Rodgers’ scrambling adds threat to Pack’s offense
Aaron Rodgers’ strategy for backing out of a snowy driveway
sounds a lot like his on-field approach to scrambling: full speed
More than a foot of snow fell in the area over 24 hours, and
Rodgers woke up early Wednesday having to hustle to make morning
meetings at Lambeau Field.
“I couldn’t believe how much snow was out there,” Rodgers
said. “So I shoveled out just out like four feet in back of my
garage, and I just gunned it.”
If the Baltimore Ravens’ defense couldn’t catch him, Rodgers
wasn’t about to get his truck stuck in a snowbank.
Hobbled by foot injuries earlier this season, Rodgers was back
to his scrambling best in Monday night’s victory over the Ravens.
He showed a veteran’s feel for pass rush pressure, consistently
slipping away from trouble. He also converted a critical
second-and-17 play with a 23-yard scramble in the second
Rodgers knows NFL teams didn’t consider him much of a runner
coming out of college, but he’s proving them wrong as a pro. Today,
any team that underrates Rodgers’ scrambling ability could be in
“It’s pretty satisfying to be able to move around and be able
to make plays with my feet, especially since I think that’s often
an overlooked part of my game,” Rodgers said. “Maybe not any
more, but especially when I was coming out (of college). I felt
like people underrated my athleticism at times.”
Rodgers has been a productive passer since taking over as the
starter last season. But when faced with heavy pass rush pressure
earlier this season, he sometimes held on to the ball too long.
Now Rodgers seems to have more faith in his line – the Packers
have given up only four sacks in their last three games – and coach
Mike McCarthy said Rodgers’ feel for the dos and don’ts of
scrambling was evident Monday night.
“When you train the quarterback to have in-pocket awareness and
out-of-pocket awareness, there’s the gray area: When do you stay
in, when do you come out?,” McCarthy said. “It’s a whole another
phase of quarterback development that you’re always working on. And
I thought he was very smart.”
Rodgers never vented frustration about his shoddy protection
earlier this season. But he now says he has a “good feel” for the
line, which has been bolstered by the return of veteran right
tackle Mark Tauscher and a renewed commitment to the short passing
“Having those guys being able to play together now for a couple
weeks in a row, I feel like we’re on the same page time-clock
wise,” Rodgers said. “And it’s nice having ‘Tausch’ over there,
he’s been very consistent for us.”
Rodgers said the Packers were surprised at how much linebacker
pressure the Ravens brought on Monday, trying to contain Rodgers in
the pocket. It didn’t work, as the Ravens only sacked Rodgers once
and he consistently bought more time with his feet.
Rodgers said Baltimore also used a surprising amount of two-deep
safety coverage with man-to-man coverage underneath, leaving the
quarterback plenty of room to roam in the middle of the field –
especially on his 23-yard scramble that set up a touchdown just
Rodgers knows plays like that can demoralize a defense.
“I like to think so,” Rodgers said. “I pride myself on the
way I take care of my body, and I put a lot of work in this
offseason to get faster and increase my foot speed. I take a lot of
pride in being able to extend plays.”
But while Rodgers might be quick on his feet, it’s taking the
Northern California native a while to get used to the weather in
“I think this is probably the worst in five years,” Rodgers
said. “There was a blizzard a couple years ago, I think, but I
don’t remember this much snow falling in this (short) time
Players had to scramble to make a 7:30 a.m. special teams
meeting, and a few snowed-in folks needed rides to Lambeau Field.
But beyond a few rescheduled weightlifting sessions, McCarthy said
the snow didn’t cause a significant disruption.
“That’s the biggest storm that I have seen since I’ve been
here,” McCarthy said. “We were able to roll this morning. We’ve
had a good day so far.”
McCarthy – who got up at 4 a.m. to clear the snow out of his own
driveway and still made it to the office before 6 – said he
probably won’t take players outside for practice this week. The
Packers do have a new heated outdoor practice field this season,
allowing them to go outside with fewer concerns about injuries.
“We’ll be indoors tomorrow and Friday,” McCarthy said.
“That’s basically because of the wind more than anything.”
Rodgers, meanwhile, has friends staying at his house after
missing their flight home.
“Hopefully, they shoveled that driveway today,” Rodgers