Cardinals get a taste of own medicine in Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals offense has proven to be a dominating force behind the arm and overall play of quarterback Kyler Murray.
It has helped Arizona post a blemish-free record seven games into the season.
Murray has made opposing defenses spin this year, scrambling out of for-sure sacks and firing bullets in small windows that look covered by a mile.
On Thursday, Arizona will see a similar game being played on the opposite sideline in Green Bay Packers signal caller Aaron Rodgers. He may not have the speed like Murray, but the 2020 MVP knows how to get out of harm’s way and make defenses pay.
“It’s not fun, I’ll tell you that much,” Kingsbury said on gameplanning for Rodgers. “You turn on the tape and watch the throws that he’s able to make and just the way he orchestrates that offense — getting them into the right plays, getting them into the right checks.
“Even when you have it covered, his off-schedule stuff is as good as anybody who has ever played. It’s some sleepless nights when you’re watching that film.”
Kingsbury’s got a point.
After a lackluster showing in Week 1 to the New Orleans Saints, Rodgers and the Packers have rattled off six straight wins. The quarterback has looked much more like his 2020 form since his two-interception season opener, completing 70.5% of his passes for 15 touchdowns and just one interception. The quarterback has thrown for at least two touchdowns in all but one game this season.
And while Green Bay not having star wide receiver Davante Adams, who was placed on the COVID-19 list earlier in the week, seems likely, Rodgers have found ways to get it done in his absence.
In the six games Adams has missed since head coach Matt LaFleur took over in 2019, Rodgers has led the team to a 6-0 mark, tossing 17 touchdowns to just one interception and 1,865 yards on 70.3% passing.
“I think the foundation is very similar,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said when comparing the Packers offense to the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams. “It goes back to [49ers head coach Kyle] Shanahan. We’ve played that concept about five or six times already this year. Every coach has his own version of it but with Aaron, every play it looks different because of what he’s doing on [the line of scrimmage].
“Every look you give him, he has an answer for it. … It’s our job to give him a look that hopefully he hasn’t seen and take him away. End of the day, fit our gaps and cover our guy and rush the passer, that’s what it’s going to take to beat this guy, because you won’t confuse him for four quarters. He’s gonna figure it out and it comes down to playing football. That’s the way it should be.”
There’s much more to the Packers offense than just Rodgers, however.
While one Aaron slings it through the air, another one leads the ground game in Aaron Jones.
The running back has rushed 89 times for 404 yards and two scores so far in 2021. He’s seeing more looks in the passing game, too, reeling in 26 of his 28 targets for 186 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
Backup A.J. Dillon has yet to find the end zone in 2021, but provides a more physical presence to Green Bay’s rushing attack.
“They’ve got two backs, obviously, Jones is a guy that’s a home-run hitter. … He’s small but he’s fast through the gaps and that’s sometimes tougher than playing against big backs. We saw it against Dalvin Cook. Those little, fast backs, they hit those holes so fast and the arm tackles don’t get them down.
“And the big guy, Dillon, he’s 240. It’s two different types of backs which makes it tough and makes the running game pretty solid,” Joseph said.
For all the good the offense does, it still ranks middle-the-road in terms of yards per game with 337.9 and points per game with 24.
It may not be the same high-scoring offense we saw lead the league in 2020, but at 6-1, this Green Bay team is no joke.