I see that a lot of Packer fans are in the doldrums following the loss to the Buccaneers. No two ways about it: the home field advantage throughout the playoffs was a once-in-a-decade opportunity, and the Packers squandered it. It’s a shame, but it should not serve to discount how remarkable a season it was, and how much excitement and sterling play this team provided to its loyal fans. During a time of national and global crisis, the Packers were a joy and an inspiration to so many of us.
Packers Wire on Tuesday published a list of “impressive stats” from the Packers’ best players during the season that just ended for the team. While we all are likely aware of the exploits of Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Jaire Alexander, and the like, this list also pays tribute to some lesser-known performances by the many stars on Green Bay’s roster – some of whom will undoubtedly not be with the team in 2021. .
Packers Wire saluted a dozen Packers’ stars of 2020 in this order: Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Maarquez Valdes-Scantling, Jaire Alexander, Aaron Jones, Robert Tonyan, Za’Darius Smith, Jamaal Williams, Rashan Gary, Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, and Mason Crosby. They also lumped together all 18 games that were played, rather than separating the regular season and the postseason. Below I’ve highlighted just a few of the stats that Packers Wire listed.
Aaron’s postseason passer rating of 104.4 is also currently (pending the Super Bowl outcome) second best of all the 2020 playoff QBs; Patrick Mahomes has a current playoff rating of 118.5. Aaron’s season-ending passing touchdown-to-interception ratio was 53-6 – no other QB was even in that ballpark in 2020.
With the two playoff games added, the stats show that Rodgers maintained his league-best regular season completion percentage (70.2). His passer rating, 119.2, was still close to his regular season number 121.5 – which is the second highest in league history. His total passing yardage came out just 59 yards shy of a 5,000 yard season.
Using the regular season plus playoff games approach, I see that Aaron has flirted with the 5,000 mark many times, and exceeded it twice. In 2009, he totaled 4,857; in the championship season of 2010, 5,116; in 2011, 4,907; in 2012, 4,826; in 2014, 4,875; and in 2016, 5,432 (counting 1,004 in three playoff games). This is extraordinary consistency and brilliance.
Turning the attention to another All Pro, Davante Adams, in the 16 games in which he played, he totaled 133 catches, 1,507 yards, and 20 TDs. The passer rating when he was targeted was 132.9.
Next up, MVS had some remarkable, and even league-leading results. He led the league during the regular season with 20.9 yards per catch, and including the two playoff games, the total only dropped off to 20.4. He also had an NFL best 4 TDs of at least 50 yards. By the way, in these playoffs, the receiver who sports the highest average yardage number is his teammate, Allen Lazard, with 22.9 ypc.
Jaire Alexander has accumulated 16 pass breakups in 18 games. While that only lands him in the top twenty, it’s remarkable considering quarterbacks seldom dare to throw his way.
Despite missing two regular-season games and almost half of the team’s final playoff game, Aaron Jones has averaged 5.6 yards per carry, he broke 44 tackles, and he totaled 1,606 yards of offense and 12 TDs.
After going 8 for 8 in catches per targets against the Rams and Bucs, Robert Tonyan increased his regular-season catch rate of 88.1 to 89.6. These are phenomenal numbers, and they are the league’s second best – read on for the league leader in catch rate. Packers Wire says Big Bob had zero drops on the season!
Za’Darius Smith finished a bit under the radar in his second season in Green Bay – but it was only because his first season here was so fabulous. In 18 games, Z had 13.5 sacks, 59 pressures, 25 QB hits, and 13 tackles for losses.
Jamaal Williams accounted for 851 total yards (593 on the ground, 258 through the air) and five touchdowns (2 and 3) in his quite-limited playing time. Moreover, with 4 catches in four targets in the playoffs, according to teamrankings.com he has the league’s highest catch rate, 89.7 versus Tonyan’s 89.6. These are two sure-handed guys.
Also in limited but growing playing time, Rashan Gary’s numbers skyrocketed from his rookie year: 6.5 sacks, 46 pressures, 14 QB hits, and 6 tackles for losses. And he just turned 23 in December.
No one talks much about the stats of Adrian Amos, but he excelled across the board this past season: 91 tackles, 10 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, and 2 sacks. When QBs targeted receivers being guarded by Amos, their cumulative passer rating was a stingy 79.0.
Darnell Savage also handily bettered his previous year: 79 tackles, 12 pass breakups, 4 interceptions and one sack. When guys he was guarding were thrown to, the cumulative passer rating, 63.0, was even better than that of his fellow safety.
Finally, 14-year Packer veteran kicker Mason Crosby was automatic when called upon to kick field goals: 16 of 16 in the regular season, and another 4 of 4 in the playoffs. That’s going to be hard to improve upon.
We fans were given the gift of watching a tremendous amount of brilliant and inspired football despite the many challenges the season presented. I choose to remember and cherish how special the 2020 Packers were.
Near the end of his 1/29/21 “Inbox” conversation, Packers senior writer Mike Spofford had some pertinent comments:
“In the end, the Packers had everything they needed to get to the Super Bowl this year, having earned the No. 1 seed, lone bye, and home field. It came down to one contest, and they blew it. Why? (1) Because the play caller and/or MVP QB abandoned the run at multiple pivotal moments, (2) the All-Pro wide receiver dropped a TD pass, (3) the Pro Bowl running back fumbled, (4) the No. 2 corner who’s been a solid cover man when healthy played the worst game of his career, (5) the normally productive edge rushers couldn’t get to the QB, (6) the future HOF left tackle’s absence caught up with them, (7) the head coach made a questionable decision at crunch time, and (8) the officials changed the tenor of their oversight with the game on the line.”
While I previously laid much blame on Kevin King (here), I completely agree, it was no one thing that eliminated the Pack from the Super Bowl chase. Even so, there are different degrees, or weights that should be given, to reasons for the devastating loss. (Note: I added the numbers to Spofford’s comments)
#8 was beyond the team’s control. The same goes for #6 – though the loss of David Bakhtiari in itself may have been enough to tip the scales in the Bucs’ favor. #’s 2, 3, and 7 affected just one play and/or just one player or coach.
As for #1, Spoff says the run game was abandoned at multiple pivotal moments. There’s some truth to that remark, but I’d remind him that Aaron Jones missed almost the entire second half due to an injury. When he went out, there went the guy on the team with a nose for the end zone, the team’s game changer. While I’ve praised Jamaal Williams many times for playing right up to his potential, it’s Jones who made the run game go, and it’s that threat that rendered play action so productive.
As for #5, while the edge rushers didn’t get any sacks, the pressure put on Brady, especially as the game wore on, was decent, and I’ll take 3 interceptions instead of 3 sacks anytime.
Three of Spoff’s reasons, however, affected not just one moment, but a great many plays. Bakhtiari’s loss removed him from 71 offensive plays. Jones’s injury cost him about 35 plays. Kevin King’s ineffectiveness was present for all 63 of his defensive snaps.
So, if we’re going to list of reasons for the loss, I put King’s ineptitude at #1, the injury to “Showtyme” at #2, and Bakhtiari’s unavailability at #3.
I must take issue with one part of Spofford’s otherwise insightful take: the notion that King was “a solid cover man when healthy.” When King was healthy enough to play, PFF rated him 99th out of 121 NFL cornerbacks – ALL SEASON LONG! He had many bad games – this one was shown to be his worst only because the Bucs were smart enough to exploit that weakness all game long.