The folks at Football Outsiders put together some interesting splits in the offseason, including quarterback efficiency by route. They present the data as a 12 distinct charts covering the 12 most common routes, excluding swing-outs and dump-offs to running backs. It’s also built from receiving data, so interceptions are not penalized more than incompletions. I’ve compiled the information about Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley in a spreadsheet that you can see here.
The data is interesting, and does support the notion that the Packers could stand to be more diverse and to focus more on what they’re truly good at. The most frequent routes resulting in targets for the team were the slant (Rodgers: 6.3% DVOA, Hundley: 11.1% DVOA), the curl (Rodgers: 5.4%, Hundley: 3.2%) and the out (Rodgers: -16.6%), Hundley: 4.8%). Together, these three routes accounted for 54% of total routes tracked. You’ll note that the Packers weren’t particularly successful on any of these routes, and Rodgers was positively poor on outs.
The Packers were really a team that played average offense on their low-risk base plays while waiting for big moments. Rodgers blew people away on his handful of throws on post, dig, and drag routes, but nothing else really sticks out as a big positive, and there are some odd omissions from the tally. For instance, Rodgers threw only 5 seam routes, completing none. The article notes that Jimmy Graham was outstanding on this route with Russell Wilson last season, and its return to the offense would be welcome. Rodgers didn’t really air it out in general, throwing only 4 ineffective fly routes to go with those posts and seams.
Hundley, for his part, wasn’t actually terrible airing it out, posting a positive DVOA on 15 fly routes and 4 fade routes; unlike Rodgers, he actually completed a few seam passes as well. However, Hundley really struggled on comebacks, posts, and especially on broken plays. The Packers spent a good chunk of the 2016 season relying on broken plays, and the Rodgers-Nelson combination in particular, but without Nelson playing well, production on broken plays cratered in 2017. Hundley was simply awful when things broke down, posting a -57.1% DVOA on 23 broken play passes. Rodgers was once the master of improvisation on broken plays, but he was slightly below average last season with a -2.8% DVOA on 15 such plays.
Without the Rodgers-Nelson for most of the season or a credible deep threat, the quarterbacks just didn’t have ideal broken play options, and with McCarthy’s offense not doing the receivers any favors to spring them open, broken plays were common. Hundley wasn’t awful on most throws, at least for a backup, but when he was forced to improvise it was simply disastrous.
The team also ran 34 wide receiver screens with neither quarterback succeeding. It was one of Rodgers’ worst high volume throws, and should probably be stripped from the playbook.
With the overhaul at receiver it will be interesting to see if some of the deep routes rebound in terms of DVOA and frequency. The Packers were very reliant on short passes last season, but defenses played them well and kept their YAC in check. On rare occasions where Rodgers aired it out on a post, good things happened. The personnel is likely better overall this year than last, and with Joe Philbin back I suspect this chart looks quite a bit different next season.