By just looking at surface level stats, it would seem like Aaron Rodgers was his usual self in 2019. He had a 26:4 TD:INT ratio, 4,002 yards, and 62 percent completion. But a more in-depth look into his numbers will reveal that Aaron Rodgers struggled more in 2019 than most people think.
Rodgers’ yards per attempt (Y/A) was a measly 7.0 last season. This is the second-lowest mark of his starting career, and he ranked 20th in the league in this category among qualifying quarterbacks. Rodgers’ EPA/play in 2019 was also lackluster. He checked in at an EPA/play of 0.086, below league average. These even put him below quarterbacks such as Derek Carr and Jacoby Brissett.
These numbers are particularly disappointing because Aaron Rodgers had the privilege of throwing behind the best offensive line in the league. The Packers’ offensive line had a pass block win rate (PBWR) of 72 percent, the highest in the NFL. Drew Brees, who is commonly compared to Rodgers, ranked 10th in Y/A and second in EPA/play. Yet, he played behind the eighth-worst offensive line in the league, with a PBWR of just 56 percent.
Fans often think of Rodgers as an elite quarterback, with some arguing he is the best to ever play. Seeing these numbers is unexpected from a quarterback who put up a Y/A of over 8.0 for five out of six years from 2009-2014. But, Rodgers has never returned to those levels since then.
New Face of the Franchise?
In the 2020 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers traded up to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the 26th overall pick. This pick was surprising to many fans because they think of Rodgers as still elite. However, the Packers did not seem to see things this way. While they may not be planning on moving on from Rodgers just yet, the Packers are clearly planning for a future without him.
At 36 years old, Rodgers is nearing the end of his career. Love could very well be the Packers quarterback of the future once Rodgers is gone, which may be soon.
What Rodgers Has to Do
Rodgers does still have some time to prove that he can still be the elite quarterback he once was. With Pro-Bowl receiver Davante Adams and backfield receiving threat Aaron Jones, the Packers offense is one receiver away from being an absolute powerhouse. However, the defense remains a question mark, and the Packers play in one of the toughest divisions in football.
Rodgers will enter the 2020 season with much to prove, and Packers fans will have their expectations set high after a 13-3 record in 2019. If the Packers’ offensive line can play near the same level it did in 2019, Rodgers will have no excuses for poor play.
The main focus for Rodgers should be to connect better with young receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Valdes-Scantling has a large frame, checking in at 6-foot-4 and 201 pounds, perfect dimensions for jump balls and deep passes. Unfortunately, through Valdes-Scantling’s first two years in the NFL, Rodgers has a completion percentage of just 49.6 when targeting him.
Rodgers should also try to gain chemistry with his tight end group. Jimmy Graham left Green Bay for Chicago in the offseason, leaving Rodgers without a good number one option at the position. The top four tight ends on the Packers’ depth chart only have a combined 45 career targets from Rodgers.
Rodgers has a lot of work to do to reach the elite class of quarterbacks once again. Some fans stuck in his glory days may think he has a solid place among the top five quarterbacks, but that is not true. As Rodgers continues to build his Hall of Fame case on the back end of his career, he is searching for one more Super Bowl run. To make that a reality, he has to step his play up and be the quarterback that many remember him being.
“From Our Haus to Yours“