2020 Season in Review - Quarterbacks
It’s extremely difficult to know where to start when talking about the 2020 season that Aaron Rodgers had. It was one of the finest by a QB in NFL history. So we’ll start with the stats, and then go from there:
16 games played, all starts
372 completions in 526 attempts
70.7% completion percentage - led the NFL, was a career high and new Packers record
4,299 passing yards
48 touchdown passes – led the NFL, was a career high and new Packers record
12 games with 3+ touchdown passes – equalled the NFL all-time record
9.1% touchdown percentage – led the NFL and was a career high
0.95% interception percentage – led the NFL in this statistic for the 3rd consecutive year
121.5 passer rating – led the NFL and the 2nd highest mark in NFL history (behind his own 122.5 in 2011)
84.4 QBR – Led the NFL
14 games with a 100+ passer rating – the highest such mark in NFL history
10 games with a 120+ passer rating – the highest such mark in NFL history
38 rushing attempts for 149 yards
3 rushing touchdowns
1 reception for -6 yards
It was a season that will forever go down in Packers and NFL annals. And it comes off the back of a couple of seasons which many considered as “down years” and had some analysts questioning how many years he had left – particularly after Green Bay drafted Jordan Love.
Nobody is asking that question now.
How much of a “bounce-back” was Rodgers’ 2020 season? Here’s a graph made up of ESPN’s Total QBR (Quarterback Rating) which may help demonstrate:
And Rodgers’ season was rightly recognised with the honours he received. He was named as league’s MVP by AP (his 3rd such award, equalling Brett Favre’s Packers mark), PFWA, Pro Football Journal, PFT, PFF and Sports Illustrated (MMQB). He was selected 1st Team All-Pro by AP, PFF, PFWA and Pro Football Journal. And unsurprisingly, Rodgers was named as the starter on NFC’s Pro Bowl team.
Rodgers’ 2020 season was exceptional in many areas – according to PFF, in the Red Zone he threw 35 touchdowns and had a 73% completion rate, according to NextGen stats, he had 20 touchdowns and 0 interceptions on play action passes and even outside of the pocket, PFF graded him as the 3rd best in the league.
There are many, many other records that Rodgers set or tied in 2020 – far too many to mention. But it is probably worth giving a synopsis of where his 2020 season leaves him in Packers annals. From a career statistical standpoint:
Seasons Played – 16 – equal 1st in franchise history (tied with Starr & Favre)
Games Played – 197 – 4th in franchise history
NFL MVP Awards (AP) – 3 – equal 1st in franchise history (tied with Favre)
Pro Bowl Selections – 9 – equal 1st in franchise history (tied with Favre)
Career Passing Attempts – 6,587 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)
Career Passing Completions – 4,285 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)
Career Completion Percentage – 65.05% - 1st in franchise history
Career Touchdown Passes – 412 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)
Career Passing Yards – 51,245 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)
Career Average Gain Per Pass Attempt – 7.78 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Starr)
Career Interception Percentage – 1.35% - 1st in franchise history
3,000 Yards Passing in a Single Season – 11 times – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)
4,000 Yards Passing in a Single Season – 9 times –1st in franchise history
300+ Yards Passing in a Single Game – 65 – 1st in franchise history
400+ Yards Passing in a Single Game – 9 – 1st in franchise history
Passer Rating – 103.9 – 1st in franchise history
Times Sacked – 468 – 1st in franchise history
Career Rushing Yards by a Quarterback – 3,271 – 1st in franchise history (amongst QBs)
Career Rushing Touchdowns by a Quarterback – 31 – 1st in franchise history (amongst QBs)
Fumbles – 85 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)
Fumble Recoveries – 26 – 3rd in franchise history
Rumours abounded immediately after the season that Rodgers either wanted or would get a new contract extension or at the very least a restructure to his existing deal. We don’t know what discussions may be going on behind the scenes, but a simple restructure to help the Packers 2021 salary cap position seems likely – this would involve converting his roster bonus (due in March) and perhaps some of his base salary to a signing bonus. This may free up anywhere between $4.53m and $13.61m on the Packers' 2021 salary cap.
Rodgers’ physical tools appear to remain largely intact – his arm is strong and mobility still good. His ability to throw on the move (to either side) continues to be a strength. Clearly now very comfortable with Matt LaFleur’s offense we can only expect that 2021 will be another fantastic season from Aaron Rodgers.
Behind Rodgers, the battle for the primary back-up role was between Tim Boyle and Jordan Love. In reality, with a truncated training camp and no-preseason, Boyle had the inside track on the spot having had prior experience in the Packers' system (having been with the team in 2019 albeit with limited actual playing time). Boyle saw action in 8 games (0 starts) in 2020, although in 7 of them it was simply to kneel down at the end of a game (in the other game, against Tampa Bay in week 6, he was sacked once and fumbled once which he recovered). He was active for the other 8 games but did not get on the field. Boyle finished the 2020 season with 13 carries for -9 yards. Due to multiple games with kneel downs, Boyle holds one of the strangest Packers' records – he has -16 career rushing yards, which is the fewest rushing yards in team history.
The Packers like Boyle, but he is now a restricted free agent, so his chances of making the roster again in 2021 will depend upon the size of the contract he is prepared to play for – even the cheapest tender for a RFA in 2021 is expected to be about $2.1m. So it looks like minimum contract time for Boyle or he’s gone – even then, it’s also not beyond the realms of possibility that the Packers could bring in a late round draft choice to compete with Boyle for a roster spot.
Jordan Love was a controversial selection by the Packers in the first round (26th overall) of the 2020 draft. He has an outstanding arm and is a great athlete but is raw and had a better Junior season than Senior season at Utah State. He signed his rookie contract (4yr/$12.38m) in July but after that, his chances of making an immediate impact were severely hampered by a reduced camp and no pre-season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Love saw no game time in 2020 as he was on the gameday inactive list every week. He spent 4 days on the COVID-19 reserve list in November.
Time will tell if Love turns out to be the Packers “quarterback of the future” – but with Aaron Rodgers performing at an MVP level, there is no need to rush him into action.
No Longer With The Team
After a good career in college at Arizona State (where he ranks in the top 10 in most passing categories), Wilkins went undrafted and was picked up by the Packers in 2019. Having failed to make the final roster, he spent the whole of the 2019 season on the Packers Practice Squad and was then re-signed by the team in January 2020. However, Wilkins’ chances of making the team were always very slim and disappeared when he was released in late April – being replaced two days later on the team’s off-season 90 man roster by Jalen Morton.
Jalen Morton has a good arm and is a decent athlete with good size for the quarterback position (6-4, 226). He started for two seasons at Prairie View A&M but went unselected in the 2020 draft – the Packers signed Morton after the draft (April 27th). He replaced the released Manny Wilkins on the roster, but like Wilkins, Morton’s chances of making the final roster were slim - and like many players across the NFL in his situation, slim chances became none when there was no pre-season due to COVID-19. Morton was released by the Packers in the first week of August.
Find Peter on twitter here: @The_IT_Hedgehog