NFC Preview: Can Giants Stop Rodgers Outside the Numbers?

Green Bay Packers, Inside the Game, New York Giants, Playbook War Room

As the Packers and Giants face off this weekend, the guys here at Playbook decided to take a closer look at Aaron Rodgers.   Everyone in the football world knows that he’s played at an extremely high level this season, but we wanted to know why he had such great success during the Packers 15-1 campaign.

Rodgers finished 2011 with the best single-season passer rating of all time.  His mark of 122.5 is higher than Tom Brady’s 50 touchdown pass season of ’07 and Peyton Manning’s 49 touchdown season of ’04.  After breaking down all of Rodgers’ throws, we think it’s his efficiency on throws outside of the numbers that make him so effective.

The Packers’ offense is unique because more than any other team in the league, they attack defenses on passes outside the numbers.  If we eliminate sacks, throw-aways, spikes, and passes tipped at the line of scrimmage, we are left with 482 attempts this season.  Of those attempts, Rodgers throws 53.3% of his passes outside the numbers and completes a staggering 71% of those throws.

Both of these stats become even more impressive when they are compared to another dominant offense, such as the New England Patriots. Tom Brady only throws the ball outside the numbers on 43% of his passes, and completes only 61% of those throws.  Throws outside the numbers are a much more challenging pass.  The throws are longer and the margin for error is higher.  So, the fact that the Packers attack more challenging spots on the field, and have so much success, really gave us a different appreciation on Rodgers’ season.

What all this means for the Giants this weekend is that unusually great pressure is going to be placed on their defensive backs.  Last week against Atlanta, the Giants secondary held the Falcons to 199 yards passing.  Sure, New York’s secondary benefitted from its pass rush, but they still put on a very impressive performance themselves.  However, this week the challenge will be much more difficult. Unlike the Falcons, the Packers will not waste time trying to establish a run game.  Nor will they get conservative with their play calling as the game progresses.  Plain and simple, Green Bay is going to attack for four quarters.

By attacking the outside, the Packers are providing a high number of one-on-one opportunities for their wide receivers.  The Packers have some talented athletes on the outside that have all proven they can generate yards after the catch.  Open field tackling is something that is challenging for every secondary and will play a huge role in this game.  If the Giants defensive backs do not play well this weekend, the Packers will be able to generate too many big plays for New York to overcome.

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