QB – Aaron Rodgers
Week 2 Statistics:
20/36, 213 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 1 INT, 1 Fumble Lost, 29 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD; 18.42 fantasy points
It may be hard to believe, but Rodgers has been in a slump for awhile now.
It’s been much discussed all around the sports stratosphere this week, but it has been going on since at least midway through last season; in that time, the NFL career leader in passer rating has failed to reach 100.0 in that metric since Week 6 of that year, and his team has gone a collective 6-8 (including playoffs) in those games.
This doesn’t all fall on the quarterback of course, but there are things he must do better.
The offense as a whole has remained, as All-22’s Oliver Connolly put it, “flawed by design”, but the elements they have run haven’t been able to be done so in an effective manner with the way Rodgers has been performing. There have been quick openings and timing routes where Rodgers has failed to set his feet properly or pull the trigger immediately, which takes away potential gains and forward movement which could help provide some semblance of a rhythm for the offense.
He excels in his ability to extend plays, but those plays have become fewer and further between going back to last year, with defenses acknowledging the need to keep themselves aware for longer periods of time and sticking to receivers like glue.
To turn the tables on this, he’ll need to try falling more into the planned flow of the offense more often. Instead of just trying to beat defenses on broken coverages and holes that might open up deep, he has to hit his guys as soon as possible; finding guys as soon as they hit their route breaks is difficult to defend against, and those have been available (and missed) a handful of times already just two games into the season.
Though Detroit has given the Packers fits on offense in the recent past, this week is a great opportunity for Rodgers the kind of flow he has been missing.
The Lions will likely be missing multiple key players on their defense for this game. Star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is their best player on that unit; he’s not expected to play. DeAndre Levy is an excellent coverage linebacker (in 2014, he covered Jordy Nelson 1-on-1 on a game-sealing 4th down drive that ended Green Bay’s last grasp effort to mount a late comeback); he’s not likely to play either, leaving the Lions with exactly two healthy linebackers for this game.
With a weakened front seven, Rodgers should have the time necessary and enough space provided to attack the defense in the short- and mid-range (the areas an in-flow West Coast offense like coach Mike McCarthy desires to run would pick apart relentlessly) and have his offense — and himself — flowing in a way we haven’t seen for at least a year.
If he can’t do something this week, then Green Bay REALLY has some problems. It is one thing to not produce against an elite-level Vikings defense, but not performing against a weakened defensive unit in Detroit would be an all-new level of trouble — the kind that usually threatens jobs.
Though there is enough evidence to show this shouldn’t be assumed as a given, for now I still believe this offense and its quarterback have the ability to put up a good performance against a depleted defense.