Wednesday, October 16, 2013
QB Watch: Packers' Aaron Rodgers
By Rob Demovsky
A weekly examination of the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback play.
Rewind: Aaron Rodgers lost two of his top-three receivers -- Randall Cobb and James Jones -- to first-half injuries on Sunday against the Ravens, leaving the Packers with only two available receivers. That put more pressure on Rodgers to feed the ball to Jordy Nelson. Rodgers completed 4 of 9 passes that he targeted to Nelson with one touchdown and one interception. It was only the second time since the start of the 2012 season that Rodgers failed to connect on at least half of his throws to Nelson in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The result was Rodgers’ lowest completion percentage (53.1 percent on 17-of-32) since Week 9 of last season.
Fast-forward: It might not get any easier for Rodgers and Nelson on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have a top-tier cornerback in Joe Haden, who likely will be matched against Nelson.
Force-feeding: Without Cobb and Jones in the second half against the Ravens, Rodgers relied heavily on Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the pair accounted for nine of Rodgers’ 11 second-half targets. In the first four games, those two accounted for 34 percent of Rodgers’ targets.
Prediction: The Browns have a solid pass defense, ranking eighth in yards allowed per game through the air, and they have allowed just six passing touchdowns in six games. Rodgers hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown in a game since Week 2. So odds are Rodgers will have trouble throwing more than one touchdown. But Rodgers loves when people doubt him, and that’s surely what some will do given that he won’t have his leading receiver, Cobb, and Jones’ status is uncertain. For that reason alone, Rodgers will throw multiple touchdowns this week against the Browns.