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Midweek Miscellanea: Best Season Ever for Aaron?

On October 27, I did a post on the biggest reason the Packers are an improved team in Matt LaFleur’s second year as head coach. Though I listed four possibilities, I decided the predominant improvement was having more depth throughout the roster.

After our quarterback’s nearly flawless game against the 49ers, however, I’m going to switch to my first runner-up: “that Aaron Rodgers has resurrected his game.”

At the halfway mark in the season, Rodgers performance is nip-and-tuck (as my generation would say) to his 2011 season – that’s when Aaron set the all-time NFL annual passer rating record of 122.5. Here are some comparisons between 2011 (first number) and 2020, with Aaron’s current numbers projected over the entire regular season: Passing yards – 4,643 vs. 4,506; Average yards per attempt – 9.2 vs. 8.0; Completion percentage – 68.3 vs. 67.5; Touchdowns – 45 vs 48; Interceptions – 6 vs. 4. Aaron’s passer rating now leads the league at 117.5 – a smidge better than Russell Wilson’s.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to pass against the Minnesota Vikings during their football game Sunday, November 1, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
Apc Packvsviking 1101201044a

This comparison overlooks a number of things. For one, Rodgers was rested by sitting out the final regular season game of 2011. The biggest difference by far, however, is that ten years ago Rodgers had Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, and James Starks to throw to. Taking that into account, I’d opine that Rodgers is personally having the best year ever.

Apportioning the defensive snaps. I have to assume that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine feels he has a lot of players of roughly equal ability (some might say inability). Against the Niners, he handed out the defensive line snaps as follows: Kingsley Keke 33, Kenny Clark 31, Montravious Adams 26, Dean Lowry 25, and Tyler Lancaster 22. – Clark was presumably not yet back at full strength.

He did much the same with the OLBs: Preston Smith 35, Za’Darius Smith 32, Rashan Gary 24, Randy Ramsey 16, and Jonathan Garvin 14. Some of the sharing had to do with it being the second game in five days; still, it’s a vote of confidence in Gary, Ramsey, and Garvin. We’ll need a strong showing by Rashan in the playoffs.

The ILB duties are also being widely shared. Oren Burks and Ty Summers each got 34 defensive snaps, while starter Krys Burks, who left the game with an injury, had 24. Filling in at cornerback for first-stringers Alexander and King were: Josh Jackson (56 snaps), Chandon Sullivan (35), Ka”Dar Hollman (26), and Stanford Samuels (13). That’s an indication of confidence in Jackson – another guy who could give the team a boost come January. I must admit I had forgotten Hollman, a sixth-round choice in 2019, was even on the team.

The opportunities for playing time being given to the second- and third-stringers are going to pay dividends as injuries continue to take their toll as the season progresses.

The other Aaron. The stats of Aaron Jones on the season are vexing. Just returned after missing Weeks 7 and 8, Aaron has had but one solid game out of six on the year – in Week 2, he ran up 236 yards, including 168 on the ground in just 18 carries. His next best rushing mark is 71 yards, and he’s yet to average five yards per rush in these other games. He also continues to be under-utilized in the passing game – most of his targets have been dump-offs, rather than planned plays.

Oct 25, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur jogs off the field after the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I put the majority of the blame on play caller LaFleur. As I’ve previously said, Jones should be sent outside the tackles on about one out of every three rushes. He’s a finesse runner, not a power runner, so he needs to be put in open spaces to do his thing. Open spaces exist outside of the tackles, not up the gut. Instead, LaFleur keeps sending him straight into the muddle in the middle.

He also needs to hit the holes quickly, before the defenders break loose of the blockers. Instead, LaFleur likes to use an I-formation, which starts Aaron out eight yards back of the line of scrimmage.

Finally, LaFleur isn’t using as much deception, misdirection, or options as he should on the team’s run calls. What’s with all the guys going in motion all game long but never getting the ball?

Sorry, but I’m back to what I’ve been saying for over three years: the talents of Aaron Jones are being squandered. Currently, Jones is getting a loss or a gain of no more than a yard on about every other carry. Those plays need to be ripped out of the play book.

Prevent defenses. I think many fans will agree: to me, a prevent defense means allowing the opposing team to quickly cover the length of the field and score a TD in a couple of minutes or less. More often than not, the Pack has been dominating the adversary, especially on defense, when the “prevent” tactic is employed. The predictable result is that the defense starts willingly giving up lots of easy yardage, with the additional result being that the offense also goes into its own prevent mode – by resorting almost exclusively to predictable runs up the middle. This unsurprisingly results in a series of three-and-outs.

