Aaron Rodgers, NY Jets, Offensive Line
Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets, Getty Images

Although Aaron Rodgers will help the New York Jets’ blocking in some ways, he can hurt it in others

The New York Jets‘ offensive line is one of the enigmas of the 2023 season. Due to injuries, underachievement, age, or a combination thereof, each of the five starters faces significant questions.

One of the prevailing narratives is that Aaron Rodgers will automatically improve the team’s blocking. Assuming that his down 2022 season was an injury-driven fluke, that is likely going to be the case in certain ways. However, even an elite quarterback cannot completely compensate for a disastrous offensive line. That is all the more true for a 39-year-old passer.

Furthermore, there is nuance to Rodgers’ overall release. His average time to throw has generally not been among the fastest in the league, although it’s not the slowest, either.

Let’s take a closer look at Rodgers’ breakdowns, the Jets’ blocking, and the team’s running game to see where Rodgers can help the blocking and where they might have to pick him up.

Average time to throw

Although many think of Rodgers as a quick thrower, he’s closer to average in that area. He simply does a good job of avoiding sacks, but that is not necessarily due to getting the ball out. His quick release likely helps mechanically to avoid getting hit, but that doesn’t show up as much in his average time to throw.

Here are the time-to-throw and sack rate comparisons for 38 quarterbacks with at least 175 dropbacks in 2022.

While Rodgers is better than average in time to throw, ranking 14th out of 38 quarterbacks, he’s nowhere near the Tom Brady sphere. Rodgers does let the ball go quickly, but not necessarily in terms of seconds from the snap. It’s more that when he sees a pressure threat coming, he can snap the ball out quickly due to his lightning-quick release.

Deep passing

The reason that Rodgers’ average release time is not in the top 10 is his fondness for throwing deep.

In 2022, deep passes (20+ yards downfield) represented 15.5% of Rodgers’ total attempts, the sixth-highest mark among quarterbacks. That followed a 13.0% rate in 2021 (11th), 14.6% in 2020 (fourth), and 16.3% in 2019 (third). In fact, over his last six full seasons, Rodgers has ranked in the top seven in deep rate five times.

Surprisingly, quarterbacks averaged the same pressure rate (32%) on deep attempts as on overall dropbacks in 2022. This was despite a larger discrepancy between the average time to throw, 3.13 seconds vs. 2.77. However, Rodgers’ 33.3% pressure rate on deep attempts was significantly higher than his overall pressure rate of 26.7%. His average time-to-throw difference was 3.18 vs. 2.67.

There could be some reverse causation going on with these statistics. On film, it is evident that Rodgers has a tendency to look deep during scramble drills while under pressure and to direct traffic that way. Therefore, rather than the deeper attempts causing pressure, it could be that facing pressure causes Rodgers’ increased deep attempts.

Still, it is worth noting that Rodgers throws deep a lot and faced more pressure than usual when making those attempts. That could cause some heavier lifting for the Jets’ offensive line.


Rodgers likes to utilize screens. In 2022, he led all quarterbacks with a 16.8% screen rate, per PFF. He also tied for the league lead in 2021, was second in 2020, and was fourth in 2019. With Nathaniel Hackett coming over as the team’s offensive coordinator and Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb joining the receiving corps, the Jets are all but certain to increase their screen usage in 2023.

Screens tend to generate lower pressure numbers. Rodgers was pressured on 3.3% of his screen dropbacks in 2022, the seventh-lowest among quarterbacks. On average, quarterbacks were pressured on 7.72% of their screens in 2022 compared to 35.6% on non-screens. Throwing more screen passes undoubtedly takes some pressure off the offensive line in terms of protecting the quarterback.

However, the Jets gave up far more pressure than average on screens in 2022. Overall, they ranked 24th in the NFL with a 10% pressure rate on screens. They also tied for 20th in screen dropback rate at 8.7%. Bringing in more screens will be a new thing for the Jets’ offensive line, one that should help overall but was a liability in 2022.

It is worth noting that screens can be difficult to block downfield even if they make it easier to protect the quarterback. Still, having Alijah Vera-Tucker as a mauler in space paid dividends on screens early in 2022. Joe Tippmann also showed potential in this area in college, as did Mekhi Becton. Throw in Corey Davis and Lazard as blockers and Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall with the ball in their hands, and you have a potentially dangerous screen game.

Third down

In general, third downs, especially third-and-long situations, are more likely to breed pressure. Obvious passing situations allow pass rushers to pin their ears back without worrying about the run.

In 2022, 84.2% of the Packers’ third-down plays had an XPASS value greater than or equal to 60%, which was in the middle of the pack. By contrast, 87.4% of the Jets’ third downs were classified as likely passes, the ninth-highest rate in the NFL.

On first- and second-down passes, the Packers had 0.102 EPA per play, which was the eighth-best mark in the NFL. They ranked fourth in EPA on first- and second-down runs at 0.0317. The Packers performed well on the first two downs, which made third down more manageable.

While Rodgers is not primarily responsible for the Packers’ run game, he gets credit for a strong EPA on earlier downs to avoid third-down holes. This occurred even in his “down” year of 2022. Avoiding third-and-long situations can help the Jets’ offensive line.

True pass sets

PFF defines true pass sets as “exclude[ing] plays with less than 4 rushers, play action, screens, short dropbacks and time-to-throws under 2 seconds.” They provide separate statistics for both offensive linemen and pass rushers in true pass sets. These numbers tend to remain far more stable year-over-year than overall pressure metrics.

