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Film Study: Why Was Packers QB Aaron Rodgers Able to Buy Time vs. Seahawks?

As a whole, the pass protection wasn't great but it was great where it needed to be for Aaron Rodgers to pick apart the Seattle defense.

David Bakhtiari had a hard time keeping veteran Michael Bennett and rocket-fast Bruce Irvin away from Aaron Rodgers.

Don Barclay struggled in his first game replacing injured Bryan Bulaga at right tackle.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Center Corey Linsley and guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton were rock solid in keeping the interior of Seattle’s defensive line at bay. Because they were so good, Rodgers time and again was able to get outside the pocket, and that was a major reason why the Green Bay Packers earned a satisfying 27-17 victory over Seattle on Sunday night.

Officially, Rodgers was sacked twice and absorbed a total of five quarterback hits. By ProFootballFocus.com’s count, Rodgers was pressured on 18 of 39 dropbacks. It hardly impacted Rodgers, though, even against what’s been the NFL’s top pass defense the past three seasons. Rodgers completed almost 76 percent of his passes for 249 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a rating of 116.9.

“Definitely, it’s all part of pass protection and creating a pocket for the quarterback and a launching pad for him to throw off of,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. “There’s obviously different patterns and plans from a, a rush plan from the defensive line. So, it kind of changes up each week. That’s where you get into the matchups and things like that.”

As demonstrated in the video compilation below, Rodgers felt pressure from both defensive ends on both of his touchdown passes.

On the first, Michael Bennett was offside but Barclay was able to keep him at bay while Bakhtiari steered Irvin beyond Rodgers. With Sitton and Linsley easily handling their one-on-one blocks. Rodgers had an easy escape path to his left before firing the touchdown pass to James Jones.

On the second, Rodgers was almost the filling in a Seahawks sandwich, as Frank Clark pushed back Barclay and Irvin did the same to Bakhtiari. However, Rodgers got out just in time and had nothing but green grass in front of him as he extended the play. Seattle rushed just three, with Bennett, who was lined up as a defensive tackle over Lang, dropping into coverage. With no one to block, Sitton had the best seat in the house as Rodgers moved to his left and fired a touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers.

“We always talk about our core – the center and the two guards – we want that to be firm because we recognize you’re going to have edge rushers (providing pressure),” associate head coach Tom Clements said. “Run the edge rushers up the field so that the quarterback can step up, If the middle isn’t firm, you’ve got edge rushers and then you’ve got push from the core, you don’t have good options.”

The mobility Rodgers displayed stood in stark contrast to the NFC Championship Game, when a calf injury rendered him a pocket passer. By continually keeping the play alive on Sunday night, he allowed his weapons time to get open. That extra time wound up being critical on the touchdown passes.

“I like throwing from the pocket, but I've always been able to extend some plays to our advantage at times,” Rodgers said after the game. “The rush is pretty rough from those guys. They get up the field, they have a good push inside and they get high and wide very quickly, so I knew I was going to have to extend some plays.”

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.



   


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