Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers Offense Look as Crisp, Dominant as Ever

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Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers Offense Look as Crisp, Dominant as Ever
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It didn't take very long for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense to get back to midseason form against the St. Louis Rams on Saturday.

Suiting up for just two offensive drives, the three-time Pro Bowl QB wasted no time moving the football downfield for points. While completing 11 out of 13 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, Rodgers looked sharp, finding his platoon of pass-catchers in open space against what was supposed to be a stout Rams defense.

As he noted after the win (via Vic Ketchman of Packers.com), it was a "perfect preseason game":

"We scored and we stayed healthy. That’s a perfect preseason game. We got the tempo up. The efficiency was pretty good."

Wide receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Andrew Quarless were the two biggest contributors in the passing game. Cobb hauled in three receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown, while Quarless picked up 49 yards on three catches of his own—he would later add one more reception for nine yards without Rodgers in the game.

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Both players were able to get open consistently, catching each ball that was thrown in their direction. Perhaps the best play of the game occurred when Rodgers slipped out of the pocket and found Cobb in the back of the end zone for a three-yard strike.

It’s not surprising that Cobb and Quarless look comfortable in the offense this early on in the preseason. They both have a ton of experience working with Rodgers, which means they’ve seen this movie before.

Jarrett Boykin, on the other hand, is entering his third season with the team and has limited experience working with Rodgers.

Of all the offensive players, Boykin looked the most impressive. A humble stat line of 21 yards receiving on just three catches doesn’t tell the whole story. He was the guy Rodgers looked for when moving the chains, and Boykin appeared to have zero issues creating space for himself.

Now that James Jones is part of the Oakland Raiders, Boykin could be the guy who’s called upon to fill those shoes.

Scott Kane/Associated Press

It was business as usual for running back Eddie Lacy. Last year—his first season in the league—Lacy finished as Pro Football Focus' (subscription required) fifth-best halfback in the NFL behind Marshawn Lynch, Giovani Bernard, Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy.

Against the Rams, he looked fluid rushing between the tackles and displayed that vision and power we're accustomed to seeing from the former Alabama star. In just five carries, he was able to rush for 25 yards.

Running the ball wasn’t the only thing we got to see out of Lacy. Head coach Mike McCarthy dialed up a few plays that sent the 24-year-old out of the backfield. Rodgers found him twice for 22 yards.

The Packers are at their best when they are able to keep a defense on their heels with a balanced, aggressive attack. That attack starts with the offensive line.

Jeff Fisher’s Rams spent this offseason trying to perfect their defensive line. Like their division rival Seattle Seahawks, they understand that in today’s pass-friendly environment, you have to control the line of scrimmage and get to the quarterback.

Tom Gannam/Associated Press

They added a pocket-collapsing defensive tackle in Aaron Donald in the first round of the draft to give edge-rushers Chris Long and Robert Quinn another partner in crime. In Saturday's contest, those guys were blown off the ball as the Packers offensive linemen used their experience, scheme familiarity and strength to keep them at bay.

Everything just operates at a different pace when Rodgers is on the field. His experience controlling the offense and getting players on the same page is second to none. Without a healthy version of Rodgers leading the charge, the Packers simply can’t function.

That was apparent last season. On November 4, Rodgers injured his shoulder against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. That injury would hold him out of action until Week 17.

In the eight regular-season games Rodgers was active, the Packers averaged 30.6 points per game. When he was out, they averaged a mere 21.5 points per game.

Luckily for them, Rodgers is back, and if the 21 minutes and 52 seconds of playing time he received against the Rams was any indication of what we can expect, this team is headed for great things.

"The days of McCarthy's offense asking Brett Favre or Rodgers to throw the ball 50-plus times a game should be long gone. Instead, the Lacy-Rodgers combination is arguably the league's most dangerous," Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote.

A physical running game, an aggressive passing attack and a cohesive offensive line make up the formula for success. Just two games into the preseason, the Packers’ first-team offense looks like it has embraced that philosophy.

 

All CFB stats and information courtesy of Sports-Reference.com unless noted otherwise. All NFL stats, game scores and information courtesy of ESPN.com unless noted otherwise.

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