Packers Training Camp Countdown — 2 Days: Last Look at Offense

Aaron Rodgers, who ranks No. 1 all-time in passer rating and one other key stat, is climbing up the record books. But what is one number that absolutely must rebound after a shockingly bad 2015?

With two days until the start of training camp, we take one last look at the Green Bay Packers offense.

RODGERS LEADS THE RATINGS PACK

Entering last season, Aaron Rodgers had an unprecedented six consecutive seasons of passer ratings greater than 100. Last year, however, was a remarkable step backward for the two-time MVP with a rating of just 92.7 – the worst of his eight seasons as the team’s starting quarterback.

Still, Rodgers goes into this season with an NFL-record career mark of 104.1. That’s 2.3 points better than Seattle’s Russell Wilson, who has a career rating of 101.8. It’s not quite the equivalent of this year’s British Open, with Henrik Stenson winning at 20 under par, Phil Mickelson second at 17 under par and nobody else within 11 shots of Lefty, but Rodgers and Wilson have a commanding lead over the rest of the pack. Tony Romo is third at 97.1, followed by Steve Young at 96.8, Peyton Manning at 96.5, Tom Brady at 96.4, Drew Brees at 95.8 and Philip Rivers at 95.5.

Here’s where Rodgers ranks entering this season, and where he could wind up with a typical Rodgers season, in four other categories:

Completions: 37th with 2,633. Projection: With 340 completions this season, Rodgers would have 2,973 and rank 25th all-time.

Attempts: 51st with 4,047. Projection: With 550 attempts this season, Rodgers would have 4,597 for his career and rank 36th all-time.

Passing yards: 35th with 32,399. Projection: With 4,012 yards this season, Rodgers would have 36,411 for his career and rank 26th all-time.

Passing touchdowns: 17th with 257. Projection: With 38 touchdowns this season, Rodgers would have 295 for his career and rank 13th all-time.

After a career-low 60.7 percent completion rate last season, Rodgers fell from third to sixth all-time at 65.1 percent.
Perhaps Rodgers’ most impressive statistical category is touchdown-to-interception ratio. For his career, Rodgers throws 3.95 touchdown passes for every interception. Wilson is a distant second at 3.12 touchdowns per interception. Brady is more than a touchdown behind, with 2.85 for every interception. Then, waaaaaaaaaay behind in fourth is Young at 2.17, followed by Manning at 2.15 and Romo at 2.11. Rodgers’ 3.95-to-1 is at least double all but eight other quarterbacks in NFL history.

For perspective, check this out: If Rodgers started this season with 17 consecutive interceptions, he’d still be ahead of Wilson. That, of course, isn’t going to happen. Rodgers leads the NFL with a career interception rate of 1.6 percent and hasn’t thrown more than eight interceptions in a season since 2010.

THE NUMBER THAT MUST IMPROVE

Rodgers entered last season with a career mark of 8.2 yards per pass attempt, which ranked third all-time behind Hall of Famers Otto Graham (9.0) and Sid Luckman (8.4). Last year, with the offense seemingly lost without Jordy Nelson, Rodgers averaged just 6.7 yards per attempt. Incredibly, the NFL’s active leader in that statistic entering last season ranked just 30th – 30th! – in 2015. If any statistic puts into context last year’s offensive struggles, that’s the one.
In case you were wondering, Rodgers now ranks fifth all-time with 8.0 yards per attempt and trails Wilson (8.1) among active players.

BUTTER-FINGERED BACKS

For all the focus on Eddie Lacy’s midsection, perhaps that spotlight would be better placed on the hands of Lacy and his backup, James Starks.

Among running backs, Starks tied for fourth in the league with five fumbles and Lacy tied for eighth with four. That’s a total of nine fumbles. Only Tampa Bay’s Bobby Rainey (eight) and Doug Martin (five) had more. It was a shocking number considering Starks had five fumbles in 470 career touches and Lacy had four fumbles in 607 career touches entering last season.

THE ONE-TWO PUNCH IS BACK

In 2014, only eight receivers caught at least 90 passes for 1,200 yards. Two of them were Nelson and Randall Cobb. Nelson caught 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns and Cobb caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns, giving them a combined 189 receptions for 2,806 yards and 25 touchdowns. Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were the only other duo to meet those thresholds, as they combined for 212 receptions for 3,023 yards. Nelson and Cobb, however, scored five more touchdowns.

While the Denver duo might have put up bigger all-around numbers, they couldn’t match Nelson and Cobb from an efficiency perspective. Among receivers who caught at least 40 passes, only six averaged at least 10.0 yards per target. Cobb and Nelson were the only tandem, as Cobb ranked fourth with 10.13 yards per target and Nelson fifth with 10.06. If that’s not impressive enough, only 15 receivers averaged even 9.1 yards per target. Green Bay was the only team with two.

Without Nelson, the offense lacked consistent explosive production last season. James Jones led the receivers with 8.99 yards per target, followed by Ty Montgomery at 7.16, Jared Abbrederis at 6.94, Jeff Janis at 6.58, Cobb at 6.43 and Davante Adams a miserable 5.14.

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.

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