Only TD passes missing from Rodgers' play

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
11:00
AM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On Monday, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy went out of his way to praise the way quarterback Aaron Rodgers has played so far this season.

“Sometimes I think we can all get caught up in the numbers and go ‘wow,’ but I really like the way he’s playing right now,” McCarthy said earlier this week.

It’s not as if Rodgers’ numbers look all that bad. He ranks fifth in the NFL in passer rating (101.9), 11th in completion percentage (64.1 percent) and ninth in yards (1,646) despite playing in one fewer game (because of the Packers’ early bye week) than all but one of the quarterbacks ahead of him in yards.

[+] EnlargeGreen Bay's Aaron Rodgers
AP Photo/Morry GashAaron Rodgers has just three TD passes in the Packers last three games.
Overall, the Packers rank fourth in the NFL in passing yards per game and fifth in points per game.

But there’s one number -- one important number -- that isn’t up to Rodgers’ usual standards. Through five games, he has thrown 10 touchdown passes. On the surface, that’s not too far off his usual pace. Coming into the season, he averaged 2.18 touchdown passes in regular-season games that he has started.

However, since throwing seven touchdowns in the first two games of the season combined, Rodgers is working on a streak of three straight games in which he has only thrown one touchdown pass per game.

That matches the longest streak of consecutive games without multiple touchdown passes since he became a starter in 2008, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He had similar streaks last season and in 2008. He broke last season’s streak with a three-touchdown game against the Chicago Bears in Week 15. That started a three-game stretch in which he threw 11 touchdowns without an interception to close out the regular season.

A similar breakout might be more difficult this time around, considering Rodgers will be without leading receiver Randall Cobb (out at least eight weeks because of a broken fibula). Receiver James Jones (knee) also may not play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

“I think you learn as you play in this game, especially the last couple of weeks, you have to be patient,” Rodgers said. “I think you’re always learning as a quarterback. If the last couple of weeks have taught me anything, it’s just a reminder to let the game come to you. Big plays are going to be there if you are patient.”

In that regard, the Packers like the way Rodgers has played. As an example, offensive coordinator Tom Clements said Rodgers’ pre-snap decision-making at the line of scrimmage during last Sunday’s 19-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens was nearly perfect.

“I don’t know how many adjustments he made in the game, run or pass, probably 14 or 15 or so and maybe only question one or two of them,” Clements said. “He’s keeping us in clean plays. He’s getting the run game, he’s getting it to the right side.”

That happened at a critical time against the Ravens. With 1:32 remaining in the game and the Packers facing a third-and-2, McCarthy called a run to the right. Rodgers saw something he didn’t like from the Ravens’ defense, so he changed the play to a run left, and Eddie Lacy easily got the first down that allowed the Packers to run out the clock.

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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