Last Sunday against Detroit, the Green Bay Packers displayed their most balanced passing attack of the young season. And, coincidentally or not, the Packers showed their best passing attack of the season in beating the Lions.
Rodgers completed 15-of-24 passes for 205 yards and four touchdowns. His 129.3 passer rating snapped a 14-game streak of sub-100 ratings — a streak 10 games longer than any other in his brilliant career.
Jordy Nelson provided the bulk of the production, with his six receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns. However, it’s where Rodgers attacked that was noteworthy.
As detailed in the World’s Best Preview, Rodgers directed a one-handed passing attack in the first two games. Against Jacksonville and Minnesota, 59.4 percent of his passes went to the left, 18.8 percent to the middle and 21.7 percent to the right.
“After two games, we definitely could use more opportunities down the middle of the field,” coach Mike McCarthy said in the leadup to the Detroit game.
Against the Lions, the distribution looked vastly different, with 25.0 percent of the passes to the left, 41.7 percent to the middle and 33.3 percent to the right.
“The middle of the field, to me, is the fastest way to the end zone,” McCarthy said a day after the Detroit game. “I was actually in the safeties meeting today with our safeties in their film review, talking about the middle of the field. You look at the player safety and the rules and the things that have happened the last four or five years, they’ve made it very difficult for safeties to defend the middle of the field. I think everybody in football understands that, that you want to attack it even more. But with that, there’s coverages that can protect the middle of the field, too. We ran our offense yesterday. There’s nothing revolutionary that we did yesterday. We executed better on offense.”
It’s only three games, but the passing attack has been much more efficient when attacking the middle. According to the league’s statistical database, the Packers have completed 70.6 percent of their passes and averaged 7.94 yards per attempt on “short middle” passes — defined as a pass less than 15 yards downfield. The yards per attempt ranks 13th in the NFL and is much better than the 4.32 yards to the “short left” and 4.10 yards to the “short right.” Those figures each rank 30th. While not to the extreme, the Packers are better in the “deep middle” (fourth, 22.0 yards per attempt) than to the “deep left” (25th, 7.00 yards per attempt) or deep right (sixth, 16.67 yards per attempt).
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.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.