Aaron Rodgers, NY Jets, Stats, Film, 2022
Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Getty Images

QB play tends to fall off without warning

Maybe we should all go into an isolation retreat until Aaron Rodgers comes out of his.

That’s how much drama and discussion there has been surrounding the New York Jets quarterback saga. The two main actors in this debate are the aforementioned Rodgers and Derek Carr, who visited with the team over the weekend.

Each quarterback has pros and cons attached. The chief argument in favor of acquiring Rodgers, though, is that he is an elite quarterback—a first-ballot Hall of Famer who instantly gives the team a chance at a Super Bowl run.

The question, though, is if that is really the case. The back-to-back MVP Rodgers of 2020-21 would certainly elevate this Jets squad to a title contender. But what about the Rodgers of 2022, the one who ranked middle-of-the-pack or lower in most QB metrics? Is that a fluke or a true age-related decline that will only worsen with time?

2022 stats

Just to know what we’re dealing with, let’s look at Rodgers’s 2022 stats among 38 qualified quarterbacks (min. 175 dropbacks). There’s no need to compare the specifics to his prior numbers since it’s obvious that they consistently ranked at the top of the league.

  • 64.6% completion rate (22nd)
  • 3,695 yards (11th)
  • 6.8 yards per attempt (T-25th)
  • 4.8% TD rate (T-12th), 26 TD (7th)
  • 2.2% INT rate (16th), 12 INT (T-30th)
  • 2.9% turnover-worthy play rate (T-14th)
  • 8.5 average depth of target (14th)
  • 80.6% on-target rate (2nd)
  • 7.8% drop rate (3rd-highest)
  • 26.7% pressure rate (4th-lowest)
  • 2.67 average time to throw (T-14th)
  • 91.1 QB rating (T-15th)
  • 39.3 QBR (27th)
  • 5.95 adjusted net yards per attempt (20th)

In terms of overall numbers, what’s most noteworthy is the variation between Rodgers’s quarterback rating and QBR. According to his regular passer rating, he was average, while according to ESPN’s quarterback metric, he was significantly below.

One particularly noticeable metric was the 7.8% drop rate that Rodgers’s receivers recorded, which was the third-highest in the league. Often, a high drop rate indicates that the quarterback throws many balls off-target even if they were catchable.

However, Rodgers’s second-ranked on-target rate (via Pro Football Reference) does not match his 36th-ranked drop rate, indicating that his receivers’ hands were a significant problem. Furthermore, some of the other QBs with poor drop rates include QBs who were strong in on-target rate, including Daniel Jones (1st), Jared Goff (5th), Trevor Lawrence, and Brock Purdy (T-8th). That correlation was not as strong as usual in 2022.

Overall, it does appear that Rodgers played at an average level in 2022. That’s not the kind of performance that you’d trade draft picks and take on a large contract for, at least in a vacuum.

Jet X Offseason Tool 2023 4

Depth of target

Another thing that stands out in Rodgers’s stats is the distribution of his target depths. Although his average depth of target of 8.5 yards was 14th out of 38 quarterbacks, meaning it was above average, he had a very polarized distribution.

Just 15.9% of Rodgers’s targets came in the intermediate area of the field, which is the 10-19 yard range. That tied for 35th out of 38 quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Rodgers ranked second in throw rate behind the line of scrimmage at 20.7% and eighth in deep passes at 15.5%.

That is a very stark difference that is immediately evident in watching his film: Rodgers was pretty much either throwing the ball deep, throwing a screen, or dumping the ball off. That boom-or-bust recipe was one of the reasons the Packers had so much trouble sustaining drives throughout the season.

The question is how much of this is on Rodgers rather than his receivers or the offensive architecture. It certainly appeared as if Green Bay was content to run the ball and throw many quick screens and short passes. Rodgers would then throw the ball deep whenever he got a one-on-one matchup on the outside that he liked.

Statistically, Rodgers was not good on deep balls in 2022. He completed just 34.5% of those attempts, which ranked 27th, and had an official on-target rate of 39.3%, which tied for 25th. Furthermore, his 11.5% turnover-worthy play on attempts of 20+ yards ranked 32nd. However, he also faced four dropped deep passes, a 30th-ranked 12.1% rate, and one of those was a surefire 75-yard touchdown.

