Aaron Rodgers: The Football Artist

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GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 08: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass against the New York Giants during the NFC Wild Card game at Lambeau Field on January 8, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Giants 38-13. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Via Last Word on Pro Football, by Nathanael Gabler

The Green Bay Packers offense struggled through the first 26 minutes of Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. The vaunted Giants defense – second in the league in DVOA and fourth in points per game – had held the Packers scoreless. Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt. Green Bay’s first five drives amassed an anemic four first downs, totaling 51 yards on 21 plays.

Aaron Rodgers: The Football Artist

The Tipping Point

A botched 37-yard punt by Brad Wing found the Packers starting in Giants territory with 3:45 left in the half. The first play of the drivem Davante Adams beat rookie corner Eli Apple down the sidelines. Aaron Rodgers put the ball right on the money for a 31-yard gain.

“That got me going,” Rodgers said after the game. It was Adams’ first catch of the game and the first big play from the Green Bay offense. Despite trailing 6-0 a the time of this completion, the Packers had the upper hand from here on out.

The Escape Artist

Rodgers has mad a name for himself by resembling a Houdini act in the pocket. He dances around in the pocket like no one that has ever played the position. Rodgers has impeccable footwork and his ability to keep his eyes downfield allows him to see plays before anyone else on the field. He is seemingly undeterred by the immense pressure this puts on his offensive line, not only to keep him on his feet, but to avoid drawing penalties. To cap the drive that started with the 31-yard dime to Adams, Rodgers hit Adams again, employing his Houdini act for a go ahead touchdown.

Plays like this are essentially pedestrian for Rodgers; they seem to pop up on a nearly weekly basis. Last week in Detroit, during a playoff-clinching game, Rodgers miraculously evaded a sack from an unblocked Ziggy Ansah, finding Jared Cook on a third and seven.

Rodger’s Raw Arm Strength

How is that humanly possible? This play came in a September game against the Lions. Rolling left, the right-handed Rodgers contorted his abdomen in order to set his feet and launch a ball downfield to Trevor Davis. Rodgers releases the ball at the Packer 28 yard line. It lands in the end zone. Regardless of the fact that the pass was not completed (a pass interference was drawn), I don’t think there’s another quarterback in the history of the NFL that could have been capable of making this throw. 72 yards throwing across his body while running to his left. Unbelievable.

Ballerina-like Footwork

Rodgers was often criticized during the Packers’ early season slump for avoiding his fundamentals, being sloppy in the pocket and throwing off his back foot far too often. For the most part, Rodgers has fixed this. He still makes off-balance throws. But when he’s bouncing around in the pocket, it’s impeccable the way that he can manage to keep his feet downfield.

Hail Rodgers?

Teams go years, potentially entire decades without successfully completing a Hail Mary. Rodgers and the Packers have connected on three of them just this season. There’s something about watching Aaron Rodgers in these situations where you just believe. Since 2000, the success rate on Hail Mary attempts of longer than 50 yards is around 2%, but when Rodger’s steps back to throw one up, he’s not throwing up a prayer. It’s a well calculated attempt. Somehow, he knows how to put the right arc and force on the throw to get it to the exact right spot. In Sunday’s matchup, it’s not as if he’s throwing it as hard as he can. We’ve seen from previous examples that he can clearly throw it out of the end zone from this distance. Regardless, he managed to put it right on the money to hit Cobb in the back of the end zone.

It’s not magic. Maybe he’s superhuman. Personally I don’t care. This is arguably the best seven consecutive weeks of quarterback play we have ever seen.

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