We started the conversation last month about the connection between the Green Bay Packers' sack totals and how long quarterback Aaron Rodgers holds the ball. As we noted in the chart reproduced below, Rodgers spent more time in the pocket last season than 34 NFL quarterbacks who made at least two starts and also had the division's highest rate of sacks per drop-back.
At the time, I thought it was important to consider those figures part of a larger problem rather than its sole cause. Based on comments Rodgers made recently to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com, it appears Rodgers agrees. Here is how their give-and-take on the issue went:
Do you need to take fewer sacks?
Aaron Rodgers: I don't look at it that way.
How do you look at it?
AR: We need to decrease our number of sacks.
So how do you do that while not changing who you are? No one wants to see you get hurt, and your offensive coordinator, your pal Tom Clements, said that you put yourself at risk at times.
AR: Yeah, I don't want to get hurt. We just need to avoid a few of them and I think we will. We all have a part in that, from myself to the line to the backs to the tight ends to the scheme. We've got to find the right mix and try to cut that number in half.
The Packers have addressed a number of items Rodgers ticked off. They've flipped their offensive line to get their best players to protect Rodgers' backside and have re-considered their scheme by drafting two running backs who presumably will inspire them to run more often.
Cutting last season's total of 51 sacks in half would be an impressive feat. Since he became the Packers' starter in 2008, Rodgers has been sacked an average of 40.4 times per season and never less than 31, his total in 2010. We'll continue to follow this angle as far as it takes us.