Lions get another shot at all-time great in 'dangerous' Rodgers
The only offense the Lions have been able to contain this season was led by maybe the greatest quarterback of all-time in Tom Brady.
So, maybe it’s a good thing that the other current signal caller in that discussion is coming to town.
That counterintuitive thinking is all Lions fans can bank on with a defense capable at stopping pass attacks, but worst in the league against the run.
Aaron Rodgers, hurt in the opener against Chicago but picking up steam as he appears to get healthier, will visit Ford Field on Sunday.
“He’s doing everything he’s always done and he’s doing it very well,” Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said.”We have to be prepared for his best shot because that’s what we’ll expect to get.”
Pasqualoni knows that shot well. He was coaching the Cowboys linebackers when Rodgers made his grand entrance into the NFL, relieving an injured Brett Favre and nearly directing a big comeback in a 2007 Thursday night loss to the 10-1 Cowboys.
Since that night, Pasqualoni has coached three times against Rodgers, twice while with Chicago in 2014 and during another stint with Dallas in 2010. Rodgers and Green Bay averaged 46.0 points per game in three lopsided wins.
Rodgers comes equipped with an emerging weapon in the backfield, one of the best tight ends of this generation, and a wide receiver developing into one of the game’s best.
Plus, the revamped Green Bay defense under former Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine earned its first shutout since 2010 on Sunday against Buffalo, sacking rookie Josh Allen seven times.
Rodgers is 6-2 in Detroit with one loss coming when he left a 2010 game in the first half because of a concussion. Since that game, Rodgers is 14-4 on the road against the NFC North.
Injuries to Lions safeties Quandre Diggs (hand) and Tavon Wilson (back) in the secondary could put more pressure on players such as rookie Tracy Walker and Jamal Agnew, the return specialist who is seeing more time at defensive back in his second season.
Agnew will be playing against Rodgers for the first time in his career, as the 34-year-old missed both games against the Lions last season because an injury.
“I got the opportunity to play against Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers is the same category for me,” Agnew said Monday. “I hear a lot of things about how on the field, watching him on TV doesn’t do him justice. He makes all the throws and he does it off his back foot sometimes, with the flick of his wrist, so I’m looking forward to seeing that personally.”
The Packers featured Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery in the backfield early this season, but Aaron Jones is back after a two-game suspension, averaging 6.3 yards per carry through three games.
The Lions defense is allowing a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry this season.
Still, Rodgers, at 39.0 attempts per game, is passing more this season than he has in his career.
But injuries could impact his options, as veteran Randall Cobb was held out of the win against Buffalo with an injured hamstring. Cobb said Monday the injury has improved and that he’s hopeful to play Sunday.
Another starting receiver, Geronimo Allison, suffered a concussion against the Bills.
Davante Adams is becoming a star on the outside for Rodgers and is paired with tight end Jimmy Graham, the former favorite target of Drew Brees in New Orleans.
Rodgers was not pleased with the win against Buffalo, saying they needed to find more ways for Adams and Graham to get more opportunities.
“We were terrible on offense,” Rodgers told the media after his team racked up 423 yards of offense in the 22-0 win. “It was as bad as we played on offense with that many yards in a long time.”
Rodgers also called out Packers receivers for giving a poor effort during a training camp practice.
It’s another year to add to the legacy of one of the greats, as Rodgers returned for an improbable comeback win against Chicago in Week 1 and has gutted the team to a 2-1-1 mark since.
Lions coach Matt Patricia said Rodgers, on the sprained knee in Week 2 against Washington, still was dangerous outside of the pocket.
“This guy is very dangerous when he’s out in space,” Patricia said. “This guy can make and create a lot of plays.”
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.