Editor’s Note: Please give a warm welcome to Jeremy Riggs, who is joining The Falcoholic as our newest writer! Here, he’ll give us an idea of how the Falcons might attack Aaron Rodgers
When you think of the Green Bay Packers, the first name that currently comes to mind has to be Aaron Rodgers. If it isn’t, do you even football?
Given his importance, in this piece we’ll take a look at how the Falcons should go about doing something nearly impossible on the average day: Stopping Aaron Rodgers from discount double checking all Sunday night, when the Falcons host the Packers on Sunday Night Football. We’ll assume it won’t be as easy as it was during last year’s playoffs.
So how do they stop him?
The last time the Falcons faced off against the Packers was in the NFC Championship game last season. That game the Falcons offense was just unstoppable, but they did some things defensively that have to be duplicated. In this last game, Rodgers threw for 3 touchdowns and an interception. I think the telling stat of this game, though, was his longest pass was 34 yards. Atlanta limited the big plays and it was evident early that they had Rodgers off his game. Who remembers the Brian Poole blitz?
I think the Falcons are going to have to disguise their looks, so Rodgers can’t be a chess player pre-snap. Let’s not be oblivious and pretend like Atlanta or any team for that matter can STOP Aaron Rodgers, but there are some things that they can do to limit his success.
Use De’vondre Campbell as a pass rusher
I think De’Vondre Campbell will have to be a huge factor. Moving Campbell over to Sam is big for this Defense. We shouldn’t be surprised if Campbell rushes the passer quite a bit more this game, because he’s big and fast enough to cause problems for offensive linemen and Rodgers alike. Because Beasley may be in more of a QB spy role owing to his speed and ability to snuff out Rodgers on the move, and the outside pass rush is going to have to come from somewhere, it should be somewhere that isn’t expected. Otherwise, it’d easily get picked up and accounted for by one of the better tackle duos in the NFC. Campbell has a lot of speed, to at least hopefully, move Rodgers out of the pocket and perhaps pick up a sack or two. If he does move out of the pocket, Beasley should be there.
Stop the run game
This is basically formula to stop any quarterback isn’t it? Aaron Rodgers is at the upper echelon of the elite quarterbacks in this league but the best way to stop him isn’t any different. The last time the Falcons faced off with the Packers, the Packers leading rusher was Aaron Rodgers with 46 yards. That’s a nice total for a quarterback, but it’s a terribly discouraging total for a balanced offense.
You keep the ball in Rodgers’ hands and KNOW what he is doing (passing) and you have a better shot, no matter how good he is. If you get in a situation against Aaron Rodgers where his offense can run, and open up the play action, it’ll be a horrible homecoming for the Falcons in their brand new stadium.
The thing about Aaron Rodgers is his pocket awareness. If there’s an outside rush, he’s one of the best in the entire NFL at stepping up in the pocket, or moving around the pocket to create a play. This gets negated if the interior is broken down, which is something the Falcons know from playing Drew Brees twice per year. Dontari Poe and Grady Jarrett will have to be bullies and be in the face of Rodgers quite a bit, and make him beat you while he’s running around, rather than stepping up in a clean pocket.
Thankfully, the Packers lost T.J. Lang in the offseason, so this task should be a little easier than it was even in 2016.
It’s pretty simple—at least in theory—to get in Aaron Rodgers’ face, bring pressure from multiple different places and make him beat you by himself, which should be difficult if the Falcons’ offense is having a good day. Again, he won’t go out there and throw for two picks and no touchdowns—this is Aaron Rodgers—but to allow the Falcons to win a shootout, you have to be able to limit the big plays Rodgers excels at creating. The best way to do that, is for the Falcons to be in his face all game, like your little cousin trying to get a closer look at your phone.
How would you gameplan to stop Rodgers?