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To Be or Not to Be . . . Sacked? That Is the Question

Aaron Rodgers sacked by Julius Peppers

It’s time to stop pussyfootin’ around: if Aaron Rodgers wants to RETURN to being a top-tier quarterback, and lead his team back to making postseason runs at the Super Bowl, he needs to COMMIT to drastically reducing his sack numbers.

I’ve ranted about this before, and now I have another year of stats to pound the point home.

January 20: Jared Goff, sacked once for an 8-yard loss, leads his team into the Super Bowl. Tom Brady does the same thing, without being sacked. Their counterparts: six sacks for losses totaling 53 yards.

Sacks are bad. They lead to quarterbacks playing injured, missing games, and going on IR. They also, by definition, result in a lost down and loss of yardage. Significant lost yardage plays are drive killers. Yesterday, Mahomes badly affected his game’s outcome by losing 46 yards on his four sacks.

How many times have you seen a sack move a team out of field goal position? That’s plain stupid, on the part of the quarterback, or coaches who don’t emphasize it, or both. Patrick and Andy Reid, shape up. I believe the Packers made the same error more than once this past season.

Let’s move on to the 2018 regular season, and note the disparity in sack numbers among various “name” quarterbacks: Deshaun Watson, 62 (worst); Dak Prescott, 56 (2nd); Russell Wilson, 51 (tie for third); Derek Carr, 51 (tie for third); Aaron Rodgers, 49 (5th); Eli Manning 47 (6th); and Matt Ryan, 42 (8th). Next in order are a bunch more non-playoff QBs: Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, and Case Keenum.

In this top 12 list, how many postseason QBs do you see? I see three, with Watson and Wilson quickly losing their wild card games, and Prescott going 1-1 in the playoffs.

Where on the list are the league’s most successful quarterbacks? Jared Goff, 33 (14th); Mahomes, 26 (22nd); Tom Brady, 21 (28th); and Drew Brees, 17 (32nd).

Statistics indicate that high-sack quarterbacks by and large fail to make the playoffs. They also might represent somewhat of a dying breed. Re the above 12 high-sack quarterbacks in 2018 – do you see anyone whose career is on the rise?

While I’m at it, I can almost hear the bitching about our lousy offensive linemen. I believe, however, that Rodgers has had better than average pass blockers almost his entire career, usually right around top ten in the league. Poor pass protection has been a minor cause of Rodgers being sacked – the QB holding the ball too long is the major cause.


Pocket Passers

Most quarterbacks increasingly gravitate to being pocket passers as they age. Many of the all-time greats were either always pocket passers or became ones: Fouts, Marino, Manning, Brady, and Brees – who now is way on top of the NFL’s all-time most passing yardage list.

In the 16 years that Drew has played in 15 or 16 games, here’s his sacks breakdown: 30+, 2 seasons; 25-29, 4; 20-24, 5; 15-19, 4; and 14 or fewer, 1. He’s never been sacked more than 37 times in a season, despite being a high-volume thrower. He’s 40 years old, and he’s in great shape in large part due to his remaining upright.

As to Rodgers, I used to come right out of my seat every time Aaron broke out of the pocket. His passer ratings when doing so used to be in the 130’s, and good things were bound to happen.

In the last two or three years, however, Aaron’s ratings have been lower when he scrambles than when he doesn’t. Therefore, hanging onto the ball, trying to extend plays, and risking sacks are now hurting, not helping, this offense. I’ll say it again: when Aaron breaks out of the pocket and scrambles around looking for an open receiver, it’s counterproductive.

I’m all for Aaron continuing to look to run when he spots an opening – it’s a great weapon, and very few injuries occur when QBs take off running, because they can go into a slide. It’s those blind-side sacks and defenseless collisions that break bones.

Challenging Aaron Rodgers


Directing the focus on Rodgers, the trend is disturbing. First, we need to throw out – but learn from – 2013 and 2017, when Aaron played only nine and seven games – due to suffering broken clavicles when being sacked, or nearly being sacked (in the case of dirty Anthony Barr).

