Jason Wilde at ESPN Milwaukee received a text message late Tuesday from Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers saying "I'm baaaaaaacckkkk." I'm assuming everyone agrees that this is a good thing, and QB Matt Flynn should head back to the bench. But how good of a thing is it?
I'm not suggesting a quarterback controversy. Flynn played better than I expected against the Patriots. The key point being that he did better than I expected from a first time starter. While I was relieved and impressed by what I saw, the stats at Football Outsiders said he was only the 22nd best quarterback in week 15. Here are his stats over the past two games, and the official ranking of the pass defense he faced from NFL.com:
That was a major change for the Packers offense. With Flynn under center, they threw shorter passes and it took more attempts to generate the same yards. The stats at Football Outsiders don't give the quarterback as much credit for a completion on a checkdown that isn't a success (i.e. convert for a 1st down). They also didn't like that Flynn took 5 sacks against a defense that had only recorded 23 in their first 13 games, and he received a downward adjustment for facing a lousy pass defense.
Here are the same stats for Rodgers in his previous four games since the bye week:
While he wasn't battling the finest pass defenses in the NFL, the opponents he faced were better than the Patriots. The Lions game was bad for both quarterbacks as the offensive line was outplayed by the Lions defensive line. And Rodgers stats would have been more in line with his previous games is WR Greg Jennings hadn't bobbled and tipped a gift interception to S Amari Spievey.
His stats are better in the touchdown and turnover categories, but what really caught my eye was that on average, each pass attempt was good for an extra three yards. He was averaging almost a 1st down per attempt with no forced turnovers. That makes the Packers offense a whole lot better.
So while Flynn's great game against the Patriots is still in my mind, this post was a reminder that it's very good news that Rodgers will be able to play on Sunday against the Giants.