GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers doesn’t think his fundamentals are out of whack. Nor does he think he’s playing any differently than in years past.
However, the two-time NFL MVP quarterback acknowledged that with the Green Bay Packers at 4-6-1 and barely alive for the playoffs, it might be time to play a little different, perhaps even take more chances.
“Yeah, why not?” Rodgers said Wednesday. “If we lose, you guys are just going to write us off, so might as well let it all hang out these last five [games].”
His favorite target, receiver Davante Adams, agreed.
“Yeah, that’s the idea of it,” Adams said. “I feel like we’ve been down this road before. In ’16, when we had to win them and we made that happen. A lot of the same players in here, a lot of the guys who were here when that whole run-the-table thing was brought to the table. I feel like we the same people in here, so we’ve just got to make sure we have a collective effort to get it done.”
They might need better play from Rodgers to do it.
The Packers have scored just three points in the second half of each of their past two games, losses at Minnesota and Seattle. They haven’t won on the road this season, going 0-6, and have only two more tries — at Chicago and at the Jets. But first they have consecutive home games against two struggling teams, the Cardinals and Falcons, to try to fix their problems.
Both Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy spent an inordinate amount of time Wednesday answering questions about the quarterback’s uneven play. Yes, some of Rodgers’ numbers look strong — 20 touchdowns and just one interception — but the offense has sputtered at critical times, especially on third downs late in games.
Rodgers has thrown 286 straight passes without an interception. According to ELIAS, he’s 11 more completions without an interception from cracking the top five of all time. However, Rodgers has had his troubles during the streak. He has been off target on 20.6 percent of those 286 passes, above the NFL average off-target rate of 16 percent this season.
It has led to a deep examination of Rodgers’ fundamentals and whether his Week 1 knee injury has impacted his performance.
“I don’t think I need to respond about fundamentals,” Rodgers said. “I mean, I drill the fundamentals. I throw how I throw. I’m not playing any different this year. It’s just we’re not completing as many passes percentage-wise.”
Rodgers then made two half-joking references to be named to USA Football’s All-Fundamental team twice in his career.
“I listen to my quarterback coach and my offensive coordinator and my head coach,” Rodgers said. “My study of myself, I’m very critical of my own film. I’m not playing any differently, fundamental-wise. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t love it when it’s a certain way and then critique it when it’s the other way. I mean, you guys can because that what you guys get paid to do. Again, that’s the news cycle. They’re going to pick at things when you’re in a situation like this where we’re at. We’re 4-6-1 so it comes with the territory.”
A few throws of late have stood out because they were the type that Rodgers has almost always made. But in these cases he didn’t. There was the third-and-2 throw in the fourth quarter at Seattle that he bounced at the feet of rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a ball Rodgers said got stuck in his hand. And then two last week at Minnesota: another in-the-dirt throw to Equanimeous St. Brown on second-and-1 from the Vikings’ 20 in the fourth quarter and an overthrow of Adams in the end zone on the very next play.
“I told you, the first one stuck to my hand, and the second one, I threw without laces and threw it into the ground,” Rodgers said. “So I can’t really explain it any other way. You can go back and check the film on the second one, but that’s what happened. I practiced throwing without the laces. I was trying to get the ball out quick, and I just didn’t throw it well. The first one, I told you it just stuck to my hand. Some balls are tackier than other ones.
“It’s embarrassing, for sure. Yeah, I mean, it happens to the best of us.”
Said McCarthy: “It’s never just one thing. We all need to continue to focus, and particularly when you’re talking about throwing and catching a ball, there’s more than just what your feet look like or an opinion of what they’re supposed to be. That’s why we practice, and I think we’ll definitely have an opportunity to take a step this week.”