Aaron Rodgers has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in recent years, but in 2014, he took that efficiency to a new level.
In route to winning MVP, Rodgers threw just five interceptions to 38 touchdowns and 520 passes. Over the last two seasons, he has just 11 interceptions with 55 touchdowns on 810 passes.
As Peter King notes in MMQB, Rodgers and the Packers are meticulous in studying their interceptions and learning how to avoid them.
While each play is unique, Rodgers told King that the Packers drill in three basic rules before making a throw. It’s enlightening to see how much thinking must go into every play in the mere seconds Rodgers has the ball in his hands after the snap.
Rodgers described the three rules as “senses,” saying:
“One: No premeditated decisions.
“Two: Don’t make a blind throw. And that was a blind throw, meaning I didn’t look inside to see where the next coverage element was — that will get you sometimes. It got me against Conte.
“Three: Don’t throw it late down the middle.”
No. 1 is obvious — don’t make up your mind before you throw it — and No. 3 refers to getting the ball out early if you want to throw it over the middle (Although he could be referring to passes late in a game. The point was never clarified).
No. 2 is interesting, as Rodgers broke down a play in 2013 when he was intercepted by the Bears’ Chris Conte in the red zone. Rodgers said that as he rolled out of the pocket and targeted wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, he never considered another Packers’ tenet of throwing: outside-inside-outside (O-I-O).
“A lot of times, we get outside the pocket and we say, you need to O-I-O, which means you look outside, then you look inside and then you come back outside,” Rodgers explained. “You check to make sure no one is falling off on the guy you want to throw to, but also double check to see if there is anybody inside who is a better option to throw to.”
When he failed to do so, saying he only looked outside, it led to an interception.
So, while the rules seem pretty basic, they’re nonetheless important. The Packers, of course, have more complex ways of analysing throws and interceptions — former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon told King the Packers review interceptions like a “crime scene investigation — but these basic elements have given them the base for one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL.
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