GREEN BAY—Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has become more than an accomplished passer. He’s become a coach on the field.
“We’ve always put a lot on the quarterback’s plate here,” Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said on Monday, during the coordinators’ review of the Packers’ win in Minnesota on Sunday night. “Aaron takes pride in making correct adjustments. This year we probably put a little more on him in the run game.”
Rodgers changed plays at the line of scrimmage from pass to run, in addition to throwing for 285 yards, two touchdowns and a 130.6 passer rating. He was at his all-around best in the 44-31 win over the Vikings.
“I think he was dialed in for this game. Everybody was. They’re a big rival and we were planning for a big game from them.
After Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown, it appeared the Packers were going to get that big game from the Vikings. Immediately, the Packers were challenged to respond, and they did by driving 90 yards in 14 plays for a game-tying touchdown.
“That was an outstanding job to respond to that. Then it kept building. We stayed in manageable third-down situations and then converted,” Clements said.
The Packers produced eye-popping stats, none more impressive than their drive chart, which shows scores in each of the Packers’ first seven drives of the game. They would have only one other possession in the game: the final 1:24 of the game in victory formation.
Clements and Head Coach Mike McCarthy added their own twist to the game by using wide receiver Jordy Nelson as a slot receiver. By moving Nelson closer to the ball, the Packers were able to take advantage of favorable matchups and get Nelson more involved in the action.
“A lot of times a slot receiver can get more opportunities,” Clements said.
It was important for the Packers’ lone opening-day starter among the receivers that played on Sunday night to be more involved in the offense, as Rodgers was playing without Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley, three of the team’s four receptions leaders.
“He caught two touchdowns from the inside. We went into the game trying to move Jordy around. He’s a big target in (the slot),” Clements said.
Though special teams suffered a breakdown on the opening kickoff, rookie Micah Hyde atoned for his missed tackle on Patterson’s return by returning a punt 93 yards for a touchdown. It staked the Packers to a two-touchdown lead.
“His punt return was a dynamic play. He outran the pursuit and scored,” Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum said.
Slocum used punter Tim Masthay on the opening kickoff; the intent was to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone, but Masthay came up a yard shy. Slocum opted for Mason Crosby to do the kickoff chores the remainder of the game, since Patterson’s reputation is that he doesn’t settle for touchbacks.
“I felt it was important to go to Mason because he’s very good at directional kicking,” Slocum said.
Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is pleased by his unit’s overall body of work, but still seeking more takeaways and better play against two-minute offense.
“I was pleased by the pressure we got,” Capers said of the Packers’ three sacks. “We knew if we could disrupt (Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder) a little bit, he’d pull the ball down and run with it.
“We’ve got to continue to strive to get more takeaways.” Additional coverage - Oct. 28