In part 1 of the Aaron Rodgers Deep Dive, we saw that Rodgers was killing his passer rating (with my adjusted methodology).
However, when I looked at each player's rating by down, I saw that Rodgers was the runaway leader in 3rd down rating. Below are the top 5 quarterbacks in my 3rd down passer rating.
|Rank ||Player ||Attempts ||Rating |
|1 ||Aaron Rodgers ||51 ||12.64 |
|2 ||Eli Manning ||63 ||8.39 |
|3 ||Peyton Manning ||53 ||2.67 |
|4 ||Shaun Hill ||52 ||1.83 |
|5 ||Brett Favre ||75 ||1.53 |
This got me back to thinking about Rodgers' sack totals. Was Rodgers so efficient on third down because he's a clucth player? Or, was it more simply that, because of his sack totals, he found himself in a disproportionate number of third and longs.
Quick note: as we all know, sacks aren't the only reason a team could wind up in a large number of third and longs. But, given that we've already seen that Rodgers has very high sack totals, that was the first place I looked.
Among the top 15 quarterbacks in my ratings, only Tony Romo and Kurt Warner have faced 3rd and long more often (as a % of all third downs). I have not dug into the reasons for Warner and Romo's high rates, but Aaron Rodgers has been sacked for a combined 129 yards (on 19 sacks) on first and second down.
Percent of Third Downs Where More Than Eight Yards
Remain For a First Down
|Rank ||Player ||% Third Downs 8+ Yards |
|1 ||Tony Romo ||56% |
|2 ||Kurt Warner ||55% |
|3 ||Aaron Rodgers ||53% |
|4 ||Joe Flacco ||52% |
|5 ||Brett Favre ||50% |
|6 ||Philip Rivers ||49% |
|7 ||Drew Brees ||49% |
|8 ||Matt Schaub ||46% |
|9 ||Eli Manning ||44% |
|10 ||Peyton Manning ||43% |
|11 ||Matt Ryan ||41% |
|12 ||Ben Roethlisberger ||36% |
|13 ||Kyle Orton ||35% |
|14 ||Tom Brady ||29% |
|15 ||Kevin Kolb ||21% |
Rodgers' sack numbers don't get much better on 3rd down, but, even when adjusted for sacks, his Y/A on 3rd down is over 10 - by far the best in the league. The next best is Philip rivers at 8.3.
With that said, Aaron Rodgers has done a good chunk of his 3rd down damage when less than 7 yards remain. In fact, he continues to struggle when the team faces a 3rd and 8+ situation. (About 3.8 Y/A - including 5 sacks on only 30 attempts). However, on 3rd and less than 7, Rodgers has gone back to pass 28 times and has come away with a Y/A of 17.4 with only one sack.
I came in with a theory that Aaron Rodgers is good on third down because he has to make up for all the lost sack yardage from first and second down. However, while Rodgers does face more 3rd and longs than most QBs, his 3rd down rating is actually a result of big plays on 3rd and less than 8 yards remaining.