In the cyclical NFL, Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers would love to see the single-high defense make a comeback
GREEN BAY – Between them, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have more than 40 years of NFL experience. They’ve seen every offensive scheme and defensive answer that has filtered through the game, from 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust to the air-raid to the affinity for RPOs.
They’ve seen enough to know that this is a copycat league and everything old will become new again.
“It comes back around,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Some things that go out of fashion will come back around in a couple of years or five years, even 10 years. So I'm always trying to recycle some old concepts and different things, but this is how it goes.”
When Rodgers and Brady face off Sunday, as the Green Bay Packers travel to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the back-to-back MVP is hoping an old defensive concept comes back around. It could be the difference in helping him beat the seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady for only the second time.
“I’d love to see some one-high stuff,” Rodgers said of a defensive alignment that features one safety in the back. “The league has been so much two-high in the last few years. I'd love to see some one-high. So that'd be great.
“One-high shouldn't take you out of running the football. Just there's certain plays where you might have to leave a corner, you know, or leave the backside guy unblocked. That's just part of it. So, like, it doesn't stop us from running the football, it just changes some of the schematics.”
Even if that particular alignment doesn’t eliminate the run, it certainly increases the chances to pass. Rodgers, who has led the NFL in passer rating four times and led the NFL touchdown-to-interception ratio six times, doesn’t often see single-high safety with opponents daring him to throw. But through two weeks of the 2022 season, it’s been clear the Packers want to lean on their ground game this season.
The duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillion give Green Bay an effective and efficient way to control games. The inability to get those two the ball contributed to a Week 1 loss against the Minnesota Vikings. They combined for 37 touches, 237 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 2 win against the Chicago Bears. As such, Rodgers expects teams to load the box in hopes of stopping the dynamic duo.
The fact he and the Packers, typically a pass-heavy team, are leaning on their backs is reason enough for him to believe defenses will re-evolve.
“It was nice when the Seattle (Seahawks, Legion of Boom) trend was going on and six or seven teams ran that defense because that's all one-high, very little two-high,” Rodgers said. “But now it's this other style of defense from the (Los Angeles) Rams. And it's a lot of two-high.
“So, we've seen the run game come back, the fullback position might make a resurgence, you know, who's going to be the next John Kuhn of the world? We'll see. But yeah, there's been a lot more two-high the last few years.”
On Sunday night against the Bears, the Packers lined up tight end Josiah Deguara as a fullback several times. Given that this Green Bay offense was born from the same playbook that has revived the fullback position with Kyle Juszczyk of the San Francisco 49ers, that wasn’t too surprising. But what it means for how football is evolving, and re-evolving, could bode well for the Packers in their current championship window with Rodgers at quarterback.
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“I know you've seen the elimination of the fullback at times, you've seen teams go a lot 11 personnel stuff,” Rodgers said, “and then, you know, the quick stuff and now you're seeing teams really try and stack their frontline rushers, play a lot of two-shell on the back end.
“That’s gonna make teams want to run the ball more and more 12 personnel, more 21 personnel; fullback role is going to, you know, come back in the offense for a little bit. Then what's gonna happen to that; a one-high scheme is going to come along and going to be the fad in the NFL. Somebody’s gonna win it with a one-high scheme. And then here we go back again, back to 11 personnel, back to the speed and round and round we go.”
Could that start Sunday against the Buccaneers? Time will tell. But Aaron Rodgers knows this game is cyclical and he’ll be ready, again, for whatever is next.