Is Aaron Rodgers no longer elite?
This is the true question on the mind of many NFL fans. As the Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson types of the world set the league on fire, many have begun to wonder if we have seen the end of Aaron Rodgers’ days as a top-tier quarterback. While pieces of the narrative are being overblown, much of his production in the past handful of seasons begins to tell a revealing story, and certain off-the-field disputes have also begun to make their way to the public.
This past season, Rodgers finished with his second lowest completion percentage as a full-time starter as the narrative about his declining aggression as a decision-maker has continue to thrive. Once revered as the league’s most efficient gunslinger, the man with all the physical tools to make every throw AND the mind to go with them, the former Cal Golden Bear has slowly devolved into a player who is simply tunnel-visioned on maintaining his perceived efficiency.
In the name of “no interceptions”, Rodgers’ completion percentage has fallen in four straight seasons, and he shattered Pro Football Focus’s record for “throwaways” with 58. He was on pace for an even higher mark with 32 throwaways through the first seven games, and to put it simply, the secret is out that Rodgers is now resorting to bailing on plays rather than extending them.
To even just compare last season’s crop of quarterbacks, Rodgers threw for fewer yards, fewer touchdowns, and a lower completion percentage than Carson Wentz; this is particularly egregious, given Philadelphia’s incredible health issues at receiver and Wentz’s reliance on practice squad talent to run the offense. Rodgers also led PFF in Bad Throw Percentage (21.2%), and as the season wore on, his season became another lesson in Rodgers’ refusal to mesh with a coaching staff and his insistence on playing his own style to the potential detriment of his team.
In his age-37 season, Rodgers will once again be asked to “carry” an offense that is supposedly lacking in talent. But given the emergence of Jones and Adams as two of the league’s premier players at their positions, one has to wonder: when does Rodgers no longer get another excuse? With 2019’s improved defense carrying over to this season and another year on continuity, the time must eventually arrive for the Packers’ longtime signal caller to adjust himself; the past “issues” (coaching staff, poor defense, no run game) have been addressed, and it’s time for Rodgers to put up.