The running game is nice. The improved defense is important. These are elements that Aaron Rodgers really hasn’t had around him throughout most of his career. As critical as it is to get Rodgers support, though, Matt LaFleur and the Packers need to remember that their quarterback shouldn’t be a complement to the rest of the team. He needs to be the feature.
Rodgers is still as physically gifted of a quarterback as there is in the NFL. While he struggled to see the field well in the first 30 minutes of the NFC Championship Game, his unique abilities were on full display during the 2nd half. He completed 22 of 27 passes for 261 yards and 2 touchdowns during the final 30 minutes. These weren’t just garbage-time yards and touchdowns Rodgers was accumulating by dumping the ball off against soft coverage. As the 49ers were nursing a huge lead and specifically trying to prevent the big play, Rodgers was attacking downfield, and doing so successfully.
The first play of the second half, a 30-yard throw to the sideline while falling away to avoid pressure, set the tone.
Even Troy Aikman couldn’t help but marvel at this throw during the broadcast.
The below touchdown came on a route concept we suggested the Packers could hit for a big play prior to the game. This was based on our film study of their previous matchup. Clearly, Green Bay saw the same thing. Why did they wait until the 4th quarter to try it?
Here’s a view from the end zone. Rodgers held the safety and then quickly fired a seed that looked like a long handoff 35 yards downfield.
This was the type of offense the Packers needed to utilize from the start of the game to have a chance against the 49ers.
How about this ridiculous throw (that beat Richard Sherman) for 65 yards:
A shot like that could have been tried earlier in the game, especially on 1st down, to stretch the defense and open up some of the underneath passing game the Packers rely on so much.
Finally, just for fun, look at this throw by Rodgers back across his body.
Again, a deadly accurate ball on a difficult throw that Rodgers made look easy.
Why did it take a desperate situation for Matt LaFleur to turn his gifted quarterback loose? Why did the Packers have to be trailing by 27 with their season on the line before plays were called that stretched the field vertically?
As the Packers start planning for the 2020 season, their offensive approach needs to be assessed and tweaked. Matt LaFleur brought some much-needed dedication to the running game this season. The Packers also do have a very good short passing and screen game. These aspects of the offense will open up even more when defenses are actually afraid of being beat over the top by Rodgers’ arm. Good defenses, which you see deep in the playoffs, don’t get beat by the relentless use of slant-flat routes and safe throws.
The Packers have the ability to stretch the field more than most teams because of their quarterback. Their approach needs to be more aggressive. Rodgers needs to be more aggressive. In 2020, they can’t wait for their season to be hanging in the balance to put opposing defenses on their heels.
Like what you read? Follow us on Twitter @FB_FilmRoom (Football Film Room) for more insight and analysis.