Can Aaron Rodgers Activate Playoff Mode? Does He Need To?

A playoff-bound Aaron Rodgers doesn’t care about what outsiders think. Especially when it comes to how the Green Bay Packers finished with a 13-3 record and a first-round bye. Rodgers shared his thoughts when he caught up with former teammate and current Packers media correspondent, John Kuhn, on Thursday.

“I don’t care,” he said in response to Kuhn eluding to the Packers seemingly always finding ways to squeak by. “We are 13-3, we won 13 games this year, and we’ve done it in a way that isn’t the flashiest way, but I don’t give a you know what,  John-- because we are in this position because of the way we’ve played.”

In all fairness, there have been areas where Green Bay hasn’t looked as good as their record shows. For instance, scoring has been inconsistent with the Packers as they finished the regular season 15th in points per game. They come in even lower at 23rd in third-down percentage with a 36 percent conversion rate.

While the defense has been much improved at generating sacks and turnovers, they are still 18th in total defense. The Packers have also been a middle of the road team when it comes to getting off the field on third down, as opposing teams are converting 38 percent of their third downs.

These numbers are alarming by themselves, however, they don't soften what this team has accomplished in 2019.

Throughout the season, Green Bay has seen incredible individual performances by running-back Aaron Jones and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith. There’s no denying these two players have been the main catalysts for this team’s success, and no one appreciates it more than Rodgers.

For years he’s put up with bad defenses and having no run game. For once, he deserves the benefit of not needing to shoulder the load.

Also, Rodgers is right in that style points don’t give you a competitive edge. Who cares how as long as the team wins?

Statistically, Rodgers has had a “down” year per his standards. 4,002 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and a 62 percent completion percentage are some of the lowest totals of his career, but 13 wins are the second-highest this team has had in a single season with him as the starter.

Admittingly, Rodgers told reporters the offense has had timing issues for much of the year, and it may not be fixed by the time the season ends. Rarely does a first-year offense hit the ground running.

Over the past two weeks, the offense has looked especially bad over extended periods. Rodgers even threw two of his four interceptions in weeks 16 and 17. Occasionally, he looks like the Rodgers of old, but of late he will miss a throw he usually makes in his sleep. Is it a lack of offseason reps? Timing?

Whatever it is, Rodgers expects more as someone who is hyper-aware of criticism. For that, I wouldn’t put it past the offense to take it up a notch during the postseason. It will also help that Green Bay will host at least one game, which favors Rodgers.

Here are Rodgers’ stats over his last three playoff games played at Lambeau Field:

2016 Wild Card vs New York Giants (WIN): 25/40, 362 passing yards, four touchdowns, 125.2 quarterback rating

2014 Divisional Round vs Dallas Cowboys (WIN): 24/35, 316 passing yards, three touchdowns, 125.4 quarterback rating

2013 Wild Card vs San Francisco (LOSS): 17/26, 177 passing yards, one touchdown, 97.8 quarterback rating

If recent history tells us anything, it’s that Lambeau faithful can look forward to Rodgers putting on a show in the Divisional Round. However, if the Packers need to “win ugly.” I think we will take it. 

 

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (43)

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Bearmeat's picture

January 03, 2020 at 12:17 pm

I think no matter who comes into Lambeau, we have a very good chance to win. Saints would be tough, but if that's the matchup then bring it. If ARod can just clean up the accuracy juuuust little bit, we're going to be very difficult to beat at home.

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GBPDAN1's picture

January 04, 2020 at 07:52 am

Happy new years. In my humble opinion, I believe Rodgers needs to clean up his accuracy more than just a little bit for the playoffs. I believe to beat the Saints and 49ers will take Rodgers to be closer to his old self. His last 2 performance will not cut it in the playoffs

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Tarynfor12's picture

January 03, 2020 at 12:18 pm

As much as we all have something to say, whether good or bad, about this team after each weekly performance, we all want the Packers to win and win it all, regardless of the level of beauty or ugly.

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MarkinMadison's picture

January 03, 2020 at 05:44 pm

I'm not sure what you are alluding to, but, admittedly, I'm not very good at paying attention.

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 03, 2020 at 06:22 pm

Mark, I'm fairly certain Taryn is referring to eluding John Kuhn while alluding to a big tent to welcome all who love the Green and Gold, but I was lost in the illusion of complexity as well.

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Tarynfor12's picture

January 03, 2020 at 06:51 pm

I have no idea what John Kuhn has to do with anything but you both seem easily lost in your own eluding.

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BradHTX's picture

January 04, 2020 at 08:28 am

I think it’s an allusion to the elusiveness of vocabulary. But that might all be just an illusion.

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Gort's picture

January 04, 2020 at 02:32 pm

That was complex?

