9

January

Are the Packers Underdogs Against the 49ers? Depends What you Think of Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

Can you really call a team with Aaron Rodgers at QB an underdog?

Las Vegas has the Packers as three-point underdogs against the 49ers in Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game. The vibe I get from most NFL pundits and talking heads also points to the Packers being underdogs.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking the Packers are underdogs. The 49ers are better on both lines, have an elite group of linebackers, an athletic tight end, and a bruising running back. All of these things typically give the Packers fits.

But I’ll be picking the Packers to win. I don’t think a team with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback is an underdog.

If we get the Rodgers from week one against the 49ers on Saturday night, well, then yes, the Packers will likely lose and I’ll look like an idiot. Rodgers was under siege and indecisive in the season-opener. He didn’t look prepared for the 49ers’ speed and the whole offense looked lost because it couldn’t march down the field like it did so easily throughout 2011.

A lot has changed since that opening-week letdown.

  • New faces on the offensive line and in the backfield have sparked the Packers running game.
  • The defense, especially the secondary, is more aggressive and improved.
  • Rodgers recovered from his shaky opening week and went on to have another MVP-type season, even if he flew under the radar compared to 2011.
  • Rodgers now realizes that he has to make plays under duress, whether that means scrambling or navigating his way around a hectic pocket and making plays downfield.
  • Rodgers is aware of what winning in the playoffs means for his legacy. Winning a wild-card game at home against Joe Webb doesn’t do much for his legacy. Winning a road divisional game against the team that passed him in the draft does.

Greg Cosell from NFL Films said on Tuesday that Aaron Rodgers is not playing “particularly great football.” Here’s the full quote:

“I’m not saying this to be bold or controversial, but I don’t think Aaron Rodgers is playing particularly great football. I think he’s so physically gifted — he can throw it on the run better than anyone in this league — but he’s leaving an awful lot of plays on the field. I think he’s indecisive and tentative in the pocket. He’s not pulling the trigger on throws that are there. I think this has been an ongoing thing all throughout the season. Some people would say I’m nitpicking because of his numbers, but he’s so physically gifted that there are times that he still makes plays. The biggest concern with Aaron Rodgers and their pass offense right now is not the rhythmic flow of it, it’s the extension of plays. That’s where he’s at his best right now.”

10

August

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Chargers 21, Packers 13

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers and the first team offense had a rough day in limited action against the Chargers

First things first: the sky is NOT falling.

Despite losing 21-13 last night to the San Diego Chargers in their exhibition opener, the Green Bay Packers are not doomed.  Some fans have a tendency to put way too much stock in the first preseason game.

Still there was some good, some not-so-good and some downright awful things to take from the defeat.

Here’s a look at some of the good and the bad.

Game Balls

Nick Perry

A nonsense excessive celebration penalty notwithstanding, Perry made a great first impression right out of the blocks with a sack on Philip Rivers.  As the game went on, Perry showed flashes of ability in the pass rush that the Packers hoped he had when they selected him the first round of the draft.

In the words of Mike McCarthy, it’s definitely an experience Perry can grow from. While it’s silly to draw conclusions from one preseason game, Perry has gotten off to a solid start in his rookie season.

Davon House

What else is there to say? The man made plays.  House showed hustle and playmaking ability in breaking up multiple passes.  Wherever the ball was, #31 seemed to be close by.  He definitely outperformed Jarrett Bush, who basically was named the starter for the game by default.

Secondary depth was a big concern for the Packers going into training camp.  House injured his shoulder during the game, and if he’s out for any extended period of time the Packers may be in trouble.  Jarrett Bush looked sloppy and House probably would get the start ahead of him should the season start tomorrow.  Here’s hoping House is back in the house very soon.

Tramon Williams

Speaking of Williams, he flashed some of his 2010 form in his limited playing time against the Chargers.  Again, we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from a single preseason game but when Williams jumped the route to intercept Philip Rivers, it looked like Williams was back in top form after a shoulder injury nagged him for most of 2011.

If Williams returns to form, that is only going to help the Packers’ secondary as Charles Woodson moves to safety and with an unproven (yet promising) House next to him (assuming his shoulder injury is not severe)