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How Far Has Rodgers Regressed?

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How Far Has Rodgers Regressed?

Aaron Rodgers has regressed. It's just a question of how far.

Let's get that out of the way right off the bat. There's no two ways about it. Over the course of the last 10 quarters of football, Rodgers has made three or four big plays - while making a ton of bad ones along the way. His biggest offense? He has completely reverted to his extremely bad habit of holding the ball forever in the pocket. He's also started to look like a first year starter, rather than the multi-season veteran he is, when he darts like a jackrabbit at the faintest hint of the pocket pushing in around him, rather than keeping his eyes downfield, standing tall in the pocket and delivering the football.

For a perfect example of Rodgers holding the ball for far too long, take a look below:

Many fans have mentioned the block by Korey Hall as a reason for this sack but Hall does his job. It's a three step drop - Rodgers looks to his right, sees his guy is covered...and holds the ball. He needs to hit John Kuhn the second he determines his first read is dead. If he's got a guy in his face, he needs to throw it at Kuhn's feet. ANYTHING other than take a sack.  (Now would be the time to point out that I mentioned this area as a point of weakness in Rodgers' game this past summer, a point that was dismissed by the quarterback himself)

Heading into a nationally televised game against your arch rival, who just happens to be quarterbacked by a living legend who's job you took is probably not the best venue to work out your fundamental issues but work them out Rodgers must. Not unlike last year when the team was coming off two brutal losses to the Vikings and Buccaneers, the Packers head into Sunday's matchup needing to get back to basics on offense. For all the talk about the lack of a running game, the absence of Jermichael Finley, etc - the number one thing Rodgers can do to get the offense rolling again is to take his drop, set his feet, make his read, and pull the trigger.

A lot has been made of the man coverage the Packers have been seeing with two deep safeties over the top. Head coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers would do well to go back to the building blocks of the West Coast offense, much the way they did when the season was hanging in the balance last year against the Cowboys. That was the game that turned around not only the Packers' season, but Rodgers' play at quarterback as well.

Take a look at the pass below to Driver. Watch how Rodgers executes the playfake, sets his feet, and makes the throw.

This is exactly the type of play that has been missing from the Packers' arsenal. Stretching the field horizontally, using the pass as a long handoff, getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers and letting them get four or five yards on first down. That should be the lifeblood from which the offense flows. The last three games have seen, much like the first half of the season last year, a bevy of receivers running deeper routes and Rodgers bailing from the pocket, often unnecessarily, when the route combos fail to open up.

McCarthy needs to make the same adjustment he made last year - dive back into the horizontal game that enables Rodgers to get the ball out of his hands and into the hands of guys like Driver, Jennings and Nelson. Even the young tight ends, Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree, have shown promise when given the chance to run after the catch.

Rodgers turned it around last season. There's no doubt in my mind he can do it again.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (71) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Andyman's picture

Very well said, and I wholeheartedly agree. Even with all the injuries, this is still a talented team that can get back into things by just being themselves and playing up to their talent level.

zcalvelli's picture

McCarthy could also help him by moving the pocket more.

packeraaron's picture

Totally agree.

Ruppert's picture

This is totally on Rodgers. No doubt about it. And we've seen it before. Pretty much every problem with this team right now is a recurring issue.

Rodgers holding ball: Repeat offense.
Crappy special teams: Repeat offense.
Penalties: Repeat offense.
Overall Lack of discipline: Repeat offense.
McCarthy (insert problem here): Repeat offense.

THAT is what is just driving me NUTS.

WisconInExile's picture

You overstate the case. Rodgers just doesn't trust his lineman for more than two, maybe three steps. He hasn't nearly all season. McCarthy is making it worse by not moving Bulaga to LT instead of Lang, who spent the last year or so prepping for that job. McCarthy has flip-flopped on his "next man up" promise since he made it a few months ago.

Of course, the fact that teams are continuing to have success playing heavy Cover 2 says volumes about McCarthy's inability to adapt his offensive play-calling, and his inability self-scout.

In all, there is blame enough to go around, but at the end of the day, the NFL head coach is personally responsible for his team's performance.

