QB – Aaron Rodgers
Week 5 Statistics:
23/45, 259 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 15 rushing yards, 2 INTs; 17.86 fantasy points
Rodgers’ performance is becoming an all-too-familiar concern.
Among other things his raw numbers are not looking great, his decision-making hasn’t been as pristine as we’ve rightfully come to expect, and too many of his throws have ended up either off-target and/or eminently interceptable.
The game against the Giants was a banner example of all of these worrying trends. Though he managed to hit some excellent shots early (the placement on the two TD passes was classic elite-level Rodgers), as the game progressed he couldn’t keep it up. His ball placement was off, helping cause his first INT (slightly high, which in part turned what would have been a routine Nelson grab into a tipped ball) and almost putting at least two more right into the hands of the defense (had it not been for Davante Adams expertly knocking both down).
His second INT was purely a bad decision, throwing the ball to someone when his player in a bad spot with Janoris Jenkins (a guy who has built his career — and earned his huge contract — off his ability to make spectacular plays) all over him and breaking in the direction he was throwing in.
This was all with possibly the best single-game blocking effort I’ve ever witnessed from the five guys in the trenches. He had all night on basically every single dropback he took. Yet even with all that time, Rodgers still couldn’t find an accurate touch and was rushing into bad decisions. He barely completed half of his throws, and he now is ranked last in terms of completion percentage on the year.
Still, it is far too early to expect him to not find a way to get back to some semblance of his old self.
Even with all of this, Rodgers still ranks highly in a bunch of advanced statistics. In ESPN’s QBR rating, he currently sits at #4 with an 79.4 (0-100 scale). Pro Football Focus — who got A LOT of grief for their weekly grading on Rodgers last season — gave him a 79.0 (the high end of average in their particular 0-100 grading system) for last week’s game and still consider him the league’s #6 QB through five weeks despite all the negative aspects he’s shown in his game so far in 2016, while also noting he has the highest number of positively-graded throws among all QBs by their metrics.
In Football Outsiders’ ALEX* metric, Rodgers is behind only Ben Roethlisberger, showing he is looking to rack up yardage with his arm on key downs instead of relying on his guys to make players miss underneath to earn a first down.
If Rodgers can fix his recent dips in accuracy and decision-making, he’s much closer to a return to normalcy than it may seem.
This week could provide the perfect opportunity to do so.
Dallas has looked great on their way to a 4-1 record, with the offense running dominantly and the defense playing better than expected.
While the defense may appear better however, it may have more to do with the success of a ball-control offensive gameplan keeping them fresh than anything.
They have run out a completely anonymous pass rush (4 players have 50+ snaps there; none rank higher than #59 among edge rushers in PFF’s edge defender grades), and have been suspect versus the pass (#25 in Pass Defense DVOA).
Saying someone is “due” is the definition of the Gambler’s Fallacy, but if the concept has any ground to stand on, this feels like exactly the kind of situation where it would come to fruition.
The offense will likely need to focus on passing the ball due to injury problems with Lacy and Starks, this defense has plenty of exploitable holes, and Rodgers should again be given massive chunks of time to pick them apart.
I’m not expecting the kind of offensive explosion we saw in the first half of that Detroit game, but a steady and calculating dissection of an overmatched unit feels well within the cards.