Aaron Rodgers owns the highest passer rating in NFL history.
That’s all well and good, but the NFL is all about situational football. Can you move the chains on third down? Can you seal the deal upon entering the red zone? Can you make defensive coordinators pay for sending a blitz?
In all three of those areas, Rodgers has been the NFL’s most productive quarterback.
We continue this three-part series within a series with Rodgers’ production in the red zone.
STATS has been keeping red-zone stats since 1995. Four of the Packers’ top six seasons have come with Rodgers at quarterback, and Green Bay’s 61.6 percent touchdown rate during Rodgers’ tenure is tops in the league.
TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN
32 DAYS: Red-hot Finley’s 32 catches
31 DAYS: Our most powerful stat on fumbles
30 DAYS: Burnett quietly one of the best
29 DAYS: 29 points per game not good enough
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27 DAYS: Beyond ‘Big Three,’ it’s only Boykin’s 27 yards
26 DAYS: Undrafted impact
25 DAYS: No running game without No. 25
24 DAYS: Masthay among best at eliminating returns
23 DAYS: Rodgers on third down
Last year’s 68.1 percent is the team’s best in STATS’s 18 years tracking that figure.
Rodgers has been nothing short of sensational once the offense reaches the opponent’s 20-yard line. His 109.9 passer rating in the red zone ranked second in the league (Drew Brees, 112.7). That’s right in line with his league-leading rating of 107.7 since taking the starting reins in 2008.
In one of the most dominant statistical comparisons you’ll ever see, Rodgers has thrown 108 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in the red zone since 2008. That’s 54 touchdowns for every interception. A distant second — a very, very distant second — is Peyton Manning. His 93 touchdowns and four interceptions equate to 23.25 touchdowns for every one interception.
Last season, Rodgers threw 24 touchdowns against zero interceptions in the red zone. He was lights out inside the 10-yard line. He completed 20-of-28 passes for 17 touchdowns. That touchdown rate of 60.7 percent not only led the league, but he was the only quarterback over 50 percent.
Sacks were an issue throughout the season — more on that in a moment — but Rodgers played with a faster time clock in the red zone. For the season, Rodgers was sacked 51 times on 179 possessions. That’s one sack for every 3.5 possessions. But out of 47 red-zone possessions, Rodgers was sacked five times. That’s one sack for every 9.4 possessions. He was sacked just one time once the ball got inside the 10-yard line.
The only problem with the red-zone numbers is how often the offense got that far down the field. The Packers scored touchdowns on 32-of-47 red-zone possessions. New England, by contrast, scored 49 red-zone touchdowns (out of 70 possessions) en route to a league-best 70.0 touchdown rate.
“We played well in the red zone, (but) we did not get there as much as we want to,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. “We were third as far as touchdown rate, and we were about 19th in terms of number of times down there per game. So, if we get down there a couple more times a game, we figure at minimum we should get six points and maybe more. We averaged 27 points last year, we average six more, that’s a big plus for us. We still want to continue to play as well as we did (in the red zone), but we want to get down there more often.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.