Overall, Rodgers threw 12 touchdowns and six interceptions on deep balls, resulting in a 24th-ranked 82.9 passer rating in that area of the field. However, those 12 touchdowns paint a picture of a quarterback who still has arm strength left, and the film shows a QB who was forced to take riskier shots than usual due to his receivers’ inability to win in the intermediate area of the field.

ESPN receiver metrics

ESPN Analytics has receiver metrics that combine three main categories—open score, catch, and YAC—to produce overall ratings for each WR. While they are model-based and do not perfectly match the film, they’re accurate enough to use for some sort of receiver comparison.

Just take a look at how the loss of Davante Adams affected Rodgers based on the overall scores of his pass-catchers from 2020-22.

  • 2020: Davante Adams (88), Robert Tonyan (55), Allen Lazard (54), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (37)
  • 2021: Adams (83), Valdes-Scantling (50), Lazard (44)
  • 2022: Christian Watson (67), Lazard (45), Tonyan (40), Doubs (35)

Is it not surprising that Rodgers played like an MVP with Davante Adams and then dropped off without him?

Now, the Jets don’t have Davante Adams, but they do have an up-and-coming receiver in Garrett Wilson. ESPN’s metrics did not love the Jets’ pass-catchers in 2022, as they rated Wilson 69, Elijah Moore 55, Tyler Conklin 40, and Corey Davis 35.

However, all four of those players appeared to be open on film a lot more than their scores would indicate; their QBs simply could not get the ball there and on target. By contrast, Rodgers’s film is littered with plays in which he did not have any realistic targets.

Bring Rodgers to New York and watch all four of those players’ scores “magically” improve. That’s the power of a good quarterback (and the inaccurate nature of model-based receiver ratings).


Speaking of film, let’s take a look at as much tape as possible from Aaron Rodgers’s 2022 season. I reviewed his games from Weeks 5 through 18 to evaluate whether he truly dropped off or was let down by his teammates. I drew a few conclusions:

  • Rodgers has not lost any of his arm strength.

  • He still has that ability to drop balls in the bucket at any part of the field and does so in every single game.

  • He took way more risks than he did in the past due to an uneven receiving cast. When he saw one-on-one coverage on the outside, he decided to treat it as if it was Davante Adams out there and throw it up, trusting the receiver to win. More often than not, they either did not win at all or dropped a well-thrown ball.

  • There were some truly head-scratching decisions in isolated spots this season, but you’ll see that on any quarterback’s film.

  • More than just the receivers’ ineptitude, the Packers’ offensive play-calling was stale and predictable. It was fairly obvious that they were either going to run the ball, run a screen, throw a shallow slant, or chuck up a deep ball on virtually every play. This greatly narrowed the options that the defense had to account for. (You will see examples of these with every quarterback, but this is just a small sample of the play-by-play patterns of the Packers’ offense.)

  • I was surprised by how well Rodgers can still throw on the run and even scramble when necessary. Obviously, he’s not the Patrick Mahomes-like scrambler from his earlier years, but he maneuvers both inside and outside the pocket pretty well for a 39-year-old.

Can Rodgers be elite?

There are two separate aspects to this question.

  1. Was Rodgers’s 2022 season indicative of the beginning of a decline? Based on his film, I believe the answer to this question is no. He still showed the same elite traits from his prior back-to-back MVP seasons. The lack of surrounding talent and poor offensive game-planning accounted for a lot of the difference in his performance.
  2. Is it possible that Rodgers will start to show an actual decline in 2023? This question is a lot murkier. Quarterback play tends to fall off precipitously and without warning. Look no further than the second half of Peyton Manning’s 2014 season to see just how quickly a quarterback can go from elite to barely playable. Even Tom Brady’s GOAT status succumbed to Father Time in 2022. However, there is still reason to believe that Rodgers can have another couple of high-level seasons left in the tank.

After watching the film, I am a lot more convinced that Rodgers can elevate the Jets to that sphere of title contenders. The million-dollar mystery remains about what is going on in the darkness and whether Rodgers will come to see the light in New York.

