By now you have likely seen the play all over TV and social media. It was that good.
So how exactly did Aaron Rodgers complete that incredible touchdown pass to Davante Adams late in the second quarter that put the Green Bay Packers up for good yesterday against the Jacksonville Jaguars?
Let’s break down the Packers’ Week 1 turning point.
The Packers came out in an 11 personnel group, with Jordy Nelson lined up on the left and Adams, Jared Cook and Randall Cobb lined up in a trips formation on the right. James Starks lined up to Rodgers’ left.
The Jaguars showed blitz with safety Johnathan Cyrprien, but he actually dropped back into coverage at the snap of the ball. This was meant to force Rodgers to show his hand where he was going with the ball. As anyone who has watched Rodgers play knows, it’s very tough to outsmart him. He has used his intelligence to absolutely break many a defense’s spirit.
That being said, it was actually rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey that blitzed as he quickly forced Rodgers to move before he had fully gone through his progression of his reads. He was able to evade Ramsey at first, but soon the rookie had a handful of Rodgers’ jersey and began to yank him to the ground.
Meanwhile, Adams ran a post/corner route from the far right side into the Jaguars’ end zone.
At this point, through sheer will and pure arm strength, Rodgers was able to get the ball out and find a diving Adams who made a brilliant catch on an ridiculously accurate throw given that Rodgers was in the grasp of Ramsey and in the process of being thrown to the ground. Take a look at the throw here:
As for the pass protection, Starks deftly picked up a blitzing Paul Posluszny (with an assist from Lane Taylor) that allowed Rodgers to deftly avoid the incoming cornerback on the initial rush. Ramsey used his speedy to easily blow through the B gap between T.J. Lang and Bryan Bulaga. Both were occupied with their own assignments at the time and with Cook lined up wide, there was no tight end in to help shore up the pass protection.
Once Rodgers got the ball into the air, Adams made a wonderful adjustment and the concentration he showed on the catch was a welcome sight for many. After a 2015 season that saw him drop his share of passes as well a tough drop earlier against the Jaguars, maybe this play will serve as the spark that finally helps Adams realize the potential he showed in 2014 as a rookie.
Meanwhile it was yet another ludicrous highlight reel play for Green Bay’s two-time MVP quarterback. He may not have completely lit up the stats column (199 yards, and a 58.8% completion percentage), Rodgers did have two touchdown passes as well as one rushing. He finished with a 95.1 quarterback rating, which is down from his career rating of 104.1 but still good.
On the whole, the offense showed some rhythm yesterday and some flashes of its former self but there is still plenty of work to do. The Packers struggled in the red zone gain, kicking two field goals in the second half that should have been touchdowns which would have eliminated the need for some late game heroics from the defense.
Green Bay has a lot to grow from in this win, but the offense showing some of its old self when they went up tempo bodes well for the rest of the season. Remember, the offense really didn’t have much time together in the preseason and really played much better once the Week 1 cobwebs were shaken loose.
A healthy Nelson and Cobb, combined with a perhaps resurgent Adams and new weapon Jared Cook could be a potentially lethal combination.
Oh, and as illustrated above, that Rodgers guy throwing the ball isn’t too bad either.