GREEN BAY, Wis. – “Be quick but don’t hurry” was a frequent coaching point of legendary former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.
That was Aaron Rodgers’ play against the Detroit Lions on Monday night.
According to Zebra Technologies, whose RFID technology makes the NFL’s Next Gen Stats possible, Rodgers was efficient with quick, short passes against the Lions. On passes thrown in less than 2.5 seconds, he was 14-of-15 for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers averaged 0.9 air yards per attempt on these quick throws, and 116 of the 127 yards came after the catch as he hit open receivers in stride.
Not all of Rodgers’ passes were quick deliveries, though. His deep ball to Davante Adams traveled 58.3 yards in the air, the fourth-longest completion by air distance this season. That 50-yard gain on third-and-12 to start the third quarter jump-started Green Bay’s comeback from a 17-14 halftime deficit.
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That drive was punctuated by a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Robert Tonyan. That pass from Rodgers somehow got past the incredibly tight coverage of linebacker Alex Anzalone for the go-ahead score. That play came on third-and-6, with Rodgers turning down an easy completion to Allen Lazard.
What did he see on that play?
“It’s one of those throws where if you miss it, you go back and watch it and go, ‘Why didn’t you just throw it to Allen? He’s wide open in front of you, right?’” Rodgers explained on Wednesday. “The initial read is through the linebacker to the safety and also the backside safety. That was my first look was what the backside safety was doing. Is he locking up No. 3 strong or is he kind of hanging with Davante backside? As I felt him hanging, I just quickly got back to Robert’s release and him going outside. I knew that gave me a little bit of room inside to throw the ball.
“I realized I had a chance to kind of out it over his shoulder. That’s why I kind of tight hitched it, because I wanted to get the ball up and down quickly. It’s a transition throw. I’ve talked about those in the past. The transition throws are before the DB, or the defender in this case, can get to the hip. Because once they get to the hip, that’s when they can usually take their eyes back. So, I felt good about the release pattern, the width of the safety and there was a small window. It’s a high-percentage positive result – either a catch or the possibility of a pass interference.”
Rodgers’ pass was pinpoint accurate. What is an inaccurate pass? He answers that question in the video.