The Lass Word: Dink & Dunk, Will Rodgers Stick With It?

Can the four-time MVP forget about stats and be content with team victories?

One of the reasons quarterbacks become legendary is because of incredible deep passes they have thrown and completed.  Aaron Rodgers will go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.  What are the most memorable passes of his career?  The three that come to my mind are the fourth down bomb to Randall Cobb to beat the Bears and knock them out of the playoffs, the Hail Mary to beat the Lions, and the pinpoint third down pass to Greg Jennings in the fourth quarter to help win the Super Bowl.  Toss in the unreal scramble and 36 yard throw to Jared Cook to set up the game winning field goal against the Cowboys. 

What do these plays all have in common?  They are all long, down the field throws, the kind of passes that allow a signal caller to show off his skill, accuracy and poise.  The type they will show over and over again on SportsCenter.  Every quarterback wants to throw those kinds of balls.  It’s in their blood.  It’s certainly part of Rodgers’ psyche.  Those plays have made him famous. 

But times change, teams evolve, and circumstances become different.  Rodgers no longer has the likes of Davante Adams or Marquez Valdes-Scantling to skillfully run those deep posts and sideline routes.  Now there are younger receivers whose speed is best utilized after the catch.  Now there are running backs who, as receivers, are most effective swinging out to the flat or running short crosses.  Get these guys the ball quickly and let them use their skill set to break the play into the open field.  A quarterback must change his thought process when you play this way.  You must become more of, dare I say it, a game manager. 

What?  Aaron Rodgers?  Mr. Deep Ball Hero?  Reduced to dinking and dunking all the way down the field?  Yes, it is true.  For this season, Rodgers must be satisfied to make progress down the field in short increments.   The good news is, not only does QB12 appear willing to accept this role, but he’s extremely good at it. 

Green Bay’s first two drives against the Bucs last Sunday were their most impressive drives of the young season, both ending in touchdowns against the best defense in the NFL.  Here is the anatomy of that first possession:  Jones run for three, Jones run for ten, pass to Jones for eight, pass to Doubs for 21 (most all coming after the catch), Dillon runs for four, Dillon no gain, pass to Cobb for 17 (he caught the ball three yards downfield), Jones runs for loss of two, pass to Doubs for nine, pass to Doubs for five and a touchdown. 

10 plays, 75 yards, over six minutes off the clock.  During the entire series, Rodgers never threw a ball further than about five yards downfield.  After forcing a Bucs punt, the Packers take over again on their own 29:  

Jones runs for three, pass to Dillon loses one yard, Rodgers to Tonyan for nine, pass to Doubs for nine, Dillon runs for three, pass incomplete to Jones, Dillon runs for three, pass to Lazard for seven, Jones runs for two, pass to Dillon for seven, pass to Tyler Davis, who catches the ball about five yards downfield and runs for 23, pass to Lazard for six and a touchdown. 

12 plays, 71 yards, 6:49 off the clock.  Out of those first 22 plays, only three went for more than ten yards, and all three were the result of run after the catch.  There’s a lot of football left to play, but what we’ve seen so far certainly seems to indicate the Packers offense is at its best when they are playing small ball. 

Granted, it’s not a sure thing.  That style of offense requires you to run more plays and to execute them perfectly.  Penalties are killers.  If you get behind the chains on early downs you’re in trouble.  After Sunday’s game, Rodgers attributed most of the team’s second half offensive futility to lack of execution and penalties. 

You also have to have an answer when the defense adjusts by loading the box to stop the short game, as Tampa did.  If you can’t find a way to get the ball over the top of those safeties to loosen them up, the game plan will fail.  If the offense is executing the short game properly, Rodgers should get his opportunities to nail the big one over the top.  He just has to have the patience to wait for it.  Is it in him?  Any Packer fan is all too familiar with the QB’s tendency to force the long ball. 

Rodgers is accustomed to residing at or near the top of the league’s quarterback statistics.  However, through three weeks of the 2022 season, Green Bay’s QB ranks 21st in passing yards, behind guys like Jared Goff and Geno Smith.  He is tied for fifteenth in touchdown passes with four.  I heard one of the analysts say that the average distance in the air of Rodgers’ passes to date is 3.5 yards, the lowest in the league.  Those kinds of numbers are not going to get you into the league MVP conversation.  If Rodgers is your fantasy football quarterback, he is killing you.     

