Rodgers’ mobility has Vikings on guard : Packers Insider

Rodgers’ mobility has Vikings on guard

November 20, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 20, 2010 ~ by Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune

~The success Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had against the Vikings last Sunday was due in part to his ability to escape pressure, buy time with his feet and locate receivers who had come open.

“He definitely had way too much time,” Vikings cornerback Chris Cook said.

A repeat this Sunday at Mall of America Field could prove damaging to the 3-6 Vikings, whose season is on life support as they face NFC North rival Green Bay (6-3).

The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers is an athletic quarterback who is far more adept at getting away from pressure than Cutler and has cut down on his propensity for holding the ball too long. Sacked 14 times in two losses against the Vikings last season, Rodgers escaped unscathed during the Packers’ 28-24 victory on Oct. 24 at Lambeau Field.

“He did a tremendous job of buying time,” Vikings safety Madieu Williams said.

In two-plus seasons as the Packers starting quarterback, Rodgers has played in 15 games in which he has been sacked once or not at all. The Packers are 12-3 and Rodgers has completed 346 of 495 passes for 4,046 yards with 31 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 104.9 passer rating.

“Those guys up front were getting good rushes but he’s so athletic, and I think a lot of people don’t give him a lot of credit for his mobility and his arm strength throwing on the move. He did a heck of a job in terms of buying time for his guys and throwing the ball on the move.”

If the Vikings front four isn’t able to get to Rodgers, how long can the defensive backs hold up in coverage? Cutler used this to his advantage. “It puts a lot of pressure on your defense when that happens,” Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “We have to have a good plan to keep him in the pocket and try to contain him. That will be the challenge for us.”

Frazier prefers to stay away from having to blitz, but there is a possibility he could mix in a few different looks in order to keep Rodgers guessing. In two-plus seasons as the Packers starting quarterback, Rodgers has played in 15 games in which he has been sacked once or not at all. The Packers are 12-3 and Rodgers has completed 346 of 495 passes for 4,046 yards with 31 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 104.9 passer rating.

Rodgers is third on the Packers in rushing with 173 yards on 34 carries and three touchdowns. Last season, Rodgers passed for 384 yards in a 30-23 loss to the Vikings in Minneapolis — that was the highest yardage total of his career in the regular season — but was sacked eight times by a team that led the NFL in that category.

This year the Vikings are tied for 25th in the league with 14 sacks in nine games. They have been better of late, with eight quarterback takedowns in the past two games, including 4.5 by Jared Allen, who was blanked by Packers left tackle Chad Clifton in the first meeting with Green Bay.

The Vikings are hoping noise will force the Packers into a silent count that could cause false start penalties and assist the defense in applying pressure. Rodgers knows it isn’t easy operating in such an environment, having gone 0-2 in his career at Mall of America Field.

“Any time you play Minnesota, you know what kind of game you’re in for,” he said. “Their defense, I think, plays better at home, being able to have that extra half step because of the crowd noise, having to do some silent counts so that gives them a little bit of an advantage.”

Rodgers’ goal will be to come out early and silence the fans by again going at the Vikings cornerbacks like Cook and Asher Allen, who is expected to return after missing last Sunday’s game because of a concussion. Cook had his most difficult game of the season at Lambeau; he struggled in coverage in his first game back from a knee injury and was benched in the first half.

If Rodgers is able to buy time by avoiding the rush, the Vikings know he would end up having similar success against the secondary.

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