Packers Waste Brilliant Effort From Rodgers

With little fanfare, Aaron Rodgers had one of his best games as a pro against the Bears on Monday night.

This will be the last post about the Bears game, I promise...

...but after a back and forth with Matt Bowen on Twitter yesterday, I went back and looked at all the coverage of the game and realized one storyline that has gotten positively buried:

Aaron Rodgers had a brilliant game.

Yesterday morning, Bowen was pointing out that one of the strengths of the Cover-2 that Lovie Smith loves to run so much is that is requires offenses to drive the length of the field, using 10, 11, 12 play drives. The thinking is, and this goes back to Tony Dungy and his philosophy even before he designed his now-famous Tampa-2 derivative of the Cover-2, to his days as a defensive coordinator in Minnesota, that most offenses can not sustain 10+ plays of mistake-free football. And the Packers certainly fell into that category on Monday night. Repeatedly.

One of the few Packers who didn't, however, was Aaron Rodgers.

Watching the game again last night, I couldn't believe what a fantastic job Rodgers did of taking what he was given down after down. The one shot he took was perfectly placed - only to be dropped by Greg Jennings. But for the rest of the evening Rodgers was content to hit Driver, Jones and Nelson on repeated slant, smash and bubble routes. (Rodgers connection with Driver on the third down slants were practically perfection personified.)

Yes, he had the grounding penalty, but he followed it up with, yet again, a great short throw to Jones which should have put them in position to face a third and short to extend their final drive. Time and again when the offense was faced with unfavorable down and distances Rodgers did not press the issue. We've all seen what happens when an impatient quarterback starts pressing against Smith's Cover 2. It results in plenty of forced throws into double and triple coverage down the field. Rodgers simply hit checkdowns and a bevy of underneath stuff to extend plays and drives. He finally hit a few of the swing passes out of the backfield. He was, in a word, on.

I've been a bit tough on Rodgers for the way he started the season. It's only fair that praise be given when its due, and Rodgers deserves a ton of praise for the game he put together Monday night. It's just a shame everyone is talking about penalty problems and special teams rather than one of the best games Rodgers has ever played.

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Comments (60)

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hyperRevue's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:32 am

All the more reason McCarthy should have let the Bears score and give Rodgers almost 2 mins to drive down and tie the game.

I swear I'm over this. Really, I am.

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Buddy's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:39 am

I thought Rodgers did an excellent job of getting the ball out quickly as well and not taking sacks. He seems to have improved a lot in that area since the first half of last season. I'd love them to throw a few screens in the mix as well. Can't remember one from Monday night.

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NickGBP's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:43 am

"The one shot he took was perfectly placed - only to be dropped by Greg Jennings."

YES. CSS somehow suggested that running and jumping in the air with a defender in contact with you is too much to ask for a receiver to handle catching the ball when you have two hands on it.

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CSS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:55 am

I think it's crazy to flippantly say 'dropped' on that catch. That would have been beautiful. Did Rodgers place it perfectly, yes. Was it damn difficult to catch, yes.

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PackerAaron's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:07 am

Sorry man. He's got to catch that.

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CSS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:28 am

In a highly competitive divisional game he needs to come down with a difficult catch. I would never say he 'dropped' it. My opinion.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Well watch it again. There's no sugar coating that play. The ball was there, he dropped it. And that's a fact. :-)

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Never agreed with you on anything more than this Nagler.

I watched that play time and again, it should be a routine catch for an 'elite' receiver (which I unfortunately find myself questioning if 85 really is). He had to leave his feet and make the catch, It's not like the defender had his hands in there breaking it up. Crazy tough catch for you or me, BUT... Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne make that catch.

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PackersRS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:28 am

Agreed. Catchable ball, but to say it's inexcusable not to catch it?

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thepretzelhead's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:42 pm

? Agreed. Jennings knows he could have caught it- but no easy catch by any stretch. On this one, finally, AN is a bit off. Time to quit Blackstone.

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Bad Knees's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:45 am

Imagine what he could do if his tackles could produce to NFL average.

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Zub-a-dub's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:59 am

Really I think the problems with our tackles is really the lack of a running game.

I am not so sure if any other tackles in the league would do better, by much. Teams know we have to beat them through the air.

Those defensive lineman are teeing off all game with little concern for the run. No offensive line will look good for long doing this.

Watch out for those Lions, this could get ugly really quick, Clifton's and Tauscher's confidence is not at an all time high and the Lions have nothing to lose being 0-3.

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Chad's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:26 am

"Really I think the problems with our tackles is really the lack of a running game."

