The one player the Green Bay Packers never thought they would need to worry this season was Aaron Rodgers. Yet, as the Packers ready themselves for the final playoff push–one player that has continued to struggle has been Rodgers.
The struggles of Rodgers have been curious. He started the season on fire and was an MVP candidate. Then starting with the game against the Rams, his played dropped off. And he hasn’t been the same since.
The reigning MVP is still throwing plenty of touchdown passes and few interceptions, but in the Packers 30-13 win over the Vikings on Sunday his accuracy was alarmingly bad at times. He completed only 48 percent of his passes and this is a guy that has completed better than 65 percent in his career.
This season Rodgers completion percentage is 61.7, by far the worst mark of his career. And in his last five outings he has only completed 60 percent or more of his passes once.
Some of the decline can be attributed to the loss of Jordy Nelson, as well as the injuries that have seemingly run rampant through the receiving core, sidelining promising rookie Ty Montgomery and second-year player Jared Abbrederis in the same game that he started making an impact.
Yet there is no question that in the Packers victory over the Vikings, Rodgers missed a number of throws that he normally makes with ease. Numerous times he overthrew or under threw open receivers and still he seems uncomfortable in the pocket.
One promising sign is that Rodgers was able to get outside the pocket more than he has in recent weeks and that led to some big plays. Late in the second quarter, Rodgers broke contain and threw deep to Jeff Janis who was able to draw a 48-yard pass interference penalty.
In the fourth quarter on the games key drive, Rodgers broke contain to find James Jones down the sideline for a key first down on third down. Later on the drive, Rodgers did the same thing and found Jones in the end zone for the game clinching 27-yard touchdown.
It’s not as if Rodgers isn’t making plays and throwing for 212 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions is nothing to scoff at. But Rodgers hasn’t been himself. He is an elite quarterback and when he’s on, he’s as good as anyone in the NFL. He is simply too good and too talented to not start playing better.
The Packers just have to hope he breaks out of this slump sooner rather than later. The stretch run is here and the playoffs are coming.