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A Realistic Goal for Aaron Rodgers on Sunday

The way the Packers’ quarterback himself has been tamping down expectations, you’d think we were sending out Blake Bortles to play against the Seahawks.

Rodgers had this to say as he commenced the new decade in a lengthy interview on January 2:

“. . .we gotta execute and get on the same page. I think the timing’s been off, you know, a lot of the year, so it’s not gonna get fixed in the next few days. . .but there’s, I think, too many concepts that we’ve really tried to hit, and keep hitting, and make work, but we just aren’t on the same page timing wise. . .”

Things aren’t that hopeless, Packers fans. There are ample indications that the Packers offense will play well on Sunday. I’m having good feelings that Rodgers will rise to the occasion – better than anyone else on the team, he knows the Pack – other than in 2011 – is on the best path to the Super Bowl in his entire career – the prospects are certainly much better than they were when Green Bay snuck into the playoffs after the 2010 regular season.

Aaron Rodgers celebrates win over Raiders

Oct 20, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates following the game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Passer Ratings

The formula the NFL uses for passer ratings is imperfect, but it’s a pretty good short-hand way to assess a quarterback’s play, especially over an extended period of time. Though it’s true that Aaron’s passer rating has been going downward for the last three years, let’s not assume Aaron has no more good games left in him.

As an aside, maybe it should be called the passing rating, because not only does it reflect the quarterback’s performance, it also reflects the performances of the offensive line and the abilities of the team’s receivers – and it doesn’t factor in the strength of the opposing defense.

Yes, in the last four games (all wins), Rodgers’ rating has averaged only 78.8. As recently, however, as December 1, Aaron had a 125.1 rating, and threw for four touchdowns, against the Giants. And it wasn’t that long ago – late October – when Aaron had back-to-back passer ratings of 158.3 and 129.0. He certainly hasn’t notably physically declined since then.

Aaron maintained a rating of over 100 for much of the season. Even after the Week 12 disaster against the 49ers, Aaron’s rating was still above 100. So, should we assume we’ll see the Aaron of the last four games, or will it be the Aaron we saw during the majority of the season? I’m inclined to believe that Aaron will deliver a passer rating performance of 100 or better against the Hawks. That should be plenty for a win.

Jamaal Williams celebrates win over Panthers at Lambeau

Nov 10, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams (30) celebrates after the Packers defeated the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Home Field

Over the last six games in this intense rivalry, the Packers and Seahawks have each won three games. But in each case, the home team has been the victor. This is reason enough for the home fans to get excited.

As to the weather factor, the only game played in the cold was the Week 14 game in 2016, played on December 11 at Lambeau. It was the most decisive win in the recent 6-game series, with the Packers outscoring Seattle 38 to 10 – the temperature was 26 degrees that day.

The (early) projected temperature at game time on Sunday is 28 degrees, with a chance of up to an inch of snow, though likely in the morning.

How did Aaron and Russell perform in those three games at Lambeau? In 2015, Aaron’s rating was 116.9, while Russell’s was 91.8. In 2016, Aaron’s was 150.8, while Wilson’s was 43.7 – Wilson three for five interceptions on that day. In 2017, Aaron’s rating was 86.5, and Russell’s was 69.7.

Maybe we should stop obsessing over Aaron’s performance, and focus on how badly Wilson has performed at Lambeau’s place over the last four years: 91.8, 43.7, and most recently 69.7.

More Reasons for Optimism

Besides the home field advantage and the weather, there are other factors that bode well for the Packers.

The Packers are the healthier team – it’s likely they’ll have their full set of starters available for the game. The Seashawks have recently lost all three of their top running backs: Chris Carson, C. J. Prosise, and Rashaad Penny.

They Hawks are left at running back with rookie (sixth rounder) Travis Homer, Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin – the latter two came off their rec room couches to join the team in the last couple of weeks. Against the Eagles, Homer and Lynch combined for a total of 19 yards rushing.

As to pass blocking efficiency, Pro Football Focus rates left tackle David Bakhtiari the league’s best and right tackle Brian Bulaga second best at his position. Though PFF rates the Pack’s O-line only thirteenth best overall, the Seahawks come in nineteenth on that basis. Many others rate the Packers’ O-line as a top-ten unit.

