Archive: January 8, 2020

Thoughts about 2019 Aaron Rodgers

<- Photo credit: AP Photo / Jeffrey Phelps*

Why do people have to be so extreme?

It’s either Rodgers is god or garbage.

I was infatuated with this. is Rodgers not his “usual” self this year? and why? Lots of speculation, cynicism, and criticism have been aired in the past few months.

So, I turned to our good friend Youtube and specifically dug up most (if not all) Aaron Rodgers’ signature plays from when he first showed his star-quality vs. the Bears, through the daunting, heartbreaking 2018 season in which he was still putting up decent numbers, but the team went literally nowhere.

I specifically wanted to sift through those “Rodgers-defining” plays, not just regular offensive drives, to assess the gaps in perception vs. actual, and got some pretty good observations, I think.

Well, is he getting older? weaker arm? less accurate?  no good gameplan/routes/receivers? has he lost it?

The answer is obviously complicated, but here is what I did manage to come up with:

Observation #1: Rodgers isn’t extending plays well enough and being dynamic out of the pocket as he used to be. Significantly so. Many of the signature plays start off the same, but end up with sacks instead of crazy passes this year.


  1. He is aging. Shocking. He is now at the age where you officially cannot be as agile and quick as you used to be, but still strong and fit enough to play at the top level. Especially at a QB role in football. Other sports pose different challenges. For a sport that still presents Drew Brees at 40 hitting shots and putting together numbers (and every year matters at this age!), Rodgers cannot be in a bad place, generally speaking. Any (great) athlete adapts with age and enhances their more stationary capabilities, relying less on athleticism. Jordan, Maradona, you name it. Brady was just always more of a pocket passer with strong legs and a killer arm (and mostly really good offensive blockers). Rodgers was (and still somewhat is) a hybrid who felt at home both in and out of the pocket, which is good because it means he can still morph.
  2. He recovered from a bad injury (collarbone) and suffered a leg injury through most of last year, not sure if not still a thing. This is obviously limiting him in some way, both physically and psychologically. The way he was injured in 2017 was pretty brutal and possibly traumatic. He since has been much less adventurous, and also not as quick and agile.
  3. Different offense, coaching, and teammates – LaFleur is the kind of guy who likes a more diverse offense that relies on the run game much more than McCarthy-era Packers used to. This means the team is working often to free up run paths for RB’s, and it requires not just different schemes but also different players. Such who can screen and block. This means, not only fewer opportunities to pass and fewer “shot-plays” but also, fewer potential targets

Observation #2: A passer passes a ball that a receiver needs to catch. Duh? not so sure.

  1. On more occasions than I remembered or assumed, Rodgers’ pass (especially >20 yards) was accurate (enough, mostly) but not such that didn’t require some basic catching ability and/or enhanced athleticism from the catcher. Cobb, Nelson, Jones (James), and Jennings, they all caught some pretty tough-to-catch balls, AND, converted them nicely into memorable plays, that could have easily have been just a pass that got connection, but never yielded actual outcomes, like TD’s or getting enough yardage to make a comeback (take the Cardinals 2-hail marys as the perfect examples, despite the controversy at the end). This means they caught medium-to-hard-to-catch balls. Otherwise, perhaps Rodgers’ highlight reels would have been far shorter, and fame far diminished. With MVS, Geronimo, Graham, and even Davante this season (more than just a handful) dropping passes, it’s hard to maintain those crazy passer ratings and explosive plays.  Best example is that MVS drop on that 35-yarder vs. the Vikings which was placed at the exact same angle and speed as Jordy Nelson would eat for lunch, only to go right into Rodgers’ best shots Youtube video.
  2. Confidence – having missed some shots (and yes, some of them were less accurate than we’re used to, take the recent Lions game as an example), even Rodgers, albeit seeming cool and complacent, could lose his confidence and develop self-doubts. Especially with pretty much everyone on the media bashing him, less rightfully so than not, as this post suggests. In such cases, dink-and-dunk isn’t that bad of an option, to restore confidence and get the offense back into rhythm, and that’s what worked every time they needed a comeback this year, especially after the Niners debacle. Also doesn’t hurt when you have Jamal and Aaron Jones to keep moving those chains as receivers as well.

What should Rodgers do to overcome?

