With a rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers orchestrating the offense, the Green Bay Packers have high expectations for the upcoming 2014 NFL season.
Pete Dougherty of The Green Bay Post-Gazette reports on July 21 that Rodgers hopes to remain an elite quarterback while he runs a more no-huddle offense and changes plays at the line of scrimmage in 2014:
"Since early in Aaron Rodgers' tenure as the Green Bay Packers' starter, three quarterbacks have stood above the rest in the NFL for their skill in the cat-and-mouse game with defenses at the line of scrimmage: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
"Before Rodgers sustained a broken collarbone last year, the Packers thought he was becoming elite at calling audibles and making pre-snap reads. This year, McCarthy plans to have him run more no-huddle offense and take more responsibility changing plays at the line (more) than ever.
"(Rodgers) runs our offense as well as any offense is run in the league,' Alex Van Pelt, the Packers new quarterbacks coach, said this offseason. 'Put him right up there at the top of the list with those guys.'
"The Packers are not the only ones who think so.
"This offseason, Mike Sando of ESPN.com conducted a poll of 26 NFL front-office executives and coaches to grade each starting quarterback on a 1-to-5 scale, with the average score determining each player's ranking. Manning, Brady, Brees and Rodgers tied for first.
"More to the point, even if the incomparable Manning's knowledge of the game is considered the best, one of the defensive coordinators Sando quoted anonymously pointed to Rodgers' pre-snap reads as on par at least with Brees, who is 35 and entering his 13th season as a starter.
"'You can't fool Rodgers,' the coach said. 'We watched some cutups on him and he was ridiculous. He sees everything. They'd have a blitz on and he'd throw it and knows what the blitz is. He throws into this tight window that nobody would throw into. Brees is the same way.'
"Rodgers' status as a premier quarterback hasn't been in question for a few years. He has the highest passer rating in NFL history (104.9; Manning is second at 97.2), a 58-29 record (.667 winning percentage) and a Super Bowl win."
Meanwhile, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn says keeping Rodgers on his feet is what the Packers need to do in order to win another Super Bowl:
"It's elementary. Keeping Aaron Rodgers on the field is the key to the Green Bay Packers' hopes of winning another Super Bowl.
"'Yeah, no question,' said Alex Van Pelt, the team's new quarterbacks coach after two seasons tutoring running backs. 'As long as he's our quarterback, there's always a chance (for a title.)'
"In the next breath, Van Pelt set fourth the offensive philosophy that will guide the Packers in the season ahead.
"'We've got to be smart about what we're asking him to do,' he said. 'Try to get the ball out of his hand quicker. It's something you look at and can improve on...take hits off him.'
"One year ago, Ben McAdoo, Van Pelt's predecessor coaching the quarterbacks, said it was his objective to trim the number of sacks charged to quarterbacks in half.
"Minus Rodgers for all but 2 1/2 minutes of eight games, the quarterbacks were responsible for nine of 49 sacks in 17 games, compared with 14 of 55 in 18 games the year before. It represented progress, a trend Van Pelt insists must continue.
"'We've cleaned up some things in protection in the off-season that could help in that as well,' Van Pelt said. 'For him, it's just making good decisions and getting the ball out of his hands as quick as you can.'
"After a few practices this spring, Van Pelt said, 'We're all holding onto it a little long at times.'"
The 30-year-old Rodgers has thrown for 24,197 yards, 188 touchdowns and 52 interceptions on a 104.9 passer rating in his nine-year NFL career, per ESPN stats.