More than anything, though, what prevent defenses accomplish is switching the momentum and control that a team had worked hard to achieve back over to the other guys. There’s a time and place for prevent defenses, but in my opinion the Packers highly overuse the tactic. The best way to prevent a comeback by the other team is for the offense to maintain control of the ball – and the clock.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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24 Comments

  1. Mick November 11, 2020

    For a decade, the over use of the prevent / bend but don’t break defense has scorched my ass. This started with Capers and continues to this day with Pettine. Makes no sense. If you rush 3 down lineman you drop 8 and still cannot keep the other team from marching up and down the field. No wonder this defense doesn’t get turnovers. 1st, no pressure on the quarterback to induce turnovers; 2nd, even the best secondaries in football can only cover for so long. Talk about giving the other team the momentum. Yes, there is a time when you can use the prevent, like when you’re up by 20 with little left on the clock. On the offensive side, LaFleur is getting too cautious towards the end of close games to be calling runs up the middle to eat up time; and putting too much faith in our defensive scheme (ie prevent) to stop the opponent. One more point to consider, we only have one dominate DL on the team (Clarke); 2 journeymen beside him; that’s 3 DL going against 5 OL. No wonder we can’t get pressure on the QB. Good coaches realize QB pressure is as important as sacks.

    Reply
  2. PF4L November 11, 2020

    “Bend, but don’t break defense.”
    .
    The term….invented for job security of defense coordinators who didn’t have a good defense.

    Reply
  3. Stiggy November 11, 2020

    My grandfather used to say “the only thing ghe prevent defense can do is prevent you from winning”

    Reply
  4. PF4L November 12, 2020

    I was a bit put off by things Rodgers and to an extent Adams said about dealing with the Covid, not pissed off, just a bit put off.
    .
    In an AP article concerning an interview with “The Pat McAfee Show.”. Aaron complained about the plexiglass they have in the locker rooms, and how they are limited in getting together with other players, (socializing, going out to eat, etc). How it hurts the chemistry of the team.
    ……………
    Seriously Aaron? You poor football players, being protected to make it through a whole season. The NFL has about 15 billion in revenue, the players get about 48% of that if they play a full season. that’s about 7.5 billion dollars.
    …………
    I get it, you guys are suffering, you can’t make the rookies pay for your meals, you can’t go out to eat with a bunch of team mates, you have to keep distance and practice protocols.
    ………..
    If your team chemistry suffers because of protocols, so do the 31 other teams….so no team has an edge, it’s even. Get the fuck over it.
    ………..
    I’m not sure…..but i’m guessing there are millions of people who are worse off than you NFL players. Almost 250 thousand Americans have died because of Covid, that’s one empty chair at the dinner table, that’s almost 250,000 funerals. Right noiw we have over 1,500 people a DAY dying from this virus in America. Worldwide that the death toll jumps to over 10,000 deaths a DAY.
    Not to mention the tens of millions who contracted the virus, the millions who luckily made it out of ICU with their life.
    …………………………….
    Then the economic impact of all workers, millions who lost their jobs, some who are hanging onto their jobs by the skin of their teeth, especially those who rely on tips.
    I could go on and on.
    ………….
    Here’s the bottom line…..yes, plexiglass sucks, it sucks you can’t break bread with your team mates. What doesn’t suck is your working, made possible largely by the rules and protocols in place to protect you, and protect your employer and your business.
    …………….
    May i suggest…….Be thankful….Maybe make a media headline for something worthy, Like…idk…how about you and Adams take 10% out of one game check of 1 plus million, and help some families in Brown County that got hit hard financially from the Pandemic?
    …………
    Millions of us have to make sacrifices each day…..whether it’s sustainable income, lost lives, severe illness, family members, jobs, social life, living in stress, worrying about our children in schools, in public, etc.
    Our Country, our World right now, has much larger issues than the chemistry of your football team, or plexiglass in your locker room.

    Reply
  5. Mick November 12, 2020

    Way to put things in perspective; I agree wholeheartedly,,,,,,,,, !

    Reply
  6. PF4L November 12, 2020

    Can anyone tell me anything about Lazard or Kirksey. I thought they were coming off IR
    Does anyone have info whether Kirksey is lost for the season, having surgery?
    I pay for good information because i know i can’t get any from the Packers, and God forbid a reporter ask. Because they’ve probably been instructed….not to ask.
    Yes, that stuff goes on concerning the Packers and the media.

