Aaron Rodgers looks like his vintage self in Matt LaFleur’s offense

The early returns of the Matt LaFleur period have been slightly bit regarding for the Green Bay Packers. Mike McCarthy was fired as head coach in 2018, as a result of the workforce was involved it was losing the profession of future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

But squeaking out a 10-Three win towards the Bears in Week 1 positive didn’t make their new head coach look like the treatment. Instead, it regarded like the protection was going to have to avoid wasting the day for the Packers. Even after a 21-16 win in Week 2, LaFleur’s Packers nonetheless regarded painfully much like McCarthy’s Packers.

Then the tide has turned for the Packers. After averaging 178.5 passing yards in the primary two video games, Green Bay had 312.Four passing yards per sport in the subsequent 5 weeks. The better of these 5 offensive showings got here in Week 7, when Rodgers threw 5 touchdowns and had an ideal passer score in a 42-24 win towards the Raiders. Not solely was it Rodgers’ first ever excellent score, it was the primary in the whole storied historical past of the Packers.

While it typically takes time for a brand new offensive system to take maintain, LaFleur’s is already making an influence.

Rodgers was the NFL MVP in 2011 and 2014, and the MVP of Super Bowl 45 in February 2010. But it’s been 5 years since his final season as an All-Pro. Now, he’s lastly beginning to look like his previously dominant self, and LaFleur deserves a whole lot of the credit score.

The operating backs are giving Rodgers extra choices

One of Rodgers’ complaints throughout the McCarthy years was the dearth of touches for operating backs. Specifically, the quarterback virtually begged for Aaron Jones to get the ball extra, to little avail.

Jones averaged 11.1 dashing makes an attempt and a pair of.2 receptions per sport in 2018. Both of these numbers have elevated in 2019, with Jones already over 100 dashing makes an attempt — simply on tempo to soar previous his final season complete of 133. He leads the NFL in dashing touchdowns with eight and has topped 100 yards twice.

Better but, Jones is persistently burning linebackers when he takes off as a receiver. In Week 6, that resulted in a drop that might’ve been a landing.

But an analogous play design in Week 7 changed into a rating for Jones, who completed the sport with 4 receptions for 33 yards and a landing:

It’s not simply Jones both. Fullback Danny Vitale caught two passes for 43 yards towards the Raiders and operating again Jamal Williams had 4 receptions for 26 yards, together with a 2-yard landing.

That’s a complete of 10 receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns for the trio of backs. LaFleur is dialing up mismatches, however greater than something, he’s opening up a bevy of choices for Rodgers. With No. 1 receiver Davante Adams out since struggling a toe harm in Week 4, Rodgers accomplished passes to eight totally different receivers. It was 9 totally different receivers in a 23-22 win in Week 6.

Rodgers goes to be Rodgers

As a lot because the Packers want a jolt offensively, in addition they didn’t must reinvent the wheel. While they have been underachieving in McCarthy’s ultimate seasons, the Packers have been nonetheless 14th in the league in factors scored and 12th in complete yards throughout the 2018 season. Rodgers nonetheless had 25 touchdowns and solely two interceptions.

In some ways, the Green Bay offense is much like its earlier type.

That’s not too shocking after the Packers made few modifications to the offense in the offseason. Instead, the workforce spent each of its first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft on protection, and made three defensive gamers — Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos — its priciest additions in free company.

Rodgers averaged 2.75 seconds in the pocket earlier than throwing a move in 2018. Only three full-time starters — Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson — waited longer. He’s a quarterback who looks for receivers downfield and trusts himself to purchase extra time whereas he waits for any person to get open. He was sacked 49 instances final season and 45 of these got here on performs when Rodgers held the ball for longer than 2.5 seconds.

It’s been the identical story in 2019 and doubtless might be for Rodgers’ whole profession. That’s completely OK, as a result of Rodgers’ reside by the sword, die by the sword strategy works out as a rule. It definitely was a constructive for the Packers in their win over the Raiders, who solely sacked Rodgers as soon as and allowed him to take a seat again and decide aside the secondary.

LaFleur’s play designs are accentuating Rodgers’ strengths and giving the quarterback the instruments to get again to what he does finest. The offense is getting higher each week and the 6-1 Packers look like they’re in place to make a Super Bowl run as soon as once more. And that’s all as a result of Rodgers is taking part in like an MVP candidate once more.


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