Packers Daily Links: Rodgers Remains White Hot

The job Aaron Rodgers is doing over the past month is simply phenomenal. That and more in today's Daily Links...

There isn't a quarterback in the NFL playing better over the past month than Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. "Over the past four games, victories over Minnesota, Dallas and San Francisco and last week’s disappointing loss to Atlanta after Rodgers’ 90-yard game-tying touchdown drive in the final minute – Rodgers has completed 96 of 130 passes (73.8 percent) for 1,232 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 131.3," writes Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin. "After throwing an uncharacteristic nine interceptions in the first seven games of the season – after throwing just seven in 16 regular-season games last year – Rodgers has gone five games and 177 passes without throwing an interception, the longest such streaks since Hall of Famer Bart Starr went five games without an INT in 1966 and 294 passes without one." The stats say it all.

On top of an amazing statistical performance, consider the job Rodgers did in drawing the 49ers offsides. "Using a 'hard count'- an inflection of the voice that raises the anticipation for the snap of the ball and preys upon a defensive player's eagerness to get out of his stance quickly - Rodgers was able to draw the San Francisco 49ers offside four times in the Packers' 34-16 victory Sunday afternoon," writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The most costly of which was a free play where Rodgers hooked up with Greg Jennings on a 57-yard touchdown.

The Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings connection was on display Sunday writes Lori Nickel of the Journal Sentinel. "After five years together, Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings don't have to do a lot of talking," writes Nickel. "The quarterback and receiver knew exactly what to do in the Packers' 34-16 victory over the 49ers on Sunday at Lambeau Field." The duo hooked up six times for 122 yards. Just a question to ponder, where would Greg Jennings be if Jermichael Finley was still healthy?

All eyes are upon rookie running back James Starks. "The Green Bay Packers’ rookie running back debuted with 18 carries for 73 yards. That total, along with his 4.1 yards per carry, led all running backs on the day," writes W. Keith Roerdink of Packer Report. "Starks even chipped in 25 yards on two pooch kickoff returns – something he hadn’t done since high school – as the Packers downed the 49ers 34-16." I wouldn't expect Starks to continue to work on kickoff return if he gets 18 carries a game on offense.

More information on Donald Driver's bout with food poisoning is provided by Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “Most people that have a stomach ache think it’s just gas,” Driver told Copeland. “I realized about 5:30 in the morning it wasn’t gas. I came over to the stadium early, got some treatment and I was able to play." Considering the circumstances, Sunday was one of the gutsiest performances in Driver's career.

Putting Driver's performance into perspective is Gary D'Amato of the Journal Sentinel. "The touchdown was the fourth of the season for Driver but his first since Oct. 3," writes D'Amato. "He has struggled with a quadriceps injury and had his left hand and wrist wrapped after the game." Because Driver's injuries weren't mentioned by Mike McCarthy in his press conference, it's highly doubtful they're anything to be concerned about, just the normal bumps and bruises associated with football.

Speaking of injuries, the one to Cullen Jenkins is probably the most serious to take away from the game. "After registering two sacks on 49ers quarterback Troy Smith – giving him a career-best seven on the season – veteran defensive end Cullen Jenkins reinjured his troublesome calf with 1 minute 59 seconds left in the game," writes Jason Wilde. "Jenkins originally injured his calf during pregame warm-ups against Minnesota on Oct. 24, and he said after the game that it felt worse this time around." The extent of the injury is not yet known. Fullback Korey Hall and wide receiver Brett Swain also sustained knee injuries. Likewise, the extent of the damage will be forthcoming.

The use of "Hippo" and "Dime" defenses seen on Sunday are touched upon by Pete Dougherty and Rob Demovsky of the Press-Gazete. Regarding the Hippo, the article states, "Capers went to the four-man front because the 49ers last week against Arizona rushed for 261 yards, and on 21 plays used a two tight-end, two running back personnel set." As for the Dime, the Packers basically inserted Jarrett Bush into the role previously held by linebacker Brandon Chillar in third-and-long situations.

Success in short-yardage situations against the 49ers are documented by Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel. "Fullback John Kuhn was given the ball four times in third-and-1 situations and converted every time," writes McGinn. "Greg Jennings caught a 57-yard touchdown pass on another third and 1, and he also caught a 1-yard touchdown pass on a third and goal." That should improve the Packers' ranking of 28th in the NFL in third- and fourth-and-1 situations coming into the game.

The Packers have five receivers averaging at least three receptions per game, calculates Eric Goska of the Press-Gazette. "Driver, [James] Jones, [Jordy] Nelson and [Brandon] Jackson are bunched within a couple of catches of each other. Driver has 38, Jones has 37 and Nelson and Jackson are tied with 36." Greg Jennings obviously leads the group.

The defense generally played well. "The Packers only allowed 11 first downs and 269 yards," writes Jon Masson of the Wisconsin State Journal. "But 44 yards were gained on three rushing plays and 105 came on two pass completions - a 39-yard completion from quarterback Troy Smith to receiver Michael Crabtree on the 49ers' first series, which ended with a field goal, and a 66-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis that rallied the 49ers within 14-13 in the second quarter." Just fix some of the shortcomings in the secondary allowing long passes, and they'll be fine.

