Keys to the 2021 Packers offense: Aaron Rodgers wins with patience, precision and a short, sweet method


A few weeks ago, we used that space to dig into what the Green Bay Packers have done differently in defense this year to help stay afloat despite the absence of their top two defensive players. With the Packers set to move to 13-3 for the third season in a row, now we’re going to dive into one of the most important aspects of the team’s offense.

At first glance, Green Bay’s offense doesn’t seem so special. The Packers are 15th in the NFL for yards and 13th in the league for points. Go a little more granular and you’ll see some improvement: The Packers are 12th in yards per play and eighth in points per drive. They are also ranked eighth for the portion of their practices that end with a touchdown or field goal. None of these numbers are necessarily indicative of an elite offense. And yet, the Packers rank second in the league in offensive efficiency, as measured by Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

So, what gives?

For me it all comes down to the Packers ‘ability to do the one thing that has caused so many other high profile issues at different times of the season: move the ball slowly across the pitch, with short wins, without s’ to be impatient or make a mistake. The Packers have averaged 6.4 plays and 35.4 yards per command so far this season, the second and fourth best numbers in the NFL. They also hold the ball for an average of 3 minutes and 14 seconds on any given possession, the highest rating in the league. Maintaining that level of possession is incredibly difficult, but Green Bay did it by only returning the ball on 5.2% of its records, the NFL’s highest score.

The Packers’ ability to move the ball down the field in small chunks is more impressive considering the relative ineffectiveness of their running game compared to previous years. Aaron Jones was averaging 5.2 yards per carry going this season. AJ Dillon averaged 5.3 per race as a rookie. They’re 4.4 (Jones) and 4.3 (Dillon) per run this season, likely due to the carousel of offensive lines throughout the season that the Packers have been on. David Bakhtiari has yet to play this year. Elgton Jenkins has only played eight games. Josh Myers only lasted five years. So it’s perhaps not surprising that both full-backs have lower-than-league average before contact yards per carry, according to TruMedia.

Rather than running, the Packers punch the ball down via the short pass. No NFL team is better at fast play, in large part because no NFL quarterback is better than Aaron Rodgers at fast play. On throws within 2.5 seconds of the snap, according to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers is 208 of 277 for 1,811 yards and 22 touchdowns, and he’s yet to throw an interception. These figures give a score of 119.9 passers, an obviously elite score. And he racked up those numbers while releasing the ball in 1.75 seconds on average – tied for the league’s fastest trigger on quick throws.

Rodgers is better than anyone at working in the area close to the line of scrimmage, both because he has one of the best near-line weapons in the league at Davante Adams, and because the offensive design of the Packers incorporates more “Layup” throws than any other offense in the NFL. There’s a reason Rodgers ranks first in the league in the EPA by recoil on non-red zone shots from 0-10 yards from the air, and the distance between Rodgers first (0.27 EPA per game) and Ryan Tannehill in second (0.19) equals the distance between Tannehill and Matthew Stafford, 11th place (0.11). The design, working in concert with Rodgers’ decision-making and super-fast release, freezes to create easy, low-risk wins.

The Packers have a diverse and varied screen game, but my favorite variation is what I call the flat screen. (It probably has another name but I like it because it describes exactly what the piece is.)

These are shots that have almost no chance of being intercepted or even affected by a defensive lineman. They put the ball in the hands of a playmaker with a ton of space in front of him, and also with a lot of blocking. Because Rodgers releases the ball so quickly, there is little chance that an offensive pass interference penalty will be assessed on either of the receivers for blocking before the pass arrives. Maybe they only gain 4 or 5 yards, but they loosen up the defense, keep the chains moving, and give players a chance to make a great play on the perimeter.

The Packers could also use more selection routes than any NFL team. The target for these games is usually Adams, although they also occasionally cause an Adams defender to run away and sneak a tight end or one of the full backs into the apartment to give Rodgers an easy throw and grab a few free yards. .

More than anything, however, it’s Rodgers’ chemistry with Adams – and the pair’s respective elite talents – that really makes the quick pass attack sing. They are both so precise in everything they do. They ran a weekly clinic on footwork, body control, ball placement and more. It’s special to watch. The attention that needs to be given to Adams (he almost always has a safety aid over his course or side of the court) opens up the easier of the shots to other receivers, and Rodgers can just take the free yards. and keep the offense moving.

I’m not sure exactly how the defenses are supposed to stop these types of throws. I’m not even sure they want it. Most defenses these days focus on taking out the deep ball. The Packers hit a lot of those shots down, and with more precision than many other offenses. But it’s their mastery of the types of shots the defenses want to force that makes them so hard to stop this year.

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