Packers QB Aaron Rodgers produces some MVP magic vs. Cowboys

Aaron Rodgers will not be the 2022 NFL MVP, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback looked a lot like the 2020 NFL MVP and 2021 NFL MVP during Sunday’s overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Where was Rodgers so deadly during his two-year run as MVP? From clean pockets, and off play-action. He got back to doing big damage in both situations against the Cowboys.

Per Pro Football Focus, Rodgers completed 11 of 16 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns from clean pockets on Sunday. He also completed nine of 11 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns off play-action fakes.

The result was Rodgers’ best game as a passer of the 2022 season.

The Packers had only 23 dropbacks on Sunday but Rodgers had a clean pocket on 16 of the 23, or 70 percent. Matt LaFleur also dialed up play-action on 11 of his 23 dropbacks, or 49.6 percent. The clean pocket percentage is significant because the Packers did more downfield passing and threw only three passes behind the line of scrimmage on Sunday, so Rodgers wasn’t just getting rid of it quickly to protect the offensive line. And the nearly 50 percent play-action rate was the team’s highest of the season, and it was bolstered by the high number of snaps from under center.

Keep Rodgers clean and throw in some run fakes and he’s usually at his best in LaFleur’s scheme.

The two-time MVP was dominant in 2020 and 2021 in both clean pocket and play-action situations:

Clean pocket passing

Cmp.%

YPA

TD/INT

Passer rating

2020

77.1

8.5

40/4

129.7

2021

77.1

8.5

29/1

123.7

Sunday

68.8

12.9

3/0

151.0

Play-action passing

Cmp%

YPA

TD/INT

Passer rating

2020

73.0

8.5

21/0

138.1

2021

71.6

7.9

10/0

118.3

Sunday

81.8

13.5

2/0

158.3

Here’s Rodgers’ passing chart from Next Gen Stats:

Rodgers completed 6-of-10 passes for 151 yards and two scores on attempts thrown over 10 yards in the air. And three of his completions traveled over 20 yards. His adjusted completion percentage at PFF (accounting for drops and throwaways) was almost 85 percent.

This looks like a sustainable way of running the new Packers offense. It sure helped to have the preferred five offensive line starters available for the entire game, get over 200 yards rushing from Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon and inject the game-breaking speed of Christian Watson into the equation in the passing game. But Rodgers, after throwing three picks last week in Detroit, was nothing short of terrific.

Have the Packers re-discovered the formula on offense? The next seven weeks will provide the answer.

List

Good, bad and ugly from Packers' overtime win over Cowboys

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire