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Five Stats That Illustrate Rodgers’ Shocking Struggles

Is it the thumb? Age? Receivers? Whatever the reason, Aaron Rodgers' downturn this season is obvious when looking at these five stats.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers is struggling. Not surprisingly, the Green Bay Packers are struggling, too.

The four-time MVP, including back-to-back reigning MVP, has seen a shocking dropoff in performance this season. In a world that demands black-and-white reasons – “Rodgers stinks” or it’s the “young receivers” – there are a combination of factors that include his injured thumb, the post-Davante Adams blues, age and an inexplicable mental block that’s had him turning down open receivers.

“I know he’s battling through it,” coach Matt LaFleur said of Rodgers’ thumb on Friday. “He’s made some really great throws and then he’s missed some throws. I think that’s life of a quarterback in this league.”

This season, 30 quarterbacks have combined for 45 games of 300-plus passing yards. Rodgers, who ranks sixth all-time with 69 300-yard games, has zero.

For years, Rodgers has been the giant green-and-gold Band-Aid good enough to cover whatever the Packers’ wounds. Not this year. Here are five interesting stats.

The Anti-Rodgers Stat

No quarterback in NFL history had mastered the league’s ultimate paradigm like Rodgers. Make big plays, avoid big mistakes, win games.

After throwing his 450th career touchdown vs. Chicago in Week 2, his career touchdown-to-interception ratio was 4.80. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes was just a tick better than 4.00, and only two other quarterbacks were better than 3.00.

This season, Rodgers has thrown 19 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions. That’s 2.71 touchdowns for every interception. Not bad but not vintage Rodgers, either. Rodgers hasn’t thrown more than eight interceptions since tossing 11 in 2010. Because of some rare mistakes, his lofty goal of throwing 500 touchdown passes before 100 interceptions is dead. His final interception at Detroit a couple weeks ago was No. 100 of his career. He’s up to 468 touchdowns. With a career mark of 4.68 touchdown per interception, he enters Sunday as the only quarterback in NFL history better than 4.00.

Deep Thoughts

Late in the 2020 season, when Rodgers was rolling to a third MVP, he ranked No. 1 in the NFL in completions and yards on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield.

“I've always wanted to say this,” Rodgers said at the time. “Chicks dig the long ball, as we saw and learned from those great commercials back in the day by the Atlanta Braves pitchers.”

Rodgers is digging the long ball this season, too. The problem is the Packers aren’t digging the results. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers has gone deep 59 times. That’s a whopping 12 more than any other quarterback. Because of that volume, he’s tied with Buffalo’s Josh Allen for No. 1 with 22 deep completions. However, of the 32 quarterbacks with 16-plus deep attempts, he’s only 13th with a 37.3 percent completion rate and 18th with 11.0 yards per attempt.

Under Pressure

The secret sauce to quarterback play is pocket presence. Any NFL quarterback can make throws from the cocoon of a well-protected pocket. The great quarterbacks are the ones who can make throws when there’s pressure.

In 2016, when Rodgers led the “Run the Table” Packers to an unexpected trip to the NFC title game, he finished the season ranked No. 1 with a 93.8 passer rating when under pressure with a 48.4 percent completion rate, 12 touchdowns vs. one interception, and 6.7 yards per attempt.

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The ability – maybe even the desire – to make plays in a collapsing pocket tends to disappear for aging quarterbacks. Rodgers is 17th with an under-pressure passer rating of 70.5, according to PFF. Of 38 quarterbacks with at least 35 under-pressure dropbacks, Rodgers ranks 28th in completion percentage (45.2) and 25th in yards per attempt (5.7). He’s thrown three touchdowns vs. one interception. Against Tennessee, he was 3-of-10 for 29 yards and was flagged for intentional grounding just beyond the goal line.

Ball Security

Rodgers isn’t just great at avoiding interceptions. He’s great at avoiding turnovers, period. In his first three seasons alongside Matt LaFleur, Rodgers had four fumbles in 2019, four in 2020 and three in 2021. That’s 11. He might fumble 11 times this season with his seven through 11 games. That’s sixth-most in the NFL.

On the Clock

Rodgers built his legend on a number of factors, his play-extending prowess among them. Back in the day, Rodgers was the baddest man on Earth because of his ability to turn nothing not just into something but into something huge. Rodgers was brilliant in those moments, as were the extended-play masters on the receiving end of those passes.

Not surprisingly given his age and the state of his receiver corps, that ability has dissipated. According to PFF, in 2020, Rodgers completed 61.6 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns, three interceptions, 8.4 yards per attempt and a 114.0 rating on play with a time-to-pass of 2.50-plus seconds. In 2021, it was 60.0 percent, 15 touchdowns, four interceptions, 8.9 yards per attempt and a 104.2 rating. This year, it’s 53.0 percent, 10 touchdowns, three interceptions, 6.8 yards per attempt and an 87.3 rating. He’s 25th in yards per attempt and 26th in completion percentage.

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