Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Looking At Rodgers's Struggles Against The Cardinals

I think QB Aaron Rodgers is being pretty hard on himself for saying "I've got to play better" while he's throwing four touchdown passes. His criticism was directed at his low throw to WR Jordy Nelson which forced Nelson to slide (and led to his ankle injury) and their inability to put the Cardinals away in the second half.

Overall, he completed only 14 of 30 passes, but he wasn't helped by his receivers, who might have dropped as many as four passes in the first half. The offense also struggled to start the second half, as they went three-and-out on their first three possessions and Rodgers went 0 for 6. Since that seems to be his least effective stretch, here's a closer look at the six incompletions.

(14:22) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep middle to 88-J.Finley. While Rodgers might be hard on himself at this point, the Cardinals coverage was excellent in the third quarter (that is, until they forgot to cover TE Tom Crabtree on a 72 yard touchdown). On this particular play, no one was open and Rodgers rolled right. He then saw TE Jermichael Finley running back to the middle of the field, deep, and Rodgers made a pretty dangerous pass across his body. While it was ill-advised, it was a very low percentage play and it would have been impressive if he had completed it.

(14:14) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to 89-Ja.Jones (21-P.Peterson). On 3rd down, Rodgers threw a quick slant to WR James Jones. The ball was right where it needed to be, in front of the receiver and low so only Jones could catch it, but CB Patrick Peterson was right there and reached into knock it away. This was a great play by Peterson.

(13:25) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to 20-A.Green. Once again, Rodgers had time to throw but no one was open. His check down receiver was RB Alex Green out of the backfield, but even that play had one Cardinal defender in tight coverage. Rodgers threw the ball high and out of bounds, but if he had thrown it right on target, it would have been intercepted and a potential pick-six. There was no way he could have completed it, and he was probably throwing it away.

(13:20) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short left to 89-Ja.Jones. Rodgers was probably not happy with where he threw this pass because he threw it out of bounds and Jones had no chance to catch it. He was trying to hit Jones in the back of the end zone, but once again, he had a very small window to throw into due to tight coverage.

(11:43) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to 18-R.Cobb. I'm a broken record here, but once again, Rodgers had time to throw and no one was open. Finally, he decided to throw to WR Randall Cobb as he ran towards the right sidelines, but there was a defender right on top of him. Rodgers threw the ball out of bounds in front of Cobb, but if he had left the throw over the field then the defender could have probably made a play on it.

(11:36) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short middle [54-Q.Groves]. Rodgers was hit as he threw this pass and it wasn't anywhere near a receiver. I'm just glad it wasn't ruled a fumble.

During these three drives, Rodgers wasn't as accurate as he could have been but he looked about as good as ever. His biggest problem was that the Cardinals were playing great coverage. It also didn't help that he didn't have Nelson available, who might have had more success at beating the coverage. It's frustrating, but he didn't force a pass into an ill-advised interception and these stretches probably happen to every team.

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