Tom Brady and Drew Brees can still function, and they’ve proven it time and again lately (with the exception of Brady only in recent games). Rodgers has the ability to fire from inside the pocket and re-balance his philosophy that was previously predicated on him making crazy shot plays all the time. He has great RBs and a pretty good O line, so he can use that to not be so predictable and still somewhat extend plays, but has to tone it down significantly. He can benefit from another good, fast, ball-catching receiver, and a solid, strong, good game-reading tight end. With Brian Gutekunst at the helm, I believe we can find those, in free agents, draft picks, or trades. Anything’s possible. All Rodgers needs to do is keep calm, remember that he’s still incredible, and then find a way to embrace his constraints, and LaFleur’s offense. I believe the more he will gain confidence in LeFleur, and learn how to work with different types of receivers, not just ones who have glue on their hands, he will resurrect and be part of a powerhouse, balanced, more “New-England” type (but without all the yucky part) Pack team through the rest of his career.

Good luck to us all!


*You noticed it, the photo was actually not taken in 2019… busted. Was just a nice photo I randomly picked, because I obviously didn’t expect Rodgers to throw me a pick… ->ba dum chhhh.

2019 Regular season thoughts about the Packers

<– In the image: me in Israel wide awake at 3:30am cheering against the Vikes.

I’ll start with an apology meant for my 1 devoted reader. Dude, sorry I haven’t been writing of late, my optimism on writing after every single game turned out to be unrealistic, HOWEVER! I will do my best to write on occasion.

Now, here are some of my insights regarding the Packers for the 2019 season:

  • People don’t give Jamal Williams enough credit. Yes, Aaron Jones is a big deal on LaFleur’s offense, but at the same time, Williams’ tremendous contribution as a 2nd runner was conspicuously missing vs. the Lions, and fortunately for us, we will see him in the postseason. He needs to get a lot more recognition.
  • Some people, not just Pack fans, are too easy on the trigger with Rodgers – they thought so highly of him, that showing less than super-human traits has no circumstances, just statistics. This season is especially difficult on Rodgers, as he was molded into (and to some degree contributed to it actively) McCarthy’s offense, which is *vastly* different than LaFleur’s. Add new key players to the mix (best example is Lazard, our quasi-formal 2nd receiver), and you get a perfectly decent, post-collar-bone, veteran quarterback season. Did he miss some simple throws? yes. Did he misread some plays and ignored open players? Yes. Did he force the pass play when clearly they should have run it? Likely. Holistically looking at it, he’s adapting, as great as he is – and you’re seeing labor pain, imo. I believe no matter what happens this year, as Rodgers gets into LaFleur’s scheme and mindset, and they study each other, he will return to his greatness. Maybe not all-time, but certainly continuously improvement, until age (or god forbid, injury) does its thing.
  • It is amazing to me how Pack fans are so extreme in how they perceive the team. I listened to A LOT of Pack podcasts this year. A LOT. and everybody is either saying things like ‘trash’, ‘inadequate’, ‘weak’, or, they’re saying ‘Super Bowl’. No spectrum. Very little regard to the process of a HC+QB combo with vastly different disciplines to bridge, (some) new key players, and generally speaking, a system on the rise but definitely not at a peak.
  • As I said in the past, this Packer team should be very proud they’ve gotten to the playoffs, and tremendously so with getting the #2 seed in the NFC. much more than what 90% of fans would have expected, and a 13-3 record.
  • Were we somewhat lucky with last-minute bailouts, key opponent injuries, and a mildly-difficult schedule? Definitely. But still, that team found a way to win. And I admire that, because character and dressing rooms are the foundation of a strong sports team, then, talent, schemes, and execution will follow.
  • Please, look at this season as one that went overwhelmingly well, but shouldn’t distract the system: front office, coaching staff, and players (and fans!) from the real objective: regrowing a successful, balanced, enjoyable dynasty. These are the buds, and they look great. Don’t nip them with your uncontrolled urge to criticize.

And one last thing,

Maybe it’s just the fan in me that refuses to acknowledge realistic expectations (i.e. getting to where we got is more than we hoped for), I am toying around with the thought that Rodgers’ saying before the Niners game: “We’ll have to beat them there (i.e. on the road) once” was almost a prophecy, and the fact they failed to do so then, makes me kind of fantasize about making it a reality, just when it matters the most, at the NFC conference final. But my fan-free prediction is that we get knocked out on the divisional round, and Lamar comes away with the MVP + Lombardi trophy, after having beaten Drew Brees and the Saints in Miami.