Packers offense rolls on 'yards after catch'
GENARO C. ARMAS
Sep. 16, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The "YAC" attack is thriving once more in Green Bay.
Passing yardage statistics can be deceiving. Those gains through the air aren't always about the throw and the catch — it's the yards gained after the catch that can result in big plays.
Aaron Rodgers may have set a career high with 480 yards passing in the 38-20 victory Sunday over the Redskins, but targets James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley gained a lot of those yards with what they did following the catch.
The Packers had 295 "yards after catch" against the Redskins, their most in any game since 1992 and the second most by any team in that period, according to STATS, LLC. Only the Houston Oilers had more, 348 on Nov. 15, 1992 against Minnesota.
"Just guys being athletic I guess, nothing much," Nelson said Monday when asked why the receivers excelled in getting yards after the catch.
Some guys will try to stiff arm a cornerback to break free. The speedy Cobb can make people miss in space. And 6-foot-5 tight end Finley might drop his shoulder to bowl over a defender.
"I mean, there's not a recipe for it. It's just catching the ball and then making the first guy miss one way or another," Nelson said.
Sounds simple enough. Every receiver wants to gain as many yards as possible.
But in Green Bay, it's long been a key to the offense.
"I mean, the emphasis has always been there, but we're just trying to coach it better and the players are doing a better job at it," coach Mike McCarthy said. "The timing of the throw and the routes are more in sync. It creates another half yard of separation as opposed to when you're not as in sync. So all those things factor."
As always, Rodgers gets things started with his knack of getting the ball to his receivers at just the right time. He finished 34 for 42 with no interceptions on Sunday.
According to the Packers, Rodgers became just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 480 yards and four touchdowns without throwing a pick. The Giants' Y.A. Tittle also accomplished the feat in 1952 against ... the Redskins.
Rodgers was quick Sunday to give credit to his receiving corps.
"We had a lot of yards after catch," he said. "It was 480 yards, but how much of that was YAC?"
Jones (178 yards) and Cobb (128) each had career highs in yards receiving. Nelson caught two touchdowns. Finley had six receptions and a score despite being bothered last week by a sore toe, then cramps on Sunday.
"We talk about extended plays, chart 'em, practice 'em, big-play opportunities. It's part of our makeup as a football team, not just our offense," McCarthy said. "It's where a lot of big plays are generated. ... It's all part of emphasizing how you want your team to play and the identity of how it helps you be most productive."
Green Bay also got a big day from running back James Starks, a forgotten man in the preseason after the Packers draft Eddie Lacy out of Alabama in the second round, and Johnathan Franklin from UCLA in the fourth. Starks finished with a career-best 132 yards on the ground.
Lacy left with a concussion after his first carry following what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet hit from Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather. McCarthy said he would know more about Lacy on Wednesday.
"Well, it was definitely a helmet-to ... the Washington safety definitely led with his helmet, so I know that's not what we're looking for," McCarthy said.
He deferred to the league office when asked if he was surprised Meriweather wasn't flagged.
NOTES: After leading 31-0 at one point, McCarthy said he was unhappy about giving up 20 to the Redskins over the last 20-plus minutes of the game. "To play at the level we performed at for a large part of the game and then to give that up, it's something that probably looks worse on the stat sheet than the reality of the football game. You have to look at that," he said. ... McCarthy likes how the team is playing physically, but says the "mental performance isn't even close to what it needs to be." He said coaches need to do a better job of getting the team ready.
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