When’s the last time you heard Aaron Rodgers talk like this?
“I loved the call down on the goal line.”
“I loved the call coming out.”
“Just a beautiful call.”
Even last year, when they were winning games at a record clip for a Green Bay Packers rookie head coach, it never looked this smooth between Rodgers and Matt LaFleur. And Rodgers certainly never uttered those kinds of phrases late in the Mike McCarthy era.
But here was Rodgers late Sunday night after another offensively dominant win – this one a 37-30 shootout at the New Orleans Saints – heaping praise on his coach for everything from the game plan to the playcalls themselves.
Three games – all victories – into their second season, Rodgers and LaFleur have found their happy place. They have the top-scoring offense and the No. 2 offense in terms of total yards in the NFL through three weeks.
Perhaps the best part for the Packers is that it hasn’t mattered who has gotten the ball. Whether it was Davante Adams and his 14-catch game in Week 1 against the Vikings, Aaron Jones with his 236-yard romp in Week 2 against the Lions or new receiving standout Allen Lazard (six catches for 146 yards and a touchdown while Adams was sidelined because of a hamstring injury) on Sunday against the Saints, the Packers have rolled.
“We've gotten in a good flow,” Rodgers said. “I feel like again Matt got into a really nice flow with the calls. We did a nice job on third down for the most part and were opportunistic with some big plays when we needed it. We got a lot of guys involved; I think we had a number of guys catch passes. We had a number of guys who we needed to play well, played well.”
It was worth wondering whether the Packers’ offense would stumble out of the gate this season given all the additions that LaFleur wanted to make after Year 1 and with so little time to actually implement the changes because of the virtual offseason. But anyone who has watched the Packers operate the first three weeks has seen how different – and dynamic – the offense has become.
Just look at the play-action game – a staple of the LaFleur offense but one that came and went at times last year. On Sunday, Rodgers completed 15 of 19 play-action passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It was just the second time in his career that he threw three touchdowns in a game off play-action, and the 15 attempts and 19 completions were play-action career bests.
“It’s just a culmination of banked reps, a lot of the stuff that we’ve been practicing over the last year and a half or however long we’ve been together now,” LaFleur said. “But he also can take in a lot of information, which is such a benefit to us because we can put more on his plate and he never flinches. He handles it. He gets it. He’s really the catalyst for our offense. He gets us going in the right direction.”
With Rodgers and LaFleur fully in sync, everyone else appears to be along for the ride.
Lazard benefited from the player he called “the best deep-ball thrower in the league if not NFL history as well” on his plays of 48 and 72 yards.
Even the tight ends got into the action. Bobby Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis both caught touchdowns, marking the first time since Week 10 of the 2015 season that Rodgers threw multiple touchdowns to tight ends in a game. Throw in Jace Sternberger’s most productive game and the Packers' tight end trio combined for nine catches, 104 yards and two scores.
And then there was the one that won’t show up on the stat sheet but further illustrated Rodgers’ brilliance. He used his cadence to get linebacker Demario Davis to jump offside on third-and-3 from the Saints’ 15-yard line in the fourth quarter. With the free play – already the fifth one Rodgers has drawn this year in three games (two of which were on the road with no fans, which helps) – Rodgers lofted it into the end zone for Lazard, who drew a pass interference on cornerback Janoris Jenkins that eventually led to a 1-yard touchdown catch by Tonyan.
“I think Matt has really settled into the rhythm of the playcalling,” said Rodgers, who through three games is 71-of-106 passing for 887 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception.
“And it’s made my job a lot easier.”
And it’s made the Packers’ offense nearly unstoppable.