Rodgers is a four-year NFL veteran who has worked in a committee backfield throughout his career. He’s never been a full-time starter, has never carried the ball more than 96 times nor gained more than 362 rushing yards in a single season.
As a pass catcher, he’s more than serviceable. He caught 53 and 52 passes in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
We used All-22 coaches film to evaluate the three main aspects of Rodgers’ game – pass protection, ball carrying and pass catching – to get a better idea of what he’ll bring to Chicago’s offense. Here’s what we found.
Rodgers (red) lines up in the backfield to QB Matt Ryan’s left. He’ll be responsible for help on the left edge (yellow). Notice the inside linebacker (blue) in the right B gap. He’ll swing behind the defensive line and rush the left B gap.
At the snap, Rodgers positions himself behind the left tackle. From this point, he can help on either the inside or outside rush. Notice the ILB heading toward the left B gap.
Look at how Rodgers hides himself behind the left tackle. The blitzer thinks he has a clear path to the quarterback.
Rodgers steps out from behind the left tackle and picks up the inside linebacker, giving Ryan just enough time to get the pass off.
Analysis: Rodgers shows good positioning and awareness on this play. He sees the blitzer coming from across the field, then hides behind a bigger teammate and makes a crucial block. That’s veteran savvy.
Rodgers (red) is in the left slot, inside of WR Devin Hester (white). Hester will run a bubble screen, with Rodgers clearing out the boundary corner.
As Hester makes the catch at the 44, Rodgers has the cornerback locked up.
As Hester reaches the 47, the corner is still blocked.
As Hester clears midfield, Rodgers still has the cornerback in his grasp.
Analysis: This play shows Rodgers’ willingness to sustain his blocks down the field, which nothing more than great effort. After the play, Rodgers gets in the face of the corner and talks trash. You don’t often see a running back talk smack after a downfield block, so obviously he enjoys that part of the game.
Rodgers (red) is to Ryan’s right. The Saints will rush DE Cameron Jordan (blue) off the right edge, with only the tight end blocking him.
As you might have predicted, Jordan blows by the tight end, yet Rodgers is right there for the chip.
Rodgers literally leaves his feet and throws a shoulder into the chest of Jordan, stopping the pass rusher in his tracks.
Ryan scrambles left, yet Rodgers still has Jordan locked up and nowhere near the quarterback.
Analysis: Rodgers is a very willing blocker, as this play shows. He recognizes where help is needed and throws a heavy block on one of the league’s better defensive ends. On passing downs for the Bears, Rodgers will have a lot of value.
Rogers will take the hand off heading toward the right B gap.
As he hits the line of scrimmage, notice how he squats down and waits for his blocks to develop. At this point, he can go right or left based on what happens in front of him.
Rodgers quickly cuts right after he see the hole opening up.
He turns up the field through a huge gap.
Analysis: This play shows his vision and patience. Rodgers was in no hurry, instead allowing time for his blockers to clear space. Once he sees a crease opening, he makes the correct cut and bursts through the hole.
Play V (H)
This a zone left run with Rodgers starting up the B gap.
As he receives the handoff, he sees the cutback lane behind his center.
Rodgers makes one cut and hits the hole decisively.
Analysis: It’s a simple play that only picked up three yards but it again shows good vision. In a zone-blocking system, which is a staple of coordinator Adam Gase’s offense, running backs must one-cut and go. Here we see Rodgers take two steps before finding and hitting the hole. One broken tackle and this play goes for big yards.
Rodgers will flare left at the snap and cut back inside once he clears the line of scrimmage.
The ball is just now coming off Ryan’s fingertips and we see Rodgers already looking back for the ball.
The pass is a bit high but he gets his hands up and ...
… drops the pass.
Analysis: On film, Rodgers shows a tendency to begin running before he’s secured the ball, which is what happens here. He knows he’s running into the linebacker’s zone and hears footsteps. Instead of securing the pass and getting his head down, he drops the ball and gets clobbered. Also in this game, Rodgers fumbled a pitch in the backfield.
This is a delayed screen pass to Rodgers in the left flat. He’ll have two blockers out in front.
He catches the ball wide of the left hash and cuts back between his blocks (yellow).
At this point, the safety has Rodgers lined up for the hit …
… yet Rodgers cuts inside and around the safety, breaking two tackles in the process. LB Luke Kuechly is next up for the tackle attempt but …
… Rodgers puts his head down and fights through the tackle for another four yards. Notice three defenders (blue) left in his wake.
Analysis: This run showed vision and an ability to make tacklers miss through both speed and power. It also showed Rodgers’ willingness to fight for extra yards after contact.
This is a similar screen pass to the right side.
As Rodgers catches the pass, notice the right guard (yellow X) who is being held by the defensive lineman. He’s struggling to get out in front of the play.
As Rodgers turns up the field he’s hit by his own man, yet he’s able to maintain his balance and keep control of the ball.
With a linebacker barreling in on him, Rodgers makes a quick jump cut and slides behind his blocker.
He’s gets the block he needs and hits the crease for extra yardage.
Analysis: This is my favorite of the seven plays I analyzed. Rodgers makes the catch despite being rattled by his own 300-pound offensive lineman and is still able to set up a block away from the defense. His ability to change directions and cut on a dime will be a big boost for Chicago’s offensive backfield.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.