Green and Bold: Packers NFL's Best QB Group?

Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley were ranked the league's No. 1 QB group by PFF.

Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley were ranked the league's No. 1 QB group by PFF.

In an article published on Monday, Pro Football Focus analyst Sam Monson broke down and ranked the NFL's quarterback groups heading into the 2016 season, and the Packers' starter-backup combo of Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley came out on top.

Is that where they should be?

Now, projections are inherently subjective regardless of how many statistics one uses simply because we are discussing something that has not, in fact, happened yet.

So there is definitely room for debate for something like a 2016 season projection, as opposed to, say, a look back at the 2015 quarterback groups and a ranking thereof. 

And while I would tend to agree that Rodgers and Hundley are shaping up to be the league's best No. 1 and No. 2 this season, last year was a strange one for Rodgers, so much so that I'm not exactly sure what we're going to see from him come Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Before we go further, let's take a look at the metrics Monson used in his argument:

Key stat: Rodgers completed 60.1 percent of his passes last season, down 5.1 percent from 2014, and 6.4 percent from 2013.

Things did not go well for Aaron Rodgers in 2015, but he is still the top quarterback in the league at his best, and pretty much everybody at PFF expects him to bounce back in the season to come now that he has his top target back in action (Jordy Nelson), and he can regain the trust he lost in his receivers over the year. In 2014, he was comfortably the best-graded passer in the league and there isn’t any reason he can’t get back to that kind of level. Behind him is Brett Hundley, a talented athlete that many are high on, but a player that did not “wow” in grading terms in his final college season.

Monson's argument places a lot of weight on the fact that Rodgers' 2015 season—which I take pains to stress was far and away above average for a quarterback in general but below average for Rodgers—went the way it did largely because he was missing top target Jordy Nelson. 

I'm still convinced that's an oversimplification of what turned out to be quite a complicated problem, one the Packers may need a couple games in 2016 to fully rectify. 

In something of a chicken-and-egg quandry, the problems with Rodgers and the offense as a whole in 2015 either started with Tom Clements' and head coach Mike McCarthy's play-calling or with the wide receivers, and one appeared to dictate the other.

The Packers receiving group without Nelson wasn't an overly athletic or speedy group of players, and Clements and McCarthy's formations reflected that, quickly becoming predictable 2x2 or 3x1 sets. 

The receivers, as a result, became very easy to defend...and thus Rodgers began to struggle to connect with them. But the question was always whether they were ready to handle anything more advanced that McCarthy might throw at them; for awhile, it seemed that many of the wideouts didn't fully understand route concepts or where, exactly, their quarterback would be looking to throw. 

Needless to say, that was a problem. 

When McCarthy did get more creative on the play-calling, however, introducing stack alignments and bunch formations, the team was generally successful, such as in its 28-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys in December. 

But even given all the issues on the offense around him in 2015, Rodgers seemed to struggle in areas he doesn't usually.

While his dip in completion percentage (60.7), yards per attempt (6.7) and passing yards (3,821) all perhaps have their root in the play of the pass-catchers, Rodgers' mechanics declined, as well.

From throwing off his back foot to fumbling the ball eight times, it was clear that even a miraculous Nelson return during the season would not have cured all that ailed the Packers offense in 2015. 

2016 is a new season, one in which the Packers offense gets Nelson back and gains tight end Jared Cook and rookie Trevor Davis. The young receivers will have had another training camp to perfect their technique and absorb the playbook, and McCarthy will be calling plays from the get-go.

That's probably enough for me to agree with Monson in giving the No. 1 quarterback group to Green Bay, but that's heavily predicated on Rodgers looking more like previous versions of himself and less like the 2015 version. 

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Comments (21)

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Bearmeat's picture

July 13, 2016 at 07:00 am

Yes. GB has the league's best QB room. Simply put, ARod is in the prime of his career and will be a top 10 QB ever by the time his career is done. Add in that if ARod were to go down, Hundley would IMO be a top 20 QB in the league right now, and 2nd place isn't close.

When you think about it, given how important the QB is to any NFL teams success, you have to think that GB is the clear Super Bowl favorite. Winning the division is not even a question.

The ONLY major question I have on this team is who is going to stop the run if Clark/Pennell et al don't step up. A less important (but still relevant) question is who the WILB be and whether or not they can play at a league average level - especially against the pass.

The secondary and pass rush will be more than adequate to very good. The OL and WRs will be excellent. Phat Ed is lookin good.

This team is ready to roll.

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dobber's picture

July 13, 2016 at 09:16 am

"The ONLY major question I have on this team is who is going to stop the run if Clark/Pennell et al don't step up. A less important (but still relevant) question is who the WILB be and whether or not they can play at a league average level - especially against the pass."

This could be a team that's forced to try to outscore opponents until they can answer those questions. I hope they can.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 13, 2016 at 01:10 pm

Yeah. But ALL the teams in the NFL have at least that level of concern somewhere on their roster.

Minnesota can't pass the ball.
Seattle has no OL.
The Cards have a very old and injury prone QB.
The Pats have no pass rushers.

etc..

I do think GB is the most complete roster in the NFL at this point. On paper. We'll see how it works out...

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lucky953's picture

July 13, 2016 at 07:07 am

"...predicated on Rodgers looking more like previous versions of himself and the less like the 2015 version." Amen. A very interesting question. 1) I hope he isn't quietly pointing fingers at the receivers but is taking a look in the mirror. 2) Has age deteriorated his footwork and thus, accuracy? If so, he may no longer be able to carry the team. I hope that's not so and he returns to MVP form. One more MVP, one more Superbowl and then whoever has had enough can ride off into the sunset.

