Of all the irritating stories and storylines that have swirled around the Green Bay Packers this season, the decline of Aaron Rodgers (and the speculation about the reasons for it) is probably the most frustrating. Although Rodgers' use of the deep ball has declined in both frequency and effectiveness, he has over the last several weeks returned to comfortable territory in his completion percentage and to respectability in his yards per attempt.
(Speaking of which, keep an eye out for this week's QBOPS this week.)
In fact, although Rodgers completed more than 75% of his passes on Sunday - the first time he has done that in a game since the start of last season - he has been much better in that area recently, completing over 68% of his total passes in the last seven games while averaging a more Rodgers-like 7.1 yards per attempt. Contrast that against his struggles in the 14 regular season games that preceded the Packers' loss to the Cowboys in week 6 (56.9% completions, 6.1 YPA) and you can see that his game has been back for a while - it's just that it was easy to miss amidst the abysmal defense that the Packers have trotted onto the field during their 4-game losing streak.
Yes, Rodgers is back, but what seems to be the most critical item for the Packers' offense is flow and consistency. They didn't have that early last week in Washington, as the team went three-and-out on the first three series, but they had no trouble at all getting into a groove last night against the Eagles, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions and coming up with points on five of six drives (excluding the kneel-down series at the end of each half).
That continuity and flow out of the gate is the thing to be excited about this morning, not just the perceived return of Rodgers. So let's enjoy it and see if we can't have a repeat next Sunday against the Texans.
Vintage Aaron Rodgers returns in Philadelphia Eagles win, Green Bay Packers have playoff life - ESPN
There will be plenty of "vintage Rodgers" storylines after this week's game. It's worth noting that this is the first time since midway through the 2014 season that Rodgers has back-to-back games with over 8 yards per attempt and a passer rating exceeding 115. It also was his highest completion percentage (76.9%) since week one of last year.
The Debrief, Week 13: Don't count out Packers over final stretch - NFL.com
Mike McCarthy brought out the proverbial kitchen sink on Monday night, even running a triple option at one point. Hopefully he didn't unload his entire bag of tricks in Philly, but they still have an as-yet-untapped weapon in Christine Michael to unleash.
Clock-eating, fourth-quarter drive slams door for Packers | Packers.com
With 10:18 left in the fourth quarter and holding on to a 24-13 lead, the Packers took over at their own 8 after a punt. By the time they extended their lead to 27-13, there was just 1:57 remaining, far too little for the Eagles to do anything.
Third-down magic helps Packers control clock | Packersnews.com
Rodgers and company converted an absurd 10 of 14 third-down opportunities on the day, including their first six in a row. They also added two on the final drive (not including one earned by penalty), plus a fourth-down conversion to boot.
GB-PHI grades: Rodgers leads vintage Packers offense to win | PFF
I'm not willing to say that the Packers' offense as a whole was "vintage," as they still had little balance from the running game and few big plays deep. Still, there were flashes, like Rodgers' perfect 50-yard bomb to Davante Adams.
Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay Packers uses 'privacy' of sideline tent for hamstring injury | ESPN
One of the more amusing items of Monday's telecast was when Rodgers went into a tent on the sideline and reporter Lisa Salters was totally flabbergasted by what was happening. Rodgers said later on that he had to have some tape applied to his left hamstring, which involved him "dropping his drawers."