Aaron Rodgers carved the Eagles Defense apart on Monday night, throwing for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns en route to the Packers win. 30 completions out of 39 passes is simply too many for the Defense to deal with..but just how much of the Packers passing success was on the cornerbacks? We’ll take a closer look in this weeks All-22.
Snaps played: 34%
There’s a reason why Leodis McKelvin played in just 34% of snaps yet made so many tackles. Because Aaron Rodgers did nothing but exploit McKelvin for the snaps he was active. The former Bill was targeted on five consecutive passes in the first quarter..and it’s easy to see why when you look at the tape.
On the very first touchdown of the game, McKelvin simply took a step outside as Adams changed direction, losing him a step and opening up a narrow window for Rodgers to fit the ball into. It wasn’t the cleanest window of all time, with McLeod charging down over the top..but McKelvin’s mistake proved costly.
What really stood out to me however, was his complete lack of spacial awareness..and the below play is the perfect example. Nolan Carroll keeps an open angle, ready to adjust if a pass came underneath to his outside, but facing the middle of the field in order to help prevent a shot deep down the field. McKelvin however on the other side of the field, kept his eyes solely on the quarterback and completely ignored the backfield threat in acres of space until it was too late.
The exact same thing happened just a few plays later. McKelvin, at the top of the screen is once again facing the quarterback from the moment the ball is snapped. Although pacing back in a cover-1 look, the in-route becomes completely open for Rodgers as McKelvin failed to notice the receiver’s route until once again, it was too late. The Safety shifted over to the left hand side, meaning Carroll was there purely to stop any passes underneath or screens..and that McKelvin was in a one-on-one situation. Easy pickings for a veteran QB of Rodgers’ prestige.
To put the cherry on the cake, McKelvin was completely turned around on this 50-yard pass completion. Although he did well to make up the lost ground, it was too little, too late. McKelvin was left standing like a statue and there was no attempt to jam his receiver or even make any remote contact..making it all too easy to slip underneath.
To put it bluntly, it’s easy to see why he only played in 34% of snaps. A dreadful display from a cornerback who just can’t seem to put it all together consistently.
Snaps played: 94%
Coming into this game, Nolan Carroll had been on a tear. Some incredibly physical plays, great coverage and overall reliability had seen Carroll’s production surge..and Offenses struggle to find momentum downfield as a result. Against the Packers however, the narrative was slightly different.
Carroll found it difficult to heat up in the way he had in previous weeks on Monday night, being punished by Aaron Rodgers early on who noticed Adams breaking the coverage off the line, to drop it in the bucket for six. Carroll’s struggles at the line of scrimmage seem to have returned, but in comparison to some of McKelvin’s mistakes..this wasn’t the most worrying error.
Whether Carroll was simply trying to start out too hot or he miscalculated remains unknown..but a missed flying tackle allowed a big gain out of nothing for Randall Cobb. Carroll looked extremely sporadic, almost as if he was trying to mirror the intense hit he put on Thomas Rawls eight days before.
Other than the above play, all of Carroll’s problems came at the line of scrimmage. Again, an inability to jam really hurt him here as he lost coverage on an Aaron Rodgers scramble, before making up the lost ground and eventually losing his receiver in the endzone. Although he did well to cut underneath and prevent the pass, Rodgers was clearly searching him out..and it’s fair to say Carroll did JUST enough work to avoid giving up a second touchdown.
This game was almost like a complete anomaly for Nolan Carroll, who just couldn’t find his stride in man coverage. As noted in the McKelvin feature, he was fantastic in zone and his awareness has been unprecedented this season. Carroll has had a tendency in every game to end up around the ball and sniff out screen passes..but when it comes to one on one, there’s a reason why I was so adamant that Eric Rowe should have remained on the roster. Carroll got turned around all too easily here and allowed a huge reception as a result.
I’m honestly not too sure what to make of this game..but Carroll did not look like the player we’ve seen emerge over the last few weeks and seemed to rekindle the habits that plagued the opening games of 2016.
Snaps played: 69%
Passes Defensed: 2
Jalen Mills has been one of the most intriguing players on the roster this season and I can’t wait to break down his development at the end of the season. It’s been a rollercoaster..but for now, it’s one that continues to climb.
The seventh round pick has faced his fair share of elite receivers this season..the latest being Jordy Nelson. Mills started his shift with a bang, running stride for stride with the pride of the Packers receiving corps and shadowing the route perfectly. Picking up Nelson ten yards into the route, Mills anticipated the break and covered the road ahead, forcing Nelson to cut to the inside. The ball was overthrown, but the coverage was excellent.
Then, came a stunning goalline stand. Mills was dummied at the edge of the endzone, but didn’t take the bait and immediately jumped outside and imposed his will. Covering the route and keeping his man outside the endzone until he eventually rolled past once Rodgers had turned away, Mills stamped his authority over the Linc here.
The Mills Vs Nelson war waged on however..but Mills wasn’t going down without a fight. Although he was a little late on the jump, Mills closed in on Nelson quickly and did enough to cut the ball away from the sideline and force the incompletion.
The next two plays for me are why WR is a bigger need than CB..because the Eagles clearly have a rapidly developing and emotional corner in Jalen Mills. The LSU leader tips the pass, only for Nelson to haul in the falling pigskin. Understandably, Mills was frustrated after the play and looked to reach boiling point. Screaming and tensing his arms, Mills stepped away from the play infuriated. My initial instinct was even though this was a fantastic effort by Mills thwarted by sheer luck, he let the emotions get the better of him. We’ve seen it with OBJ before along with the likes of Josh Norman..that once things get to THAT level of frustration, bad things happen. What happened next however, blew my mind.
It appears that Mills doesn’t suffer from short-term memory..and wanted to make a statement. The next time he was lined up against Jordy Nelson, he embarrassed him. Nelson went to try and fool Mills with a slow cut outside..but the rookie cornerback threw him backward upon contact..leaving Nelson on the ground and most likely stunned. THAT is how you turn in-game emotion into productivity..and it’s something even veterans struggle with at times. Incredibly impressive.
For me, this was the strongest game we’ve seen from Mills so far..and he’s getting better each and every week. But now the leadership and emotions are beginning to flourish, he’s becoming a complete corner. Playing in 69% of snaps and essentially replacing a starter that was bought in due to his fit and experience is impressive..but his play was even better.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports