Passing Game Open for Business

Bill Huber

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers has been unloading the ball faster than in years for a rather obvious reason.

“We have guys open, so the ball’s able to be dealt a little bit quicker than in years past,” the Green Bay Packers’ red-hot quarterback said on Wednesday.

According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Rodgers has been throwing the football “in rhythm,” which it defines as between 2.5 seconds and 4.0 seconds, on 43 percent of his dropbacks to start this season. From 2016 through 2019, his in-rhythm rate was only 36 percent.

Rodgers said he can’t recall when he’s had so many receivers who are “wide, wide open.” That shows up at Pro Football Focus. Through two games, he’s thrown the ball in 2.5 seconds or less on 57.1 percent of his dropbacks. He’s completed 79.5 percent of those passes with a 125.3 passer rating. Last year, in his first season running coach Matt LaFleur’s offense, he threw the ball in 2.5 seconds or less 44.2 percent of the time. He completed 72.2 percent of those passes with a 95.4 passer rating. In 2018, the final season in Mike McCarthy’s offense, he threw the ball in 2.5 seconds or less 44.6 percent of the time. He completed 74.8 percent of those passes with a 100.2 passer rating.

“The difference maybe between college and the NFL is, wide open in college is about 7 or 8 yards separation; wide open in the NFL is 2 or 3 yards,” Rodgers said. “And we’ve had some college-style guys open the first couple weeks. A lot of that is due to the minor schematic changes we made in the offseason and implemented in training camp, and then the execution. I think when you put that all together and you’re getting guys open on time, the ball’s able to come out. Obviously, I made a concerted effort to deal it. When I’m playing on time and in rhythm, the offense can be more efficient as long as we have guys open.”

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