All season, Packers fans have been asking Aaron Rodgers to utilize short and intermediate routes. We’ve also been asking Mike McCarthy to run the ball more and the entire offense to score touchdowns on long drives. Finally, we’ve been asking James Jones to just catch the damn ball.
The Green Bay Packers’ offense did all of this on Saturday, and the result was a playoff victory over the Atlanta Falcons that will probably stay on my DVR forever.
If you asked me to describe the perfect Packers performance on offense, I still don’t think I could have described something as beautiful as what happened on Saturday. Consider this:
- As Gary D’Amato points out (http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/113834124.html), the numbers only begin to tell the story of Rodgers’ dominance. Yes, he completed 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards and 136.8 rating, but it was his rhythm that kept the offense humming. Rarely did Rodgers hold the ball too long and rarely did he wait for something to open downfield at the expense of an uncovered underneath receiver.
- To top it off, Rodgers’ attitude throughout the postseason is something we can all be proud of. Like any top quarterback, Rodgers has a quiet confidence about him (it’s probably fair to call it arrogance if you want), but his refusal to get caught up in the “postseason monkey off the back” story really stands out. When Rodgers speaks, you can tell he is proud of how he is playing, but is far from satisfied. He knows he has taken a giant step forward, but is not yet where he wants to be.
- The Packers were far from dominant in the run game yesterday, but Mike McCarthy committed to it enough to make sure the Packers did not become one-dimensional. As much as we want the Packers to pound the ball and push around other teams, that’s not who they are. If the Packers are going to score points, it’s going to happen because Rodgers and the receivers are carving up defenses. James Starks gives the Packers the threat of a tough inside runner and Brandon Jackson even ripped off a nice run early on Saturday. McCarthy used each back as best he could: He did not run the ball just to satisfy some silly football cliché about establishing the run. But he did give his backs an opportunity to contribute, keep the defense off balance, and kill some clock in the second half.
- Remember when I wrote this piece about the Packers struggles to score touchdowns on long drives? (http://allgbp.com/2010/12/07/why-is-the-green-bay-packers-offense-struggling-to-score-tds-on-long-drives/) Well, um, that didn’t apply to Saturday’s game. The Packers had four touchdown drives of eight plays or more.
- One minute, Packers fans want to hug James Jones, then they want to cut him. It was nothing but hugs for Jones on Saturday. A week after dropping a touchdown pass that could have blown open the wild card game against the Eagles, Jones snatched a touchdown out of the sky late in the second quarter to give the Packers a 21-14 lead. This week I asked myself how I would handle a player like Jones after he dropped another key pass. (http://twitter.com/adamczech/status/24488011878113282) Would I yell at him? Call him out in the media? Back him up? Whatever the Packers coaches did, they should do it again this week. It worked.
Regardless of what happens on Sunday against the Bears or Seahawks, Saturday’s win over the Falcons will stick in my mind for a long time. Watching the Packers offense has been frustrating at times this season. Saturday Night made up for a lot of that frustration.——————