Packers: The Reasons for Rodgers’ Recent Struggles

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reacts during their 17-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reacts during their 17-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /
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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ranks outside the top 20 in completions, attempts, yards, and completion percentage out of NFL quarterbacks. What does he have to do to get back to elite level and lead the league in some passing stats?

Even by upping his stats with four game projections, Aaron Rodgers still can’t crack the top 20 in most passing stats for the Packers. 

Many thought, including me, that the former MVP would return to dominance with the return of his favorite receiver Jordy Nelson. Nelson opened up the field better than any receiver the team had last year.

Without that presence, the offense was lack luster and defenses could stuff the box. Bringing Jordy back was the simple solution that many thought would open back up the offense and return Rodgers and the Packer’s offense to their former selves.

Although Jordy is back, he doesn’t seem to be at 100% and hasn’t been running as many routes that stretch the field as he usually has in the past. The other three players who could have filled that role as deep threat are also out or coming back from injury and have been disappointing.

The Rodgers of old would never hesitate to throw the football in the tiniest of holes, but this recent Rodgers seems too worried to turn it over. Players have called him out on it like when TJ Lang stated that Rodgers has more than enough time and the offense needs to start using that time to make plays.

Jeff Janis proved to be a potential deep threat in the playoff game against the Cardinals last year. He has had struggles learning the playbook, but defenses would have to account for him being out there even if he only had to run easy deep routes.

Unfortunately he was out with a fractured right hand to start the year, but got his first playing time on Sunday verse the Detroit Lions. If he can get to game speed quick, the Packers may be able to see if he can keep producing similar play like he did in the playoff game.

Jared Cook was another player who many thought could help stretch the field. The Packers have lacked a receiving tight end since the days of Jermichael Finely and Cook looked to be that guy they have been looking for. Six receptions for 53 yards hasn’t been anywhere close to what many had expected.

Cook is fast for a tight end, but Rodgers and him haven’t found any chemistry it seems. Now with him sitting out the game verse the New York Giants, that chemistry wont be able to improve.

The last player who could possibly have been help with stretching the field as fifth round pick out of Cal, Trevor Davis. Davis shouldn’t have to be that option this early in his career although. He is young and needs time, but the Packers, realizing that they need a deep threat in their gameplan, have been giving him some plays. One of which led to big pass interference play against Detroit.

Sep 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and head coach Mike McCarthy talk against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at EverBank Field. Green Bay Packers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and head coach Mike McCarthy talk against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at EverBank Field. Green Bay Packers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The four options to stretch the field haven’t been producing. None of them have been consistent or had enough playing time. The blame cant be fully placed on these players although as Rodgers and Mike McCarthy can take some of the blame as well.

Rodgers has averaged his two lowest seasons as a starter in yards per completion. Last year we could attribute that to Nelson’s absence, but this year is a different story.

Rodgers doesn’t seem to quite have the confidence he has had and some of his throws in the earlier games you could notice this. Instead of his usual sideline throw to Jordy, where Jordy would catch it while just keeping his toes in bounds, Rodgers would throw it a little too far in front leading to an out of bounds pass.

The Rodgers of old would never hesitate to throw the football in the tiniest of holes, but this recent Rodgers seems too worried to turn it over. Players have called him out on it like when TJ Lang stated that Rodgers has more than enough time and the offense needs to start using that time to make plays.

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Rodgers improved this against Detroit in week three and started to look like his dominant self. He threw for four touchdowns and 200 yards in the first half, but the second half was a different story. McCarthy seemed to  be less aggressive with his play calling and because of this, Detroit was able to come back. McCarthy finally got Rodgers rolling and decided to contain him and attempt to control the second half. With the struggles Rodgers has had this year, letting him loose seems like a much better idea. Let him build that trust with his receivers and let him take risks that build his confidence again.

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Although the offense has been struggling this year, Rodgers should get it figured out. McCarthy needs to get his offense moving and part of that solution will be getting Rodgers to throw deep. He is averaging his fewest yards per attempt in his career which bottles up not only him, but Eddie Lacy and James Starks as well. The offensive line is giving him time and if they continue to do so, Rodgers should be able to start finding receivers, gaining chemistry and becoming a top quarterback again.

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