Odd as it sounds, the less talent surrounding Aaron Rodgers, the more productive and efficient he’s become.
The Green Bay Packers lost to the Atlanta Falcons 33-32 on Sunday, but the building blocks were obvious. First and foremost was the play of Rodgers, who had arguably his best performance of the season despite the onslaught of injuries on offense. Rodgers threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns and added a career-high 60 rushing yards to fuel an offense without receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery, running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks, and tight end Jared Cook.
If Rodgers can continue this upward trajectory – and if some of his wounded weapons can return – the Packers could be poised to make a run in this challenging part of the schedule. Following a home game against Indianapolis on Sunday, the Packers hit the road for games at Tennessee, Washington and Philadelphia.
“I think he did a really good job of taking what they gave us,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. “The three-man rush, he extended plays and ran it for first downs, so that was very important. The rushing yards are what they are. You don’t want your quarterback to be your leading rusher, but it was still extremely productive for us. It directly leads to Aaron understanding at the snap of the ball and presnap what the defense is giving him, and taking advantage of those opportunities. I thought he threw the ball very well yesterday, and you could see it during the week. Frankly, Thursday’s practice was his best practice of the year, in my opinion. Talked to him Friday morning about that. I thought he had a really good week, and I thought he played extremely well.”
Rodgers’ passer rating of 125.5 was his second-best of the season. He’s had a 100-plus passer rating in each of the past two games – a first since the first three weeks of the 2015 season. He did it on Sunday without Montgomery and Cobb, who combined for 21 receptions in the victory over Chicago on Oct. 20, and without the benefit of a running game with Lacy on injured reserve following ankle surgery and Starks missing a third consecutive game following knee surgery. With a diluted supporting cast, Rodgers threw touchdown passes to receivers Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison. Those players entered the game with four catches on the season (all by Janis). Receiver Davante Adams caught 12 passes for 74 yards. Coupled with his 13 catches vs. Chicago, he set a franchise record for most catches in back-to-back games. Hall of Famer Don Hutson caught 24 passes in a two-game span in November 1942, according to Elias.
“We’d love to get Jared back soon (and), obviously, Randall and Ty, getting those guys back would help,” Rodgers said after the game. “Personally, I’m just really proud of those guys who made plays today.”
Help might at least be close to being on the way.
Montgomery was deactivated because of blood found in his urine. On Monday, Montgomery revealed that the blood wasn’t from a hit taken in the Chicago game. Rather, it’s because he has sickle cell trait.
“It’s something we’re working through,” McCarthy said. “I think our history medically is we play the high side of caution when we get into these type of situations. But he’s doing great. If you asked Ty Sunday if he could play, he wanted to play. But this is just gathering all the information and making the right decision.”
Montgomery said knew he had the condition but this is the first time he had blood in his urine.
“You may be living with sickle-cell trait and not even know it,” Montgomery said. “Not everybody experiences the symptoms, and I did.”
McCarthy said Cook made a “big step toward getting back” last week as he recovers from an ankle injury sustained in Week 3 vs. Detroit. However, McCarthy wouldn’t go so far as to say Cook would practice this week. Cobb missed the game with an injured hamstring.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.