Aaron Rodgers’ Fumble is the Least of Green Bay Packers’ Worries

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Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons scramble for a loose ball on the goal line during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Atlanta recovered. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Call me a homer, call me naive, call me a fanboy, call me whatever you want, but I am not going to be critical of Aaron Rodgers the rest of the season.

Without Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers might have lost to the Falcons by four touchdowns. Rodgers gained almost 400 yards of total offense and led a 90-yard drive near the end of regulation that should have sent the game into overtime.

Unfortunately, Rodgers also fumbled on a quarterback sneak at the Falcons’ 1-yard line late in the first half. That miscue shifted momentum and the Packers were in catch-up mode the rest of the game.

Obviously, fumbling at the 1-yard line is bad. You can’t do that. But consider the following:

  • Rodgers is playing without his 1,200 yard rusher and his (arguably) No. 1 receiver.
  • The Packers offensive line would not be able to run block against a team from the Lingerie Football League right now.
  • The Packers currently do not have a running back capable of consistently picking up one yard when necessary, even if there is no hole.

All of this means that Rodgers is being called on to make more plays. Sometimes when you need to make more plays, you take more risks. When you take more risks, the odds increase that something could go wrong. That’s what happened on the goal-line fumble. Something went wrong. It happens.

What did you want Rodgers to do in that situation? Cover up the ball, close his eyes, and hope he magically falls into the end zone? Rogers knew if the Packers were going to score, it would be mostly because of him. He knew he had to drive his legs, stretch the ball out and try to get into the end zone. Playing it safe was not an option if Rodgers was serious about scoring a touchdown.

Rodgers’ fumble against the Falcons was similar to the interception he threw at the end of the first half of the first Vikings game. On that throw, Rodgers threw into double coverage because he thought he could squeeze the throw in. He felt he needed to make a play and he took a calculated risk to try and make it. It didn’t work out, but I am fine with a player of Rodgers’ caliber deciding when it’s appropriate to take a chance.

I am not trying to make excuses for Rodgers or argue that turning the ball over in any situation is acceptable. But making plays requires taking an occasional risk. The Packers need plays out of their star quarterback. Unfortunately, the ball might get knocked out of his hands every now and then. I’ll take those occasional screw-ups as long as we get a bunch of “Holy Sh–!!” plays in return.

However, I probably should clarify my opening statement. I will criticize Rodgers if he holds the ball too long or is not on the same page with his receivers. To me, those are things that Rodgers should have worked out at this point in his career and this season.

But I am not going to complain one bit if Rodgers tries to fit one into double coverage and gets picked or drops the ball fighting to cross the goal line.

If you want to complain about it, go ahead. You would not necessarily be wrong. However, I will focus my angst on the Packers special teams, struggles against elite quarterbacks, and inability to run block. Rodgers is the least of my worries.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • JimR_in_DC

    I think I’ll complain about the annual O-line problems and annual special teams problems. Rodgers is doing great.

  • TheDude

    It seems like in most of the Pack’s bigger games Colledge is responsible for multiple miscues. He got submarined on the Rodgers sneak that led to the fumble, and for a veteran that’s a bunch of nonsense. I think he should be sent packing if he can’t pull his head out of his behind really quick.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Running the sneak behind Colledge instead of Sitton was not a wise decision…

  • ELong

    I agree that focusing on Rodgers misses the point of why we lost this game. 1)We have arguably one of the worst running games in the league (can’t we get one lousy yard when we need it? and yes running is still important in the NFL Ted), 2)Our special teams play is sloppy and ineffective (Slocum’s thinks average is acceptable) 3)McCarthy continues to make game-time rookie coaching mistakes. (QB sneaks as a default, slow to react to challenges, time management, etc.) We have a lot of talent but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. At this stage, we are a little worse off than we were with Mike Sherman.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Game & clock management continue to be issues for McCarthy. but I wouldn’t dare rate Sherman above him.