WisconInExile's picture

Grr... I meant Lang has been prepping for RT while Bulaga has been playing that position for just around three weeks. Now if we lose Clifton down the stretch, we will have both tackles mounting the learning curve at the same time. As if communication wasn't already enough of a challenge to begin with.

abiderman's picture

I agree completely. I remember watching a MNF game last year where the pack were playing the Ravens (i think), and Gruden was going on and on about the slant routes that the Packers run and how well it works. For the life of me I can't remember more than 1 or 2 slants that we've run all year.


sub_zero_pr's picture

I just wonder why is MM not using B Jackson in the screen as he is a better receiver than grant. That will also limit the pass rush. I saw one dump to him last Sunday.

hyperRevue's picture

I remember 2-3 screen attempts on Sunday, but only one was executed well.

packeraaron's picture

There were 3 - one to Kuhn which was a disaster, an incomplete to Jackson and one to Jackson which worked very well.

hyperRevue's picture

Oh, right, the screen to Kuhn...


packeraaron's picture

That was the play that broke my remote.

jack in jersey city's picture

i think i remember b jax involved in 2 screen plays but i could be wrong

packeraaron's picture

Yep - just fixed it. ;)

jay's picture

I just don't understand why Rodgers has done so poorly. This is exactly what he did against Chicago and it worked brilliantly. Why did they change?

jack in jersey city's picture

yep- the things that will help combat the cover 2 is utilizing your tight ends more and RUNNING THE BALL!

Ruppert's picture

...but they'll NEVER expect a screen to Kuhn...

packeraaron's picture

Don't get me started.

hyperRevue's picture

Stretch play then screen. I can't wait for the end-around he runs next week.

Ruppert's picture

When all else fails, put the ball in the hands of your playmakers. Miami did that all day, including forcing balls to Marshall. Meanwhile, we were throwing passes to a career FB and asking James Jones to be physical for the first time ever. Here's one way to get the offense going: Throw the damn ball to Jennings and/or Driver 20 times. Sorry...rant over.

Bogmon's picture

I like how Aaron left James Jones' name out of the 'playmakers' list.

I think the Packer Nation has completely lost faith in JJ. He simply isn't turning into what he was built up to be.

andrew's picture

bogman.. are you being serious.?.. i dunno what you expect from a 3rd WR.. but i think james jones has played really well..
does he fumble sometimes yea.. but i believe that is something that goes along with MMs discipline issues..

i think james jones brings a spark to our offense and is good after the catch.
and most NFL reps agree.. jones could be a #2 WR for a lot of teams. and i think jordy could too.. we should be glad we have them

jack in jersey city's picture

i could be wrong but i think they should get tj lang in at RT and move bulaga over to LT and try that experiment. it can't be much worse than what's going on now.

Arnold Brownsweger's picture

I could be totally wrong too but I couldn't agree more. Cameron Wake is good I think we all knew this before Sunday. So put Bulaga who has never ever played RT before over there?

Tarynfor 12's picture

Aaron,that looks like the exact play but with Grant not looking back and Rodgers getting sacked.Kuhn looked back and Rodgers held it and a sack.

ToddFromMinnesota's picture

It's time for the Vikings comments. This week the game plan will be seek the moldy cheese out. Green Bay is falling apart, no running game, injuries, defense is weak, QB can't remember what day it this a game with the greatest team in NFL.....not a good week for the Green and Gold.

jack in jersey city's picture

we should have harris and matthews back so that's good news. i just hope the offense snaps out of their self-induced coma and puts up some points!!!

alfredomartinez's picture

ladies and gentleman, turd from faggisotta is back!!

andrew's picture

greatest team in the nfl... isnt your record worse than ours?... didnt u barely beat the so far terrible cowboys?.. hmm.. sounds like you have been in pretty much the same boat we have been in so far this season...

but wait.. how many sb rings do the vikes have?. 0? thats what i thought..

our defense has played solid so far this season. as well.. and the running game is lackin because of coaching not becuase its not there..

Cole's picture

Isn't it McCarthey's job to go into the film room with Rodgers and point out this kind of stuff. He is supposedly the ultimate QB coach, so why is Rodgers having so much trouble for the last few weeks??

nerdmann's picture

Someone should introduce MM to the concept of "time of possession."

JoePackersNYC's picture

Great article - and this makes perfect sense.

I see changes coming Sunday night. Good changes. A few adjustments. And a win.

DrCatalase's picture

I agree and it seems like MM has done him no favors in play calling with fewer short routes and outlet receivers

DrCatalase's picture

I seem to remember one of the better plays was kind of a flair pass out of the backfield to a wide-open BJax we need more options like that.

glorious80s's picture

Maybe he's just not a typical pocket passer. Maybe he feels he's extending plays with the movement, sort of like what Rothlesburger does. AR seems to revert to that type of play under pressure and probably will again. The coaches may have to learn to work with it.

