September 19, 2012

Evaluating Aaron Rodgers’ Early Season Performance

Even before the 2012 season began fans, media and fellow Green Bay Packers teammates doubted Aaron Rodgers could top his record-breaking 2011 season. Through two games, Rodgers isn’t anywhere near the pace of 2011. Amid the recent criticism from Jermichael Finley’s agent that Rodgers isn’t a leader and given his only average start to the year, let’s examine Rodgers’ play in the first two games of the season. Should Packers fans be worried?

Pocket Presence
Playing against two top five defenses in a row to begin the season certainly didn't help Rodgers, but it has been hard not to notice his decreased awareness in the pocket. Taking sacks is one thing, but against San Francisco and Chicago, Rodgers didn’t seize enough opportunities to escape the pocket. When a team plays a two deep cover defense, there should be openings to run. Especially against Chicago, Aaron Rodgers seemed to hold to ball far too long and almost never sought to run.

Rhythm and timing with receivers
Perhaps the most surprising decline has been how offbeat Rodgers has been with the Green Bay Packers receiving corps, outside of Randall Cobb. How many back-shoulder completions have we seen? None. Plays over 40 yards? None. What we have seen is an unusual amount of missed and off-target throws, sometimes to open receivers. Evidenced by interceptions and sacks, the Packers’ wide receivers simply haven’t found room in the secondary.

Pre-snap demeanor
Number 12 doesn’t seem to have the command of the Packers offensive unit at the line of scrimmage. Fewer audibles, fewer hard-counts have led to less cohesiveness with the offense, especially the offensive line. Granted, the Packers have tried to use the no huddle more, but that hasn’t worked either. Why did Mike McCarthy try to mess with the tempo of a record-setting offense? Perhaps the no huddle actually gives Rodgers less control, not the opposite like previously thought.

The big question with the above inconsistencies that everyone is trying to answer – are they symptoms of playing stingy defenses or a sign that NFL defenses and coaches have figured out the Packers kryptonite? Monday night’s game in Seattle should reveal a little more.


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