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Rivka Boord has followed the Jets since the age of five. She is known locally for her in-depth knowledge of football. She hopes to empower young women to follow their dreams and join the sports conversation. Boord's background in analytics infuses her articles with unique insights into the state of the Jets' franchise and the NFL as a whole.
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Jim G
Jim G
7 months ago

Articles like this are why I really enjoy this site: film breakdown and analysis over opinion. Unlike TV/Radio/YouTube, the need to say something ridiculous to gain attention & viewers does not carry the day here.

I watched a fair number of Packers games this season and reached the conclusion that Rodgers was beaten down because, no matter how often he asked, the team was less interested in improving the offense for him. I think this finally took its toll in 2022. After losing to the 49ers in the playoffs after 2019 & 2021, he asked for a little help and what did the team do: they traded his top receiver and let his second best receiver leave in free agency.

Sort of like how the Jets defense in 2022: what more can we do for us to win?

I agree that, at some point, QB play falls off dramatically. The big question is what are the warning signs? I agree with you that the film does not show signs of a decline just yet. Is it possible he will win a Super Bowl at 42 like another “QB12?” Certainly, we don’t see the warning signs now, but we know the warning signs will arrive one day, we just don’t know when. Despite the rather obvious upside, it is a big, franchise altering, risk.

7 months ago

This article raises an excellent point. I have seen the end days of many great QBs, and one thing I’ve noticed is how often the decline has little to do with physical injuries. The old guy would be pronounced fully healthy, and he would go out and just kind of stink up the joint to everyone’s puzzlement and dismay. I have gotten the impression over the years that something kicks in after the age of 36 or so where QBs do not want to stand in against the rush and it causes them to start throwing the ball away or throwing inaccurate passes. Maybe it’s the instinct of self-preservation or just mental/psychological fatigue, or maybe there are physical limitations that build up but aren’t injuries per se. But as Rivka very insightfully says, the decline can be very sudden and steep. I’ve seen it many times, in some of the greatest to ever play, and Rogers is right in that age category when it happens.

Michael Nania
7 months ago
Reply to  DFargas

This is definitely the most concerning aspect of potentially adding Rodgers. I’m on the same page with Rivka that he was a lot better last year than his numbers suggest, but as she stated, that does not mean he is immune from a potential drop-off in 2023. This year could still be his 2015 Peyton Manning season even if he was actually very good in 2022.

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
7 months ago

Great article and it’s terrific to see his 2022 season put in context.

However, my impression of Rodgers is that go routes are always a big part of his game, and your point that a boom-or-bust approach makes it hard to sustain drives is at odds with the Jets’ offensive philosophy, and go routes in general are a bad fit for the Jets’ roster, is that fair?

We know we don’t like Moore on go routes, and while we like Wilson’s jumping ability and body control, we think he is better on routes that maximize YAC (and when is Wilson going to be 1:1 on the outside anyway), right? Davis doesn’t have the speed, and Mims doesn’t have the hands, so go routes do not figure to be a big part of the Jets’ game, while they are a big part of Rodgers’, true?

Were those MVP seasons dependent upon go routes? I think they were; I don’t think Rodgers has ever been the sort of QB the Jets had envisioned at their helm, or the kind of QB they envisioned when they built their WR room. So if you were to bring in Rodgers, would you 1) remake the receiver room, 2) ask Rodgers to throw more slants and digs, or 3) not worry about it at all, ’cause it ain’t that big a deal?

Michael Nania
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt Galemmo

I would probably hope for a combination of those things, personally. Definitely a vertical threat WR who can specialize on go routes. Try to get Garrett some deep shots throughout camp and early in the season, and see how he does with them.

But I would also hope Rodgers could adapt to the talent of the roster and mesh with what works best for the guys they have, trying to throw more in-breakers to facilitate YAC for Wilson, Moore, and Davis. Getting the ball out quick over the middle could also help preserve his health, in comparison to longer-developing deep plays that put him at greater risk of getting hit.

Over his three years with Hackett, Rodgers was a lot more productive on quick throws and short throws, so I would think that if he reunited with Hackett on a Jets team whose weapons are more YAC-based than vertical-based, he would be able to increase his reliance on the quick/short/in-breaking games.