But for this team at this time, his wisdom, savvy, decision-making skill and ability to run the dink and dunk game has played a key role in enabling the Packers to reel off two important wins in a row.  Peyton Manning and John Elway won championships this way at the end of their careers.  Let the defense make the big plays.  Let the national talking heads gush over the gaudy stats put up by Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson.  Rodgers has just as many wins as they do so far this year.  Stay within the game plan and take the opponent down five yards at a time. 

If Rodgers remains willing to accept that role, he just may dink and dunk his team to the Super Bowl. 

GAME PREDICTION:  Packers 20  Pats 17

Surprise Hero of the game:  Adrian Amos

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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6 points

Comments (31)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
jont's picture

September 29, 2022 at 03:19 pm

For me the part about how his wisdom, savvy, decision-making skill, and ability to run the short passing game have really helped GB is the key line. Given the rage posting about 12 following the loss a couple weeks ago, however, I fear you've invited a fury flurry of comments, Ken.

3 points
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splitpea1's picture

September 29, 2022 at 03:35 pm

I love the idea of Rodgers being a game manager, but you're still going to need speed and vertical threats to make that approach effective over time. Watson has to stay healthy and be productive when he's in there. It might also be helpful to sign another veteran WR (Andre Rison, where are you?), but the Packers usually are hesitant to sign receivers with any "issues" on their resumes.

If our defense plays up to their capabilities, I'm certainly hoping that we can do better than eke out a three-point win vs. an experienced, but unheralded backup QB.

2 points
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croatpackfan's picture

September 30, 2022 at 12:39 am

Win is a win. I sign the paper that Packers win SB with no game points difference larger than 5 points all the way to the title.

-1 points
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Lphill's picture

September 29, 2022 at 03:55 pm

You have to take an occasional deep shot to keep the opposing defense honest.

3 points
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White92's picture

September 29, 2022 at 04:36 pm

As the offensive line and Lazard get healthier, and Doubs gets more experience, more shots downfield will be coming

9 points
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Bure9620's picture

September 29, 2022 at 04:42 pm

A healthy Watson will stretch the defense and open things up. Teams will have to respect his speed.

9 points
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packrat8555's picture

September 29, 2022 at 07:14 pm

Agreed Bure9626! Can't wait until Watson begins to jell with #12 the way Doubs has, along with the veteran leadership of Lazard, we will have a great WR group!

2 points
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PatrickGB's picture

September 30, 2022 at 07:17 am

And when Sammy comes back we will see more from him too.

-2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

September 30, 2022 at 07:39 am

Maybe for a game or two. Sammy is a great guy and teammate. He is just cursed with an injury prone body...especially hamstrings which can become chronic.

3 points
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PatrickGB's picture

September 30, 2022 at 10:55 am

True. But a key game or two (or more) would be quite helpful.

0 points
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MooPack's picture

September 29, 2022 at 04:59 pm

If they want to take deep shots, and I'm sure Rodgers does, then obviously almost everything depends on the Oline. They get that right and we'll see it. As Bahk and Jenk get healthier, and Newman doesn't blow it, we'll see it.

5 points
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vin0770's picture

September 29, 2022 at 05:30 pm

I don’t care if it’s schematic dink and dunk or another label applied to another strategy, I want to know where to go to register my concern about something they need to correct that is terminal. These ungodly long droughts vs quality teams, 8 consecutive possessions and no first downs, opening drive td and don’t get another one for the rest of the game. Who do I register my concerns to? MLF for the schematic design and philosophy or the savy AR that can’t move the chains? The trend is a solid trend now…no longer a one off that can be discussed away.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

September 29, 2022 at 05:53 pm

Running the ball more helped us. Dink and dunk failed us. Why say that? Because we ran it to draw up the D as much as anything, when we succeeded, our yards per carry declined. We kept running it, which is good, but we ignored the field beyond 8 yards, In doing so we essentially chose to throw into the Bucs we’d persuaded to pack the ten yards from the line of scrimmage. Most of the time we weren’t even sending receivers much deeper. Tactical incompetence that led to us failing to convert repeatedly.

The same approach has had the same effect before, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s good that we committed to the run and remained with it. It’s risible that we then never even tried to reap the rewards. As it was, we just set up the opponent to shut down the run and the dink and dunk: the two operate in same spaces, indeed the fast short pass was originated as an alternative to the run game, not to capitalize on it.

