Packers: How Green Bay Got Aaron Rodgers Back on Track

Following a fumble that was recovered for a touchdown, it was almost as if Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said enough is enough.

After his biggest mistake of the night, one that seemingly put a Packers win in jeopardy Thursday night against the Chicago Bears, something changed in the two-time MVP.

He started playing like himself again and never looked back.

After the turnover that led to a touchdown, Rodgers was flawless. He completed pass after pass, and did so with ease.

Slants, outs, back-shoulder fades — he hit them all — with deadly accuracy.

The struggles and the inability to hit open receivers was gone, the confidence was back and so was the play-making.

Rodgers found his rhythm, played with confidence and looked liked a quarterback capable of leading the Packers to the playoffs for an 8th straight year.

In all, Rodgers completed 39-of-56 passes. He finished the game with 326 yards passing (5.8 YPA) and threw three touchdowns. It was his first 300-yard game of the season and his passer rating ended up at 102.2

Rodgers’ QBR — a metric used by ESPN to judge quarterbacks on how they perform in the biggest moments — was 78.9.

And on a scale that goes up to 100, one where an average quarterback scores around 50, he ranked in the realm of the elite.

And that performance, which keyed a 26-10 win for the Packers, came just in the nick of a time.

Now, Green Bay has 10 days before it takes on Atlanta. It can get healthy and can figure out a plan at running back.

But if there is one takeaway from Thursday night, it’s that this year’s Packers, finally have a plan for Rodgers that works.

This isn’t the Packers of two years ago and the explosive plays may never come at the rate that they did during that season. But no matter.

Thanks to a strong defense, Green Bay doesn’t need to light up the scoreboard — it just has to do enough to win.

“You play how you have to play to win.” Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters after the game.

Yes you do and that’s exactly what McCarthy needs to keep his team doing.

With the running back position depleted, the Packers had no choice but to put the game on Rodgers’ shoulders and his response was one you’d expect from your franchise quarterback.

Rodgers was sharp from the get go, but Green Bay still left points on the board. Yet, quick passes to Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb, destroyed Chicago.

All three wide outs had at least 10 receptions and Adams had a career game with 13 for 132 and two touchdowns, which gave Green Bay its double-digit lead.

Gone from Rodgers’ game was the bad footwork, the stagnant rhythm and obsession with drawing opponents offside.

The Packers got in and out of the huddle quickly. They also seemed to regain that bounce in their step.

Certainly, beating the Bears doesn’t make you a title contender. But NFL championships aren’t won in September or October.

The goal is to put yourself in a position to make the playoffs and at 4-2, tied for 4th in the NFC, the Packers have done exactly that.

It seems the Packers, including McCarthy and Rodgers, finally have an idea of who they are.

With no real running back available for the game, the Packers went to the short passing game and they used it to control the game. They held the ball for over 40 of the 60 minutes, racked up 31 first downs and put together three-straight touchdown drives when the outcome was being decided.

Jordy Nelson caught just two passes. But he also drew a 50-yard pass-interference penalty. The matchups were just better for others across the board.

Cobb, Adams and Montgomery feasted on inferior Bears’ defensive backs and Rodgers allowed them to by getting the ball into their hands quickly and accurately.

This offense still has room to grow, but if teams are going to play safeties deep and force their corners to play Green Bay’s receivers one-on-one, the Packers should continue to force defenses to die a slow death.

The dink and dunk offense of Thursday night may not be exciting and it may not be what the Packers are used to, but as McCarthy said, you do what you have to win.

And if the Packers keep playing the way they did last night, especially Rodgers and his receivers, Green Bay should do more of what its accustomed to, which is pile up wins and contend for the NFC North title.

 

 

 

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