For those concerned about the late-season drop-off in Rodgers play, the same is true of Wilson. In three of his last four regular season games, his ratings were 95.1, 78.6, and 69.8. He had a nice playoff game, however against the Eagles: 18 of 30 for 325 yards, one touchdown, and a 108.1 rating.

The Packers are of course more rested, and they’ve had an extra week to focus on Sunday’s game.

In addition, other than in the Seattle-Eagles game, the running games of the postseason competitors have been as much of a factor as have the passing attacks. The Titans owe their win over New England almost entirely to the exploits of running back Derrick Henry. Between them, the Texans and the Bills ran up 313 yards on the ground. The victorious Vikings ran the ball 40 times, while the Saints ran only 17 times.

So long as Matt LaFleur allows it, Aaron Jones should have his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the year against the Hawks – and fourth in his last five games. ShowTyme is on a roll, and he’s rested! Seattle was ranked thirteenth best against the run during the regular season.

QB Aaron Rodgers throws against NY Giants

Dec 1, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass against the New York Giants during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Clincher

Rodgers realizes that he’s two wins away from playing in his second Super Bowl. Aaron knows this is likely his best chance, at this stage of his career, for winning another Lombardi Trophy. Russell Wilson is only in mid-career.

Green Bay, and its quarterback, have the stronger, and more immediate, incentives to play well and prevail on Sunday.

Tags:
Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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35 Comments

  1. Skinny January 9, 2020

    Id still say 2014 was the best path to get back. But how ridiculous is it that no one is talking about this Packers team? Its been all Seattle talk. All Seattle player interviews on the big networks and sports talk radio. Total crap. Nationally, no one respects this Packer team.

    1. SCPKRFAN January 10, 2020

      And I am ok with that. Let them drink their own Jim Jones concoction of cool aid. We need to be the more focused team. And besides Marshawn’s lungs are full of THC and that 28 degrees will not bode well to those said lungs.

      1. PF4L January 11, 2020

        ^^^

    2. KzooPackFan January 10, 2020

      I just chalk that up to recency bias. The Sea-gals played last week, and won a playoff game. GB didn’t play. Much more to talk about with Seattle. ESPN has 8 channels to fill up 24 hours a day with talk garbage. And if GB gets a little extra motivated feeling like they are being snubbed, fine by me.

      1. Skinny January 10, 2020

        Ross Tucker drinking Viking kool aid by the gallons now on the Dan Patrick Show. Hes all in on the Vikings after one god damn week! Unreal. Says Vikings/Niners game is NFC title game because Packers or Seahawks wont beat either one next week. These “analyst” assholes should have to pay a fine for being allowed to spout off on live radio.

  2. Kato January 9, 2020

    I am confused. Does anyone remember Kenny Clark getting injured in the Detroit game? I literally don’t remember him hurting his back, I feel like that came out of left field

    1. Skinny January 10, 2020

      Fuck, fuck, fuck. Clark is now questionable for Sunday. Cant have that. They need him. God dammit!

  3. Deepsky January 9, 2020

    Rodgers had better play better or it will be a quick exit. The Seahawks will score on the Packers, they’ve scored on other teams with good pass defenses. The Vikings have a similar pass defense to the Packers and the Seahawks scored 37 on them. The Steelers have a much better pass defense than the Packers and the Seahawks scored 28 on them on the road. I understand that there is a timing issue when the guy is 25 yards downfield and you have to hit him in where only he can catch it, but when the guy is 5 yards right in front of you and doing a crossing pattern, you better him him in stride and not put it in his back pocket. Rodgers gets paid too much to play like Dak Prescott or Derek Carr.

    1. PF4L January 9, 2020

      Sometimes i wonder why we even drafted him.

      1. SCPKRFAN January 10, 2020

        I see what you did there…..

        1. PF4L January 10, 2020

          Well, that one :)

          1. PF4L January 11, 2020

            ‘s

    2. Skinny January 9, 2020

      Seahawks have zero chance in this game. Their praying a rookie WR and a 34 year old RB who just signed two weeks ago carry them all the way, lol. You cant make this shit up. Yet the national narrative is the Seahawks are going to win this game in Green Bay because the Packers are the worst 13-3 team of all time. Packers gonna send a big FU to the entire league after this one.

