We talked about it before the Dallas Cowboys’ game – the Green Bay Packers had to employ an offensive game plan that included copious amounts of Ryan Grant and quick passes to negate the opposing team’s pass rush.
That’s just what the Packers did, and the result was an unspectacular but effective offensive performance and a 17-7 victory. The Packers used a mix of runs (23 attempts by Packers running backs) and short passes (4.4 yards per pass play, only one pass over 20 yards) to do two things to varying degrees of success.
First, the Packers dominated the Cowboys in time of possession (35:58 to 24:02), keeping Tony Romo and company on the sidelines for large portions of the game. Second, and with somewhat less success, the Packers used the scheme to protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers was sacked four times, but let’s face it, the damage could have been a lot worse against the Cowboys, who ranked seventh in the league in sacks coming into the game.
Packers coaches also gave Rodgers additional responsibilities in terms of calling protections and making adjustments on the field.
“Aaron had a lot on his plate,” McCarthy said. “I told him earlier in the week, this was the most comprehensive game plan I think we’ve ever put on the quarterback. I’m not trying to dramatize. You (make) adjustments as much as we did, as far as protections, different calls, we did some new things this week, there wasn’t a lot of time to get things repped. There was a lot of adjustments carried over to Aaron’s responsibility. So from a management standpoint, I thought he did a very good job.”
And there you have that word – management.
The Packers protection issues have caused the coaching staff, albeit belatedly, to implement a more conservative game plan. The offensive line in its current state of disarray simply will not allow Rodgers to get the Packers deep-ball passing attack going on a regular basis.
And so I give you Aaron Rodgers, game manager.
It’s a term usually reserved for guys like Trent Dilfer, Kordell Stewart or this week’s opposing quarterback, Alex Smith. In other words, guys who don’t have the physical tools, but are smart enough to know when to throw a ball away or take a sack.
While Aaron Rodgers has more physical tools than those three guys put together, he doesn’t have an offensive line that will hold up against a stout defense, such as the one the 49ers will bring to town this week.
“I think our challenge this week is going to be very similar to the Dallas defense. We had a lot of respect for Dallas’ defense, and San Francisco’s defense is definitely one of the better defenses that we will play to this point,” McCarthy said.
As long as pass protection remains an issue, expect Rodgers numbers to be similar to the solid, but unspectacular 25-of-36 for 189 yards and touchdown he posted against the Cowboys. The Packers would be foolish to abandon the short passing game that got them their biggest win of the season, with an offensive line in flux.
Everyone would like to see Rodgers put up big numbers and get the respect he deserves, but winning will bring respect a lot quicker, and this is the Packers best chance of doing so going forward.