The Lass Word: It Always Comes Down to Rodgers

Is QB12 still good enough to be the difference?

I must admit, I am a bit stunned at how many of my fellow Packer fans are predicting an easy victory for the Pack in Sunday's season opener against the Vikings. I am having trouble seeing the huge edge Green Bay has which would make such an easy victory possible. Apparently, the oddsmakers don't see it either. They have made Minnesota a 2.5 point favorite.

When I do a simple,broad comparison of the two teams, here's what I see: They have a very good running back (Dalvin Cook). We have a very good running back (Aaron Jones).   They have a very good receiver (Adam Thielen). We have a very good receiver (Davante Adams). They have questions in their offensive line. We have questions in our offensive line. They will have  excellent pass rushers (Yannick Ngakoue, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr). We will have excellent pass rushers (Zadarious and Preston Smith, Rashan Gary). They have young corners and may have trouble stopping the pass. We have a weak defensive line and may have trouble stopping the run. They have better safeties, we have better corners.

Put it all together and it looks like a push to me.   And thus, as always seems to be the case, it comes down to the quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers vs Kirk Cousins.    Is Rodgers still so much better than Cousins that he is the difference in the game?   Is that where the edge is?

In the past, the answer has been a resounding yes.   According to The Dope Sheet posted by Packers.com, Rodgers is 14-8-1 against the Vikes.   His career passer rating vs. Minnesota is 107.1, the highest of any Vikings opponent.   He has thrown for over 5,700 yards and 44 touchdowns against the Purple.   To put it succinctly, he has owned them.   In the most recent meeting, Rodgers connected with Davante Adams 13 times for 116 yards on the way to a 23-10 victory.

And by virtually all accounts, he has looked even sharper this summer.   He says he rediscovered something he was doing back in his prime years that has helped him improve.  

It's no secret he gets especially amped up for division games. It was a good sign for Packer fans when Rodgers told the media after practice on Wednesday "I felt like I was in a rhythm from the moment I stepped on the field and I wanted to lead with some energy today to kind of set the tone that game weeks are different from training camp."   Davante Adams has noticed.   "I'm excited for the juice that he's been bringing, the attitude he's been bringing.   It makes it fun, you know, going out there to practice with him,"

It seems obvious that Rodgers is in leadership mode and that bodes well for Sunday.   For all the talk about the Packers running the ball this season, I believe Sunday's game will come down to how well Rodgers throws the ball on third down.   Keep the chains moving.   Keep the ball away from Dalvin Cook.   This notion that Green Bay is just going to line up and run over the Vikings all day  is unrealistic..   No Mike Zimmer defense is going to allow that.   

The Packers did get a break when the Vikings put premier defensive lineman Danielle Hunter, who always seems to play well against us, on injured reserve.   They get another break in that there will be no fans at the stadium.   In fact, Rodgers on Wednesday expressed concern that it might be too quiet, that future opponents may hear and record  all the snap counts and try to decode the plays.

I expect a sloppy, mistake ridden game and I do expect the Pack will find a way to win it, but an easy win? Green Bay is 1-3 at U.S. Bank Stadium. No game there is ever going to be easy.   I'd be happy with an ugly, one point victory.   As Rodgers said last season, I'm okay with winning ugly all the way to the Super Bowl.

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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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Comments (31)

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NitschkeFan's picture

September 10, 2020 at 03:05 pm

Well written Ken. Most fans of most team and in most sports tend to be a bit too optimistic about their players and their team. Packers have plenty of potential holes in this roster but if #12 plays like he used to, then we are on to the playoffs.

If he continues the gradual descent we've witnessed in the past couple of seasons, it will take some huge upside surprises elsewhere in the roster to get the team into the playoffs.

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mnbadger's picture

September 10, 2020 at 03:55 pm

nicely written article, certainly a more "glass half empty" perspective than others on CHTV. maybe also a little more realistic. bottom line is we win on the road and go a full game up on queens early in the season, just like last year. queens can skol my - - -! GPG!

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Packers2020's picture

September 10, 2020 at 04:03 pm

It does not always come down to Rodgers.

AR's Defenses in the playoffs- They have given up an average of 36 points per game and AR has the second best playoff QB rating of all time. Offense in the playoffs has averaged 28 points per game.

Last year in playoffs: 49ers- 37 Packers 20 285 yards rushing for the 49ers.

Defense has been the problem. What else does AR have to do?

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Oppy's picture

September 10, 2020 at 05:38 pm

Defense has been a bugaboo for the packers over the years, but I strongly suggest you take a close look at Rodgers’ QB rating in playoff losses. Rodgers is generally either very good or very bad in playoff games. It’s easy to blame the defense, but Rodgers has had his share of poor play in our playoff losses.

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Oppy's picture

September 10, 2020 at 06:08 pm

Double post. Mobile web msg entry sucks.

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Stroh's picture

September 10, 2020 at 06:52 pm

Last years NFCCG vs SF, Rodgers personally had 2 early turnovers that he nor the defense could recover from! He put the Packers in a big hole. That was NOT the defense! The defense didn't help, but make no mistake Rodgers was the biggest reason they lost. You can't gloss over his mistakes just because he's Aaron Rodgers.

In fact, Rodgers play has been simply terrible in all 4 NFCCG he's played in! Coincidence or not, its fact.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 10, 2020 at 05:22 pm

I agree with the push outside of the QBs and the Head Coach. The Vikings are a quality opponent.

That's where the Packers should gain an edge in this matchup, Rodgers and LaFleur.

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Qoojo's picture

September 10, 2020 at 06:34 pm

I have a hard time thinking either offense will score a lot or be efficient in the first game experience of the season. I do think the packers can will and should win. But it's going to be ugly. My biggest concern is if the packers D can tackle.

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Stroh's picture

September 10, 2020 at 06:45 pm

I have little doubt Rodgers can still be a bonafide difference maker. In this particular matchup he one of the biggest. I mean Rodgers or Cousins? Gimme a break.

Now can Rodgers be the huge difference he was 5 yrs ago? That's the bigger question. I think he'll be better than last year just with the 2nd yr of Lafleur's offense. Besides that, his experience, brain and arm talent can more than makeup for any loss in mobility. The past 3-5 yrs Rodgers has gotten sloppy with fundamentals and footwork. Hopefully he saw that and quites throwing off his back foot and from poor arm slots.

IMO, if he tightens up his mechanics to early career he has a legit chance at MVP this season.

You heard it here first!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 10, 2020 at 06:50 pm

"The past 3-5 yrs Rodgers has gotten sloppy with fundamentals and footwork."

I think he's alluded to that this off-season which is great if he's going to clean it up.

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Stroh's picture

September 10, 2020 at 08:38 pm

I think he was alluding to that also, without actually saying it. He used to have outstanding fundamentals till about '15 or '16. I really started to notice end of '16 season and it got worse since. Let's hope he gets back to it. I was able to watch alot of games from '08 thru '11 working from home, and its really clear how much different he's been with fundamentals.

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baldski's picture

September 10, 2020 at 09:46 pm

If he started sliding in '15 or '16, then where in hell was the QB coach to tell him about it?

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Stroh's picture

September 10, 2020 at 10:16 pm

His play was still really high end until the '17 season. That's when it first started to affect his play. How is a QB coach going to change a guy who's playing at an MVP level? You can coach him all you want, but if the level of play is at among the best there is, it will fall on deaf ears. That's human nature .

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Branden Burke's picture

September 10, 2020 at 11:09 pm

His play style changed moreso than his lack of fundamentals. He has always played outside of traditional fundamentals. He stopped throwing the ball into tight coverages and across the middle. He waits for someone to get wide open. Early in his career he was pulling the trigger on tiny windows across the middle. The middle of the field is where a QB's efficiency lays. Things like completion percentage. If you pull up a "shot chart" of aarons career by year, you will see a morph. So obsessed with not losing the possession to turnover. It's the middle of the field where int's come from. Tipped passes and waiting safeties/linebackers. You have to let those passes fly if you want to see rodgers of old. If you want the offense to really tick.

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Stroh's picture

September 12, 2020 at 04:26 pm

His style of play has changed the and contributed to the lack of fundamentals. Go back and watch the SB, he played that entire game almost strictly from the pocket. The holding the ball and escaping the pocket started to become more pronounce starting in '11 and led to big plays and he got enamored w/ it. That lead to his holding the ball and throwing on the move leads to not using the good mechanics. Its been a gradual move that from one thing leading to another has gotten him to where he's at. Now is the time he MUST go back to playing in the pocket since he's losing some mobility.

He was great getting out of the pocket and making big plays. Then it gradually moved to getting out of the pocket and not taking the short/intermediate routes that were open in the hope for a big play, and it worked. The getting out of the pocket has led to a lapse of fundamentals which he has now even when he stays in the pocket.

In the '10 SB he played almost exclusively from the pocket and was utterly deadly. That's where he needs to play now that his legs and mobility have decreased. Get in footwork and fundamentals back and staying in the pocket can get him back to MVP play.

Really go watch the SB then compare it to 2018 and '19 and the difference is shocking.

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Oppy's picture

September 11, 2020 at 12:42 am

You don’t think he was told about it? I certainly do. Rodgers has a monster ego however and I don’t think he takes coaching well anymore.

Remember, this is a guy who was openly ignoring his head coach for the last few years.

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Stroh's picture

September 12, 2020 at 04:29 pm

He certainly didn't at the end of the McCarthy era. Lets hope that under LaFleur he has a fresh voice and he starts to listen again. To become an MVP type QB he must IMO. I have no doubt he can regain MVP form if he gets his fundamental back and listens and buys into LaFleurs offense.

