JEFF: Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood
By Jeff Falconio
Apparently, Ted Thompson does know how to evaluate talent. Throughout the summer the organization made it clear Aaron Rodgers was the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers validated his spot under center with a smart, efficient performance over the Vikings on Monday Night Football. Rodgers didn't throw an incompletion in the second half and was nearly flawless in his decision making. But it wasn't all through the air. Rodgers scrambled eight times for 35 yards, giving the Packers an element that had been missing from the offense the past few years.
A big part of Rodgers's success was the pass protection. Minnesota's acquisition of Jared Allen was seen by some as the move that would put the Vikings over the top in the NFC North. But Allen was a non-factor as Chad Clifton did not allow the defensive end to disrupt the flow of the offense. Indeed, the only sack of Rodgers was called back, so kudos the entire offensive line for keeping Rodgers upright against a fierce defensive line.
Running against Minnesota is always a tough duty and tonight was no exception. Ryan Grant finished the night with 92 yards but 57 came on that big run in the fourth quarter. Take that away and Grant finished with a 3.2 yards per carry average. Brandon Jackson was a non-factor with only 12 yards. When you take the entire performance in, you have to be a bit concerned with those numbers and certainly very concerned with the number of penalties called on the offensive line.
Despite a new punter, snapper and holder the special teams performed well. Derrick Frost was solid, averaging more than 42 yards per punt. The coverage was very good and of course Will Blackmon's electric return gave the Packers a much-needed spark midway through a third quarter dominated by Minnesota.
After one game it's hard to tell if the Packers are still the team to beat in the North but at least for now the Packers sit atop the division with a hard-earned win over the Vikings.