Seriously. It doesn’t take much to get to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Of the league-leading 37 sacks the Packers have given up this season, only six have been recorded when opposing teams blitz. That’s only 16 percent. In other words, the recipe for shutting down the Packers offense is pretty simple – send your four best pass rushers and drop seven into coverage.
It’s tough to find an open man when seven defenders are covering five receivers, which partially explains why Rodgers is holding onto the ball so long.
By my count, Rodgers could have avoided 12 sacks by throwing the ball away. Essentially, Rodgers is responsible 32 percent of time he’s sacked. There’s no excuse for Rodgers’ propensity for holding onto the ball so long, but it’s understandable when you consider he’s trying to make plays with an outmatched group of receivers. But more on that later…
Not surprisingly, Packers’ opponents have fared well with outside rushes. The left side of the Packers line has been a sieve with the vast majority of sacks coming through the left tackle position – a combination of Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge and T.J. Lang. Opposing left defensive ends have recorded the most sacks against the Packers, but the numbers are buoyed by the performances of the Vikings’ Jared Allen (7.5 sacks) and the Bengals’ Antwan Odom (4 sacks). Those two players have accounted for 31 percent of the Packers total.
Left guard and part-time left tackle Daryn Colledge has allowed the most sacks, with seven. Not faring much better is right guard Allen Barbre, who has allowed 6.5 sacks.
Colledge and Barbre have obviously been the weak links along the line, but injuries to the Packers receiving corp hasn’t helped the situation.
Jordy Nelson sat out the last three games with a sprained knee. Brett Swain was placed on injured reserve two weeks ago. Tight end Jermichael Finley has missed the last two games. The injuries have left the Packers with five serviceable targets – receivers Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones, and tight ends Donald Lee and Spencer Havner – and two guys they brought up from the practice squad – Jake Allen and Biren Ealy.
That’s not exactly a recipe for running the four receiver set the Packers used to kill opponents in the past. In fact, it’s more of a recipe for what you saw in Tampa, last week – Rodgers unable to find a receiver, holding onto the ball too long and getting sacked or throwing into coverage and getting intercepted.
Nelson is a good bet to return this week. Finley is a possibility.
Adding those two players could help the Packers disguise some of their offensive shortcomings, in the future. It’s unlikely to help much against the Dallas Cowboys, though, especially if they only have to rush four men to pressure Rodgers.
To see all the times Rodgers has been sacked this season, as well as the circumstances, take a look at Madison.com’s Sack Tracker.