Since true pass sets eliminate plays that make blocking easier, they tend to yield more pressure. Among 2022 starting offensive tackles, the average pressure rate was 2.76% on non-true pass sets and 8.80% on true pass sets. The overall pressure rate average for tackles was 5.39%.

Many factors influence whether a play will be a true pass set, including the scheme, the quarterback’s preferences, the skill position players’ abilities, the defensive matchup, and the down and distance. As a rule of thumb, teams that are losing tend to use more true pass sets. They are not going to be able to fool the defense into thinking that a run is coming. Additionally, third-and-long situations breed true pass sets.

Rodgers gets some of the credit for keeping the Packers’ third downs manageable in 2022. However, Green Bay led on just 28.2% of their offensive snaps, ranked 20th in the league. Still, from 2020-21, they led on 51.2% of their offensive snaps, the second-best rate in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Jets led on 17.4% of their offensive snaps during that timeframe, the second-worst rate in the NFL.

In 2022, Packers offensive linemen were in true pass sets on 4.70% of their passing snaps, the third-lowest rate in the NFL. The Jets’ linemen dealt with true pass sets on 7.68% of their passing snaps, the sixth-highest.

If Rodgers and Hackett can bring fewer true pass sets to the Jets, it will likely help their pass-blocking.

Pressure numbers

Many NFL pundits assume that if a quarterback is elite, they likely have strong numbers under pressure. However, quarterback pressure numbers tend to be highly volatile; passing when kept clean is far more stable. The true trick for good quarterbacks is to diagnose where pressure is coming from and beat it. That’s where Rodgers excels.

Throwing under pressure has never been Rodgers’ forte, though, and certainly not as he ages. Michael Nania described this in detail. The Jets’ quarterback has more of a discrepancy between his numbers when pressured and kept clean than most other passers.

Therefore, the Jets will need to keep Rodgers clean. He’s not going to be able to keep them going if they’re as porous as they were in 2022.

Good blocking?

The perception is that Rodgers enjoyed excellent pass-blocking throughout his career, including in 2022. However, a cursory glance at the 2022 film indicates that this was not the case.

Although Rodgers faced pressure just 26.7% of the time, the fourth-lowest mark in the NFL, his blockers didn’t necessarily cause that. Part of it was his high screen rate and low rate of true pass sets, which helped out his blockers tremendously.

Rodgers didn’t do himself favors with pressure, though. PFF charged him with at least partial responsibility for 17.3% of his pressures, which was the 11th-worst rate among quarterbacks. However, 31.6% of Rodgers’ pressure was charged to the right tackle, the worst rate in the NFL. Another 21.8% was charged to the right guard, the sixth-worst rate.

Although front-side pressure is not as bad as having the pressure concentrated on the blindside, having one whole shaky side of the line allows defenses to dictate matchups on that side and wreak havoc. Rodgers compromised for it with the third-fast average release time on short passes at 2.18 seconds; even though that covered just 40.4% of his attempts, the ninth-lowest mark among quarterbacks, he used short passes to mask offensive line deficiencies.

In this way, Rodgers can help out his offensive line. It’s just not as all-encompassing as the narrative sometimes indicates. He diagnoses plays well, but if the pressure actually gets home without an open receiver, he’s likely going to struggle.

Calling protections

An elite quarterback can see where the pressure is coming from and adjust protections to defend against it. Over the last few seasons, the Jets have allowed free rushers at their quarterback on a frequent basis. While some of it may have been miscommunication along the line, a lot of it was simply not diagnosing where the pressure was coming from. Connor McGovern called the protections along the line, so he may have been the one primarily responsible for this.

However, Rodgers calls his own protections. That in and of itself should clean up many of the issues of free rushers. While the problems with picking up games, stunts, and twists up front are a different story, actually meeting a blitzer before they get a free shot at the quarterback should no longer haunt the Jets as much.

Unloading the box

One of the issues with having an incompetent quarterback is the defense’s response of loading the box. Zach Wilson faced many loaded boxes because defenses knew that he could not beat them with his arm even if their coverage wasn’t perfect. They dared him to throw deep by singling up coverage on the outside and placing everyone else in the box with a single high safety. The Patriots, in particular, were ruthless in using this strategy, and it worked.

One of the things Rodgers can bring to the table is unloading the box, at least to a certain extent. From 2020-22, Jets’ running backs faced the eighth-highest rate of loaded boxes on their rush attempts at 36.7%, per NFL Next Gen Stats. Packers backs, meanwhile, faced loaded boxes on 28.8% of their attempts, which was the 10th-lowest.

Just as Rodgers used to turn to Adams whenever he was singled up, it is likely that he will do the same with Wilson. He even did it at times with Lazard, who has the height and strength to box out defenders and keep them away from the ball. This will also keep defenses out of the box, opening up more lanes.

Coupled with the returns of Vera-Tucker and Becton, this should bode well for the Jets’ running game.


Rodgers can help the Jets’ offensive line in many ways. His tendency to throw many screens, ability to diagnose pressure, quick mechanics, threat posed to defenses to unload the box, and minimization of true pass sets will all likely benefit the team’s blockers. However, his fondness for throwing deep could stress the linemen and running backs, as well.

Ultimately, there are still many questions about the Jets’ offensive line. Still, competence at the quarterback position will almost certainly help the team field a more cohesive unit.

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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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2 months ago

Relying on Brown and Becton at tackle is a risky proposition. In fact the success of our team depends on our Oline gelling. We give Rodgers a clean pocket and we’re a playoff team. However, the starting oline will probably not play a lot in preseason so the gelling process may take time. That is the key to the team.