RickyBobby's picture

I don't get how these types of problems can be happening again.

-So last year MM recognized that the deep stuff wasn't working.
-He decided to go to the shorter/quicker stuff.
-The results were positive.

Why on earth would he have the team go back to what didn't work the first time? It makes no sense.

Is he setting up future opponents by running deep stuff now in hopes of opening up the underneath stuff later in the year? He can't really be that stupid, can he? ( Or is it crazy brilliance?)

I guess all that matters is that he gets it fixed eventually. If he does - great! We'll be peaking at the right time. If he doesn't - great! He'll be gone and we'll get to have Cowher come coach our favorite team.

It's a win - win!

RickyBobby's picture

By the way -

The play you threw on here to illustrate your point was a major turning point in the game.

It was right before the half. They were close to (if not in) FG range.

When that sack happened all I said was... "You can not take that sack. Anything but that". I believe the next play was a false start on Colledge. They ended up punting. 'fins got the ball and drove in for a FG right before the half.

That 6 point swing probably didn't mean much to the outcome of the game, though.


packeraaron's picture

Pitch perfect point. And yes, the next play was a false start.

foundinidaho's picture

By Daryn Freekin' Colledge. Grrrr.

dgtalmn's picture

Just a thought, could it be that Rodgers is not the QB everyone has talked up? Last year he put up some great numbers and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Could it be he is just average playing on an average team?

Just saying...

ONeill's picture


RickyBobby's picture

the answer has to be NO otherwise i will have no reason to go on.

Cuphound's picture

No. Rodgers is all that and a bag of chips. But nothing makes up for not having a head coach who can't be bothered to discipline his own players.

davyjones's picture

No QB--NOT ONE IN THE ENTIRE NFL--is going to thrive with the combination of that OL and the play calling strategy employed so far this year. So, as he did last year, MM will have to adjust to the quick hit stuff--slants, screens and..oh, hey, maybe run the ball more than 15 times a game.
I can't stand the idea of that mullet headed, jack pine savage spending all of
Sunday night mashing AR into the turf.

WoodyG's picture

AR may very well be struggling but consider this ………. GB finished 2009 with a 7-1 record …. GB ran the ball 222 times (43.3%) versus 290 pass attempts (56.7%) ……. The total (all rushers) for the last 8 games of 2009 were 222 rushes for 917 yards with a YPC of 4.13 ……..

Ryan Grant carried 133 times (60% of total carries) for 632 yards (69% of total rushing yards) for a YPC of 4.75 ……….

AR handing the ball to a RB 222 times over eight games & one who carries it 133 times for a 4.75 YPC over that same span of time makes his job much easier ……..

I’m still pointing at the lack of a running threat in the GB offense as the root cause of most of AR’s struggles ……. To rely on BJ, a FB & a PS player as your RB trio is a travesty ….. AR’s struggles may last the entire season under the present circumstances.

packeraaron's picture

Jackson et all are averaging more yards per carry than Grant et all through 6 games last year. It's not the running game.

WoodyG's picture

We shall see ..... Take away BJ's one run of 71 yards & then refigure ..... If you know anything about statistical analysis, you would have already considered this ......

It is the lack of a threat at running the ball ....... Stop AR & you increase the odds of winning ...... Stop BJ, Kuhn & Nance & all you've done is what even an average defense can do ......

WisconInExile's picture

If you take away the 71 yard run he is still producing winning runs, on average (4+ yards). And his number of explosive runs (12+ yards is trending up). The only number lacking is his number of attempts. Not his call.

packeraaron's picture

Do we also take away Grant's big runs? Or just the ones that fit your theory?

WoodyG's picture

Dig deeper ..... Take away the 71-yarder & BJ goes from 4.6 down to 3.5 YPC ..... In other words, on 98.5% of BJ's runs, he averages 3.5 YPC ,,,,, That's considered statistical significance & has to be considered when looking at performance ......

packeraaron's picture

You don't "take away" runs. That is my whole point. If you "take away" things, you can twist the stats to mean anything you want them to.

WoodyG's picture

The 71-yard run is an anomaly & when analyzing anything statistically, anomalies have to be accounted for as possibly skewing bottom-line conclusions .... Of course you don't take it away .....

WoodyG's picture

Your play on top .... "Rogers Holds ..... and holds ..... and holds."