9 points
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PhantomII's picture

September 30, 2022 at 05:57 am

Our HC is over his head in game planning teams and ability to adjust. Our DC has shown the same in the Vikings game. Our QB1 does not consistently just move the chains. Since our starting OL is starting to get some playing time in things should progress positively but both Starting tackles have not returned to 100 % yet. If they get healthy for good it will make the run and pass game more consistent. The HC, DC and QB1 all have big flaws they have trouble shaking. If the HC was smart he'd recognize his limitations and employ someone to pick up the pieces and adjust the plan as needed. Maybe on the defenses side also. QB1 needs a stellar WR room and a good run game and an OL that can block for 5-7 seconds on anyone to succeed because he does not take what is given.

0 points
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murf7777's picture

September 30, 2022 at 07:46 am

CW, excellent comments about the run and short passing. One thing I note with some on this site is they state they want the Packers to run the ball and be a running team, but when it doesn’t work they comment we should’ve passed more. It’s not either/or, if you want the team to be a running team than you should back that even when it doesn’t work. Running, even when it doesn’t work, does something’s like bringing the LB and safety closer to the LOS, thus opening up the middle of the field. What’s most important in play calling success is execution, if the 11 players don’t do their job, whether it be a pass or run most of the time it doesn’t work.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

September 30, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Unless you are going to be a run or pass only team, it’s essential to do the other at times to relieve the pressure that success/repetition brings. It’s been that way since before the forward pass. That’s if everyone does their jobs perfectly.

0 points
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murf7777's picture

September 30, 2022 at 05:39 pm

No team is run or pass only……Of course, balance is the defense worst enemy, that’s obvious. My point is that execution is more important than play calling. It is given far too much credit. Most teams copy what others are doing with maybe a different twist.

Sure some innovation is good, but most of the time, the D knows what’s coming. Lombardi would be turning over in his grave if someone stated differently. The game is different today, but it still comes down to who executes better. All the other shit is window dressing for the commentary. Folks eat that shit up and they get paid millions to boast about what great play callers Shannanhan or Mcvay is. Hogwash……Without great players and execution, none of that success happens.

0 points
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Since'61's picture

September 29, 2022 at 07:18 pm

I disagree with the premise that Rodger’s stats have anything to do with his decisions to throw deep.

Rodgers is a first ballot HOFer and a 4 time league MVP. How are any more stats going to change that or make those achievements any better. If he retired today nothing would change.

Rodgers was coached for years to take deep shots during the MM era. Especially when he read one on one coverage. Him and Jordy turned it into an art form prior to Jordy’s injury in 2015.

Bottom line is that the Packers should take a few deep shots during every game to keep the defense honest. Right now our threats might not be effective deep threats but we should take the shots regardless. Doubs and Watson will improve and both can evolve into effective deep threats.
We can’t have DBs sitting in short routes. They will jump
them and make picks unless we back them off.
Thanks, Since ‘61

6 points
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Starrbrite's picture

September 29, 2022 at 08:16 pm

Excellent—how I see it too ‘61.

1 points
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Bure9620's picture

September 29, 2022 at 08:35 pm

True. Though we need to block it up well enough to throw deep and need guys to get deep. It seems MLF didnt trust the protection against Tampa. He was very commited to the rubs and getting the ball out very quickly to avoid that front and LBs. The RPO game too. This all worked in The first half but then in the second half the Bucs dared Rodgers to keep it. Watson healthy will help.

4 points
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holmesmd's picture

September 30, 2022 at 11:18 am

Lazzard, Watkins, Cobb, and Doubs have all caught deep shots in just 3 games! What am I missing? The same tool doesn’t work for every job. The same scheme doesn’t work against every team. I think Packer Nation should chill out a bit. Geez!

-1 points
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Coldworld's picture

September 30, 2022 at 04:10 pm

Absolutely Since 61, and the shots should be to Doubs as much as Watson. Toure too really. Doubs going deep on the odd route creates a whole new set of considerations for the DC and backs. Deep routes not just coming up on sideline is another. All three of those players can track a deep ball and get behind players. Even if they don’t catch the ball it changes the D’s calculations. Throwing deep to Cobb or Lazard really doesn’t, not just because of speed before, but the threat after the catch.

