taylor. Linsley seemed to hold up well there was a run play stopped short because he didn't continue to block. Bahktiari had a couple of holding penalties and got bull rushed and gave up a sack. Love the guy but this was not one of his better games.

QB: This looked like 2018 AR. Holding onto the ball until 1 second is on the play clock. Trying to extend the play and taking multiple sacks. Throws that were off target. The big differences were less throw aways. A 50/50 shot to Graham in the end zone. More handoffs to the RBs even when they didn't amount to anything.

Officiating: Where was the holding that got called on Clark play 1? Why did we have to challenge to overturn the call at the end of the game when the receiver clearly only had 1 foot in bounds? Where was the flag when a defender ripped Rodger's head off?

Preston Smith created a ton of penalties. Doesn't show up on the stat sheet but he was a key factor in creating 3rd & 40.

RB: We heard all offseason that the RBs would be more involved in the offense. I didn't see screens or short passes. I saw jet sweeps and handoffs that both resulted in limited gains. Hoping we see more as the offense comes together.

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sonomaca's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:31 pm

Lake of preseason game reps favors the defense. Nice for offense to have 10 days of work before next game.

Need to get Trevor Davis more involved.

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murf7777's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:46 pm

Thy did run a screen and smith sniffed it out. We have to remember that this is the first game without much game time practice against the highest rated defense in the nfl last year. The Bears defense has great speed and running screens may not have been the best move. We need to give it time

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:57 pm

Murf your defense "a screen" says it all lol. I am well aware that the Bears have an elite defense. I know it takes time for a new offense to gel. I know screens take time to set up. My issues are Rodgers not snapping the ball until 1 second is on the play clock. Rodgers not making short passes and scrambling to throw bombs. Innacurate throws into the dirt. We gave Rodgers "time" last year for the "completely new MM playbook". What we saw all year was what we had seen year after year.

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:15 pm

Except MMs playbook was not radically different and dysfunctional in more ways than one whereas this is a completely different scheme. If it is still like this in November then maybe it’s time to get concerned.

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Gort's picture

September 07, 2019 at 10:37 am

IMHO the Packers offense play and play calling were dictated by the opponent and the quality of their defense. How many other teams will have an effective run and screen game vs. the Bears defense?

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Minniman's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:42 pm

Tim, your very last honorable mention was the one that resonated most with me.

"The defense stuffing the Bears on third and one two separate times"

On watching the game again they were two clear momentum changers that deflated the Bears and made Trubisky doubt himself later - making him think that he needed to take that risky shot that got picked off.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 07, 2019 at 07:59 am

Dominate!

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4thand1's picture

September 07, 2019 at 06:00 am

To anyone who may not have seen the post game celebration in the Packer locker room, watch it please. There is something different here, it looks and feels really good. These guys were and are having fun playing football, especially AR. What a breath of fresh air!

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4thand10's picture

September 07, 2019 at 07:26 pm

That was good to watch. The whole game ball thing was good. As far as the article....I thought the catch by Davis to get them out of their own endzone was a game changing play.

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buddrow53's picture

September 07, 2019 at 08:17 am

I thought the Bears 85 Defense was one of the best all time, the current defense ranks right up there with the 85 team. No weaknesses and very fast, a great win with many many doubters to them I say Suck it.

I watched the game a couple of times on nfl network and 1 of my pet peeves is the play by play announcers these days don't always tell us who made the tackles.

Pack secondary was all over their receivers Mitch had to make perfect throws to connect and couldn't do it.

Also the tackle by Hicks when he rodeo tackled Rodgers and there was no call, are you kidding me.

Gary played 6 minutes I hope he catches on real soon.

Wasn't a perfect game by any means but we need a substantial improvement next Sunday.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 07, 2019 at 09:32 am

I can’t believe how well the defense played. The more I rewatch the game the more impressed I am. Do you think they’ll get held to 3 on their home field again this year?

The offense has work to do. The running game was ineffective. Considering that we were ahead most of the game, we should have had more attempts and yards.

The sacks are killing us. They stop drives and end possessions.

We were very conservative on special teams and I think that is good. We should do the same next week. This team has an offense that protects the ball very well and there’s no reason to let special teams hurt us.

If the same defense shows up next game, we should be in good shape unless we beat ourselves.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

September 07, 2019 at 09:32 am

Might be time to get some eyes checked or stop posting a while.

Literally only a hand ful of QBs in nfl history could have made that throw. This is the only reason we have a legit SB chance.

Outside the make believe world of some fans and posters Rodgers does not have a time machine and can not FREEZE TIME to stop defenders from moving while he A. Stops moving left. B. Gets his balance back. C. Sets his feet. D. makes a different throw

The point should be obvious to the most simpled minded but is not. The game is dynamic, the other team does not stop playing while you adjust to optimum.

RODGERS saw a great opportunity, processed it, decided and BOOM play of the game. Nobody else could have done it. Not Mitchy, not Brett H., not kizer, not flynn.....you should see the point. That is why his HOF. That is why the game was not a tie.

To his credit Andy H has admitted being 'wrong' but not a jacka$$ with his comments. If you don't understand football to this extent you should just stay in the training room

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Since'61's picture

September 07, 2019 at 01:38 pm

If you review Rodgers QB ratings over his career you will find that his highest ratings are on his passes of 20+ yards, left, right and middle. All over 110.0

Next is his passes between 10 and 20 yards, again left, right and middle all over 100.

Finally for Rodgers passes less than 10 yards his ratings are 100.0+ for left and middle. His passes to the short right flat are the only passes where he is rated below 100.0 and even then his QB rating is about 90.0. Most QBs would be happy to reach 90.0 on any of their passes.

Rodgers may not be the same player he was prior to 2017 especially. But he can still make plays with his legs, he can still throw effectively on the run and as the clips in the article show he still has his arm strength and most importantly he still makes good decisions with the football. So what’s the problem?

The interior of the Packers OL must play better both in pass protection and in the run game. If the Packers can get the run game going you will see more play action and more completions like the play to MVS. Another factor is the snaps from Linsley to Rodgers in the shotgun. Linsley’s snaps are often either low or slow or both. This forces Rodgers to reach down for the snap and then look up to scan the field. This is not ideal for a quick passing game or for making those short quick throws to the flat which he has been short hopping to his receivers. This should be addressed during film review and by the OL coach(s).

After Adams the Packers receivers need to get better as they gain experience. They need to practice the scramble drill and run better routes.

A positive sign was that Rodgers completed passes to at least 3 TEs, Graham, Lewis and Tonyan. He also completed some backhanded passes to Jones and Williams.

It will take a few games but once the OL plays better and the receivers get in sync this offense will move the ball effectively. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither will the Packers offense. Thanks, Since ‘61

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IceBowl's picture

September 07, 2019 at 05:02 pm

The pass to MVS was short and inside!

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