<
>

Aaron Rodgers, Packers' quick-hitting offense should help fans R-E-L-A-X

CHICAGO -- He told you, the Green Bay Packers fan who was freaking out over another 1-2 start to a season, to R-E-L-A-X last week.

And he told you, the Packers fan who was wondering what was wrong with him and their suddenly low-powered offense, that they were "going to be OK."

But how would he, the one in charge of it all, react?

On a critical early-season Sunday at Soldier Field, quarterback Aaron Rodgers' version of relaxation was this: On the Packers' first three possessions, there was little lounging. He expeditiously put together touchdown drives of 81, 63 and 61 yards. The first one took all of 2 minutes, 22 seconds. The second, 3 minutes, 47 seconds. The third, 2 minutes, 47 seconds.

"That's how we want to play," Rodgers said after Sunday's 38-17 victory.

If there's such a thing as fast-paced relaxation, this was it.

The Packers scored on their first six drives: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown. It would have been seven-for-seven if not for a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter.

A week after a loss to the Detroit Lions that featured his second-lowest passing yardage total (162) in a game he started and finished, Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns on 22-of-28 passing. His efficiency and production were such that his passer rating of 151.2 fell short of only one other performance in his career, a 155.4 mark in a win over the Browns in 2009.

"Well, I just know it's a long season, so there's always going to be mini-freakouts along the way," Rodgers said. "You just got to stick together, stay the course. [Coach Mike McCarthy] talked about trusting the process this week. I just wanted to remind everybody that it's a long season and at some point we were going to get this thing figured out."

This one was different from the beginning. After relying so heavily on their three-receiver set this season, McCarthy opened with two tight ends for a change, and Rodgers went to one of them, rookie Richard Rodgers, on their first two plays after the Bears chewed up the first eight minutes and 30 seconds with their methodical scoring drive. Richard Rodgers' second catch, a 43-yarder on a deep throw, set up Eddie Lacy's first rushing touchdown of the season, which was about all the Packers got from their running game.

There were other hints of offensive variety, too. Lacy lined up split out as a receiver on two different plays, although he didn't get the ball on either of them. But this game was about precision and production in a timely manner. Forget about time-of-possession football (the Bears had it for 36 minutes, 22 seconds compared to the 23:38 for the Packers), it was time for the Packers to get up and go.

Rodgers still relied heavily on Jordy Nelson (10 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns) and Randall Cobb (seven catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns) despite help sprinkled in from Richard Rodgers (two catches for 52 yards) and fellow rookie Davante Adams (two catches for 18 yards).

"I think that we knew what we were capable of," Cobb said. "We know what we're capable of as an offense."

Who knows whether it was a product of a Bears defense that came into the game ranked 23rd in yards allowed and was missing three starters (and that doesn't include cornerback Charles Tillman, who is on injured reserve). But at least until Thursday's game against the Minnesota Vikings, Rodgers gave you, the Packers fan who was in full panic mode, a reason to relax.

"There's a time and a place to get a little angry and do what you need to do," Nelson said. "But then there's a time -- like he said -- to relax and just know we didn't perform the way we were supposed to, and just move on and work at it and have a better showing on Sunday like we did."