We all already know the storyline. Aaron Rodgers was down on the ground, writhing in pain and clutching his knee. The Packers are not a team built to succeed without Rodgers. Everything they do relies on him performing like the best quarterback in the NFL. The season looked over for the Packers before halftime of game 1.
Then, Rodgers emerged from the locker room tunnel and led his team to victory on one leg after trailing by 20 points. What Rodgers did Sunday night was simply stunning. After returning from what appeared to be (and still might be) a serious knee injury, Rodgers completed 17 of 23 passes for 273 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. His passer rating was near perfect at 152.7.
One thing was clear in the 2nd half for Rodgers – he was not comfortable putting much weight on his left knee. This led to a lot of off-balanced passes and throws where he did not completely transfer his weight. He still completed 73.9% of those attempts.
The ability to throw off balanced is nothing new for Rodgers. In fact, this injury just brought our attention to something he has been doing exceptionally his entire career. You can’t teach what he does. The ball is out when he’s ready to throw no matter where his feet are. Amazingly, most of those throws are deadly accurate – even more so than other quarterbacks when they throw with perfect mechanics.
The accuracy and ease with which Rodgers slings quick throws underneath do not get enough attention. Most quarterbacks – really all quarterbacks – need great footwork and mechanics to be able to make those throws as accurately and consistently as Rodgers does. As they work through their progressions, their feet have to move, and this gives defenders a split second longer to react and rally to the ball. Rodgers, on the other hand, gets the ball out from any balance point, and does so quickly, decisively, and accurately. He does this whether healthy or not, and this is largely why he was able to perform so brilliantly on Sunday night.
Just consider the game winning touchdown pass. Rodgers’ moved left to keep the play alive, maintained a downfield focus, then again made a deadly accurate throw back to his right while off balance.
Let’s hope for the Packers, and for the sake of the NFL, the best quarterback in football does not miss any more time this season.