The Green Bay Packers knocked off the Chicago Bears 31-23 in a big NFC North matchup. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers turned in a somewhat pedestrian day ‒ by his lofty standards ‒ completing 18 of 23 passes for 189 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. But some of the throws ‒ and decisions ‒ he made illustrate how he might be playing at a different pace than everyone else on the field.
On this first play, the Packers incorporate a run/pass option into their offense. Aaron Rodgers lines up in the shotgun with 11 offensive personnel using trips formation to the right. The Bears have their 4-2-5 nickel in the game showing Cover 1 in the secondary.
Rodgers has two choices on this play. At the snap he meets James Starks at the mesh point and reads the linebackers. If they crash towards the potential run, the QB will keep the football and work through his progressions, which has Davante Adams (#17) running a seam route from the inside trips alignment:
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What is very impressive about this play is the mental processing speed from Rodgers. Watch how quickly he reads the field and transitions from executing the fake to throwing:
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The ball leaves Starks’ belly and arrives in the hands of the receiver in an instant. This play is nearly indefensible. Chicago would need to change things up a bit if they want to force a mistake from Rodgers ‒ or even slow him down.
Well, They Tried
Late in the third quarter the Packers have the football and a one-point lead, facing 3rd and 8 in their own territory. Rodgers is in the shotgun with 11 personnel on the field, again with trips to the right. The Bears have their 4-2-5 nickel defense in the game for this play, and show Cover 2 in the secondary:
Rather sit back, the defense presses the issue by sending pressure. Both linebackers and the slot cornerback blitz, while a defensive tackle drops into an underneath zone:
Wide receiver Randall Cobb (#18) is the inside trips receiver and he will run a very quick out pattern towards the sideline. With pressure coming, Rodgers takes the snap and immediately finds his hot route:
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The end zone camera gives you a good look at how this play unfolds ‒ and how quickly the quarterback gets the football out of his hands. With two receivers on the outside blocking, Cobb is able to pick up the first down and keep the chains moving:
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The Quick Out To Cobb, Again
The quick out pattern to Cobb might be Green Bay’s third-down weapon of choice this season, if this game is any indication. Later in the same drive the Packers again face a third and long, needing 11 yards to pick up the first down. The QB is in the shotgun with 11 personnel on the game, this time with trips to the left and Cobb as the inside receiver. The Bears have a 3-2-6 dime package in the game, and they are showing blitz:
The Bears send pressure again, rushing the three down linemen, both linebackers and a defensive back off each edge. But even bringing seven rushers ‒ they cannot get home. Why? Because one more time, Aaron Rodgers shows off his play speed:
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The quarterback releases the ball in a flash to Cobb, on another short out pattern. Once again, he has two receivers on the outside to block and the WR is able to scamper up the field, picking up the yardage needed to convert this third down:
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The Packers would go on to score a touchdown on this drive, extending their lead to eight. These two third down conversions kept their drive alive and demonstrated just how gifted Aaron Rodgers is as a passer ‒ and how tough it is to beat him.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.
Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.
All video and images courtesy the NFL Game Pass.