From 2008 through 2012, Aaron had a mix of sorta-good and bad sack stats. He went down 50 times in 2009 and 51 times in 2012, but he had better numbers, 34, 31, and 36, in 2008, 2010, and 2011.

Aaron’s 2015, 2016, and 2018, the totals are concerning: 46, 35, and 49 most recently. Not so coincidentally, he’s only finished with a passer rating over 100 once in the last four years.

We keep hearing that the new coach is going to “challenge” Rodgers, and that Aaron should welcome the change after being increasingly smothered under McCarthy’s so-called leadership.

Getting sacked fewer than 25 times in 2019 would be an excellent challenge. It would greatly help keep offensive drives going, and might even aid in Aaron staying healthy for an entire season.


Image Credit: © Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Andrew Lloyd Peth January 26, 2019

    This is a good article, but I believe Rodgers’s sacks will drop this year for 4 reasons:

    1. An infusion of talent on the offensive line, particularly at right guard. Look for a high pick–first 2 rounds–at that spot.

    2. Our left guard will return healthy.

    3. Our new coaches will greatly increase run game emphasis.

    4. Our uber-talented young set of receivers complementing Adams (MVS, ESB, Kumerow, Moore) will have another offseason mastering the pro game and working with Rodgers. Their lack of experience coming back to Aaron when plays broke down clearly caused Aaron indecision…like, a lot.

    Also, the tremendous speed increase with our starters-to-be (I predict MVS & ESB outside, with Adams dominating the slot) will dramatically open up the field for throws to our RB’s and TE’s.

    Basically, Aaron spent several years either with turtle-slow receivers who couldn’t space the field, or extremely raw receivers not ready to read and react with their QB. Much of that ends this year.

    So it’s not all Rodgers. There are several factors, and they all point to a big drop in sacks this season.

    1. Ferris January 26, 2019

      It’s Rodgers’….not Rodgers’s. Once I saw that I could not read anymore.

  2. PF4L January 26, 2019

    Sacks are bad. Ok, let me get a pen before i forget that..

  3. Howard January 26, 2019

    The less hits and sacks QB1 takes the better.

    I would make the case that Rodgers holding the ball has a lot to do with the piss poor job that the WR coach, and pass game coordinator performed with so many inexperienced and new WRs. Thankfully that crew was jettisoned. Add in MM’s need for a certain quantity of shock pass plays per game, with what I believe to be a pourous interior O-line, that was suspeptable to stunts and delayed blitzes, and you have a shit pot full of sacks and hits.

    I would make the case that Ben Rothlesberger holds the ball just as much if not more than Rodgers. The Steelers were 3rd best in the league in sacks per pass attempt. The Steelers have a stout interior O-line and some experienced WRs.

    Even though every hit is one hit I wish Rodgers wouldn’t have to take, the Packers threw the ball the 3rd highest times in the league last year. Really need to look at sacks or hits per pass attempt. I think the Packers were like 21st in sacks per pass attempts. By the way the Titans last year were 31st in the league in sacks per pass attempt just behind the worst team the Texans.

    1. PF4L January 26, 2019

      “…… that was suspeptable to stunts and delayed blitzes, and you have a shit pot full of sacks and hits.”

      ^This man obviously knows what he’s watching^

      1. Howard January 26, 2019

        But I obviously can’t spell worth a shit. Must be autocorrect. ;-)

    2. JAMES KATORSKI January 28, 2019

      The less hits… man, are you right. 12 is beat up much more than the career Brett Favre had, and that is taking it’s toll on Rodgers now.

  4. PF4L January 26, 2019

    I would make the case that people who obsess over the fact Rodgers holds the ball too long, don’t have much of a clue about football, nor what they are watching, and more importantly, what they are talking about.

    There is so much more involved it would boggle the mind (mine included). In other words, it’s not that elementary and simple.

    For the fan who professes the problem with the offense is that Rodgers holds the ball too long is entitled to his opinion i guess, but after he voices that opinion he should report back to his job station because the drive up lane is getting backed up.

