- Covered Packers for Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1997-2013
- Two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association
LONDON — Maybe a trip across the pond will be what Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers need to get the potency back in their passing game.
While Sunday’s game against the New York Giants in London is long on running backs with the NFL’s leading rusher in Saquon Barkley on one side and the Packers’ combination of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon on the other, Rodgers is still the star attraction — even if his numbers have been off his usual pace through the first four games.
Rodgers drew the biggest crowd of reporters during the Packers media session Friday at The Grove Hotel and when he was asked if he’d like coach Matt LaFleur to turn him loose and let him air it out, Rodgers didn’t hesitate.
“Hell yeah, of course,” Rodgers said. “Matt’s kind of in a grumpy mood right now. When he gets a little bit of rest and will be in a better mood, we’ll talk about airing it out a little bit more.”
Rodgers was referring to the fact that LaFleur hasn’t really hid his less-than-excited attitude about the travel and logistics of playing in London.
In fact, before LaFleur took questions from reporters on Friday in London, he said: “What time is it? I’m trying to figure it out right now?”
It was 6 a.m. on his body clock, considering the Packers did not leave Green Bay’s Central time zone until Thursday evening for an overnight flight, but it was noon BST.
When asked whether he got any sleep on the flight, LaFleur said: “A little bit. I don’t know. Am I coming across as cranky?”
The Packers have managed a 3-1 start — and Sunday’s game against the 3-1 Giants is the first in 32 London games between two teams with winning records — despite some unusual numbers from Rodgers. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rodgers’ 43.1 QBR this season is his worst in the first four games of a season since he became a starter in 2008. His 6.2 air-yard average per attempt is also his fewest through four games in that same span, which is a reason big plays have escaped him.
Rodgers said after last Sunday’s overtime win over the New England Patriots that he did not think the way they were winning was sustainable.
“We’ve had halves of certain games where we’ve really played well and the other half has usually been pretty bad,” Rodgers said Friday. “We’ve got to try to put together four quarters and put on a show for the fans in the stadium. Hopefully it will be predominately green and gold.”
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