Packer Hustle: Rodgers is remarkable again
A week ago I announced that in this column I would impose superhuman standards on Aaron Rodgers in the spirit of promoting variety, because of course this man will otherwise be ranked No. 1 every week.
With those standards now in place, I tried to bump him down the list. I planned on pointing out a rather HUMDRUM 68 percent completion percentage and an almost-pick six as sub-superhuman. But it is really hard to ignore five freaking touchdown passes on top of 333 passing yards during the Packers' 38-28 victory over Kansas City on Monday night.
Rodgers again demonstrated his omniscience (catching Kansas City on four pre-snap penalties) and his omnipotence (he can throw off balance and across his body better than I can lay flat on the ground and play catch with myself by throwing a tennis ball straight up into the air).
Boy, would you just take a look at how these superhuman standards have shaken things up?
1. Aaron Rodgers (Last week: No. 1)– Yup, yup, yup, just a superhuman dude-guy doing his thing here. Nothing to look at it. Yawn, yawn, yawn.
2. Mike Daniels (Last week: Not ranked)–By all accounts this will be a fun year for Daniels. His contract expires at the end of this season, so Green Bay tried to lock him up prior to Week 1. But Daniels didn't like what they offered, bet on himself and, after three games, is hinting strongly that this will be his best season as he pursues of a bigger contract. Against the best offensive line Green Bay has played all year, Daniels treated everyone he encountered in the trenches like saloon doors (1.5 sacks, another tackle for loss and a forced fumble).
3. James Jones (Last week: NR)–When Green Bay snagged Jones off the curb, pretty much everyone, including your humble author, figured he would be a decent accessory. He'd maybe just be a possession-based wideout who's got that good old "chem" going with Rodgers. But against the Chiefs, Jones beat Tyvon Branch on a wheel route. He fended off Marcus Cooper (leaving him helpless on the floor) for his fourth touchdown of the year. He snatched a beautiful low-to-the-ground toss over the middle. He is making fools of everyone.
4. Randall Cobb (Last week: No. 5)–Cobb is in his fifth year of constantly vexing defenses and he is only 25 years old. It makes me want to investigate his relationship with the devil, but actually I'd rather just make another bowl of popcorn, thank you.
5. Clay Matthews (Last week: NR)–Pressuring quarterbacks is a big-time job in the NFL these days, but having Clay in the middle lets us see his blonde hair making more plays on a consistent basis. Plus, he proved he can still be a pass-rushing fiend at middle linebacker by sacking Alex Smith twice from that spot.
Dropped from the Leaderboard: Jayrone Elliott (not for lacking a great name), James Starks (didn't get things rolling like he did against Seattle) and the run defense (I can't put “run defense” and Daniels on the Leaderboard at the same time because that's like naming Daniels twice ... and not even Rodgers could pull off being named twice).
1. Some combination of Casey Hayward, Sam Shields and Micah Hyde (Last week: NR)–One or more of these guys messed up. Due to their miscommunication, they hold the funky distinction of allowing a Chiefs wide receiver to score a touchdown for the first time since 2013.
2. The Football God of Injuries (Last week: No. 2)–This week, safety Morgan Burnett missed the game, while tight end Andrew Quarless, defensive end Datone Jones, linebacker Jake Ryan and wide receiver Davante Adams (again) all got hurt, on top of other injuries. Small potatoes compared to years past, but who knows where this game will end? Whatever can be done to appease this deity must be done.
3. Julius Peppers (Last week: NR)–He's failed to have much of an impact at all in the last two games, with offenses neutralizing him for long stretches at a time. Everyone wonders when age will bring him down, but he's still managed 2.5 sacks in three games so far.
Next week: San Francisco
A victory over San Francisco – winners of two straight regular-season games and two straight postseason games against Green Bay – would be sweetest if the team was still coached by the mayor of Pleated Pants Village. But the prospect of seeing Rodgers finally beat Packer terrorizer Colin Kaepernick, who is currently at an all-time-low point in his career, still leaves much to drool over.
Reporter Elliot Hughes has been with GazetteXtra since 2015. His sportswriting has appeared in The Huffington Post, the Isthmus and The Classical. Follow him on Twitter @elliothughes12 or email him at [email protected].