And that, too, is a problem the tackles need to bear part of the blame for.

I think Butler's 5 Questions and Xs and Os this week really put the running game into perspective. Bringing in a big-name RB doesn't do much when he has no holes to run through.

If the tackles want to make their pass protecting jobs easier, then they need to improve their run blocking.

For no other reason, THAT should be enough to put Bulaga in the line-up somewhere.

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PackerFanJon's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:50 am

The check downs wouldn't have looked so good if James Jones didn't have the game of his life BF (Before Fumble).I am convinced MM is using the quick passes to Jones as a running game just take a look at the way he ran after the catch. He has never run like that in a Green Bay uniform.

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PackerAaron's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:03 am

It was Jones' best performance as a pro before the fumble.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:18 am

Maybe. If a 5 reception game with a possible outcome altering fumble is the best you've got after 3 full years... I say trade him while the trading's good.

I like James. Root for him. But what he's done in two games in Chicago alone makes me weary of his true potential/big game impact. '07, that game was pretty much on him. Chalk it up to rookie mistake(S) if you will. 3 years later, same problem, I'll chalk that up to a trend.

His contract is up after this year I believe. All we ever hear is how he could be a #1 or #2 on many teams out there, I would assume he's got to have decent trade value?!?! Get while the gettin's good. Perhaps in a trade for a RB (which we NEED folks, don't fool yourselves)?

GBP 4 LIFE

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Chad's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:23 am

You can't trade away a guy like that without a viable option to replace him. Yes, we have Nelson, but after that?

It's like quitting your job before you have another one lined up.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:46 am

Totally disagree. Most teams would absolutely be elated to have 3 SOLID WR's in Jennings, Driver and Nelson. Throw in #88 and you've still got 4 LEGITIMATE threats in the passing game (more than 2/3 of the league can say). If you can unload Jones in a contract year for a position of NEED and still be hella strong at WR... I'ts a no-brainer to me.

"It’s like quitting your job before you have another one lined up."

How many options do you really 'NEED' at WR? To take your running game from a D to a B, I personally think the rewards FAR outweigh the risks.

Ask yourself this... WHAT HAS JAMES JONES EVER REALLY DONE? Besides choke in big situations.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:54 am

""When he had seven passes thrown his way – but only had three receptions for 32 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown – against Buffalo, his mates in the receiving corps were relentless in their needling of him for not making the most of his opportunities," writes Wilde. "Twice he ran poor patterns that caused incompletions, including one when he caught the ball but came down out of bounds." Performances like the last two games may open the door a crack for Jordy Nelson."

What Wilde said.

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Chad's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:23 pm

In this offense, you need more than 3 solid WRs.

And trading Jones for a RB does nothing to solve the running game problem. We still need the O-line and TEs to create the holes... which they haven't been doing well at all.

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Oppy's picture

October 01, 2010 at 06:37 pm

Everyone is forgetting that Brett Swain is on the roster.

Yeah, I know, we've hardly seen Swain take a snap in regular season, but for those who've watched him during practices, he's very much a capable receiver who looks smooth in and out of his cuts and shows some play making ability.

Do not count out Swain. I'm not saying we SHOULD move James Jones, but if we did, I think Jordy steps up and Swain gets his chance to answer the call as well.

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PackersRS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:30 am

The story of his life. Jones simply can't be focused for 60 minutes. He just doesn't give his all...

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thepretzelhead's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Linemen and QB's make great wide receivers.

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Zub-a-dub's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:51 am

Until we address the running game, that will be the best performance A-rod will have this year.

As games are played it will become clear on how to beat the Packers, then at home games and in other stadiums where the elements are a factor things will even get worse.

We are one J. Finely injury away from losing to teams like the Lions.

Who would have thunk, Starks injury would be so significant, keeping 3 full backs a mistake, and IMO not giving Sutton a chance. Look where Wynn and Lumpkin are now.

I sure hope that behind closed doors TT is all over the league addressing this problem, MM is saying all the right things with a strait face

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PackerAaron's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:02 am

Totally disagree with most of this.

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NoWayJose's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:24 am

Where are Wynn, Lumpkin, and Sutton now? Buried on the bench in NO, Tampa, and Carolina?

Have they done anything this year in regular season games?

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PackerAaron's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Wynn was released by NO.

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thepretzelhead's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:50 pm

No disgrace there.

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dkmanty's picture

October 02, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Wynn has been promoted to the saints active roster.

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PackerAaron's picture

October 02, 2010 at 01:17 pm

Just saw that. Didn't realize they resigned him after they cut him.

