Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) gets tackled by
Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Chad Greenway (52) in
the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 27,
2013, in Minneapolis.
GREEN BAY —
Yoda would know: Balance in the Packers' offense, Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay is a
force again, but not necessarily just for throwing the ball around
the field in a "Star Wars" kind of pinball game on
playing as well as ever, even with three of his top receivers out
with injuries. Only now, the Packers have a running game to help
carry the load.
the yards are way up, and we're running the football a lot more
effectively," Rodgers said Thursday. "We're top five ...
in throwing it and running it, which I'm sure hasn't happened here
in a while."
The last time
Green Bay (5-2) finished the season in the top five in running and
passing was 1945, when there were just 10 teams in the league,
according to STATS. The impact for this year is clear: The Pack
has won four straight to vault back into the NFC North lead
heading into Monday's night divisional showdown against the Bears.
Running behind an
improved offensive line, rookie Eddie Lacy has 395 yards over the
last four games, tops in the league in that span.
And Rodgers is,
well, just being Rodgers.
He might be
shuffling around the field a little more to make plays, but with
typical smarts. The timing and accuracy have been impeccable, like
the two touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson in last week's 44-31 win
over the Vikings. Pass protection has been solid.
A reporter noted
to Rodgers that Nelson wasn't exactly open on both scores.
to you, but I think he was open on both of them," Rodgers
Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks for a receiver
in the first half of an NFL football game against the
Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, in Minneapolis.
For the year,
Rodgers has completed 67 percent of his 249 pass attempts for
2,191 yards and 15 touchdowns with four interceptions. All this
without Randall Cobb (leg), James Jones (knee) and Jermichael
Finley (neck) out for varying lengths.
has stepped up with 13 catches and 193 yards receiving and a
touchdown in two games as a starter. Myles White had five catches
for 35 yards last week.
held them back at all," Nelson said. "Everything's been
thrown at them just as if Randall and James would be out there ...
for the most part making the most of their opportunities."
Just like Nelson.
The top playmaker is being moved around the field more to help
keep defenses guessing. His 76-yard catch-and-run for a score last
week came on a sharply thrown slant pass by Rodgers with Nelson
lined up in the slot.
McCarthy said this week that Rodgers is getting more
responsibility, too, in making run adjustments at the line.
benefits of running the football, I think you're clearly seeing
throughout our whole football team. It's a fabric that you
need," McCarthy said. "Balance to me is not 50/50.
Balance to me is you run it when you want to and you throw it when
you want to."
seem bothered one bit. He's said several times that winning is the
He raises his
game another level against divisional foes. Rodgers has a 110.7
career passer rating against NFC North teams in his nine-year
This bodes well
given it is Bears week.
humble opinion, this is THE game in the NFL," McCarthy said
Thursday of the league's oldest rivalry: 187 meetings.
Rodgers has been
great against the Bears of late, with a 69 percent completion rate
for 1,090 yards and 12 touchdowns with two interceptions in the
teams' last four regular-season meetings, a 117.2 passer rating.
Aaron is playing at a very, very high level, an elite level,"
Bears coach Marc Trestman said on a conference call.
NOTES: ILB Brad
Jones, out the last three weeks with a hamstring injury, was a
full practice participant Thursday. James Jones was limited as
part of his rehab routine. OLB Nick Perry, out the last two weeks
with a foot injury, did not participate ... Finley showed up
Wednesday at Lambeau for a team picture. McCarthy said they were
still gathering information to determine the tight end's future,
but that Finley looked good.