Packers fans have been spoiled at the quarterback position for a few years.
First it was Brett Favre throwing fastballs while playing through all amounts of pain and now it’s Aaron Rodgers cerebrally reading the field as he surgically cuts up a secondary.
But on Sunday, Packers fans saw something they have not seen in a long time: a quarterback reduced to average.
When Rodgers played the entire game in 2013 he never threw for less than 200 yards in a game and now he has done it twice in 2014. The answer is simple: the seventh-year starting quarterback only fully trusts one of his receivers.
The only reason the Packers were able to squeak by at home vs. the Jets was because Jordy Nelson had an all-world game. That sure came in handy because Rodgers never stopped looking his way.
With Randall Cobb still showing rust from that broken leg and a tight end position that cannot be counted on for much, Rodgers has put all his faith on his favorite target.
Normally that’s not a big deal. Jay Cutler looks Brandon Marshall’s way a lot. Matthew Stafford makes sure Calvin Johnson is happy and Andy Dalton gets A.J. Green plenty of looks.
But the difference is that Rodgers has always been an accurate passer. Coming into this season, he completed 63 percent of his passes as a starter. This year he has completed less than 60 percent in the last two games.
Rodgers has been known to find the open man — regardless of who it was — and kill defenses with efficiency. But now he is throwing it into heavier traffic just to get it into the waiting arms of Nelson.
Plenty of people complain about the scheme and play-calling. Don’t get me wrong, those things are so plain and predictable that it seems like Mike McCarthy is coaching Nintendo’s eight-play Tecmo Super Bowl and the defense keeps picking the play.
But the loss ultimately falls on Rodgers. This is the guy that holds the NFL record for passer rating in a season with 104.9 and is second all-time in the playoffs with a rating of 103.1. Rodgers is arguably one of the most efficient quarterbacks ever.
Yet, it seems like his superlatives are starting to form an ugly stain. This season he has held on to the ball too long. Instead of throwing the ball for a modest four or five-yard gain, Rodgers has gotten greedy and held it hoping for something much larger.
And one of his biggest equalizers — his legs — is barely getting used so far. After three games last season he only had 34 rushing yards, but the key is that he had rushing attempts in each game. This year, he’s got 28 yards but all those yards came in the Sept. 14 Jets game when he totaled all of his rushing attempts for the season with six.
He really stretches and stresses defenses when he runs outside of the pocket. From there he becomes a perfect dual-threat quarterback that can gain a chunk of yards with his legs or throw with plenty of zip on the run.
This is Rodgers’ team, there’s no question about that. But, he needs to start forming a stronger bond with guys like Jarrett Boykin and Davante Adams or else this season might be wasted by a defense that is starting to take shape.
It was Rodgers that stuck up for James Jones when the receiver signed a three-year deal in 2011. It would make sense that Rodgers misses the big veteran target, but now that he’s a Raider, Rodgers needs to move on.
Teams will continue to prepare to stop one receiver and when that eventually happens, the offense will be bottled up and soon after that the Packers will be grounded.
Rodgers has been a model of effectiveness during much of his career with the Packers. But you cannot be very effective if you are on the same page with only one receiver.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn