Aaron Rodgers has gotten off to a rocky start in 2016. There’s evidence this could be more than a slump. (Photo by Mike Roemer/AP)
Something is off with Aaron Rodgers. We’re six weeks into the 2016 season and Rodgers has one good half to his name. His performance last week against the Cowboys was as bad as we’ve seen Rodgers play in… well… forever? What’s bizarre is that Sunday’s statistics against the Cowboys were Rodgers’ best of the season. It was his play that didn’t pass the eye test. Rodgers missed crucial throws, committed two costly turnovers inside Dallas territory (including a careless fumble at the one), and never found a rhythm despite the Cowboys playing most of the game without their top two corners. Though Rodgers’ play Sunday was surprising, the drop off in his statistical output began over a year ago.
Throughout the 2014 season, Rodgers surpassed the 300 yard passing plateau nine times in 18 games (postseason included). The following season, Rodgers threw for 300+ yards only three times in 18 games (again, postseason included). There’s certainly an argument to be made about Jordy Nelson missing the entire 2015 season and the Packers available receivers dropping a plethora of passes. However, Rodgers’ stats haven’t rebounded in 2016 despite the return of Nelson. Through five games in 2016, Rodgers has yet to pass for 300 yards. In fact, his last 300-yard outing was 14 games ago. IT’S BEEN NEARLY AN ENTIRE SEASON SINCE AARON RODGERS THREW FOR 300 YARDS! That’s alarming. If you’re thinking, “Well, if the Packers are winning does it really matter? Maybe it’s best for the team.” While that’s a reasonable counter, the Packers record does not support it. Green Bay is 8-6 over that 14 game span.
Look at it this way, while Rodgers has struggled to rack up passing yardage this season, guys like Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, Brian Hoyer and Andy Dalton have already thrown for 300 yards at least twice in 2016. Read those names again. That’s the company above Rodgers in the passing stats right now.
It gets worse. As I mentioned earlier, Rodgers has had one great half thus far in 2016. If you remove the 174 yards and 4 touchdowns accumulated in the 1st half against the Lions in Week 3 from Rodgers’ season totals, his numbers become alarmingly pedestrian; 996 yards, 59% completion percentage, 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. It’s not as if Rodgers’ numbers were much better than average to begin with. He currently ranks 26th in yards per game, 20th in QB Rating, 26th in completion percentage and yards per attempt, and is on pace to throw double digit interceptions for the first time since 2010.
There is more here than just a Jordy Nelson injury. Rodgers is missing open targets like never before. Maybe he’s dealing with an undisclosed injury. Maybe age has slowed his insanely quick release. Perhaps his brother airing family drama to the public has irked Rodgers more than he is letting on. Or maybe it’s just a really long funk. Whatever it is, Rodgers and the Packers need it to stop or Green Bay will be in serious danger of missing the postseason for only the 2nd time since Rodgers took over the starting job in 2008, which was also the last time the Packers missed the playoffs. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -8.5