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Lphill's picture

January 03, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Can the Packers win it all ? absolutely, does it really matter how ? No , we didn’t expect to be 13 and 3 so let’s enjoy it , I think the Pack is the youngest team in the NFL and the signing of Reggie Begelton for next season shows they are always willing to improve.

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Duneslick's picture

January 03, 2020 at 10:02 pm

Who ?

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Bure9620's picture

January 04, 2020 at 03:03 am

That is a futures contract with Begelton

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Swisch's picture

January 03, 2020 at 12:59 pm

I'll cut some slack for Aaron Rodgers as far as learning a new offense as long as he doesn't show up his teammates on the field who are also learning a new offense. Correct on the sideline; praise in the end zone.
I'll cut some slack for Rodgers if he's sincerely trying to implement the short game. At this point of the playoffs, maybe it's good to allow our quarterback some wiggle room to do things in the ways he's done them in the past -- the holding onto the ball, and the deep throws, for example.
However, I strongly believe the deep throws will be more effective if Rodgers establishes the running game and short passing game beforehand.
I'd like to see an array of motions and misdirections; plus receivers in bunch formations going in various directions; and passing routes across the field; a couple or more jet sweeps and screen passes; and Rodgers rolling out once in a while.
Keep the defense guessing!
And why not throw off opposing defenses by snapping the ball earlier in the count more often, and going up-tempo at times?
By the way, I like the deep throws. Send two guys deep, and throw to the one with single coverage. See if Lazard can outjump a defensive back; or if MVS can outrun one. On 3rd-and-20, throw a 50-yard pass that if intercepted, would be like a punt.
In general, I'll try to be patient with our great quarterback as long as he is working with coaches, not resisting them. I hope our coaches work with Rodgers, too, to allow him some personal preferences.
It's the player who has to give the most, though -- even the great player -- for the good of the team.

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Lare's picture

January 03, 2020 at 01:38 pm

At this point of the season you dance with the ones that got you here. Sure there are preferred opponents but to be the best you need to beat the best.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 03, 2020 at 06:40 pm

I'm not worried about Rodgers. He's been there. The rest of the crew has to show up and have the sense of urgency. Savage has to be on the same page with the play call the entire game. No more over-playing your coverage or falling for double moves.

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4thand1's picture

January 03, 2020 at 04:11 pm

Hey, we spoiled rotten bastages are in the playoffs. Lets enjoy the moment for as long as it lasts. We will most likely face the Saints and be underdogs at home. But, stranger things have happened and the queens are getting no respect. We could be facing the seahags or Philly. Also there is always a chance the NFCCG will go through Lambeau. Buckle up buttercup, it could be a bumpy ride. GOPACKGO.

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Gort's picture

January 03, 2020 at 04:43 pm

If you put lipstick on a pig, its still a pig, and bacon tastes great from any pig, lipstick or not!

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Packer_Fan's picture

January 03, 2020 at 05:09 pm

I never thought the Pack would have a bye. But I thought they had a good chance to make the playoffs. I thought the defense would be better and they are. I thought that Adams and Jones would be the offensive stars and they are. I thought the offense line would be stable and they are. I would have never dreamed that injuries would be so light. I never had thought that Lazard would become the number two WR
I hoped that that Lafluer's offensive system would scheme and it does. After several years of McCarthy's system I wasn't sure Rodgers would be like he was 5 years ago. Well, he isn't playing like he was. Whatever the situation and reasons we will ride Rodgers are far as he can take the Pack.

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MarkinMadison's picture

January 03, 2020 at 05:46 pm

I thought at the beginning of the season they would probably get 10 wins and make the playoffs. This is gravy folks. I still think this team is one year away, but as I've said before, I thought the same thing in 2010. Go Pack Go!

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murf7777's picture

January 03, 2020 at 07:38 pm

I agree, but I believe Martinez has 155, with 3 sacks and an INT. Still very good and leads the nfl in tackles.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

January 03, 2020 at 06:18 pm

I love how Gute churned the roster throughout 2019. Erwin has been a huge boost on ST. Preston Smith doesn't get enough credit. Brandon also failed to mention Kenny Clark, Savage, and Amos who have all been impact players. With 203 tackles Martinez has been a machine in 2019 who fans have been overly critical of. Ride hasn't been pretty but it's been a hell of a ride!

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PAPackerbacker's picture

January 03, 2020 at 06:32 pm

It's not all Rodgers as to why the Packers are 13 -3. It has a lot to do with the defense and also the running game. Aaron Jones had a lot to do with that 13 -3 record. His number of touchdowns this season is impressive. And the defense preserved the win many times over to go to 13 -3. And Alan Lazard has proven his worth on more than one occasion. It's time for a total team effort. If that happens Green Bay will be extremely hard to beat.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 03, 2020 at 06:46 pm

Answer to the 1st part,Yes answer to the 2nd part let's hope so.