It was 2nd & 2 with GB approaching the red-zone ..... I would contend that if GB had a running threat more than the present RB trio ...... AR would have simply handed off ...... Problem resolved ....

davyjones's picture

That is right on. It's been said before--we rank 7th in whole NFL in YPC but only 29th in atts per game.
You gotta choose to have a running game, to have a running game.

WisconInExile's picture

You've unlocked the Emporer's Cloths achievement.

WoodyG's picture

davyjones ...... Couldn't agree more ..... However, is it as simple as just doing it? ...... Does MM choose not to run the ball because he just doesn't want to or is it because he has little faith in the present RBs ..... I don't know if GB has the horses.

SpiderPack's picture

Well this post has wonderfully intelligent and in depth analysis but its just like I said immediately after watching the Bears game: RODGERS WILL BE FINE AS SOON AS MM MAKES A COMMITMENT TO THE RUNNING GAME, AND DEMONSTRATES FAITH IN THE RUNNING GAME. You're right Aaron, its not a "lack of a running game," its the easily readable (to other teams) philosophical lack of faith in a running game. WoodyG, Wilde, CD, I, and many others don't have a "THEORY!!" Its just plain obvious. Rodgers trusts his OL and his team with a committed, established rungame, without it its gonna be a real struggle for him to reestablish his pocket presence. And you know what, Rodgers is dead-on correct. Keep on scrutinizing his decision making and say forever what he "should've done," but Rodgers is accutely aware of his situation and his decision making in the pocket reflects that perfectly. Calling plays like they have been is at best insulting to the excellence in QB-ing Rodgers has, and at worst its manslaughter. Hopefully Rodgers can better communicate where he's at to McCarthy, MM can get his nose out of the playbook long enough to see things on more of a "wisdom level," and they can all realize the situation cause its all extremely obvious to many of us. Otherwise its likely to be terribly ugly Sunday at Lambeau. Rodgers is not ready to be a Payton Manning, he may be close some day, but not this year and not with this OL. It flabbergasts me that the writers on this site can't see this relationship, so much that I became a little disinterested in CHTV and looked elsewhere for Packer-blogging insight. BTW, I'm not sure our 2 RB guys can establish enough of a rungame, but I think they can.

packeraaron's picture

So wait - Rodgers is holding onto the ball too long...because he doesn't have a running game.

Now I've heard everything.

WisconInExile's picture

That's a little bit harsh, don't you think? In fairness to spiderpack, the game plan against the Packers is well established: Cover 2 Man all day, and let your lineman push until someone gets home. And before one says ARod should just check down, we need to remember that just because we see someone open on TV doesn't mean that he had an open passing lane. He's even had a few of those batted down already this year.

I think the point is that teams have been able to safely ignore the run, given McCarthy's preference for medium and long passes, especially early in the game when the Packers put up most of their points. This is exactly where we were last year, before the Cowboys game.

While many of us agree with you in principle that AR is holding the ball too long, some of us feel that given the situation he's facing every Sunday, that he is making a bad situation a least a coin flip. How do you beat man coverage? Slants, screen, option, short comeback, and if the matchups are good, run plays. How do beat Cover 2? Attack the middle, if your TE is good or their MLB is bad, or run the ball and force the safeties up into the box. With Finley out, well, teams are happy enough to take their chances in the middle. As for Driver, they seem to just jam him up and play press coverage.

foundinidaho's picture

This is exactly the type of criticism that I think is totally legit regarding ARodg. He is struggling. Some of it is his fault. Some of it is not, but he could adjust to it. Some of it is totally out of his hands (MM being something of an idiot, for instance.) He's gifted, but he needs to do something different and something different needs to be done with him.

Cuphound's picture

Wow. I'd forgotten how badly Colledge and Barbre sucked as offensive tackles. The clip from Aaron's article in July brings it all back...

foundinidaho's picture

Cuphound - if you could crown Inconsistency, his name would be King Daryn Colledge.

David's picture

If MM were to consider changing his strategy, this might be the week. For sure, the Vikings are geared up to pad their sack totals so it would be wise to revert to the shorter passing routes, screens and swing passes.

My biggest frustration in watching the 2010 Packers is lack of in-game adjustments. If something clearly isn't working, try something else. If your RT is getting beat like a drum, try a chip block or move the RB over to that side. Just don't sit there and look at your play sheet, do something.

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

Agree completely. Halftime adjustments have been non-existant. We are getting killed in the 3rd quarter as other teams adjust.