We need to be more aggressive and stress Ds deep to open things up for Jones and Dillon and the dink and dunk. The lack of routes suggests that the issue here is LaFleur, not Rodgers primarily. Lazard and Cobb will benefit if we can use speed to draw players and create depth and this space underneath. Nobody benefits by doing what we did I. The second half last week and nobody ever has.

0 points
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Fubar's picture

September 29, 2022 at 09:09 pm

I don't agree at all with this reasoning. Rodgers didn't drink and dunk last year. He has Adams. His dinking is because he has no faith in his receivers to get open and he is un happy with the o line protection. He throwing short and quickly for survival, not some shrewd plan in his mind. Long drives have a lot that can go wrong too . Our run game isn't that good it can by itself win games.
Last play a team that scores quickly while your dinking and dunking and you never catch up

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

September 29, 2022 at 10:43 pm

According to the throw chart Dusty had in his article Rodgers attempted 4 throws of 20 plus yards and completed one of them. Three of them went to Lazard and one to Cobb on the free play. The number is about right, I think you want to attempt 4-5 deeper passes a game unless you're seeing something that suggests you should attempt more. My problem was the depth, the deepest attempt was only 30 yards, and who is getting the targets. I know it's college but Doubs averaged 17.3 yards a catch in 2020. Lazard and Cobb haven't come close to that in the pros.

Obviously Watson will get some deep targets when he's healthy(practiced fully today) but Doubs should get his share too. I'd like to see him run some deep outs, especially if CBs start sitting on his routes because of all the short stuff he's catching.

6 points
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wildbill's picture

September 29, 2022 at 10:57 pm

The good news is that Bilichick takes away what you do best on offense. Right now we’ve got no “best”, good luck Bill…,

3 points
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GregC's picture

September 30, 2022 at 05:23 am

If he can take away Aaron Jones, we'll have real problems.

1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

September 30, 2022 at 07:26 am

They may try to stop our run game. I could see that. But that leaves Doubs open. It also opens up opportunities for the other receivers. I could see them trying a single safety over the top. That would make sense.

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 30, 2022 at 02:09 am

As goes the OL, so goes the GBP gameplan.

Let things settle down with DBak and EJ getting back to form. Let the G - C dynamic firm up with no more musical chairs.

Only then will the running game be the driver for the passing game to operate as we have seen in the past.

All the parts are there. The WR speed and talent is on the roster, hopefully it gets on the field soon.
The RB as runners and pass catchers is there.
The OL talent is on the roster and now is on the field.
The QB certainly has the talent and can make every throw. It seems as if he understands that winning now takes a slightly different approach than it has in the past. He will progress the offense when the parts are all present and well lubricated. That day is not now, but it will happen this season.

In the meantime, the defense has and can continue to carry the load needed to fuel early season wins while gaining the confidence that they can win in the playoffs as well.

The special teams has looked much improved as well. No glaring weak links to sabotage things while the offense finds its stride.

The GBP are right on schedule...

3 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

September 30, 2022 at 07:56 am

Maybe just me...but I am seeing a tendency for ML to go into a game plan "crouch" once his game blueprint is checkmated. Then we see the 5-7 step drops from AR after running the play clock down to 1 second giving the D the snap count, calling a time out or getting a flag, looking for an "Adams", a "Jordy", or an "MVS" breaking open deep. Doubs can be that guy...the better fit is Watson.

Sprinkling in those deep haymakers WHILE running the short run pass game will keep the "illusion of complexity" operating and Ds off balance. As it was, Tampa loaded the box to stop the up tempo short game and the Packers O decided to play rope a dope in the second half.

Right now it seems ML...probably with Rodgers' encouragement, when checked, abandons his initial game plan and flips the switch to a completely different scheme.

After a week of practice with the desired game plan...can the players...and coaches effectively adjust to a totally different plan B during the game?

2 points
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HarryHodag's picture

September 30, 2022 at 04:38 pm

Al Davis built the Raiders on the idea of long ball passing. That idea worked for awhile, until defenses figured out a way to take away the pass and force the run.

Later, throwing passes 50 times a game was the vogue. Never mind few of those teams won it all, but the fans had fun in the modern version of flag football.

So the Packers are winning with manageable passes. The key is winning. Who cares how they get there. If they win every game 3-0, it's still a Super Bowl victory and what else matters?

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

October 01, 2022 at 01:38 am

I am predicting a 2 INT performance from 'Sul.

He will bait Hoyer into a few bad decisions and be there to capitalize.

0 points
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