Aaron Rodgers is one of the most talented quarterbacks in all of football. When he is at his peak, there may not be a better player in the game at his position. At times, he has made the impossible look easy.
He’s a two-time NFL MVP and a Super Bowl champion. That’s what makes his recent stretch of play so mind boggling.
Last season, the Packers came into the year hoping to make another run at the Super Bowl with Rodgers at the helm. The offense was touted to be perhaps the best in football. They had a lot of weapons that they believed in and a good offensive line.
The season never really got off the ground. Jordy Nelson was lost for the season with an ACL injury. Despite that, the team did start 6-0 before floundering through the rest of the season. Typically in Rodgers’ career when they’ve lost, the defense has been the main culprit.
Last season was different. The offense was inconsistent and at times incompetent. All of these things were true even though they had the most talented quarterback in the NFL.
This season was supposed to be different. Nelson was back. That was supposed to give the offense a shot in the arm. Rodgers was going to return to form. Last season was going to look like just a fluke.
Through five games it has not panned out that way. Outside of the first half against the Lions where he looked every bit like the Rodgers we’ve all come to know, he’s been below average.
While statistics can lie, there are some that are rather alarming. Going into yesterday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, Rodgers ranked last in the NFL in completion percentage.
He still has yet to top 300 yards since Week 9 of last season. Most of those yards came in garbage time against the Carolina Panthers. Rodgers has not been his dominant self in well over a year.
A lot of things have been blamed in that time frame. The loss of Nelson was widely seen as the biggest reason as to why the Packers offense went off the rails.
After the Nelson injury, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy’s decision to give up the play calling duties was the next excuse in line for Rodgers. Once McCarthy took the play calling back, the excuses went to the offense as a whole. The thought is the scheme does not fit the players, and the receivers cannot get open. That makes life harder on Rodgers and causes his poor play.
While there are certainly other things wrong with the offense, Rodgers has left plenty of plays on the field as well.
He is erratic and unsure of himself. It seems as if every other play he is double clutching on his throws. Typically, that is a sign of an inexperienced quarterback. Obviously, Rodgers has plenty of experience at this point in his career. He is not trusting what he is seeing, which leads to poor decisions.
Rodgers as previously stated once made the impossible look easy. His pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this season with Jalen Ramsey draped all over him is an example of that.
Now, Rodgers makes the easy look almost impossible. In yesterday’s game against the Cowboys, Rodgers had several opportunities to make plays with open receivers. The pass was either off target or worse yet, out of bounds.
The most egregious of these came with the Packers trailing 20-6. Rodgers had Randall Cobb wide open in the end zone. This was an easy throw that even some of the worst quarterbacks in football could easily make.
Usually, this is a throw Rodgers would hit Cobb right in the chest. Instead, he airmailed the throw and missed Cobb badly.
This is an example of an open receiver and big play that Rodgers missed.
In the past, this was not as big of a deal if Rodgers were to miss such a throw. The offense was prolific enough to where it had a large margin for error. With the recent struggles, the margin is significantly smaller.
Some of Rodgers’ completions even look difficult. The ball is behind the receiver or too low. He has lost the prolific accuracy that made him a two-time MVP.
Ultimately, outside of Bob McGinn from Gannett Media, few have blamed Rodgers for the Packers’ offensive struggles. Instead, they blame they receivers or head coach.
It’s as if Rodgers has become immune to criticism from the outside world, but the reality is that he deserves his share of the credit for the offense’s woes.
It’s easy to say the sample size is small after five games, but this extends beyond a full year. Since starting 6-0 last season, the Packers are a completed Hail Mary away from being 6-9 in their last 15 games.
That makes the team exactly what their quarterback is right now. Average or just slightly below.
If Rodgers cannot return to form, the Packers will not have to worry about making a run at the Super Bowl. They’ll be unable to beat any good teams along with beating some of the bad ones around the league.