Packman's picture

A couple weeks ago, AR complained that they needed to throw more and everyone agreed. MM accommodated. Now many are saying we need to run more!?
This year, players are not playing to their potential and without that, there are too many injuries to overcome. Weak special teams. BJ seems to be improving but he's not Grant who was good but not great anyways. Enough blame to go around as acknowledged.
My answers:
1. Stop the penalties.
2. AR has to get rid of the ball. He's been lucky in avoiding sacks many times but that's not a game plan.

andrew's picture

for the record.. i never said throwin the ball more was a good idea...

in fact i think it is completly idiotic.. and i believe it is a major factor in the games we have lost up to this point..

fish's picture

I noticed during Rodgers scramble in the 1st qtr, 12:07 that he throws the ball to the corner of the end zone around two completely covered receivers, But as the camera pans from Rodgers to the endzone, I see Jordy running wide open ready for the ball. Did Rodgers not see Jordy, or was he dedicated on getting a touch down pass? He actually threw the ball away because of the coverage instead of a YAC catch.

andrew's picture

i think this is actually a really good thing.. for long term reasons...
i believe it is going to serve as a wake up call to rodgers.. and i wish NFL network would talk more about it..
because someone needs to say it on tv.. so far every team has said
okay rodgers BEAT US..
they have not respected the run.. they bring pressure and rodgers shits the bed.
he does not look at the whole field.. it actually feels like rodgers has become so arrogant after all the hype that he makes a read and then forces the ball where his read was or just doesnt throw the ball at all if he makes a mistake..
im hoping he gets a reality check and realizes being an elite qb is something you have to earn every season.. and that he needs to actually look at the field and not rely solely on pre snap reads... and if you say andrew he does look around...
my evidence is both of the clips on this post where if you watch rodgers eyes he looks the same way the whole time.. and lots of clips from teh past few games where jennings or driver or jordy are WIDE OPEN and he doesnt throw it to them...

along with this.. i think he needs to realize he needs a running game..
just like every other qb in the league.. you need a running game.. i dont care if its a great running game.. but you need one. there is NO elite qb that look good without a running game...
if you dont believe me
look at the saints.. they were awesome last year cause they could ahnd the ball off to reggie bush now he is hurt and brees suddenly doesnt look like the stud he was last year... mannings brady and favre all use the running game

the only qb who doesnt think he needs to hand the ball off..
aaron rodgers
case closed

andrew's picture

for the record... i do think MMs play calling is completly terrible.. and i really dont konw why he is considered to be a great OC cause from what i have seen he really isnt..

but i believe rodgers has had a lot of opportunities to make big plays.. and i think MM sees that in the film. he says oh there is jennings wide open.. and thinks his plays are working.

but the reality is if the ball doesnt get to the open guy the play was a failure not a success..

and this is just my opinion.. adn i think it is a cruddy attitude to have
but if im greg jennings.. adn i run a route and get WIDE OPEN with no one within 10 yards of me.. and i dont get the ball thrown my way... after the 3rd or 4th time.. i feel like i would start to half ass my routes.

but that is also a discipline thing.. something MM has literally no concept of.. which is why he needs to be fired


Ron LC's picture

All you have to do is watch Aaron on the field. There is something seriously wrong out there. I'm not smart enough to figure out exactly what it is, but there is something. He is not playing with the confidence he exhibited last year and it has been gone since game one this year. MM better figure out what it is before the season swirls down the NFC toilet. A loss to Minn. leaves them 1-2 in the conference. At Detroit and Minn and the Bears (See Lovie's record against MM) at home are all difficult games. Losing 1 of those games just about kills it.

What is wrong with Aaron? And are we seeing a MM patern here? If this ends up a losing season (look at the remaining schedule)it appears MM is an every other year coach.

some guy's picture

I think this post is spot on. let's be honest. the pack played a weak schedule last year and put up some gaudy numbers against some bad defenses. All of the hype seems to have gone to Rodgers and McCarthy's heads, to the point where they think they can just spread 5 wide and throw down field almost every play.

with our lack of running game and porous O-line, Rodgers will get pounded and you can see what it is doing to him. he doesn't trust his line. we need at least 6 blocking at all times and the ball needs to come out fast on 50% of the throws. Hello Slant!!!

I've been begging for more screens and draw plays to slow the rush down - they'll work. but more importantly, we need to develop a rhythm. anything to keep the defense on the field for 7+ play drives. go up tempo if you have to to wear opposing D-lines out. get rid of the ball quick, have 2 hot route options at all times and move the pocket for longer developing pass plays.

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