Aaron Rodgers reveals the secret thing he discovered that powered his MVP season

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Zach Kruse
·4 min read
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During training camp, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers revealed that something he found in his old tape – from as far back as 2009 or 2010 – provided part of the foundation for what would turn out to be one of his finest seasons as a passer in 2020.

Rodgers kept the discovery mostly a secret. Until now.

On Tuesday’s appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers finally spilled the beans, describing in great detail how the rebuilding of strength in his lower body following a major injury and a rediscovered trust in sinking into his hitches helped create the accuracy and passing prowess of his MVP-caliber season in 2020.

Let Rodgers explain more: “I’ve loosely mentioned a lot of it over the year, but the key that I saw was just the rhythm in my hitch. And I was realizing the thing that I was working on back then so much was the sinking into the hitch at the top of my drop. And that was one area that was lacking based on my injury and some of the adjustments I had to make fundamentally to deal with a knee and leg that just wasn’t as strong as it used to be. And that’s part of the reason why I got back into squatting was because I wanted to build that thing up so I could put a ton of weight and pressure into that knee and those legs, because the deeper I was sinking into my hitches the more on time I was throwing the ball. And I really just saw how much of an emphasis I was doing that in 2010, 2009, 2011, and what that was allowing me to do was I was throwing the ball on time. In all these games I was watching, my timing was very, very good. The entire route tree and concepts, I was able to perfectly hitch to them and that’s why I felt why I was so accurate. So from that point forward, I watched a few of those things, and the next day I worked on them, and things just started clicking. It was kind of like a daily reset for me. Really feel into those feelings that I hadn’t had. I started realizing with confidence that the leg strength that I had 10 years ago was back. A lot of it was due to the work I did in the offseason.”

Rodgers completed a career-high and NFL-high 70.7 percent of his passes in 2020. He threw 48 touchdown passes and finished with the second-best passer rating in NFL history at 121.5.

“A lot of it again is due to the little things I picked up on film and all the work I did on my body,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers pointed to rebuilding strength in his legs, using a variety of different exercises including squats, which helped him overcome the various lower-body injuries he’s suffered over the last 10 years, including the broken leg he to start the 2018 season.

The work allowed him to play the way he needed to play fundamentally.

“I think all of that stuff really just helped me to get that balance and rhythm back in my drop. And because of that, I played on time, the ball came out, and when the ball comes out on time, I’ve always been very accurate,” Rodgers said.

The necessary confidence and trust in his legs – which he lacked after the injuries – came back, and when he saw the way he was using his drop to time out throws from the tape in 2010, he put it all together on the practice field during training camp.

Stronger legs, more trust, better sink into his hitches, more throwing on time and better accuracy. It all congealed, creating a quarterback capable of producing another MVP season.

“I’ve always tried to use the back of my drop to get momentum into throws but it’s also a timing mechanism,” Rodgers said. “There’s different types of hitches you can take. You can take short quick ones. You can dig into and have a longer one. Each fraction of a second allows your receiver to get to a spot where the ball can be thrown on time. That’s what I realized that I did really well in the old film and wasn’t doing as well in some of the newer stuff. Just because I didn’t have that confidence and trust that I could sink into my knee as much as I wanted to. I just trusted it, I started trusting it again, because I had done the work, and I had been doing all the stuff to build it back up, but still maybe hadn’t transferred the trust onto the field and done the reps. And once I did, things started really falling into place and the timing and the balance especially returned, and the accuracy kind of fell in line.”

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