    Reply
    1. Howard November 12, 2020

      That question was just asked in today’s press conference about 15 minutes ago. LaFleur said, in part, they will be activated when they are ready(???). The Packers still have another week to activate both or they will revert back to IR for the entire season.
      .
      My guess, and it is only a guess, is The team will activate Lazard this week and give him limited snaps. I don’t think the Packers activate Kirksey this week, they wait till next week and then give Kirksey limited snaps against the Colts.

      Reply
      1. PF4L November 12, 2020

        My guess, and it is only a guess, is information on Kirksey is a secret. The motivation?…….If he’s out for the season, and/or needs surgery, then it is quite obvious it was a terrible signing, not because he got injured specifically, but because of his previous 2 years of injuries that kept him out of 23 games AND, the injury being the same as last season.
        Remember, his injury was first reported as a shoulder injury. Now excuse me….but did the Packers medical staff not know the difference between a shoulder injury and a pectoral injury, for like, 2 or 3 weeks? (FLAG) Then they (finally) disclose it as a pectoral injury. Not saying (of course) whether it’s a torn pectoral, the reason he missed 14 games last season.
        ………………………..
        I’ve been calling this for weeks. Not that it took deep thinking, i didn’t like this signing from the get go for obvious reasons. PF4L March 16, 2020
        I think the signing was a prayer and a reach if you want to base it on recent history. I don’t get it and i think Gutes rolling the dice, but we’ll see what happens.
        .
        Sometimes the Packers read like a book.
        ………………………………………..
        GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Packers will be without Christian Kirksey for at least a game and possibly longer, sources told ESPN after the starting linebacker suffered a shoulder injury in Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints. – Rob Domovsky
        Did Rob talk about the injury discrepancy? Of course not, because’s Rob is a Green Bay Packer sheep.
        ……
        Again, how do you confuse a shoulder injury, with a pectoral injury for weeks, unless your purposely trying to hide something?
        …..
        I wouldn’t spend so much time on this, but as a loyal Packer fan….i don’t like my team lying to Packer Nation.
        I have a real problem with a team having stock sales, selling uber amounts of merchandise and goods, taking everyone’s hard earned millions of dollars, signing secret multi million dollar extensions, then lying to us so they don’t look bad, for a team…..the public (we) own(s).
        …..
        What’s next?…… did Murphy sign Pettine to a secret extension last winter?

        Reply
        1. PF4L November 12, 2020

          Lol…Yea, that Jim Owczarski is a hard hitter. Very articulate also.
          …………………………………………………………………………
          Jim Owczarski : ummm, hey Matt, are you gonna give Christian and Allen, kind of up until the weekend, or maybe take advantage of the full length of time, cuz i know they can go another week here or so i guess?
          Matt LeFleur : No, as soon as they are ready to go they’ll be back on the field.
          ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
          .
          He really pinned him down, so that could mean…next season they be ready “or so i guess”?
          .
          .
          Now, granted, i’m not a professional beat reporter, i don’t possess that skillset. But could he have followed up with……How soon do you see them being ready? Or out of the two, which is closer to coming back? Or God forbid….do you anticipate both players being brought back?

          Reply
  7. Mick November 12, 2020

    Howards’ info above is the same that Aaron Nagler reported on Cheesehead TV.this am. Not sure about Kirksey, he did mention Lazard participating in practice but,, not sure if it’s full participation.

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 12, 2020

      I only really care about Lazard anyway, because i don’t think Kirksey was all that good when he was healthy, but in all fairness, you’d want to see a larger sample size.
      ……………..
      It will be nice if Lazard can come back, the last time he was on the field with Jones and Adams was week two i believe.

      Reply
  8. Mick November 12, 2020

    I believe you’re correct. Lazard, Jones and Adams have only been on the field, at the same time in 3 out of the 8 games played; so far. (i,e Nagler) Ya, I think the Kirksey signing was a knee jerk reaction to losing Martinez. They said he was familiar with Pettines’ scheme. Didn’t they say the same thing about Wilkerson? Didn’t work out so well; for whatever reason. No other team offered him a contract, probably because of his injury history. He was productive, when healthy in Cleveland. I just wish Gute would address this position, along with interior DL, properly, and stop putting band-ades on a broken leg. Hope the best for Kirksey——- we’re gonna need him.

