Aaron Rodgers, Packers cashing in on free plays

Michael Cohen
Packers News
View Comments
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks for a receiver as offensive guard Jahri Evans (73) blocks out defensive end Cliff Avril (56) against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, September 10, 2017 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

GREEN BAY - If there is one weapon that opposing defenses could take away from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, something they could eliminate from his arsenal, the choice might not be as obvious as you’d think.

There are defensive coordinators who can live with his mobility and the first downs he grabs with his legs. There are others who can accept his deadly accuracy.

But many of them would pay good money to take away his free plays.

“It’s a part of what we do,” Rodgers said. “I know teams prepare for that.”

ANALYSIS:Kenny Clark's contribution belies his stat line

RELATED:Tough-running Ty Montgomery epitomizes gritty win

PODCAST:Packers beat Seahawks in defensive slugfest

Rodgers generated four free plays against the Seattle Seahawks with his lethal combination of awareness and cadence. He lured the Seahawks into three offside penalties and one infraction for having 12 men on the field, and each mistake by the opposition gives the Packers a chance to heave the ball deep in search of a big-time gain.

He found that moment Sunday with a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordy Nelson after catching the Seahawks mid substitution.

“I think everyone knows how cerebral Aaron is and how aware he is as far as what the defense is doing, who our personnel is and what we’re going on,” right tackle Kyle Murphy said. “He just saw an extra guy running off the field and he didn’t have enough time to get off. He just gave us the word — I’m not going to give you guys the terminology and give away all our secrets — and we always know that’s going to be at least a free play, and we always like to take those shots. That was a pretty sweet, sweet play that we were all pretty happy about.”

Sunday’s list of infractions looked like this:

» Offside: defensive end David Bass

» 12 men on the field: linebacker Terence Garvin

»  Offside: defensive end Michael Bennett

»  Offside: defensive end Michael Bennett

Rodgers used those opportunities for the touchdown to Nelson and additional deep shots to Nelson and wide receiver Davante Adams. The second throw to Nelson was intercepted by safety Earl Thomas, but the penalty negates the turnover.

Consider it a get-out-of-jail-free card.

“Sometimes we get 12 on the field when you don’t expect to,” Rodgers said. “But what it does, it makes those guys run full speed off the field every time, so it’s expending energy every time. It’s more than just the threat of giving up the free play. You might have to burn a timeout or a guy’s going to sprint full speed off the field. Those are body blows for us.”

That the Packers generated so many free plays is a positive sign for the evolution of the offense moving forward. Rodgers found consistent success despite a handful of new faces — Murphy at right tackle, Jahri Evans at right guard, Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks at tight end — that could have stumbled while adjusting to his idiosyncrasies for the first time.  

“That’s tough having to adjust to that,” center Corey Linsley said, “and it’s kind of at Aaron’s discretion. Credit goes to them.”




View Comments