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Oppy's picture

September 11, 2020 at 04:34 pm

Double post deleted. I’ll say it again: posting on mobile sucks.

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dobber's picture

September 10, 2020 at 06:58 pm

Agreed. If, in fact, he's better technically this year and is stepping into his throws (I think we've all been commenting on his lousy mechanics for years), that will benefit his downfield passing accuracy.

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Stroh's picture

September 10, 2020 at 10:21 pm

Not just downfield. At all levels. It's just become more of an issue as he's gotten to mid/ late 30's. Now mechanics and fundamentals are going to become even more important. I think he should work with a throwing coach in offseasons. Brady and Brees both do and IMO Rodgers needs to now as well.

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dobber's picture

September 10, 2020 at 07:01 pm

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Leatherhead's picture

September 10, 2020 at 07:33 pm

Most games are not won, they are lost. They are lost by turnovers and penalties and missed assignments and the guy who has the best chance to lose the game for you is your starting QB. Just ask the Bears. I feel confident that Rodgers isn’t going to go out there and make bad reads and bad throws and be careless with the rock, even under pressure.

If that’s a difference maker, then I’m fine with that.

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CoachDino's picture

September 10, 2020 at 08:04 pm

Great Read - Cheeseheadtv writers are on their game today...

Packers still have a very good Oline. IMO they have improved at RG and have weakened at RT. Not a wash but not a big hit either.

Since Hunter lines up against our RT with him out I think that really gives the Packers the edge on the Line.
Plus your point as to the noise factor, It used to be a huge factor, so as this game goes it's a plus.
I agree with the easy win theory being strange. With all the issues who knows what going to happen. The Vikings are a better team than us Packer fans realize. They won 10 games last year playing a 1st place schedule.

To me it will come down to the Packers ability to take advantage of the Young Corners on offense and not giving up big plays on defense. Either team could come out and lay an egg and it would be understandable given the lack of preseason.

Can't wait for game time.....

Lets Go Pack

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nostradanus's picture

September 10, 2020 at 08:09 pm

PACK in a route 35-7

Book it!

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ShooterMcGee's picture

September 11, 2020 at 04:32 am

In the last few years the question should be is he humble enough? Or smart enough? He has the talent but often ignores the quick pass and open receiver. He eschews the middle of the field, holds on the balk too long, takes too many sacks, and has so many useless throw aways. He needs to get rid of the ball in rythm, sell the play action, and quit trying to scramble so much. He looks slow and awkward when he runs.

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Bure9620's picture

September 10, 2020 at 08:58 pm

The main advantage the Packers have is in the trenches, which is where most games are won, which is why I am confident the Packers win....I really do not see O'Neil blocking Z....The interior of their line very suspect too....on the other side Pierce opted out and no Danielle Hunter is massive...Ngaokue can be neutralized....Cousins NEEDS protection to win..particularly with the Vikings reliance on play action and slow developing plays....

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Since'61's picture

September 10, 2020 at 09:14 pm

Rodgers can still be the difference maker but he doesn’t need to do it all by himself any longer, or at least he shouldn’t need to. If the run game is established Rodgers can kill the queens with play action. Rodgers can still make all the throws and play action will only make him more effective. Beyond that he can still run for a first down or two if necessary.

His decision making and ball security have always made a difference. Now if the run game and our defense are improved Rodgers will still make a difference but it will be more of a quiet difference than it has in the past.

Keys to this game will be penalties and turnovers. Rodgers rarely turns the ball over so penalties are the only way that the Packers can beat themselves. The game may come down to which team is less sloppy. I like the Pack 31-16. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ‘61

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 11, 2020 at 01:48 am

I think Rodgers is good enough to lead the Packers to a win as he always has. The biggest question for me is if the defense is good enough to prevent the Vikings from scoring, especially the running game, and giving the Packers more opportunities to score. And also to stop the dumb momentum killing penalties. Time will tell. Go ! Pack! Go!

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edp1959's picture

September 11, 2020 at 06:39 am

Rodgers still is and has always been "good" enough to make a difference. The correct question is "Is the defense good enough to make a difference?". After all, defense is why the Packers were not in the Super Bowl last year and why Rodgers only has one ring.

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Nate-1980's picture

September 11, 2020 at 05:34 pm

I agree the defense was horrid in the 9ers playoff game, but the offense stunk up the place as well by not scoring a single point in the first half.. I’d bet( with no stats to back it up ha) That 75% or more of teams that go scoreless in any half of a game lose..

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Stroh's picture

September 12, 2020 at 04:35 pm

You need to go look at Rodgers in the NFCCG he's played in. His level of play in all 4 of his NFCCG has been horrendous. The defense has contributed as well, no doubt about that. But if Rodgers plays like Rodgers in the NFCCG hes been in he would have gotten the Packers into a couple more SB. And hopefully won them. Rodgers bears as much of the blame as the defense.

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