Aaron Rodgers is Ranked #3 in the NFL for Pressure Evaded Percentage
No matter how anyone may feel about Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, one thing is an objective fact: if he gets time in the pocket, he is very likely to make a play. Another thing about Rodgers is that, and I say this as a fan of football and not just the Packers, he is a very intelligent guy and a quick thinker under pressure.
Things have gone very well for Rodgers so far this season when it comes to his health and keeping himself clean by the end of the game.
In 2018, the Green Bay Packers averaged 3.3 sacks allowed per game — tied with Jacksonville Jaguars as the worst in the league. In 2017, they finished the season with an average of 3.2 sacks allowed(Rodgers missed much of the season with a collarbone injury). Including up until week 10 of the 2019 season, they are now averaging 2.2 per game. If you only consider home games, this average is a mere 1.2 sacks allowed per game which ties them with the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Credit Where it is Due
While admiration of Rodgers’ skills in the pocket is well-deserved, there are several other factors to consider — most importantly, the work of the offensive line this season. Green Bay’s o-line is ranked 8th in the NFL for number of sacks allowed at 17. They are also ranked 8th for adjusted sack rate at 5.9%. Their stuffed ranking is currently 10th in the league.
Rookie LG Elgton Jenkins, who played with Mississippi State, was drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft in the 2nd round. As you may be aware, he is not your typical rookie; he has already earned the adulation of offensive line coach Adam Stenavich early in the season:
The moment’s not too big for him. As soon as you throw him in there, you know he’s going to be reliable, he’s going to do the right thing. That’s the most important thing with a rookie is making sure he’s not going to (freak) out or do anything crazy. Elgton’s on it. I think he’s earned the respect of the guys in the room just because of how he handles himself.
More recently, Stenavich also praised Elgton’s ability to learn:
He’s a really intelligent guy, very football smart. He’s confident because he can go out there and he knows what to do, and he knows who to block so he can play fast. That’s the biggest thing for rookies is figuring out what to do, so when they do it they can do at a high level. He’s been able to do that almost from Day 1.
Complete list of NFL guards with at least 500 snaps played, zero QB hits allowed and zero sacks allowed:
— Ross Uglem (@RossUglem) November 14, 2019
While the spot at left guard was initially occupied by veteran Lane Taylor at the start of the season, that spot went to Jenkins as of week 3 when Lane Taylor was placed on injured reserve for a biceps injury. Since then Jenkins has lined up for 100% of snaps at LG providing Rodgers with surprisingly effective protection for a rookie.
As a right-handed thrower, Rodgers relies heavily on his left guard to protect his blindside so he can assess pressure and keep an eye downfield. The best part about Elgton Jenkins is that, in theory, he is only going to get better. At this point in Rodgers’ career, having someone like Jenkins to trust and rely on can effectively help him squeeze another season or two out of his body; this is important because the Packers’ QB2 situation right now is a bit grim.
Rodgers is the kind of quarterback that, if allowed time to think and analyze, he almost never disappoints and Elgton Jenkins is a thinking quarterback’s guard.