Aaron Rodgers continues to befuddle opponents, throwing for 333 yards and five touchdowns in the Green Bay Packers' 38-28 Week 3 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Here's what you need to know:
- The Packers are an unconstrained buzzsaw in Green Bay. Rodgers has thrown 48 touchdown passes since his last home interception. Like most Lambeau Field contests, this lopsided affair was decided by halftime. Coming off his second MVP campaign, we already understood that Rodgers married physical gifts with coach-like pre- and post-snap recognitions to elevate the art of quarterbacking.
Channeling an early 1990s Michael Jordan, Rodgers has raised his game to an even higher level this season, playing with an unshakeable confidence that allows him to envision possibilities and interrogate limits that other quarterbacks don't even think to explore. Already a master craftsman possessing the position's most gifted and varied toolbox, Rodgers has added an especially dangerous element by almost reliably forcing defensive penalties through hard counts (offsides) and quick snaps (12 men on the field). Beyond coaxing the penalties, he has shown the awareness to go for broke with lethal downfield strikes on those free plays.
Witnessing the rare ability to transcend human limitations inspires unbridled joy. Carve out time in your schedule to watch as many Packers games as possible this year. We might never see professional sports' most important position performed at a higher level.
- The box score will show that Alex Smith connected with Jeremy Maclin for the Chiefs' first touchdown by a wide receiver since Week 14 of the 2013 season, ending the most infamous drought in football. The final numbers betray Kansas City's offensive ineptitude. With 10 days to prepare, Smith didn't complete a pass to a wideout until late in the third quarter with his team already down 31-7. From halftime of Week 1 until that five-yard touchdown to Maclin, 22 of Smith's previous 27 possessions had resulted in a punt, turnover or end of the half.
Quarterbacks are ultimately judged by their performance on third downs and two-minute drills. Smith's penchant for throwing short of the sticks in key situations has informed a new metric dubbed "ALEX" by Scott Kazmar of Football Outsiders. His unwillingness to attack downfield has contributed to the Chiefs' incredible ignominy of 62 consecutive games without a two-minute drill touchdown, as the Monday Night Football crew highlighted.
Kansas City's offensive line shoulders its share of the blame for the Chiefs' offensive struggles prior to garbage time, but Smith's utter lack of aggressiveness and Andy Reid's conservative play calling simply don't add up to a winning formula in big games.
- Sean Smith will be a godsend when he returns from suspension next week. After losing starting cornerback Phillip Gaines to a first-half injury, the Chiefs' secondary was in such dire straits Monday night that safety Tyvon Branch was forced to cover Randall Cobb in the slot. Replacing Week 2 goatJamell Fleming as the nickel corner, Marcus Cooper was beaten on Ty Montgomery's early touchdown and committed a pair of back-breaking penalties. This has been the soft underbelly of an otherwise stout defense.
- Second-year outside linebacker Jay Elliott looks like a find for the Packers' defense. After making the play of the game versus the Seahawks last week, he split Jamaal Charles and guard Ben Grubbs for an impressive sack on Alex Smith. With B.J. Rajioff to his best start in years and Mike Daniels terrorizing interior linemen, this defensive front looks much improved.
- Davante Adams' breakout season is on hold. The Packers' No. 3 receiver aggravated his high-ankle sprain on the first series of the game, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Tight end Andrew Quarless was also declared out after injuring his knee in the second quarter. Expect both players to miss game action going forward.