Sep 20, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to pass in the first quarter during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
QB – Aaron Rodgers
Last Week: 25/33, 249 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 23 rush yards, 1 2-point conversion; 22.26 fantasy points
By now, Aaron Rodgers abilities have nurtured some very high expectations in myself (and plenty of you fellow Packers fans).
Going into the matchup with Seattle however, I was relatively low on what I thought he would do. After all, this has been a team with a powerful defense that has given Green Bay more trouble than any team besides maybe the Jim Harbaugh-led 49ers. Outside of this game taking place in Lambeau (the past three meetings were all in Seattle) and the issues the Seahawks had faced to that point this season (Kam Chancellor holdout, the Week 1 loss to St. Louis), there wasn’t much reason to really expect this time would end differently besides our own hopes for revenge.
For many reasons, that ended up not being the case. To me, Rodgers was at the head of that list.
Statistically, he has seen better days, but he did everything necessary to bring his team to victory. Despite his best wide-out still suffering from a shoulder injury, one of his other top options injuring an ankle and losing his star runner early in the game, Rodgers was still making plays.
Sep 20, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
After a Week 1 QBR* of 94.4 against a lackluster Bears team, Rodgers followed up against a much more powerful unit with an 89.2 QBR. For those still unfamiliar with that rating, let me just say that a performance like that is quite excellent.
Beyond statistics is even more exciting. Rodgers was constantly moving around and extending plays that just weren’t possible in the last meeting due to his calf injury. On top of that, he twice was able to do one of my favorite things: draw the defense offsides then capitalize on free plays.
The first he found James Jones for a ridiculous jump-throw TD between multiple defenders to James Jones. The next, he looked off a short toss to Randall Cobb for a long bomb to Ty Montgomery that brought on a 52-yard pass interference penalty. As a bonus, both plays attacked Richard Sherman; it turns out those were the only two attempts targeting his man (smart, since he’s an excellent player).
It was another excellent performance from the defending-MVP.
In terms of this week, he has another challenging front to combat in Kansas City.
The Chiefs have the best pure pass-rusher in the league today, Justin Houston; he already has accumulated 3 sacks and a forced fumble and will be exceedingly difficult to stop. Besides him there is also Tamba Hali, who is no slouch himself with 79.5 sacks across his previous 9 seasons (including 3 years of 10+ sacks). Derrick Johnson has returned from a 2014 injury as a great coverage linebacker, Eric Berry returned at safety after battling Hodgkin’s disease, and the secondary has an assortment of other talented players like Marcus Peters, Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker and Hussein Abdullah (Sean Smith is there too, but he’s still serving a three-game suspension).
As you can tell, that is a lot of talent to work against.
But Rodgers has more than enough ability to carve up any defense he faces; if his output isn’t at the heights we expect, it usually has more to say about either his blockers (if they do bad) or the running game (if it does well).
With the injury to Lacy that should undoubtedly slow his production (if he even plays) and the current strength of Kansas City defense sitting more so on their run defense (#3 in Defensive DVOA*) than their pass (#11 in defensive DVOA), I’d expect there to be more focus letting Rodgers air it out.
Of course, I don’t see them letting things get too unbalanced, but a percentage split around than what we saw this past week (35 pass attempts, 29 rush attempts; 55% pass) shouldn’t be out of the question.
No matter the percentage, I expect him to do well and give us another memorable game at Lambeau Field.
Week 3 Prediction: 275 passing yards, 2 TDs, 35 rush yards; 20.50 Fantasy Points
Verdict: Rock-Solid Starter
**DVOA is a method of evaluating teams, units, or players. It takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation. DVOA measures not just yardage, but yardage towards a first down: Five yards on third-and-4 are worth more than five yards on first-and-10 and much more than five yards on third-and-12. Red zone plays are worth more than other plays. Performance is also adjusted for the quality of the opponent. DVOA is a percentage, so a team with a DVOA of 10.0% is 10 percent better than the average team, and a quarterback with a DVOA of -20.0% is 20 percent worse than the average quarterback. Because DVOA measures scoring, defenses are better when they are negative.