The Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers in 2010 and the quarterback has continued to produce stellar year after stellar year for the last decade, despite playing most of it in his 30s.
Yet Rodgers has been saddled not with the moniker of “loser” exactly, but with the widespread belief that he hasn’t won enough — despite a handful of great teams and equally great opportunities to bring a second ring home to Green Bay. Perhaps to some degree that criticism is fair, but Mike Sando of The Athletic begs to differ.
In fact, Sando accused the Green Bay front office of “betraying” their four-time MVP quarterback more frequently and to a greater degree than just about any other franchise in the NFL has done with their respective signal callers over the last 10 years.
The Packers have done this, according to Sando and his advanced statistics, by fielding poor defensive and special teams units time and again, which made getting over the hump to a second championship far more difficult for Rodgers than it ever should have been — particularly when he and his offense have consistently performed among the league’s elite.
ALL the latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
Packers’ Defenses Have Paled in Comparison to Rodgers-Led Offenses
On Friday, August 12, Sando published what he dubbed the “NFL QB Betrayal Index.” In short, the tool measures expected points added (EPA) by offenses led by quarterbacks with at least 30 combined regular season and playoff starts between 2012-21. A total of 54 signal callers qualified.
The Betrayal Index also gauges the combined EPA of defensive and special teams units those quarterbacks were paired with over the same time period.
The QBs and their offenses were ranked 1 through 54 based on their EPA, as were the defenses/special teams units. The Index then subtracted the defense/special teams number from the QB/offense number to reach a figure. The lower the number, the more “betrayed” each quarterback was.
Based on EPA, Rodgers has produced the fifth best offense in the NFL over the last decade while starting more games than most of his contemporaries. The Packers’ decision makers over that same time period produced just the 43rd best collective defensive/special teams unit.
The calculations render Rodgers’ number at -38, which is bad enough for fifth overall on the Index. Thus, only four quarterbacks in all of the NFL with at least 30 starts to their credit in the last decade had to consistently overcome lower quality defenses and special teams than did Rodgers.
In other words, since winning his lone Super Bowl ring, Rodgers has been the fifth-most “betrayed” quarterback in the league with regards to the talent his front offices and coaching staffs have put around him.
Betrayal Index Bodes Well For Packers’ Chances at Super Bowl This Season
It isn’t all bad news for Green Bay, however. When considering the NFL QB Betrayal Index and what it means for roster construction in the context of winning, the math actually bodes quite well for the Packers this upcoming season.
“Pair a great quarterback with consistently strong defense/special teams and that team will win Super Bowls, plural. Tom Brady is living proof of it,” Sando wrote. “Pair a great quarterback with inconsistent or mostly poor defense/special teams and that team might win a Super Bowl, but some will question the quarterback’s ability to get his team over the top consistently. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are examples.”
While the Packers’ offense appears to have taken a clear step back following the losses of wide receivers Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the defense is already operating at a championship-level, per Rodgers himself.
“It could be a long training camp for the offense,” Rodgers told the Pat McAfee Show on July 6. “I like the way our defense is looking and playing, and just on paper it looks like they’re going to be pretty formidable.”
Green Bay inked Rodgers to a three-year contract extension worth upwards of $151 million during the offseason, nearly guaranteeing that he will finish his career as a member of the Packers. Key pieces at every level of the defense — such as cornerback Jaire Alexander, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and pass rusher Rashan Gary — are either relatively young and/or locked up on deals for years to come.
Based on Sando’s Index, general manager Brian Gutekunst didn’t betray Rodgers by leaving him with Allen Lazard and a couple rookie wideouts in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs as primary targets. Instead, he finally helped his quarterback significantly by taking some of the onus for winning, particularly in the playoffs, off Rodgers’ shoulders.
The result appears to be a three-year Super Bowl window for Packers fans, who have been itching to return to the promised land for the last decade.