    There are probably multiple reasons Rodgers holds the ball. I would hazard a guess that A) teams know what we are running B) it’s hard to be proficient in a timing passing game with only one experienced receiver on the field, and one just there to collect a paycheck.

    Isn’t it funny, when back in camp Rodgers calls out the coaches because the wide receivers aren’t being held accountable (which Rodgers gets ripped for). But then fast forward some months after and the head coach gets fired for….complacency and unaccountability. Go figure huh?

    Lets see…would player personnel have anything to do with it? Well Gute was in his first year honeymoon period, so no one wants to put any blame on him.

    I’m not even going to bring up the O line because why should they have any responsibility amirite? Besides, Spriggs is getting ready to turn ALL-PRO and Cole Madisons 324 grand might have ran out so maybe he’ll show up to work…when he feels like it. (either this guy needs to explain himself, otherwise i wouldn’t even want him on the team) but that’s just me, i don’t like secrets and candie asses.Take the money and excuse yourself for the season, no explanation needed? Fuck you pal. I guess i’m old school, you take money for a job, you show up for work and earn it.

    So at the end of the day there is a lot of fault to go around, including Rodgers. But if anyone thinks Rodgers is the MAIN problem in this, you have shit for brains. If that’s the case, lets trade Rodgers and rebuild even more than we are right now, if that’s even possible.


    1. Robster January 27, 2019

      Of course there are multiple factors involved, but as I pointed out Rodgers has had high sack rates throughout his career, including when he’s had a fine set of receivers, some fine groups of blockers, different offensive coordinators, different QB coaches, etc. The constants are: Rodgers and McCarthy.

      1. PF4L January 27, 2019

        Yes Rob, Rodgers had high sack numbers in earlier seasons, 50 in his 2nd and 51 in his 5th season starting. But guess what,…no one gave a shit. Because he was talked about as one of the best ever. Because both of those seasons his ratings were over 100 and both years were Pro Bowl seasons for him. Plenty of TD passes with single digit interceptions.

        So….what’s different now? Well, i think you answered that question when you said “……including when he had a fine set of receivers”. 2018 they drafted 3 receivers, two got substantial playing time on the job training, one (4th round) is still learning how to catch a football. Then you have Cobb, he’s experienced, but largely unavailable. Not that availability matters with him because he hasn’t earned his money since 2014. Then dump 13 million into a experienced tight end who was relevant 5 years ago. Who runs routes like he’d rather be somewhere else. So the only real weapon Rodgers had was Adams, and he used him.

        So instead of talking about the constants, isn’t it more important to define what was different from years past?

        Remember back in 2015 when some Packer fans were writing Rodgers off? What did he do in 2016? Led the NFL in passing TD’s and another Pro Bowl. Not bad for a washed up QB who holds the ball too long..

        As far as Rodgers trying to “fix himself” to lead the Packers to another Super Bowl, Are you kidding me?
        That’s all it takes? This team is far, far away from a Super Bowl, and Rodgers improving his sack numbers ranks at about reason #28 out of a list of 30. Fuck, let’s make a playoff game before we start talking about Super Bowls.

        Sorry, but it’s time to stop pussyfooting around.

  5. PF4L January 26, 2019

    BTW….Rant about Rodgers all you want till your blue in the face. I seem to remember a guy who ranted endlessly about someone named Janis. How’s that lookin? I know 32 teams who don’t think he’s even worthy for a practice squad. Maybe they don’t know talent when they see it, idk.

    1. Savage57 January 28, 2019

      Says the guy who just spent 15 paragraphs ranting about Rodgers.

      1. PF4L January 28, 2019

        “I’ve ranted about this before….” – Rob

        Stop being a dipshit Savage and write something intelligent instead of…..counting paragraphs?

  6. PF4L January 31, 2019

    Listening to Warren Moon, he said he was amazed that Rodgers performed as well as he did considering all the dram concerning the Packers.

    Some readers here and others, just think Rodgers isn’t very good anymore.

    I can only draw one conclusion to that. Warren Moon has no clue what he’s talking about..

    1. PF4L January 31, 2019