Injuries could create an obstacle and last year’s experience with a broken collarbone is a reminder of how plans can be forced to change in a hurry. Rodgers was injured after extending a play by scrambling out of the pocket and then taking a hit from Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr after throwing the ball, but the prospect of an injury isn’t enough to keep Rodgers from trying to make that play again in the future.
That was what Rodgers said on Tuesday and his coaches were on the same page. Quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti called Rodgers the best in the league at “extending plays outside the pocket” and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin also praised Rodgers’ improvisational ability.
“We’d love to be able to have our quarterbacks sit on their back foot, go through their progressions, deliver the ball from the pocket on time, in rhythm, never get hit,” Philbin said, via ESPN.com. “We know that’s not a realistic thing that can happen in the game. And we certainly don’t want to take away, as Mike always talks about, there’s two phases to every pass play: There’s a progression — the pocket phase — and then there’s the out-of-pocket phase. We’ve been beneficiaries of a lot of big plays from Aaron outside the pocket. We don’t want to lose that part of the offense.”
The rewards of having Rodgers in the lineup are great enough that the Packers would be wise to eliminate unnecessary risks. Given the realities that Philbin laid out about offensive football, however, you can’t go totally risk-free unless you’re comfortable removing the rewards as well.