Jordy Who? Aaron Rodgers Vocal Domination of the NFL

Three weeks into the season and after a fortnight of uncertainty entering the season the Packers offense truly has become a case of Jordy Who? When Nelson left the field in the game of doom against Pittsburgh during the pre-season there was a lot of discussion about whether Aaron Rodgers would struggle this season. Naturally the arrival of James Jones, one of Rodgers favorite targets from a few years ago, along with the thought that Davante Adams would step up made a lot of people shrug off the Nelson injury. However, when Cobb got hurt in pre-season the panic started up again and all the talk was about who would be the new weapon for one of the greatest quarterbacks we have ever witnessed. What no one would have predicted was that the new weapon wouldn’t be a player at all but rather the use of Rodgers voice.

The weapon that Rodgers appears to be using to ensure he continues to dominate the NFL is his hard count. In just three weeks this season he has already caught opposing players offside eight times, which is already two more than he had in 2014. However, as defensive offside is just a five yard penalty just getting the players to jump isn’t the whole story, it is what Rodgers is doing once those players jump that is so impressive. As soon as he sees that he has caught a player offside he immediately appears to dispense with his short routes and focuses down the field on his deep options.

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So far this year the Packers have only actually accepted two of their eight offside penalties, compared to five of six last year, and that is testament to Rodgers ability to create plays and throw players open leading to big plays and even touchdowns. So let’s go play by play and break down just what Rodgers did on each one:

Week 1 @ Chicago:

2nd & 6 GB 34 (2nd Quarter): Willie Young jumped and Rodgers shuffled within the pocket to hit Jones 34 yards down the field on a post route. The coverage was tight and while Rodgers can throw anyone open it was a risky throw to a WR too slow to separate from his defender but given the fact that a worst case scenario was 2nd & 1 it was an easy decision. The play put the Packers in field goal range and allowed them to level the game up at 10-10.

2nd & 9 CHI 10 (4th Quarter): Jared Allen jumped and Rodgers immediately pointed towards the end zone to stop a receiver curving his route off. He then scrambled left under pressure and threw towards Jones in the back of the end zone but it fell incomplete with Jones tightly covered. The Packers scored on the next play anyway to go up 24-16.

2nd & 9 CHI 47 (4th Quarter): Willie Young again jumped. Rodgers looked over to Jones to see if there was any hint of separation or a play to make. When there was none he threw and long ball towards Cobb who had got past his defender but couldn’t quite make the catch. With the safety over the top it probably wasn’t a play Rodgers makes normally but risk free it was worth it to try and sew up the game. The Packers scored on the drive to go 31-16 up.

Week 2 vs Seattle:

1st & 10 GB 34 (1st Quarter): With Bennett having jumped the pocket begins to collapse so Rodgers threw the ball down the centre of the field to a wide open Cobb for 22 yards. Rodgers didn’t have time to go deeper and threw to a normally dangerous zone against the Seahawks but it was risk free and it got them into Seahawks territory. The Packers went on to score a touchdown on another offside play.

2nd & 15 SEA 29 (1st Quarter): Once again it was Bennett who jumped but Rodgers managed to keep the play alive and scramble left before throwing the ball over a line backer to James Jones, running a post route, who was in the front of the end zone with players either side of him. He had two open receivers on the left side of the field and a player running free down the middle but he took the riskier option of going for Jones who had fractionally beaten Sherman. The Packers completed a long drive (Over 4 minutes) on this play for a touchdown to go up seven.

2nd & 17 GB 13 (2nd Quarter): A third jump by Bennett allowed Rodgers to make Sherman’s half even worse. Having been sacked the play before with time running out and back on their 10 yard line Rodgers manages to hang in the pocket moving around avoiding the rush before throwing a bomb down the right side line to Montgomery. Montgomery had escaped Sherman and as he went up to catch the ball Sherman tackled him drawing a 52 yard defensive pass interference penalty. The play moved Green Bay up to the Seattle 35 with 42 seconds remaining. The Packers scored a touchdown on the drive but it was negated by a penalty meaning they ended the half hitting a field goal to go up 13-3.

Week 3 vs Kansas City:

1st & 10 KC 27 (2nd Quarter): Hali jumped on the left side of the offensive line but rather than continue his rush he threw his hands up. This gave Rodgers time in the pocket where he scanned the field and hit Jones in the front of the end zone on a comeback route as his corner fell down trying to stay with him. The touchdown put the Packers up 24 – 7 late in the first half and completed a first half of domination for the Packers.

3rd & 8 GB 40 (4th Quarter): Ford jumped this time and Rodgers hit a quick strike to Jones who made the most of his defender falling down to race 52 yards down to the Chiefs 8 yard line. Rodgers completed a pass to Cobb to score a touchdown soon after to put the game out of doubt. This was the only play of the eight where Rodgers struck quickly as he saw Jones had his defender beaten. However, this would have only been a 20 yard play had the defender not slipped but Rodgers superb pre-snap work deserved the luck he got on this play.

So in summary on offside plays Rodgers has this stat line: 5 completions, 174 yards and 2 touchdowns with one DPI penalty for 52 yards. On the other two plays he took end zone shots under no risk what so ever and whilst they didn’t come off the Packers gained five yards for free and managed to score two touchdowns on those drives.

So as we enter week 4 and the Packers head to San Francisco, who have been decimated two weeks running on the road, where the 49ers will need the full backing of their crowd Sunday afternoon if they are to disrupt Rodgers hard count. The 49ers may not be able to prevent the Packers rolling through but we will get an indication whether teams are catching onto Rodgers hard count and whether they start watching the ball more.

If Rodgers carries on how he has started he will even leave the fast starting Brady trailing in his wake for MVP votes. The scary thing is Rodgers is probably the best pure pass thrower in the NFL and then when you add in the pre-snap domination he is now showing in all aspects of the game it is hard to see who can beat him to the individual crown at the end of the year and all of it without the player many people thought was the key to Rodgers and the Packers season. Bravo Mr Rodgers. Bravo.

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