Rodgers, a master improviser and play-extender, is getting the ball out of his hands in rhythm and on time, and it’s no secret why.
The two-time MVP has open receivers – and sometimes wide-open receivers – to throw to within the framework of plays.
“We have guys open so the ball is able to be dealt a little bit quicker than year’s past. I don’t remember in the recent history where we’ve had multiple plays where we had guys wide, wide open,” Rodgers said. “A lot of that is due to minor schematic changes we made during the offseason and also the execution. When you put that all together, you’re getting guys open on time and the ball is able to come out.”
Through two games, Rodgers is averaging 2.39 seconds between snap and throw, according to Pro Football Focus. He was at 2.74 seconds in 2019 and 2.75 seconds in 2018.
The results have been staggering: When Rodgers gets the ball out within 2.5 seconds of the snaps in 2020, his passer rating is 125.3, the fifth-highest in the NFL entering Week 3.
“When I’m playing on time and in rhythm, the offense can be more efficient as long as we have guys open,” Rodgers said. “The two have been really correlated this year. The timing and the rhythm and guys being open when they need to be open.”
According to Next Gen Stats, Rodgers has thrown a higher percentage of passes in rhythm and within the tackle box this season than the previous four years, highlighting his increased comfort level throwing on time from the pocket and his decreased need to extend plays and improvise outside the framework of the play.
Aaron Rodgers has been more comfortable in the structure of his offense this season, throwing from inside the tackle box and "in rhythm" (2.5 – 4 sec) at 5-year highs.
➤ 84% in tackle box, 36% in rhythm (last in NFL)
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 23, 2020
Coach Matt LaFleur deserves plenty of credit. Receivers are open on time in large part due to clever play designs that are stressing defenses both before and after the snap. Pre-snap motion, varied personnel groupings, bunched formations and natural pick plays have come together to create easy, on-time throws for Rodgers through two games.
The receivers have been the biggest beneficiaries. Altogether, Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard have combined for 31 catches, 460 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Rodgers’ passer rating when targeting the three receivers is 140.9.
Adams remains great at beating any kind of coverage, but Valdes-Scantling has looked dangerous as a vertical threat, and Lazard remains a trustworthy option for Rodgers on key downs and situations.
Can the Packers sustain the consistency in the passing game? The Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, the Packers’ first two opponents, had personnel issues at both cornerback and pass-rusher, lightening the load on Rodgers and the receivers. The New Orleans Saints, who have three veteran cornerbacks and Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan, will present a new challenge on Sunday night.
The Packers offense hummed the first two weeks, with Rodgers dealing the ball all over the field in rhythm and with accuracy and decisiveness. It’s all looked pretty through two games. And it’s all due to the offense creating open receivers.