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showmefan's picture

January 03, 2020 at 07:21 pm

The playoffs are where quarterbacks create their legacy.Rodgers will have to play like the 2 time MVP that he is in order for the Pack to win. The greats step it up a notch in the playoffs so I hope Rodgers still has it in him. I would hope that the 3rd down rate is where we will have to see an improvement in order to get another 2 games this year.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 03, 2020 at 07:43 pm

A discipline team effort will win. The Packers do not have a lot of wiggle room for mistakes. Good news is every team has major flaws, (yes, even the 49ers) so this is doable. But, BUT Aaron Rodgers must, I repeat must play within the system and scheme for the Packers to have any chance at reaching the NFC champ game much less the Superbowl. If he lets the scheme work, and lets Jones and Williams run the ball. Then he will have time to work his WR, and we all know how good Rodgers is with time. If not... Well we fans all know how that ends... The rest is up to MLF to put Rodgers and this offense in a position to win. And most of all, can Mike Pettine and his staff out scheme and out think some of the smartest offensive minds in this league to put this tough stout defense in position to win. The waiting begins....

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Jonathan Spader's picture

January 03, 2020 at 07:48 pm

Playing within your scheme is what makes Brady the GOAT. In 2018 they had no WRs and ran the ball and played great defense. Brady didn't try and carry the whole team he did eniugh for them not to lose. Rodgers is more talented athletically and extremely intelligent but he can try to do too much too fast which has hurt the team.

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Since'61's picture

January 03, 2020 at 09:00 pm

If we play the Saints as expected the key factors for the Packers will be their defense, especially the front 7. The saints offense has plenty of speed and at least 3 effective weapons, Kamara, Thomas and Cook. If the Packers pass rush cannot get to Brees those 3 players will put a ton of pressure on the Packers secondary.

The second key factor will be the play of the Packers OL for both the ground game and the passing game. Hopefully MLF will have a game plan based on running the ball and the short, quick passing game. I would use Lewis as our primary TE instead of Graham. Let Lewis block for the run game, chip on pass plays and act as a safety valve for Rodgers. I would keep MVS and Allison on the sidelines as well. Go with Adams and Lazard as our WRs. Get the ball in Jones hands as much as possible. Use Vitale to block in short yardage and even 2 TE sets with Lewis for power runs with J. Williams. If we go down let's go down with our best players on the field.

The third key factor will be the play of Aaron Rodgers. Let him hit the quick short passes, utilize rollouts and moving pockets along with the ground game to keep him clean. As long as we're playing with a lead or in a close game we don't lead the long passes unless there is a break down in coverage. Hopefully keep Brees and his offense off the field as much as possible.

Two other factors could be our STs and the weather. Cold can be an effective equalizer against NO speed. Wind could be a problem for both teams, Packers need to play tough, smart and efficient. If we end up with either the Eagles or Seachickens other factors will come into play. I just don't see the Queens winning in NO but stranger things have happened. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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Swisch's picture

January 03, 2020 at 09:51 pm

I like the idea of a lot of Marcedes as blocker, and sometime safety valve. Perhaps Vitale can also surprise by rolling off a block and becoming a pass catcher for a big play or two.
While I'm all for Davante and Lazard as our primary two receivers, I'm picking MVS to get a couple or more important catches.
Whatever happens, ahead or behind, keep our cool like we did against the Vikes. Rodgers even threw an interception in the first half, I think, but it wasn't the end of the world.
The playoffs is always a matter of playing smart, but not being afraid to make mistakes. Have some fun and play it through to the end. No regrets.
A good night to you, Since '61.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 04, 2020 at 03:06 pm

Rip them inside and outside as they performed against the queens. Lindsley and Turner need to Bring It.

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Lphill's picture

January 04, 2020 at 01:25 am

If Rodgers wants another Super Bowl then this is his chance to lead , no excuses.

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Pierre's picture

January 04, 2020 at 09:52 am

Agreed. This team is balanced enough to win three playoff games if Rodgers leads the offense with accurate passing. He has Jones at running back who leads the NFL in TDs. He has an aggressive pass rush defense.

So, no excuses for Rodgers, the SB is there for the taking if he just plays as an experienced above average QB should...converting third downs, scoring TDs, and maintaining time of possession so his defense can rest enough.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 04, 2020 at 03:08 pm

And No excuse for the receivers. Get to the mark and hold onto the damn ball.

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marpag1's picture

January 04, 2020 at 05:27 am

I'm not a huge fan of "advanced analytics" or "metrics" or whatever it is that the Bill Barnwell crowd is pushing, but I thought these comments from Barnwell at ESPN were kind of mind blowing. Maybe it's not ARod's role that we should be talking about...

[Begin quote] "One trend that has stuck for the Packers throughout the season: They're a fundamentally different offense with Aaron Jones on the field. I referred to Green Bay's on/off splits on offense with Jones on the field earlier this year, so let's get an update.

