Movie Breakdown: Why Aaron Rodgers Thrived in the 2019 Border Battle Games


It was a confrontation of two different branches of the same Mike Shanahan tree: Kevin Stefanksi and Gary Kubiak Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. On the one hand, Stefanski and Kubiak’s old-fashioned approach to the offensive. On the other hand, a new approach to offense with more emphasis on shotgun formations and playing in the comfort zone of the quarterback in quick passes while remaining grounded in the play-action structure. sub-center, Shanahan offense racing area.

Updated or not, the two offensive staffs should still be familiar with each other’s systems. Their respective defensive staffs should know about them as well, given that they train against him to some extent every day. And yet, when the two teams faced off last year, the Vikings ‘passing offense gave way, while the Packers’ passing offense was functional, if somewhat lackluster. Green Bay swept Minnesota with wins of 21-16, 23-10.

The easy answer to how this happened is that Aaron Rodgers is simply a better quarterback than Kirk’s cousins. There’s an argument to be made in that regard, and it’s an argument I would make subjectively, but the numbers didn’t really confirm it last season. In each of the non-versus-match quarterback games, Cousins ​​was significantly more productive.

In 13 non-Green Bay games (Cousins ​​missed Week 17), Cousins ​​earned 1,003 DYAR (adjusted yards on defense over substitution) according to Football Outsiders, averaging around 77.15 DYAR per game. He was a well above average quarterback, if not brilliant, whenever the opposition didn’t wear green and yellow. Rodgers, meanwhile, won DYAR 759 passing, placing his DYAR 54.2 per game well below Cousins’ mark. Rodgers ‘non-Minnesota 54.2 DYAR average was still very good compared to the average quarterback, but paled compared to Cousins’ non-Green Bay numbers.

So while Cousins ​​is more productive overall and both coaching teams are familiar with each other’s offenses, how did Cousins ​​and the Vikings implode, but not Rodgers and the Packers ? In the first installment of this two-part series, we’ll take a look at Rodgers against the Minnesota defense.

Rodgers and the Packers vs. Minnesota

In all fairness, the first half of Game 1 did a lot of work for Rodgers. In that first half, at least more than the other six quarters played by these two teams, the Packers’ offense won the mini-game of forcing the Vikings in and out of two safety shells.

Cliff’s notes on one-height defensive structures versus two-height defensive structures is that one-height safety structures are better for obstructing midfield and loading the box to fit the race, while that two-height structures are generally stronger than deep. pass while yielding support against the race. Also, when it comes to the Packers’ offense in particular, two-level security covers often provide better answers for deep routes than single-level security covers, which is part of why the Vikings wanted to be. on two levels.

Even Green Bay’s first game was an exploitation of the very concept that Minnesota’s double-height shells were meant to prevent.

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With the Packers in a balanced 12-person look below center and reduced wide receiver divisions, it looks exactly like the outside play-action / weak zone structure of every Shanahan-esque attack. A common route from these formations is the aforementioned deep route, which is especially common when performed in the field. In that case, Davante Adams threatens just that by bending his road rod from the hash painted numbers. In many covers, it’s close security (Harrison smith, n ° 22) to nail on this crosser and run with it. As soon as Smith tries to nail the crossing, Adams backs up the other way on a bend and stays wide open on the limit for an easy explosive gain to kick things off for the Pack.

In the following series, the Packers made their way on the ground against a good chunk of two-height shells. When the Vikings tried to adjust early in the second quarter with a more aggressive structure against one of the Packers’ subcentres, Rodgers had them where he wanted them. Challenging playing action compared to single height structures is a green light to extend deep safety and seek a deep pass to a wide outside receiver.

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Of course, that’s exactly what the Packers were aiming for. This game is essentially a three-vertical game with the “vertical” middle folding early to stay under single high security and potentially pull it down. The concept itself works exactly as intended, pulling the safety down and away from Adams by reserving it along the right side seam. While the Packers don’t actually complete the pass, Adams gets a defensive pass interference call imposed on the cornerback Xavier rhodes, who really didn’t get an answer for Adams throughout the game.

Green Bay’s passing offense only started to unravel in the other six quarterbacks as the offense shifted more towards shotgun operation – without as much hard play action. – and relied more on the back pass than to mix their running and their passing game together. In turn, many of their deep attacks after those first two quarters, especially in Game 2, were not as deliberate as some of their actions in the first two quarters.

Much of it had to do with the fact that no wide receiver beyond Adams really had the tools to consistently open up. Adams netted for 116 passing yards from Rodgers that day, which required 16 targets. Green Bay’s second-best receiver in this second game? Allen Lazard with nine targets, five catches and a whopping 45 yards. The middle and deep game was just dead except for one or two Adams games in the middle. In fact, in the second meeting, Rodgers attempted nine passes over 10 yards to the outside parts of the field and failed to make any.

The only one of those nine passes that didn’t hit the ground was an interception he threw to Anthony harris, who did a great job of nailing on a crossing from a split safety alignment. Harris’s interception was exactly what the Vikings tried to accomplish most in Game 1, but struggled to do so due to how the Packers were playing much better and more frequently from under-formations. center and forced heavier boxes.

On the plus side for Rodgers, that interception was the only one he threw in the two games. He rarely put the ball in danger, which is certainly a theme for him lately. Additionally, Rodgers’ avoidance of negative play in general is part of what separated him from Cousins ​​in those two clashes. Rodgers dropped a sack once in every 15.8 dropbacks and threw only one interception out of 79 dropbacks in total, while Cousins ​​sacked once in every 11.5 dropbacks and threw a interception once every 23 dropbacks (out of a total of 69). Part of that has to do with the respective pass protection each of them got, which we’ll touch on in the upcoming Cousins ​​feature, but it speaks to Cousins ​​imploding versus Rodgers lukewarmness.

Overall, the Packers’ offense skated mostly because of an excellent operating half of the two-height structures against a height of the Vikings and Rodgers kept their errors to a minimum. After those first two quarters of Game 1, all the Packers offense really did was float. With an offense as spectacular as the Vikings’ offense attempted to sink on its own, however, especially in Game 2, Rodgers was enough to stay afloat for his offense.

The next installment in this series will explain what went wrong with Cousins ​​versus the Packers defense. In many ways, those two games were his worst of the season from afar, and the movie shows just how much the Packers did to keep Cousins.


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