- The comeback was amazing, but lost in the excitement: The fact that a healthy Rodgers put up zero points against the Bears, then put up 24 points in a half while playing on one leg. How he did it from a schematic standpoint, and the lessons Rodgers and the Packers can take from the incredible win
On the Monday Morning NFL Podcast, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling analyzed just how Aaron Rodgers pulled off an all-time comeback while playing on one leg…
GRAMLING: Aaron Rodgers was clearly limited. He was barely mobile. He was basically just taking a snap and standing for the entire second half here. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, Andy, how does that change the Packers offense? They rely so much on Rodgers extending plays and making plays out of structure. This, by necessity, all had to be very on-schedule and within structure after he got hurt.
BENOIT: I’m not espousing this as a season-long argument, but certainly in this game, it’s inarguable that the Packers offense got better after Rodgers got hurt because discipline was instilled upon them. They had to play on-schedule. Everybody had to play on-schedule, had to play quick, neutralize the Bears’ pass rush because Rodgers couldn’t move anywhere. Rodgers, to his credit, did not rush himself. He stayed patient. He worked deep into his progressions when need be. He still moved within the pocket.
This is what’s so fascinating about Aaron Rodgers. We’ve had this conversation a hundred times, Gary. He’s capable of beating you like Tom Brady beats you with quick-strike throws from the pocket and nuanced pocket movement. We saw that in this game. For whatever reason, he often chooses not to do that. That’s what he was doing early in this game against the Bears; he was choosing not to do it. He was choosing to leave the pocket at times. I thought that might happen when he came back in, “Well at least he’ll be more disciplined now. He’ll have to be.” I’d love to hear their conversation when they’re watching this second half film on Monday. It can’t just be patting Rodgers on the back and saying, “Hey, you’re gritty and tough.” There’s got to be a lesson to take away from this. That was a high-functioning offense in the second half.
GRAMLING: Man, they were down 20-0 when he got back on the field! It was unreal that he got back on the field, let alone actually led them to a win while playing on one leg. It also speaks to Aaron Rodgers’s natural arm talent. The fact that he was still zipping passes all over the place when he couldn’t plant.
BENOIT: Let’s look at that game-winning touchdown to Cobb. It was a great play. He extended from within the pocket, which broke down 2-man coverage—so man-to-man with two safeties over the top. What the Bears did on that play was take one of those safeties and have him pick up Cobb on the crosser route. We’ve seen other teams do that before and they switched off. So a cornerback who was on Cobb now became the free defender and it was safety Eddie Jackson left on Cobb. It’s the right move to make because you’re assuming the ball will get out, and that’s why extending plays without breaking down plays is so incredibly difficult to defend. That’s why Luck was great at years ago, that’s why Wentz is great now, that’s why Brady and Rodgers are first-class superstars—because the coverage will naturally break down. The Bears played their coverage perfectly but they had a safety left on a receiver. What I’m getting at, Gary, is what gets lost in all of it is that was a really tight window throw that Rodgers made. The Bears did not just fall on their face and give up a touchdown there. Rodgers threaded a needle.
GRAMLING: And obviously, a couple of plays before that, you had the play where Davante Adams got tangled up on a natural rub and the ball hit Kyle Fuller in the chest and he didn’t come down with it. That would have clinched the game, in all likelihood.
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Also on this week’s edition of The Monday Morning Podcast:
0:38—Analyzing just how Aaron Rodgers won it on one leg
7:31—Why the Bears offense did it all in the first quarter, then did nothing after that
11:15— Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Jameis Winston, and re-considering the Bucs’ chances in the NFC South after they torched the Saints
18:15— Garoppolo’s struggles in Minnesota, Mike Zimmer’s artistry in his new identity, and Kirk Cousins’s encouraging Vikings debut
22:47— The biomechanical impossibilities of Patrick Mahomes (but why it’s still too early to get carried away), and the Chargers’ ineptitude on special teams
30:05— Norv did not tell a lie: Cam Newton is going to run. What it means for the Panthers’ offense in 2018
31:29— The Giants’ couldn’t block the Jaguars, negating that Beckham-Ramsey matchup
34:35— The Browns didn’t lose, but somehow manage to not win a game in which they were gifted six turnovers (making the decision not to prepare Baker Mayfield to start Week 1 look even more ludicrous)
38:27— The Le’Veon Bell situation for Pittsburgh, and how James Conner factors in
41:14— LIGHNING(ish) ROUND!
• Patriots overwhelm Texans up front and bottle up Watson
• Case Keenum’s highs and lows in his Broncos debut
• Andrew Luck looked more willing to get the ball out in return
• Dolphins new culture working while Titans suffer devastating injuries in seven-hour marathon
• Bills won’t be competitive with that offensive line
• Jay Gruden schemes it up for Alex Smith against atrocious Cardinals team
• Go get Eric Reid, Falcons
52:15— Andy and Gary each pick their “Thing of the Week” awards
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