Why Aaron Rodgers is Playing at an MVP Level

It hasn’t mattered who has been in or out of the lineup. No Davante Adams or Aaron Jones for 2 games? No Allen Lazard for 6? No problem. The Packers keep humming along as the top scoring offense in the NFL. And it’s because Rodgers is playing at as high of a level as we’ve seen at any point in his career.

Over his last 7 games, Rodgers is completing more than 70% of his passes for 288 yards per game with 23 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. For context, Rodgers threw 26 touchdowns last season and 25 the year before that. Arguably the biggest reason for Rodgers’ success is that he is playing more within the framework of the offense and limiting unnecessary off-schedule plays.

Don’t get me wrong. The ability to make something happen after the design of the play has failed can be a differentiating trait for any quarterback. It has been one (of many) for Rodgers. But the key word here is “after” the design of the play hasn’t worked. Even Rodgers gets in trouble when he tries to go off schedule too early in the play, something we’ve see a little too often in recent seasons.

In 2020, however, he is planting his back foot and getting the ball out on time. We saw this all afternoon against the Eagles in Week 13:

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These were just two of several throws that might seem nondescript but help keep an offense on schedule.

The below play was a little bit more than that. Rodgers didn’t necessarily stay within the framework of the offense, as he was disrupted initially by pressure. But he was able to take advantage of a blown coverage by staying between the tackles and continuing to scan the entire field.

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We’ve seen Rodgers respond to pressure like that sometimes by fleeing the pocket. Maybe he still throws that touchdown if he escapes to the right. He certainly wouldn’t have if he rolled left. Fighting his instinct to make plays outside of the pocket helped him here here.

I loved seeing the below throw out of Rodgers for a couple of reasons…

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First, does Rodgers attempt that pass last year? It wasn’t exactly wide open. It certainly wasn’t at the point where Rodgers decided he was going to throw this route and had just started his motion:

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Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

One of the criticisms of Rodgers, especially in recent years, has been his desire to be too perfect and careful with the ball. It’s an odd criticism, and a clear example of nitpicking one of the greatest to ever play the game. However, it wasn’t entirely unjustified. We saw Rodgers refuse to pull the trigger on a lot of throws from 2018-19 that, while carrying some risk, could have led to some bigger plays. Here, Rodgers did pull the trigger. The result was a 31-yard gain.

Second, Rodgers seems more comfortable in every way than he has in recent seasons. He appears to trust his receivers more in 1-on-1 situations (and not just Davante Adams). He seems to have more trust in Matt LaFleur’s system in year 2. This has led to him playing a calmer style of quarterback.

I said at the end of last season that the running game is nice, but the Packers aren’t winning the Super Bowl without Aaron Rodgers and the overall offensive approach being more aggressive. They aren’t winning the Super Bowl with Rodgers being just a complement to the offense. Right now, he is the feature, and he’s playing like he did in his prime. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Packers are the top scoring offense in the NFL.

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