      1. Dubbless January 9, 2020

        Haven’t heard much Wilson MVP talk lately. Would love to see the Smiths bat one up into the air for a Martinez pick 6. Lambeau is gonna be rockin’! GPG!

        1. Skinny January 9, 2020

          Well, don’t listen to Dan Patrick. All he does is kiss Wilsons ass for half the show.

          1. SCPKRFAN January 10, 2020

            Wait, Dan or Danica Patrick?

  4. PF4L January 10, 2020

    In other News: Well….it finally happened..Curt Cousins has finally reached the pinnacle of his career. after 8 long painstaking years, he finally won something. Yea…i’m blown away also.
    *
    With the help of the refs under directive from the NFL, Curt finally won a playoff game, they can’t take that great achievement away from him. i would imagine the NFL or the Queens franchise will reward him with a ribbon of some sort.
    *
    For Curt and the queens, come this Saturday, it will all go back to …business as usual.

    1. Ferris January 10, 2020

      It wasn’t a push off,he just extended his arm and nudged the DB back to be able to catch the ball and win the game. I know it looked just like a stiff arm from a 6’6″ huge man, but the refs say it wasn’t.
      I’m not sure what I’d be feeling if I were a Saints fan. The shit hole miracle, the PI tackle non call and now the stiff arm. They will always have this though.

      1. PF4L January 10, 2020

        Yea baby!!

      2. Kato January 10, 2020

        I am not sure how the refs didn’t see OPI on that play. Defensive back’s head rocked back and everything

  5. PF4L January 10, 2020

    “Rodgers realizes that he’s two wins away from playing in his second Super Bowl.” – Robster
    *
    As true as that is, and i almost can’t believe it myself. If that miracle somehow came to fruition, i couldn’t help but feel somewhat bittersweet about it. If the Packers somehow, someway got to the Super Bowl, going into the game, i’d like to think he has more ammunition than Jimmy G, Allison, etc.
    *
    Maybe Adams and Lazard can catch passes for 225 yards and 2 or 3 TD’s, and A. J. can run for 110 and a TD, and catch passes for 60 yards, and Rodgers can run one in himself because the defense forced a fumble at the 3 yard line. And someone on defense getting a pick 6. That i’m OK with. But now i should probably take a nap and try to sober up.

    1. KzooPackFan January 10, 2020

      That sounds like a pretty nice scenario…

      1. PF4L January 10, 2020

        I have been so confident and sure of myself proclaiming what this team is, and what it isn’t…that if the Packers actually do get to the Super Bowl, i should probably do the right thing and give myself a 3 month time out and just shut my ***** mouth.

  6. Deepsky January 10, 2020

    Take a look at the 2010-2011 Aaron Rodgers highlights vs the 2018-2019 Aaron Rodger highlights on YouTube.

    I’m convinced Rodgers throwing motion has changed. In the past, his throwing motion was higher and release was lightning fast. It is now more of a side arm push than an over the top throw, even on the long throws. His arm simply doesn’t arc as high and his speed is much slower. It looks like an Uncle Rico throw in comparison to what it used to look like.

    Makes me wonder if his broken collar bone on his throwing arm is affecting his throw, preventing him from coming over the top.

    I invite anyone to look at the old Youtube videos and see if they see the same thing.

    1. PF4L January 10, 2020

      What does it mean….when you run out of things to bitch about Rodgers….you ain’t tryin hard enough.
      *
      Keep up the good work Deep.

  7. Deepsky January 10, 2020

    Here’s something else interesting. First 8 games Rodgers QB rating was 106 on average. The last 8 games his QB rating has been 84 on average.

    1. KzooPackFan January 10, 2020

      Rob / others,

      How much is QB rating affected by TD passes? Seems GB has a lot more touchdown runs this year that in the past would have been passes, primarily because we are effective running the ball in the red zone for a change! What I’m wondering is how much better would his rating be if we were passing more in the red zone, inevitably trading Jones rushing TDs for Rodgers passing TDs?