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gr7070's picture

July 13, 2016 at 07:21 am

Rodgers was the 17th best QB last year. That's below average, obviously.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/qb

The below article has some good info specifically on Rodgers and his WRs. Of course, they were a big factor in Rodgers' poor play, but he also played poorly himself regardless of his WRs.

Rodgers ranked near dead last in some cases!

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2016/expected-failed-comp...

"In the case of Rodgers, he simply was not very good at getting the ball down the field enough for more successful plays, while his receivers were more average than terrible in the YAC+ department. This is also supported when breaking things down by all passes thrown by down. Rodgers threw short of a successful play on 54.2 percent of his first-down passes, the third-worst mark in 2015 and nearly double that of Palmer (27.5 percent). On second down, Rodgers was 25th, and while he climbed to third on third down, we know converting those passes into completions was a real struggle all season. Like most quarterbacks with a high FC rate, Rodgers did his share to earn it. Rodgers should rebound in 2016 given his track record, but last season was a tough one for him."

Rodgers being the best QB in the NFL is not the near given that it used to seem like.

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Spud Rapids's picture

July 13, 2016 at 03:48 pm

"Rodgers being the best QB in the NFL is not the near given that it used to seem like."

Based off of two obscure stats that no one has ever heard of and one season where his receiver didn't do crap

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Handsback's picture

July 13, 2016 at 07:23 am

The receivers, coaches, and QB always takes the hit when talking about last year's performance. Let me add my thoughts....the Oline last year should pay both the WRs and Rodgers for missing any performance payments they should have received.
The whole offense is predicated on keeping the Dline out of the pocket when passing and opening holes for the runners. Their performance last year wasn't very pretty. Injuries of course had something to do with it, but if they want to make a long playoff run those 5 guys have to perform. If Bak, or Bulaga aren't 90-100%....get another guy in there that can help. Too many times we have seen Rodgers pushed out of the pocket. Want to know why his footwork is lousy, hard to set your feet when you're running from the opposite team. It seem that everyone's worried about breaking up the Oline w/ so many FAs. I say, good opportunity to make it better.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

July 13, 2016 at 11:50 am

well put, +1!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 13, 2016 at 03:26 pm

"If Bak, or Bulaga aren't 90-100%....get another guy in there that can help."

There are not 64 Starting NFL Caliber Tackles. Just getting a third is not probable and paying them is not really possible long term.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 13, 2016 at 03:25 pm

Dup Deleted

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Nick Perry's picture

July 13, 2016 at 07:28 am

It seems it's a list of the top QB's in the NFL period, who the "Back-up" is doesn't have much to do with it. Look at #5 on the list, they have Seattle at #5 with a rookie QB who hasn't played a snap in even a padded practice!

With that said I'm glad the Packers have Hundley. I believe he could win if Rodgers ever had to miss a few games in the season.

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croatpackfan's picture

July 13, 2016 at 08:52 am

Why all of you want to blame Aaron for his bad year. He was the problem, but not because of him? He did not forget wich leg should be throwing leg. Surgical intervention should tell us that he knee was the real problem why he was avoiding to throw with his right leg in front. after we learned that he needed surgical reparation in his knee, Aarons requests regarding WR adjustments comes to sense. He was asking his WR to take in consideration his health... But, what I know...

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

July 13, 2016 at 11:51 am

see 'Handsback's' comment above

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Since'61's picture

July 13, 2016 at 09:00 am

For the Packers QB group to achieve the #1 ranking this season it will be necessary for the OL, the WRs and the running game to return to form along with the improvement in Rodger's play. While the WRs were obviously a problem last season, let's not forget that Rodgers was hit over 100 times last season and was often hurried and running for his life. In spite of everything the Packers won 10 games and Rodgers threw 31 TDs versus 8 picks, 4 of which were not his fault. The Packers offense needs to improve in many areas this season regardless of the QB ranking. IMO Rodgers needs to do a better job of leading the way towards that improvement on the field and let the rankings fall where they may. Thanks, Since '61

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dobber's picture

July 13, 2016 at 09:17 am

I sense a bovine intrusion is on its way on this one. He'll love this...

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Tundraboy's picture

July 14, 2016 at 01:41 am

My thoughts as well. Should be a good one.

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EdsLaces's picture

July 13, 2016 at 09:47 am

Excited as heck for this year! Who will be the MLBs?! Who will win the WR battle? Will Fackrell make an impact? Lacy gonna return to form? Such a solid team already with a couple new guys stepping up we can be dominant. Is it Jags time yet! ??

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 13, 2016 at 10:47 am

All I have to say is I don't care where they are ranked. I wouldn't trade the Packers QB room for anyones.

Obviously Rodgers is great.

But Hundley has a chance to be very good as well... I am happy to have him as our backup.

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PaulRosik's picture

July 13, 2016 at 03:19 pm

We know what Rodgers can do. But as a group? I don't know about the rest of Packerdom but I am not comfortable if Rodgers gets hurt. The backup has never played a regular season down so I guess they are saying a healthy Rodgers with his weapons intact and anyone as a backup is still the number 1 group.

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 13, 2016 at 04:19 pm

I'm as high on Hundley as anyone, but it is all guesswork at this point. I think he shows some real promise but I don't know how anyone can take a ranking like this seriously.

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marpag1's picture

July 14, 2016 at 03:20 am

Bunches of stacks and stacks of bunches! Surely the Packers would have won TWO Lombardi's last year... if only there had been stacks and bunches!

PS - this works for other things, too. If the deer are eating up all the vegetables in your garden at night, plant your veggies in stacks and bunches. That way the radishes can get free by scraping off behind the lettuce.

Or maybe our problem was that Davante Adams is a radish....

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