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Zub-a-dub's picture

October 01, 2010 at 02:26 pm

Grant was also buried before he got his chance. Wynn kinda got his chance, Lumpkin and Sutton IMO haven't proved they can not perform.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:34 am

"Until we address the running game, that will be the best performance A-rod will have this year."

Hard to tell if it will be his "best" performance (I Personally would doubt that). However, logic would dictate a consistent lack of a running game surely will not make his job any easier.

"As games are played it will become clear on how to beat the Packers"

Could not agree more. If you're inferring that the running game will remain at it's current production level that is.

"Who would have thunk, Starks injury would be so significant, keeping 3 full backs a mistake, and IMO not giving Sutton a chance. Look where Wynn and Lumpkin are now."

I must ask...
How is Starks injury significant? He hasn't played a lick of football in 2 years. If you were counting on him for anything this year, that's your bad.

Why is keeping 3 FB's a mistake? Who would you cut and give their RS to?

Sutton had his chance. Period.

And have I missed something? I'm aware of Wynn and Lumpy's Geographical location, but what exactly have they done??? Both were given numerous opportunities to showcase their skills in GB, they failed to.

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Pack Morris's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:16 am

Thanks for pointing this out, Aaron. Rodgers' play was a very bright spot in that dismal game. His rushing touchdown was bloody heroic.

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Chad's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:28 am

Thanks for saying what needed to be said, Aaron.

Rodgers did all he could to overcome the problems that put the offense in bad positions. His performance was lights-out, and I hope it's something he continues.

One more thing... if you look to last year, both of his games against Chicago were pretty low by his standards. Just more proof that he is moving in the right direction.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:35 am

Yeah, Rodgers is $$$.

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CSS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 11:37 am

I love how aggressive Rodgers is down the intermediate to deep middle of the field this year. Check that, aggressive AND accurate. He said he would take more chances and he is.

That ball is tight, inside and in-stride....

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jeremy's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Mnf had a shot of a Rodgers pass to the flat that was one of the prettiest balls i have ever seen.

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RickyBobby's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:19 pm

It's not a good sign when your QB plays great and you still lose.

Said it before - sayin' it again... too many question marks on this team to be better than 8-8 with the schedule they have.

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CSS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:25 pm

You're predicting 6 wins, 7 loses in the next 13 games. Which games are they losing and why?

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RickyBobby's picture

October 01, 2010 at 01:46 pm

lions = win
wash = win
jets = loss#2 (their D will rip our oline a new one)
vikings = loss#3 (allen will have 4 more sacks)
dolphins = loss#4 ('phins are tougher)
cowboys =
vikings = loss#5 (until i actually see the Pack beat these guys, i'll keep predicting losses to them)
atlanta =
niners =
lions = win
pats = loss#6 (in foxboro? seriously?)
giants = win
bears = loss#7 (yup-predicting a bears sweep. this is a "bears year". they do this whenever you think they're gonna suck. all of a sudden EVERY bounce goes their way. they will win 11 games this year. unfortunately i live in IL - i've seen this show before)

loss#8 = take your pick. no way they beat dallas, atlanta, AND sf.

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CSS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 02:26 pm

Anything’s possible, I guess. Have you actually watched these teams play? They have as many if not more issues than the Packers:

Miami – Henne is ho-hum, but a solid team. Good thing it’s at home.

Minnesota – I’ve watched every game. OL –line is among the worst in the NFC, DB’s stink. Peterson is the only redeeming player on that team thru 3 games.

Giants – Imploding

Jets – Are you really sold on Sanchez yet? Tough game, no doubt.

Dallas – Joining the Vikings O-line as among the worst pass blocking in the NFC.

Falcons – Tough game on the road, defense is average at best.

Patriots – Gave up serious yardage and points to the Bills. Defense is young and inexperienced, D-line is terrible.

San Francisco – Imploding and winless.

Every game is tough in the NFL, but you really haven’t watched these teams, have you? What about any of these teams makes the sky fall in your world? How is their roster more talented?

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fish's picture

October 01, 2010 at 02:41 pm

That's why everyone's scratching there head, because this is a very talanted team. Where do the Arizona/Pittsburgh game Packers go when they stink up the place? Does the defense play bad because they have the option to leave there practiced duties and roam around freely at will. Does the Offense play bad because too many substitutions cause confusion? Who knows.

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CSS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 02:47 pm

You mean the extremely talented Stealers and, at the time Cardinals among the hottest in the NFL? On the road? How is that embarrassing? How is it a downgrade to lose in the last second, on the road to either of those teams?