    2. Ferris January 11, 2020

      I’ll take 59 rating and a win.

  8. Howard January 10, 2020

    Kazoo, very good question. The TD to pass attempts is 1/4th of the overall calculation. Please see link for complete calculations formula.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passer_rating

    1. Kato January 10, 2020

      The lack of interceptions definitely boost Rodgers passer rating. The yards per attempt and completion % are what kills Rodgers this year more than anything. QBR is a better measure of how a QB is playing I feel

  9. Kato January 10, 2020

    I have criticized Rodgers quite a bit this year (and justifiably so in my mind). But I actually go into this game more worried about LaFluer than Rodgers. Rodgers has experience in the playoffs. I am a bit worried about LaFleur coaching “scared” in this game and being conservative. Anyone else have this concern? @PF4L @Howard

    1. Howard January 11, 2020

      Based on what I’ve seen of LaFleur this year, and the action of coaches LaFleur has worked under I see an aggressive LaFleur, not a scared/conservative LaFleur.
      I also believe with a lead in the 4th quarter LaFleur has seen the folly of being to aggressive (Falcons SB loss). If LaFleur forgets how to drain a clock in the 4th quarter with a lead I’m confident QB#1 and LaFleur will make the correct adjustments.
      I don’t know if running the ball is deemed scared/conservative, but I believe the Packers do need to run the ball 30+ times for a win. Some of those runs (3-4) will be jet fly runs to receivers/Ervin. The run and misdirection up front is going to open up some chunk plays.

      1. PF4L January 11, 2020

        What i like about LeFleur is i think he seems less conservative than Shanahan. I think the concepts the same, but LeFleur believes more in the long ball (in his own words). Unfortunately, that segment wasn’t implemented more often for obvious reasons.
        *
        Now it could very well be that Shanahan may be conservative about the long ball, because he doesn’t trust Garopollo fully enough to exercise it. which seemed like the case today, especially in the 2nd half.

  10. Empacador January 10, 2020

    “…he knows the Pack – other than in 2011 – is on the best path to the Super Bowl in his entire career” You mean that glorious 15-1 team that declined to win a single playoff game? Which got it’s ass handed to it by the Giants, and for the 2nd time in 4 years? That 2011? I think the 2014 and 2016 teams which actually won playoff games and participated in the NFC championship games would beg to differ. The Packers are 9-10 in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Packers are also 5-5 @ home in the playoffs since the seal was broken in the loss to Atlanta way back in 2001.
    ..
    That being said, I for one am not worried about LaFleur. He’s been in the playoffs before. I’m wondering more about whether all 3 phases can play together consistently at some point in this season before the season ends. There is no way in hell anyone should be saying this year’s team will be stomping anyone as I’ve seen comments on various sites all week. Aside from their record, this team should give everyone pause when it comes to being superior in any aspect. Let everyone else be praised and the Packers be forgotten. Going into last weekend, New Orleans was going to be the toughest team in the NFC according to all the talking heads on SiriusXM. If the Packers lose, they weren’t expected to do anything as the “worst” 13-3 team ever. And if they win, good lesson in humility for the idiots on ESPN and elsewhere that get caught up in the hype for whatever their team of the week is. I would think many of us here have somewhat learned that lesson after being routinely let down year after year since 2010. It is with guarded optimism I feel the Packers will win, but this team performed better than anyone would have predicted. Getting rid of McCarthy was a dream come true. It would be nice if this fairy-tale didn’t end quite yet.

    1. R.Duke January 10, 2020

      The revolution/evolution started when Gutedkunst shit-canned Damarious, traded Dix and then moved Whitehead to the unemployment line. Just getting the stiffs and scrubs out the door.
      Murphy, fearing for his life, made the bold play and let Big Mike get the armed escort to the SUV. How that guy was retained after the seaneedle disaster was perplexing. The malaise from that game endured for years. LaFleur is a Upper Michigan guy who understands the fundamentals of football. Looking for Jones and Williams to control the possessions and Rodgers to throw lazers. Keep MVS, and gMo on the bench. Pack wins in a snow globe.