You ever want to stop thinking about if Aaron Rodgers will or won’t suit up for the Packers this season, even for a moment? Well do I have good news for you: Pro Football Focus simulated the 2021 season assuming that Rodgers will be the starting quarterback in Green Bay and published the results.
The Packers’ low-end outcome was an 8-9 finish, tied with the high-end outcome of two teams: the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans. Here’s what PFF had to say about Green Bay’s worst-case scenario:
10th percentile outcome: 8-9
How they get there: These simulations assume Aaron Rodgers is at quarterback, but let’s assume Rodgers’ standoff doesn’t end up with him returning to the Packers and putting up another MVP-caliber performance.
Instead, Jordan Love takes over for Rodgers, who either sits out the season or forces the Packers to acquiesce to a trade request. Love has the tools to deliver an impressive 2021 performance, but he also showcased questionable decision-making throughout his time at Utah State. He ranked among the top-five quarterbacks in the FBS in both big-time throws and turnover-worthy plays during his final collegiate season in 2019. Love’s tendency to put the ball in harm’s way could contribute to this eight-win season for Green Bay.
Oh no! The Rodgers thoughts are creeping back in. Let’s quickly move to the best-case scenario.
90th percentile outcome: 14-3
How they get there: The offseason drama with Rodgers amounts to nothing, and the reigning MVP returns to lead another extremely efficient offense in 2021. No team generated more EPA per play than Green Bay did over the course of last season. The Packers are able to replace Corey Linsley (PFF’s highest-graded center in 2020) and Rick Wagner (PFF’s 12th-highest-graded right tackle) on the offensive line without much of a drop-off, and Amari Rodgers adds a different skill set to the offense.
Kevin King and Eric Stokes combine to provide more reliable play at the cornerback spot opposite Jaire Alexander, as well. King earned just a 45.6 coverage grade in that role last season.
That’s better. The offensive line is a question, but, hopefully, the camp competition between Billy Turner, Ben Braden and Royce Newman at right tackle can produce a good result, while Josh Myers likely takes over at center for Corey Linsley. I’m not putting my money on Kevin King figuring out how to play cornerback out of the blue as a 26-year-old, or him being surpassed as a starter when he commands a $5 million contract, but I guess we can hope the cornerback play gets better under new defensive coordinator Joe Berry.
Should Rodgers return as the leader of the Pack, Pro Football Focus is actually very high on the squad going into the season. For reference, the 90th percentile outcome of a 14-3 record is tied for the highest mark that the simulation produced, alongside the two teams who just faced off in the Super Bowl: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
If Love starts at QB, what’s the worst-case scenario for the Packers in 2021?
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