YOu do recall the depth chart at CB in those contests, no?

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fish's picture

October 01, 2010 at 03:39 pm

They played awesome against the Stealers and Cards, and I don't recall saying anything about being embarrassing or a downgrade. My point is we know they can dominate, they have the talant, but yet they still have games where they play very poorly. They always seem to have a rollercoaster level of weekly performance.

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PackersRS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 02:39 pm

Willing to bet that the Packers make the playoffs? Put your money where your mouth is boy.

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RickyBobby's picture

October 01, 2010 at 03:01 pm

i don't gamble. the thrill of winning never matched the frustration of losing. i just don't enjoy it.

do i think this Packers are talented? yes.

do i think they will go to the playoffs? no.

something's missing. they just always seem disorganized... like they can't get everything put together at once. there's always a "leak" somewhere.

and who cares about playoffs? i'm looking for a Super Bowl. a playoff appearance doesn't mean $h*t in my book. no one remembers playoff appearances.

This. Is. Not. A. Super. Bowl. Team.

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PackerAaron's picture

October 01, 2010 at 03:46 pm

Lol. So now its "They're an 8-8 team" to "They're not a Super Bowl team"

That's some impressive backpedaling...

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CSS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 03:06 pm

Then the seasons already over in your book, look forward to seeing you here next year.

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RickyBobby's picture

October 01, 2010 at 05:30 pm

how is it back pedaling? correct me if i'm wrong, but 8-8 probably would not get them to the Super Bowl... correct?

CSS - yes the season is over. it ended when grant went down.

deny it all you want.

it's the truth.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 03, 2010 at 12:12 am

U R DELUSIONAL.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I'll take that bet in a heartbeat.

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PackerAaron's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:37 pm

You are crazy.

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Glorious80's's picture

October 02, 2010 at 11:17 am

This team is like a awesome race car with a sometimes carburator problem. Annoying at times, but when functioning at peak levels, yar! MM and TT have built a really dynamic, fun to watch team. We as fans may have to live with the flaws. But, I wouln't trade it for any other.

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Cole's picture

October 01, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Dmitri Nance is gonna tear a hole in the lions d this weekend

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CSS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 01:18 pm

I asked Football Outsiders:

“I would love to see a breakout of Rodgers passing YPA from under center (where the threat of a run exists) vs. his passing YPA from shotgun. Also, how effective are his YPA on play-action against all other passing YPA?"

"My premise being, teams (like the Bears and Bills) continue to sell out against the run hoping to make the Packers one-dimensional. Rodgers YPA from under center and play action are still effective even without Grant.”

Football Outsiders response:

“Chris,
Aaron Rodgers has averaged 8.70 yards per attempt under center and 6.86 yards per attempt under shotgun."

"Other quarterbacks have thrown for 7.26 yards per attempt under center and 6.70 yards per attempt under the shotgun."

"Those stats are just for thrown passes, so no sacks or aborted snaps
are included.”

Very interesting. At the league average from shotgun, a full yard beyond the league average from under center (running threat).

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fish's picture

October 01, 2010 at 02:21 pm

You ever see people Kick A$$ when they have 10 things to do, but look like there heads gonna explode when they have 20 things to do? McCarthy may have that problem with all these substitutions he's always doing. It seems like every play he has someone new coming in and going out. Sometimes you can overcomplicate a situation and not see the task at hand clearly.

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CSS's picture

October 01, 2010 at 02:34 pm

About creating mismatches in the NFL. Those sub-packages did just that. Packers dominated total yardage and time of possession. The offensive penalties were along the offensive line where there were no subs, just mental errors.

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Chad's picture

October 01, 2010 at 02:46 pm

I'd almost like to see them rotate Bulaga in and out during a game. Sometimes for pass plays, sometimes for run plays.

He's a far better run blocker than Tausch and Clif at the least, so if he can help get some holes open, then it might get other teams to respect the run.

And including him on some pass plays would keep the opposition from knowing when the run is coming. (Either that or the play action can be sold a bit better.)

Just a thought.

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thepretzelhead's picture

October 01, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Didn't catch a lot of comments regarding how well the Packers teachers have developed this Mr. Rogers. Some props for the program.

We have so much to be thankful for.... so much to be positive about... so much to soon experience ...it's a great time to be a Packer fan.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 03, 2010 at 12:14 am

"it’s a great time to be a Packer fan."

Spelling your Quarterbacks name correctly is as good of starting point as any.

GBP 4 LIFE

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