Packers Preview Part Four: How Does Aaron Rodgers Match Up Against the NFC North?
Here is part four of the five part series getting you ready for the Green Bay Packers 2009 season. Today’s article will focus on the Packers’ signal caller and how he matches up against the quarterbacks and defenses of the other three teams in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers’ success will be crucial if the Packers plan on making the playoffs this season, so let’s check out how he is going to do this season.
Monday, Part One: Just How Good Can the Offense Be?
Tuesday, Part Two: How Will This Year’s Defense Be Different From Last Season?
Wednesday, Part Three: What Does Their Schedule Look Like and How Will They Fare?
Thursday, Part Four: How Does Aaron Rodgers Match Up Against the Rest of the NFC North?
Friday, Part Five: Which New Players Are Looking To Rebound, and What Will the Newcomers Contribute?
Saturday, Part Six: Packers-Bears Pregame: Jay Cutler vs. Aaron Rodgers, Round One
Remember to go back and look at all the other days of previews to make sure you are completely ready for Sunday night, when the Packers host the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football.
Rodgers’ Career Record: 1-1
Opposing QB: Brett Favre
QB Rating Against: 95.2
In his first season against the Vikings as starter for the Packers, Rodgers fared well given the circumstances. In their first meeting, opening night, it was Rodgers’ first start as a member of the Packers on national TV. He took care of the ball, passed for a touchdown, and did not make a mistake the whole night. The Packers won the game 24-19 and over the course of the next seven games before the teams met again, Rodgers was much more relaxed.
In their second meeting of the year, Rodgers recorded his worst statistical performance of the season, passing for just 142 yards and failing to throw a touchdown. The Packers had the ball for just over 22 minutes of the game, scoring on a defensive, rushing, and special teams touchdown. The ball was out of Rodgers’ hand for most of the game, but he did not throw an interception and put the Packers in position to win at the end of the game.
This season, Rodgers is no longer making his first stop in Minnesota and appears to have a firm grasp on any pressure that comes his way. The Vikings ranked 18th in pass defense last year, an improvement from 2006 and 2007 when they were dead last.
Still, Minnesota’s obvious strength lies in their run defense, where they have been at the top of the list the last three seasons. Because of this, look for Rodgers to pass early and often if (and probably when) the run game gets shut down. With the added incentive of beating former Packers quarterback Brett Favre, Rodgers should have big games against his division rival.
As for the signal caller in purple, Rodgers is a much different passer. Favre will rely on his run game, Adrian Peterson in particular, run the offense while he throws quick slants and dumpoff routes. Don’t look for him to stretch the field like Rodgers will, but rather look for shovels and routes under ten yards. Favre’s long isn’t what it used to be and, in the Vikings offense, it doesn’t have to be.
Rodgers’ Career Record: 1-1
Opposing QB: Jay Cutler
QB Rating Against: 95.5
Last season, Rodgers got a great first taste of the oldest rivalry in football when the Packers beat the Bears 37-3 in Lambeau Field. He had an outstanding game, going 23 for 30 with 227 yards and two touchdowns. Rodgers threw an interception but it did not come back to haunt him as the Packers cruised to a victory. As solid as Rodgers was, the day belonged to Ryan Grant who rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown.
A little over a month later, the two teams met in Soldier Field on a bitter cold evening in Chicago. Rodgers actually had a terrific game considering the weather, but the Packers lost after Mason Crosby’s potential game-winning field goal was blocked and the Bears answered with a field goal in overtime. Rodgers threw for 260 yards and two more touchdowns and once again, put the Packers in a position to win the game.
The theme involved with Rodgers and his meetings against the Vikings and Bears seemed to be controlling the game rather than taking over it. Despite the 28 touchdowns and 4038 passing yards, it was hard to argue any game that pegged as Rodgers as the sure reason the team won. Had a couple of field goals gone the other way thing might have been different, but alas they did not happen.
Against Chicago this season, Rodgers should have a field day to begin the 2009 season. Chicago’s 30th ranked pass defense will most likely be without Charles Tillman, leaving Nathan Vasher and Trumaine McBride to cover one of the game’s best 1-2 punches in Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Big things should be expected out of Rodgers this year as the Bears defense is a major question mark for the team.
One question mark that was solved for the Bears this season was at the quarterback position, where Jay Cutler takes over. Cutler attempted more passes and threw for more yards, but Rodgers overall 2008 was better. The lack of weapons on offense will hurt Cutler’s stats on offense, but the Bears have a huge upgrade at the position. However, until someone steps up at the wide receiver position, Cutler will have to rely on Matt Forte and Greg Olsen to carry the load.
Rodgers’ Career Record: 2-0
Opposing QB: Matt Stafford
QB Rating Against: 123.8
Based on the way the Detroit Lions played this year, it’s easy to see why Aaron Rodgers had nothing but success against the NFL’s first team to not win a game all season. In week two, the Packers travelled to Detroit and after a third quarter scare, pulled away with a huge fourth quarter. Rodgers’ damage, however, was done in the first half as he passed for three touchdowns and ended the day with 328 yards passing.
In Green Bay, the Packers did the same thing to the Lions that they have done since 1991: win. In the game that ended the Lions disastrous season, Rodgers racked up another game that saw him pass for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. One of the most memorable plays of the year, a 73-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver, highlighted the afternoon.
The Lions will be better this season, but there is no reason to think Rodgers will not have the same kind of success he did in 2008. Expect big numbers from the Packers’ offense in both games against the Lions.
One big change for the Lions this season will be the man taking the snaps, rookie and first overall draft pick Matt Stafford. He has a big arm and an even bigger target in Calvin Johnson, so his jump to the NFL will be a little easier. He has some of the same qualities that Rodgers has, but Rodgers has more finesse than the raw Stafford.
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