      • ELong

        Sherman W=57 L=39 .594 Playoffs 2-4
        McCarthy W=45 L=30 .600 Playoffs 1-2
        OK, slightly better

        • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

          The completely clueless look on Sherman’s face is the game winner for me.

  • http://www.thepackerbacker.com Clay Toporski

    Rodgers is the Packer’s entire offense. He led them in rushing and passing yards. Can he catch his own passes too? Seriously, though, the Packers need a running game. And it is deeper than just having a good running back, they need a good run blocking offensive line, fullback and tight end. It is going to kill their ability to go deep into the playoffs…

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Right now, it’s threatening their ability to make the playoffs at all. Every coach knows if you can shut down the other team’s running game, you highly increase your chances of winning.

  • Mojo

    I’m very surprised the Packers tried to sneak it in twice in that ill-fated series. I believe one the first attempt, Rodgers saw a large opening straight ahead of him (similar to an earlier game this year) and tried to catch the Falcons off guard but either with the loud crowd noise the Packers snapped to ball too late, or the Falcons recognized what was going on and jumped into the middle.
    The next try should never have been attempted as it was basically power up front versus power up front, and when is the last time you saw the left side of the Packers blow anyone off the ball?

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Well said…

  • http://allgbp.com Cole

    I think the packers need to beef up the the centre of the line. Whens the last time you can remember the packers being able to pick up 1 yard gains consistantly. Even Grant had a hard time doing it. It doesnt seem what RBs playing the Oline just cant get a good push.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      They’re not a move-em back type line. Part of the whole ZBS approach. Comes back to bite them in short yardage situations.

  • Ruppert

    Keep 2 Kevin Barrys as backups. Trot them in to replace Wells and Colledge in short yardage/goal line. Activate D. Lee. Run behind Barry1, Barry2, Sitton, Bulaga and Lee. I have to think we could pick up a yard in that scenario pretty consistently.

  • Adam Czech

    Totally agree on Colledge. He’s just not that good. I’m hoping to watch this game on Direct TV’s replay (they only show the plays, none of the in-between stuff, and the whole thing takes a half hour) and see exactly who was getting blown up on each running play. The Falcons’ run D is good, but they shouldn’t be able to manhandle the Packers OL like that. I know our line is buit to pass protect, but Clifton, Sitton, Wells and Bulaga are all average or better and should be able to get some push against anybody.

  • A_Lerxst_in_Packerland

    I was stewing over the poor run blocking all day, so I totally agree with your comments. Man, I wish they’d scrap the ZBS! They’ve never executed it well. Much prefer a good ol’ fashioned power running scheme.

    That said, the coverage on that final kickoff was simply atrocious, and then to add on penalty yards – they really killed themselves on that one.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      One would think that Mr. “strong leg” Mason Crosby could bury a kickoff now and then. That and awful kickoff coverage at the worst possible time (memories of last season)were the issues at the end of the game.

  • PackersRS

    +100000000 for the LFL link.

    And I agree with this to an extent. I’m not going to give a “Favre pass” to Rodgers.

    But him fumbling was 10% of our loss last game, if that much. He played one heck of a game.

  • Russ

    ZBS can be very effective if you have a running back that has the ability and vision to…
    1. Choose the right hole to hit.
    2. Possesses enough speed to get pass the first level of defenders (D-linemen).
    3. Possesses enough strength to break a single tackler.
    4. Possesses the agility to make a would be tackler miss.
    5. Possesses the speed to take it all the way.

    ZBS has worked, look at Grants numbers …they speak for themselves the ZBS can work …with the right back!

    • Chad Toporski

      “1. Choose the right hole to hit.”

      Or just hit ANY hole if you can’t find the “right one” quickly enough. I could see quite clearly on Sunday the hesitation on BJax’s part to just plow into a lane.

      • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

        That’s been his problem from the day he was drafted. Earlier this season, it looked like he was finally hitting the hole hard in a few games, but he definitely went back to his old self here.

    • JimR_in_DC

      Bah! How many crap games did Grant have in his career? I believe the answer is…a lot.

  • Globalpack

    Fantastic take!