Aaron Rodgers is the NFL's premier quarterback, but when he plays the Seattle Seahawks, his numbers start to resemble those of a game manager looking to take the safe option. Since 2012, Rodgers has averaged 273 yards per game and 8.71 yards per pass attempt when he doesn't play the Seahawks. But those numbers drop to just 196.7 and 5.57, respectively, when he throws the ball versus Pete Carroll's defense. That's a noticeable change for a quarterback who is consistently in the MVP discussion.
So how can Rodgers flip the narrative and solve the Seahawks' defense? It won't be easy without Jordy Nelson -- a top-five receiver, in my opinion -- against a unit that has athleticism along the D-line, rare speed at the second level, and closers in the back end. But I identified four ways in which Rodgers can expose the Seahawks' three-deep coverages and isolate wide receiver Randall Cobb to open up the big plays Green Bay has lacked against Seattle in the past.
The classic Cover 3 beaters
In Seattle, Carroll has adjusted the technique of his cornerbacks to play press in Cover 3 and 3 Buzz (when a safety plays closer to the line of scrimmage). This allows his starting cornerbacks, Richard Sherman and Cary Williams, to use tight, jamming man-coverage techniques against vertical releases, while the four underneath defenders key on the shorter throws. It's simple, but no one -- and I mean no one -- plays it better than this group.
And, to top it off, the Seahawks have the ultimate free safety in this scheme with Earl Thomas, who's a top-tier player at his position. He's the angel over the top, the gatekeeper who closes the middle of the field on seam and post routes due to his range and speed to the ball.
But that doesn't mean Rodgers and his group can't challenge the Seahawks with the same Cover 3 beaters we see every Sunday. These concepts aren't complicated, but they are effective when a quarterback like Rodgers can fit the ball into tight windows.
The slant-flat is just one route combination you'll see Rodgers use when he observes Cover 3. As the diagram below shows, it allows Rodgers to hit the inside window once the safety or linebacker widens versus the No. 2 receiver. Other combos you'll see the Packers try on Sunday: the curl-flat, four verticals, hitch-seam, smash-corner and three-level concepts such as the sail route (go-corner-flat).