There are a lot of problems with the Green Bay Packers’ offense so far in 2022 that are not the fault of Aaron Rodgers. His offensive line has been lackluster, given the struggles of Elgton Jenkins, and it takes time to develop chemistry with new receivers. That said, there’s one issue that is worth keeping an eye on with the quarterback: his mobility.
Rodgers’ legs have always been a weapon and Rodgers has always been an above-average quarterback in terms of pure athleticism. He’s adept at picking up the occasional first down with his legs, and he’s always been able to get outside the pocket and make big plays when needed. Lately, however, there have been some worrying signs.
First, Rodgers has been far worse under pressure than at any time in the past.
Week 1 QB efficiency from a clean pocket and under pressure.— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) September 13, 2022
Aaron Rodgers hoping to get back his tackles soon pic.twitter.com/gCoQYV32ZF
QBs averaging 2+ additional YPA when kept clean vs. when pressured (PFF):— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 6, 2021
Aaron Rodgers (+4)
Jameis Winston (+4)
Kirk Cousins (+2.9)
Justin Herbert (+2.9)
Ryan Tannehill (+2.6)
Joe Burrow (+2.3)
Trevor Lawrence (+2)
Only Kyler and Tua are averaging more YPA when under pressure.
Though his line has been suspect while Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari recover, he’s also not as able to escape and work for a big play.
Second, his rushing is down significantly. Rodgers peaked as a runner in 2016, carrying the ball 51 times (excluding kneel downs and aborted snaps) for 386 yards, a 7.5 yards per carry average. Last season that number fell to just 19 carries for 114 yards (6 per carry), and so far in 2022, through 4 games, Rodgers has only 3 carries for 12 yards. Over a 17 game season, he’s on pace for just 12 carries for 51 yards.
|9/18/2022||Packers||Bears||1||3:19||2||10||GNB 36||7-Mar||Aaron Rodgers scrambles right end for 7 yards (tackle by Nicholas Morrow). Penalty on Jaquan Brisker: Illegal Contact, 5 yards (accepted)||7||0.79||2.13||1.34|
|9/18/2022||Packers||Bears||4||6:29||3||2||GNB 9||24-10||Aaron Rodgers right end for 4 yards (tackle by Al-Quadin Muhammad)||4||-0.48||-0.32||0.16|
|10/2/2022||Packers||Patriots||2||0:49||2||10||GNB 31||3-Jul||Aaron Rodgers scrambles left tackle for 1 yard (tackle by Ja'Whaun Bentley)||1||0.46||-0.1||-0.56|
That’s a major drop in rushing. Considering that some previous down years have included various leg injuries, the drop is quite concerning considering he has been healthy in 2022.
Compounding all of this, he just looks slow. Take a look at this read-option when he did, fortunately convert a first down. Aaron is absolutely huffing it on this run.
While losing some running ability isn’t devastating to his game, it’s not a good sign. Many quarterbacks experience a marked decline in running ability before they leave the league for good. The best example may actually be Brett Favre, who, in his penultimate year with the Vikings, put up a near MVP-level passing campaign while running only 4 times all year. (Also fun: on two of those four attempts, he threw illegal forward passes.) In his final season he had 10 rushes, but fumbled on 5 of them.
Aaron isn’t done by any stretch, but I think this is the first season where real physical decline is starting to impact his game in a meaningful way.