There’s not a lot that everyone can agree on. No matter what the argument or statement may be, there’s always a few who would rather take the stance less chosen. However, there is one thing that's a consensus in the Redskins locker room: Aaron Rodgers is really good at football.
"You know, he's a decent player,” quarterback Alex Smith, who was a part of the 2005 draft class with Rodgers, said with a smile.
This Sunday, Rodgers and the rest of the Green Bay Packers make their way to FedExField, meaning the Redskins defense will once again have its hands full. Arguably one of the best to ever play the quarterback position, Rodgers enters his 14th season as potentially the most dangerous offensive weapon in the NFL.
A Super Bowl victory, two MVP awards, six seasons of at least 4,000 yards or 30-plus touchdowns and countless incredible throws have proven that Rodgers' career will most likely include a trip to Canton after he retires, and his current plays shows that the 34-year-old is not slowing down.
"Well, he's got to be talked [about] with the best ones of all-time. I mean he can do everything,” head coach Jay Gruden said about Rodgers. “I think if any team had him on their team and you're picking, whether you're picking first in the fantasy football quarterback draft or fifth, and you've got Aaron Rodgers, you feel good about winning every game that you play."
Through two games in 2018, Rodgers has put up 567 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also helped orchestrate the largest fourth quarter comeback of his career in a Week 1 victory over the Chicago Bears, while essentially playing on one leg. At this point in his career, it seems like there’s nothing Rodgers can’t do, and not many who can stop him.
"He’s a great quarterback, great competitor,” linebacker Mason Foster said. “He’s going to give his receivers chances to make plays in the open field and give them chances to make plays downfield.”
That’s what the Redskins will look to change come Sunday. Defensively, the team has been strong overall through two weeks. After a dominant performance against the Cardinals, there were some lapses against the Colts, but the team still ranks first in total yards allowed.
However, each week presents a new challenge, and a new formula to stop the opposing team. In Week 1, it was limiting the playmaking abilities of David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. In Week 2, the focus was limiting the air raid led by Andrew Luck. Now, in Week 3, the key will be to limit Rodgers’, both in and out of the pocket.
Inside the pocket, when given time, Rodgers is as good as anyone at making the correct read. Force him out of the pocket, and he can improvise and extend the play with the best of them. This leaves the Redskins defense in a tough predicament on how to make Rodgers uncomfortable on the field.
“If you send pressure, just contain him. You gotta contain him when you’re sending pressure,” safety D.J. Swearinger Sr. said. “He does a lot of great things in the pocket, he does a lot great things outside the pocket. So, we got to do a great job of trying to keep him contained.”
That’s not the only part of the Green Bay quarterback’s game the defense will have to prepare for. Rodgers is just as good mentally on the field as he is physically. This includes his ability to catch a defense off guard, and take his shots on free plays.
“Yeah, he does a great job with when teams try to sub in. He gets quick to the line and tries to get that 12 on the field penalty,” Swearinger Sr. said. “He does a great job of going fast when guys not lined up and throwing a deep ball. We definitely got to be on point.”
One additional task the Redskins will have to focus on is something Rodgers may do better than any other quarterback. It’s a play that isn’t very common, and may not even come up in the course of the game. But when it does, Rodgers always seems to turn it into a magical situation. It’s the Hail Mary.
"That’s the Hail Mary king,” said Swearinger Sr., who saw Rodgers’ ability to complete the play first hand during the 2016 playoffs as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. “He just gets out of the pocket and lets it rip. Most quarterbacks can’t do that, from the other 30.”
With everything Rodgers can do on the field, the task of defending him never comes easy, though Rodgers’ recent injury could limit his ability to improvise with his legs. Against the Bears, Rodgers suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss about a quarter of game action. He would return to complete a miracle comeback, and start the following week’s game against the Vikings, but a rather large knee brace somewhat hindered his mobility.
Mobile or not, Rodgers is still a hard problem to solve, and the Redskins know that come Sunday nothing will be easy as long as No. 12 is on the field.
"We still got our hands full,” Swearinger Sr. said. “His arm is still a rocket regardless of what his knee doing."