Over my next few articles, I’m going to be covering the biggest positives (touchdowns) and negatives (turnovers) from the NFC North QBs in 2014. Aaron Rodgers threw just five interceptions during the 2014 regular season, and threw two more in the playoffs. Throughout the regular season and playoffs, he put the ball on the ground 11 times, but only lost the fumble in three of those cases. First, I’m going to cover some charting data I came up with while watching his passing. Then, on page 2 and beyond, there are my thoughts of the individual plays themselves. Here are the articles in the series that I have completed so far:
One of the first things I charted for each interception was blame. I assigned three categories, which should be self-explanatory:
|Partially QB’s fault||4|
|Not QB’s fault||0|
To me, it’s absolutely incredible that Aaron Rodgers threw only 7 interceptions last year (again, this includes the NFC Championship game, where he threw two picks) and it’s even more incredible to me that he threw just three interceptions that I thought were totally his fault. He definitely deserves blame on the other interceptions, because the throws were not the best, but I also give the receiver some of the blame on those plays.
What caused the interceptions?
|Tipped By Defense||3|
I only counted a pass as dropped when it hit both of the receiver’s hands. The thing is, most of the interceptions actually ended up taking a bounce off of one of Rodgers’ receiver’s hands and then ending up in the hands of a defender after the deflection. Therefore, a number of these plays came with great catches by the player intercepting the pass, but I only counted great defense as a really great job by the CB of making the interception.
What about distance covered? Rodgers’ average depth of target on these throws was 15.7 yards. Where on the field was he throwing the ball? Here’s a breakdown of each throw:
|Fewer than 6 Yards||1|
|Between 6 and 15 yards||4|
|More than 15 yards||2|
|Deep Left||Deep Middle||Deep Right|
|Intermediate Left||Intermediate Middle||Intermediate Right|
|Short Left||Short Middle||Short Right|
With such a small sample size, there are not a whole lot of trends that form. One thing that might stand out is that Rodgers didn’t throw any interceptions over the middle of the field.
What about the time left on the clock? First, a breakdown of potential game situations, followed by a breakdown by quarter:
Once again, Rodgers hardly threw any interceptions so none of them even show up on the situational breakdown. It is somewhat interesting to see that he had the majority (5/7) of his interceptions in the second half, whereas he threw the majority of his TDs in the first half. All 5 of his regular season interceptions were in the second half, and they were all in games where the Packers lost. So, it appears that Rodgers is at his most reckless when trying to mount a comeback. I don’t think that should be surprising at all. It should also be noted that I only gave him full fault for one of his regular season interceptions, with the others being partial faults on passes WRs tipped that went awry.
Now let’s take a look at the interceptions he threw by down:
Really not much to read into with the small sample size.
What about the kinds of routes he was throwing to?
What’s really impressive to me here is despite how often Rodgers likes to throw vertical (Three Verticals is probably the Packers’ most successful pass play) is how safe he is with vertical passes. Usually you have some 50-50 balls in the mix that the CBs just win, but that isn’t the case with Rodgers. He is somehow able to lead an incredibly effective and also incredibly safe deep passing game. That’s not fair.
Also, a note on the slants. Those plays are a lot more about the receiver’s ability to box out the DB covering him than the QB’s throw in most cases. With Rodgers’ two interceptions on those plays, the receiver failed to win position and the CB was able to get a hand in there to deflect the pass, which subsequently popped up into the air and another player made a great play to get under it for the interception. I gave Rodgers partial fault on those plays for trusting his receiver too much but I wouldn’t argue vehemently against giving him no fault.
Finally, lets take a look at who Rodgers was targeting on his interceptions:
When Rodgers was targeting Nelson and Cobb on the year he threw for 26 TDs and 2 INTs. That’s stupidly good.