clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Aaron Rodgers, the Calvinist quarterback

You can’t win when all of your throws are predetermined.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Washington Commanders Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

We here at Acme Packing Company have already discussed at length how the Packer RPO game suffers, in part, because Aaron Rodgers makes his reads pre-snap instead of post-snap. (You can read more on the subject here.) What this article pre-supposes is that, perhaps, this tendency isn’t limited to RPOs. Aaron is running too many pre-snap reads on all plays, without any post-snap analysis taking place.

Even last season, when Davante Adams was still Green Bay and at the height of his powers, the team ran a lot of no-read screens to the man, and in retrospect, that easy chemistry may be where this all started. Aaron Rodgers loved running quick throws off of pre-snap reads when corners were playing off. I suspect he developed a taste for it, and maybe some poor habits. Adams was the easy button last year for simple throws. It’s now a hard button, and Aaron keeps mashing it anyway.

There’s more evidence for Aaron not making post-snap reads. Rodgers is taking a career low 2.48 seconds to throw this season, 2nd lowest in the league (slower than only Tom Brady). Post-snap processing takes time, and by their very nature, the quarterbacks making the quickest (i.e. pre-snap only) reads will be the ones with the lowest time to throw. There’s also the fact that defenses seem to have adjusted to many of his pre-snap read throws, but he’s throwing them anyway. Per NextGenStats, on Flat/Out Routes in 2021 he posted a +46.5 EPA (2nd overall) )and a +7.2% CPOE (2nd), but this season those have plummeted to a -16.5 EPA (34th) and a -9.4% CPOE (30th). The lack of Adams is obviously a factor, but Rodgers is also missing these throws more, and when he does hit Jones or Dillon in the flat, there’s often a man waiting for them. Last year Aaron Jones averaged 7.5 yards per catch. This year it’s 6.8. Dillon has fallen from 9.2 to 6.2. Some of these are bad throws, but in many instances, the backs are covered and the throw comes anyway.

On Sunday, this tendency showed up at a pivotal moment on 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter. Sammy Watkins fell on his sword for pulling an audible on this play which was blown up by the guy that was supposed to be covering him, but it’s hard to argue that Watkins made the wrong call.

A younger, better version of Rodgers would have seen him flash open deep and easily converted the first down, potentially with a huge play or a touchdown. Instead, he threw a check down into the teeth of the defense, just like they drew it up. Maybe they convert the two yards if Watkins runs his assigned route, but it’s hardly a sure thing, especially against a defense that is looking for a no-read quick throw.

Remember also that Rodgers has said he wants to simplify things, which seemed innocuous enough at the time, but if he’s not interested in doing as much work post-snap, which seems to be the case, this statement takes on a whole new meaning. Those RPOs are a problem, but they’re also a symptom of a general lack of a desire to read defenses, and do the work that a quarterback is paid to do.