Skip to main content

Why Does Aaron Rodgers Use So Many Timeouts?

With the play clock winding down, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has burned an extraordinary number of timeouts this year. Why? We asked on Wednesday.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

GREEN BAY, Wis. – At times, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers burns through timeouts like a three-pack-a-day smoker goes through Marlboros. Like a gambler burns through a stack of $20 bills. Like a sugar-craving kid blows through his stash of Halloween candy.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Rodgers’ favorite letter is “T,” though he uses that signal more than most – perhaps more than all – quarterbacks in the NFL.

During Sunday’s victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rodgers used four timeouts with the play clock winding down – two in each half. During the Week 2 victory over the Chicago Bears, Rodgers used two timeouts in the first half and another in the second. In the season-opening game against Minnesota, Rodgers used two timeouts in the first half.

That’s nine timeouts that had nothing to do with saving precious seconds on the clock.

Why? What is going through Rodgers’ head as those final seconds on the play clock drain away? In his mind, when is it the right time to call a timeout and when is it the right time to just run something, even if it’s not the best possible play?

“Quarter, momentum, d-and-d [down and distance] and score of the game, and then the feasibility of getting us into some positive play,” Rodgers explained on Wednesday. “You hate using them like we used a couple in the first half. Second half, you really think about, ‘What can I get us into in the situation to get a better play?’

“But there’s certain situations and scores and momentum where it is better to have a conversation on the sideline, make sure we got the perfect call and regroup instead of trying to force something. Sometimes, there’s a look that they give us on defense that we just can’t block up or it’s going to be a negative play and there’s not anything really to get into based on the formation we’re in and you’ve got to burn one and get in a better formation and change it up. It’s a feel. You take in all those factors.”

In all three games, Rodgers used two timeouts in the first half. Those timeouts, while obviously valuable, aren’t quite as precious. The second-half timeouts can be make or break. It’s perhaps worth noting Rodgers used a total of three in the second half of the wins but kept all three in his back pocket at Minnesota so the defense could stop the clock in the waning moments.

The NFL keeps stats on everything. But not timeouts. So, while it’s not clear if Rodgers spends his timeouts like a drunken sailor in comparison to his peers, what is clear is the Packers like to … slow … the … game … down.

During a 12-year Major League Baseball career that spanned 1974 through 1985, Mike Hargrove was known as “The Human Rain Delay” for an every-pitch routine that consisted of stepping out of the batter’s box, adjusting his glove, adjusting his helmet, adjusting his sleeves and so on.

Rodgers and coach Matt LaFleur might be the NFL’s equivalent. Long gone are the days of Mike McCarthy’s cranking up the tempo and going no-huddle. In terms of seconds per play, the Packers ranked 28th in 2019 and 32nd in 2020, 2021 and 2022, according to Football Outsiders. In hopes of gleaning as much information as possible from the defense and his never-ending quest to find the right play, Rodgers and the Packers have run a play every 31.58 seconds through three weeks. That’s the slowest of the LaFleur era.

There’s a method to the madness. It must work, or LaFleur would yell something about more gas and less breaks.

Sometimes, however, it’s out of Rodgers’ control.

On the first one against the Bucs, Rodgers said, center Josh Myers made too many calls. By the time Myers was set, “there was 9 seconds on the clock with three head-bobs coming. That’s not enough time, because they were in a pressure look where I was going to have to make an adjustment.” The Fox cameras caught Rodgers discussing it with Myers as it went to commercial.

On the second one, the skill-position players were lined up incorrectly, with two on each side of the formation rather than three on one side and one on the other. Rodgers tried to adapt but “it wasn’t worth it.”

Is the usage of timeouts maddening? Perhaps. Have end-of-half opportunities been squandered because there weren’t enough timeouts? Probably.

But this is Rodgers’ 15th season as the starter. He’s not going to change. It’s easy to see him pop a timeout with the play clock at 0 seconds midway through the first quarter and wonder if it might impact the team later. It’s impossible to know how many times those timeouts have either avoided a catastrophe or delivered a touchdown.

“You just have to gauge the situation,” Rodgers said. “How much you need the timeout, amount of time, what’s the value of taking a timeout? Does it override the value of just trying to get to something quickly in that moment?”

2022 Summary of Aaron Rodgers’ Timeouts

Aaron Rodgers calls timeout in the 2019 game at Chicago. (Photo by Mark Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

Aaron Rodgers calls timeout in the 2019 game at Chicago. (Photo by Mark Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

Scroll to Continue

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

Week 1 vs. Minnesota

Situation: 4:03, first quarter. Third-and-4. Result: Rodgers to Randall Cobb for 6 yards, first down.

Situation: 9:24, second quarter. First-and-goal at 9. Result: Rodgers to Aaron Jones for 0 yards.

Week 2 vs. Chicago

Situation: 10:10, first quarter. Third-and-10. Result: Rodgers to Jones for 15 yards, first down.

Situation: 12:46, second quarter. Second-and-10. Result: Rodgers to Tyler Davis, incomplete.

Situation: 3:23, fourth quarter. Third-and-11. Result: Rodgers to Aaron Jones for 6 yards.

Week 3 vs. Tampa Bay

Situation: 14:12, second quarter. Third-and-8. Result: Rodgers to Robert Tonyan for 9 yards, first down.

Situation: 12:50, second quarter. Second-and-1. Result: AJ Dillon run for 3 yards, first down.

Situation: 5:04, fourth quarter. Third-and-4. Result: Rodgers to Allen Lazard for 6 yards, first down.

Situation: 3:18 fourth quarter, second-and-10. Result: Rodgers was sacked for minus-7.

Total

With the play clock winding down, Rodgers has called nine timeouts. The good? The Packers picked up five first downs and converted 4-of-5 third-down plays. The bad? They averaged 4.22 yards per snap. That’s down sharply from their season average of 6.93 yards per play, but that’s probably an issue of sample size with one negative play (the sack) and no explosive plays.

Packers vs. Patriots Wednesday injury report

Packers vs. Patriots: How to watch, stream, bet

Packers add cornerback/returner to practice squad

What’s fixed? What’s broken?

Three reasons to worry after Packers victory

Our weekly unit grades