A thumbs down was given to the Packers' special teams by Rob Demovsky. "Punter Tim Masthay didn’t kick the ball well in his first difficult weather game – it was 26-degrees at kickoff and with winds out of the northwest at 16 miles per hour, the wind chill was 14 degrees," writes Demovsky. "His three punts had hang times of just 3.1, 3.41 and 3.28 seconds." A short, missed field goal by Mason Crosby and a dropped kickoff return by Sam Shields also contributed to the poor performance.

The big picture is looked at by Mike Vandermause of the Press-Gazette. "The Packers are heading into the final quarter of the regular season in good shape, despite their No. 7 playoff seeding and second-place position in the NFC North," writes Vandermause. Upcoming games against NFC playoff-caliber teams like the Bears and the Giants will be crucial.

Tom Oates of the WSJ writes a column on how the '05 Draft turned out better for the Packers than the Niners.

Grades are handed out by C.D. Angeli of Tundra Vision.

"What we learned" is brought to you by John Rehor of Green Bay Packer Nation.

Total Packers recaps the game.

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Comments (11)

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jeremy's picture

December 06, 2010 at 10:18 am

"where would Greg Jennings be if Jermichael Finley was still healthy?"

I think he still would have broke out after defenses were forced to constantly double team Finley.

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SpiderPack's picture

December 07, 2010 at 11:31 pm

But Rodgers would not have been forced to develop his chemistry with Jennings to this extent. When its all said and done this year, Finley's injury helped us because it helped our QB, just like last yr's sacks helped Rodgers' pocket awareness/decision making. Funny isn't it, how the bad leads to good.

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andrew's picture

December 08, 2010 at 12:36 am

agree with the guy above me times 100.. having finley hurt our offense... cause rodgers was forcing finley the ball all the time earlier in the year when finley was healthy we could have played a lot better if rodgers had just looked at our WRs instead of forcing it to finley..

finley getting hurt was a godsend.. forcing rodgers to learn to throw to his WR instead of just throwing it finleys way.. jennings and driver are way to talented to let a TE overshadow them which was what was happening

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thepretzelhead's picture

December 06, 2010 at 10:27 am

It happened only once yesterday, but look for it a lot going forward.

A fake handoff to Starks that actually caused the defense to react. Not since game one has our play action scared any D. Those days are over- add the Packers running game as another component for D-coordinators to worry about.

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D B H's picture

December 06, 2010 at 01:44 pm

+1

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corey jenkins's picture

December 06, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Brian, I totally agree that Jennings wouldn't have the numbers he has had Finley not gotten hurt. But you can't discredit him for that, he still has gone out and been the most dominant wide receiver in the league after starting off slow. One thing does have somthing to do with the other, but at the same time it doesn't at all. Jennings is a top ten receiver in the league no question. Maybe not with raw talent, but his smarts, route running and instincts make him top-flight. And he catches everything (when he does, lol).

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CSS's picture

December 06, 2010 at 01:38 pm

No doubt we hold/held Aaron Rodgers to a very high standard, sign of a great QB. Earlier in the season it was questioned, 'what's wrong with AR'? The response: it's inevitable that some of his great numbers would eventually regress back towards the statistical mean. I fully agree with this.

That being said, where the hell is AR's mean?!? 2010 rating back over 100, all numbers trending upwards. I mean, wow....

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Oppy's picture

December 06, 2010 at 08:37 pm

I think if you asked Aaron Rodgers, his eyes would suddenly glow and he'd flatly state: "You WILL be assimilated."

The guy is half machine, half amazing.

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WoodyG's picture

December 06, 2010 at 08:35 pm

AR was in a slump ...... Now he's not ......

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Ruppert's picture

December 06, 2010 at 11:23 pm

At no point in his career has our previous QB put up a 4-game stretch where his QB rating was 114 or higher. He had one hell of a 3-game stretch in 1994, where all 3 were 133 or higher, though. It means nothing, basically, but I was just curious so I looked it up.

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andrew's picture

December 08, 2010 at 12:43 am

numbers and stats are great... but at the end of the day all i care about are wins.. and superbowls... not saying anything bad about AR but lets see some playoff wins. and hopefully a playoff appearance this year (sigh) just gonna be clear..

i dont want a Philip Rivers leading my team.. i dont.. i want nothing to do with a guy like that..
Rivers puts up amazing stats.. AMAZING stats.. but he doesnt win..
doesnt win in the playoffs barely scraps his way in to them every year but he puts up great numbers... NEWS FLASH no rings on his finger.. and its gonna stay that way.. every NFL analyst might say oh philip rivers is the man! but he really is not.. he is just looks pretty on paper..

so far thats who AR has reminded me of.. philip rivers.. its to early to judge tho dont get me rong.. elway failed a lot before he succeeded.. but when u take that loss.. or when you lose in the playoffs.. and go home empty handed.. who cares if rodgers had a 120 qb rating? does it really matter? thats all im saying

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