The Packers have run 603 offensive snaps with him on the field. Those snaps have added 90.4 expected points to Green Bay's offensive output, or 0.15 expected points per play. Only two offenses in football generated more than 0.15 EPA per play this season -- the Ravens and Chiefs. With Jones on the field, the Packers are the third-most dominant offense in football.

Without Jones, they aren't the same. When Jamaal Williams has replaced Jones in the lineup, the Packers have generated minus-24.33 EPA across 337 snaps, or minus-0.07 EPA per play. The Williams version of the Green Bay offense ranks 29th in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers' QBR drops from 67.7 with Jones on the field to 28.7 with Williams in the lineup instead. [End quote]

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Swisch's picture

January 04, 2020 at 09:57 am

The thing is that Aaron Rodgers has to have the humility to get the ball to Aaron Jones, whether by handoff or short pass, even though it's not as sensational as the deep throw.
However, if Rodgers gets Jones going, then the deep ball is more likely to be open.
So, it seems to me, the key to Rodgers being sensational is for him to be humble. It's also the key to the Packers winning.

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jlc1's picture

January 05, 2020 at 07:45 am

The quote you respond to is about how well the Pack does with Jones on the field and the touches he gets. And your conclusion is that Rodgers is somehow selfishly denying him the ball? What Barnwell wrote is that MLF is denying him the ball by sidelining him, not Rodgers.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 04, 2020 at 11:40 am

I like stats more than the average fan. I think this stat is broadly useful but also exaggerates the difference between Jones and Jamaal. Jones is far more likely to get a touch when he gets a snap than Williams. Jones' individual performance affects his EPA more than Jamaal's does. Williams is far more likely to be in the lineup on 3rd and 7, and if the Packers fail to pick up the first down the EPA penalty is high. Jamaal may have done his job - perhaps picking up a blitzer - very well but his EPA is dependent on the performance of the rest of the team.

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marpag1's picture

January 04, 2020 at 03:55 pm

Thanks, TGR. First of all, let me say that I would definitely need to research how these guys calculate their "EPA" before I could speak with any sort of authority.

I think I strongly agree with your comments about WHEN the players are on the field. There's a whole lot of "situational football" behind the decision of when to sub in WIlliams and when to ride with Jones. And not every situation is equally conducive to big stat, eye-popping plays. So I totally agree that WIlliams gets kind of a raw deal on that

I think I probably don't agree with your argument that "Jones is far more likely to get a touch when he gets a snap." I hadn't thought of that, and it intrigued me, so I crunched a few numbers. If we define a 'touch' as a rush attempt or a pass reception, then Jones had 285 touches in 603 snaps, which is 47%. WIlliams had 146 touches in 337 snaps, which is 43%, So Jones does have a notable edge, but it hardly seems notable enough to result in the huge differences in Barnwell's EPA.

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MarkinMadison's picture

January 04, 2020 at 06:55 am

IF: (A) this is going to be a run-oriented offense going forward, and (B) Williams is really as big of a drop off as some statistics make him out to be, and (C) the Packers don't think Aaron Jones can take the pounding of being a full-time back --> THEN then probably thing to do is draft or sign another dynamic running back, maybe find another Elgton Jenkins, find a multi-faceted TE, and worry a little less about the WR position.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 04, 2020 at 03:14 pm

They need a power back by the fourth round. Not too confident in Dexter making a difference etc.

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NWPackersfan's picture

January 04, 2020 at 11:20 am

I feel confident that the Saints will be coming to Lambeau for the playoff game.
Here is something interesting to think about with the Saints this year;
3 wins against teams with winning records
10 mwins abainst teams with losing records
2 loses to teams with winning records
1 lose to a team with a losing record

Also, they have not played out in the cold in the last couple years in a playoff game.Especially not Lambeau Frozen Tundra Cold....

I feel confident the Packers can win this upcoming game!!!

Go Pack!!!!

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murf7777's picture

January 04, 2020 at 11:22 am

Turn on “Playoff Mode” Aaron. Your time is now.

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Gman1976's picture

January 04, 2020 at 11:31 am

I look at Aaron Rodger's stats and the win-loss record and say: Wow! I look at some of the plays that Aaron has messed up with poor throws and say: Ow! I hope that Aaron can take it up a notch and say: Now!

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Swisch's picture

January 04, 2020 at 01:06 pm

And How!!!

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Thegravedigger's picture

January 06, 2020 at 07:21 pm

He turns it on when he must. I think he will take more of the short stuff in the game against the seahawks. The huge amount of deep balls in week 17 will be on film and will set up the short game to start. Then comes the mis direction and run game. Then the deep bball when it is there. At least it all sounds good in my head. He will turn it on this sunday i believe. Seattles pass rush isnt great and there coverage is beatable.

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