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Rodgers' Quick Release Negated Bucs' Blitz | A Next Gen Look at Packers-Bucs

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers finished Sunday’s game with the lowest average air yards per pass attempt of any NFL passer this season, but the strategy worked and Green Bay left Tampa with a victory

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In Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense forced a punt or a turnover on nine straight drives, stretching from the second quarter to the Packers' final possession (not including a game-ending kneel-down). Tampa Bay, which leads the league in scoring defense, allowed Aaron Rodgers and company to put up just 14 points.

That happened to be enough to allow the Packers to escape with a 14-12 victory, however. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, before their defense took over Green Bay had two drives that went much differently, as Aaron Rodgers directed 10 and 12-play touchdown marches the first two times he got his hands on the ball. A third drive got near the Bucs' goal line but ended in an Aaron Jones fumble.

It was clear from the beginning that Green Bay's approach on offense was to get rid of the ball very quickly and try to kill the Buccaneers with a million paper-cuts. Rodgers eventually completed 27 of 35 passes, but most of his work was done midway through the third quarter.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Rodgers' average time to throw (TTT) was 2.44 seconds after the snap. That was his fastest TTT so far this season and the seventh-fastest by any quarterback in any game in 2022. Interestingly, the fastest single-game TTT by any quarterback so far this season, at 2.22, belongs to…the Buccaneers' Tom Brady in this very same game. (All of the subsequent stats are also courtesy of Next Gen Stats).

Rodgers got rid of his passes in under 2.5 seconds 60.0% of the time on Sunday, which is the sixth-highest percentage posted by any passer this season. This largely negated the Buccaneers' attempts to bring extra rushers at him, which they did frequently. The Packers' passer faced a blitz on 41.7% of his dropbacks, by far the most he has seen through three games this year and the 15th-highest blitz rate any QB has seen in 2022. However, he endured just one late-game sack and six QB hits overall.

Rodgers finished with 255 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and his completion rate of 77.1% was 6.5 percentage points higher than expected. His passer rating for the game was 103.9 but by another measure the Buccaneers' defense actually handled him pretty well overall. Rodgers' "expected points added per dropback (EPA/DB)" was actually -0.4. EPA is the average amount of expected points added on dropbacks by a quarterback. Rodgers only had a positive EPA on 17 of his 36 dropbacks, or 47.2% of the time.

Rodgers and the Packers did generate four completions of over 20 yards, but most were still short quick passes with a significant amount of yards after the catch. Rodgers didn't throw a completion more than 20 yards in the air down the field until he surprised the Bucs late in the fourth quarter with a 26-yarder to Allen Lazard that went 21.3 yards downfield in the air. Overall, his average air yards per attempt was just 4.7, which ties Matt Ryan's performance against the Chiefs this past Sunday as the shortest by any NFL quarterback this season. Of his 35 passes, 26 were either thrown behind the line of scrimmage or traveled fewer than 10 yards downfield.

In the end, the Packers' approach led to the desired bottom line for the visitors on Sunday: a win. The Buccaneers' defense eventually adjusted and clamped down on Green Bay's offense, but not before Rodgers' quick-passing success gave his team just enough to claim the victory.

View the top photos of Tampa Bay's Week 3 matchup with the Green Bay Packers.

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