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 12, 2020

      I thought it was 2 out of 8 if i remember right, Lazard had that monster game in week 3 when Adams was out.
      .
      The same game Kirksey kicked in 3 tackles, Preston had 1 tackle, and Barnes had 4. I think i’m gonna roll with the young hungry players trying to earn 8 million a year themselves.
      I could be wrong, but my guess is Kirksey is toast the rest of the season, and i ain’t wrong often brother, but we’ll see what happens.

      Reply
  9. Mick November 12, 2020

    Ya, you’re probably right. I got the 3 out of 8 from Naglers show. Now that u mentioned it, I remember Lazards big game was without Adams. From the little action we’ve seen from Kirksey, I wasn’t impressed, The youngsters Barnes and Martin show more instincts, are better in pass pro and seem to be better tacklers. All they need is more experience,,,,,,, let them play.

    Reply
  10. PF4L November 13, 2020

    Mick…i’m lost, i can’t find that Nagler article where he speaks about Lazard and Kirksey. I think you said it was from yesterday morning, i listen to his podcast (sort of) but didn’t hear anything….any help?

    Reply
    1. stiggy November 13, 2020

      Speaking of help..

      “We have a defense” Aaron Rodgers after a week 1 win against the bears last year.

      Unfortunately the reality is….the bears had mitch t……that’s what really happened

      Reply
  11. PF4L November 13, 2020

    If memory serves….The defense was pretty stout the 1st 3 games last season giving up about 11 PPG. They ended the season giving up i think 19.5 PPG (a substantial improvement over the 2018 season. I was going to do a comparison of the first half of last seasons defense, with the first half this season. But i didn’t want to take the time. You can guess the results fairly closely.
    .
    This season the defense is back to giving up 25.5 PPG, largely playing a bunch of Gomer teams. This Sunday is no different.
    .
    Hard to rip on a 6-2 team. But when you keep beating 1 or 2 win teams, this could be regarded as “the easy part” of the NFL season. Our next test is the 1-7 Jags. “The Easy Part”
    .
    Some could call the NFL playoffs ….a reality check. Which seems to describe the playoffs, perfectly for the Packers the last 9 years.
    .
    We’ll just keep…………waiting

    Reply
  12. PF4L November 13, 2020

    Paul Vernon Hornung ….R.I.P.

    Reply
  13. Mick November 13, 2020

    Hey PF4L, that Nagler article was a live stream from Nov 10th; I didn’t view it until the 11th. Sorry for the mix up on the date. (my bad) His article was about 20 minutes long; the Lazard segment was at around the 3:25 mark; and Kirksey near the end of segment. On you tube, cheesehead tv; scroll down to videos; and select ;; “getting healthy at halfway point”. On a sadder note, Packers Wire just posted an article from Adam Shefter that hall of famer Paul Hornung passed away at age 84 from dementia!

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 14, 2020

      Thank you Sir.

      Reply
  14. PF4L November 14, 2020

    Just because……
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    Vince Vaughn is catching shit from Liberals for shaking hands and talking to Trump at the National Championship game…..last January.
    .
    Liberals cherish and celebrate American’s freedoms. Whether it be, kneeling, protesting, turning their backs on arson, looting, etc….hatred over others for years, obsession with destroying someone over the years (self proclaimed (Nov. 2016- Nov. 2020).
    .
    Rest assured..Liberals celebrate and cherish their freedom, and your freedom.
    UNLESS…..you do something despicable like Vince Vaughn did.that they don’t like!!
    Yes..freedoms Liberal’s cherish, unless they don’t accept it. In that case you, you have no freedom, and they want a God damn explanation. They want answers!!!
    .
    You can’t handle the truth!!

    Reply
    1. Kato November 15, 2020

      Or dare release a Spiderman video game where black Spiderman works with the police department, which apparently doesn’t condemn police

      Reply
    2. MMSUCKS November 15, 2020

      PF4L! I truly respect your Packer POV and knowledge, and wit! However . . .I do not even know where to begin with this gibberish . . . For fuck sake! Stick to football!
      *
      PF4L: “hatred over others for years, obsession with destroying someone over the years (self proclaimed (Nov. 2016- Nov. 2020).” What? You mean what McConnell and the Republicans did to Obama for 8 years? You know; “the party of NO!. Or, “Obstruct! Obstruct! Obstruct! . . . Or did you forget about that? Or are you just cherry-picking?
      *
      In my understanding, that is hypocrisy . . .

      Reply
      1. MMSUCKS November 15, 2020

        Or better still, from McConnell’s own mouth; “We will make Obama a one term president” . . . Hmmm. Did you forget about this one as well?????????

        Reply

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