Packers WRs need to make 'contested catches'

Ryan Wood
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The Green Bay Packers quarterbacks and receivers shut the door to their meeting room this week. Nobody was leaving until they got on the same page.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws downfield for wide receiver James Jones (89) as he is hit by Denver Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field on Nov. 1, 2015.

Neither group of players is solely responsible for a passing offense that ranks No. 27 in the NFL with 210 yards per game. This was no shouting match between teammates. Together, quarterbacks and receivers coach Alex Van Pelt said, his two position groups tried to figure out their disconnect.

“Whatever it is,” Van Pelt said, “there’s always reasons. Obviously, we look hard at it. We need to create more separation outside and give Aaron more places to throw from the receiver group. At the same time, Aaron’s got to trust the receivers and give us opportunities. It goes back and forth.

“We’ve discussed it in the room. We made all the corrections in our technique.”

The questions around Lambeau Field this week have mostly inquired about why receivers haven’t gotten open. There was hardly any room in the Denver Broncos secondary last week when Rodgers finished with 77 passing yards. As a result, the Packers had their worst offensive performance in a season that hasn’t exactly been on a record-setting pace.

Van Pelt said receivers need to get open, but that wasn’t the only issue.

“There’s times in the game last week,” Van Pelt said, “where we were open, and Aaron might be working the other side of the field. It’s not like we were blanketed all day out there. There’s separation. It just seemed like that game, every time we looked to one side of the field, the other guy was open. Or we had a guy open and maybe there was a little bit of pressure in the face, and he had to move out of the pocket.”

When forcing a pass into heavily covered traffic, Van Pelt said, there’s a fine line to balance. Rodgers has just two interceptions with his 15 touchdowns this season primarily because he doesn’t release risky throws. The Packers don’t want that to change.

But, Van Pelt acknowledged the quarterback can trust his receivers to catch the football even against solid coverage.

“We never want to jeopardize the ball security,” Van Pelt said. “There’s always that fine line, and there always will be. We have guys that can make contested catches, and Aaron knows that, and he’s thrown the ball to guys that were covered plenty of times in the past. So it’s nothing new for him.

“If he continues to make good decisions and take care of that football, we’ll be in position to win the game, more times than not.” and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood

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