Ugly games make for ugly stats, and this one is no exception.
Welcome to a new weekly article, in which Acme Packing Company breaks down some of the most notable, interesting, or illustrative statistics of the Green Bay Packers’ most recent game. Today we look back at Sunday’s 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints in week three.
Tight Ends buck trends
37-year-old blocking TE Marcedes Lewis led the Packers in YAC yesterday…
— Daire Carragher (@DaireCarragher) September 13, 2021
Yikes. Hoo boy, that ain’t good.
While Marcedes Lewis was a “shining star” as a receiver for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, tight end mate Bob Tonyan had one of the worst games of his career. Bob famously came into the game with a single drop over his career, but he wasted no time in adding a second in this game, one in which seemingly everything went wrong. Before Sunday, Tonyan had never failed to catch more than 50% of his targets when targeted at least 4 times, and only once in 2020 did he fail to exceed 50%: in a 2-target game against Tennessee. On Sunday, the most sure-handed TE in the league hauled in just 2 of 4 targets.
Aaron Rodgers’ inaccuracy
While Bob is responsible for the drop (although honestly, it could have been thrown better), a lot of receivers in this game have a legitimate gripe with their quarterback. Aaron Rodgers was simply not accurate, and aside from his terrible decision-making, he also kept throwing behind his receivers. Rodgers had the 4th lowest Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE) of the week at -7.4%, besting only Ben Roethlisberger and rookies Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence.
This is especially damning because, if you watched the game, it’s not like Rodgers lost a ton of completions to drops, he was mostly just bad, and CPOE basically sees an average quarterback as making far more throws than Aaron made. In short, this is all his fault. Also, his EPA per Play was maybe worse.
Being in the same general grouping as the rookies is bad enough. They at least have the excuses of being rookies, playing for the Jets or Urban Meyer, and having no expectations that they would blow the doors off of the league immediately. More troubling for Rodgers, perhaps, is landing with Big Ben, a similarly aged quarterback who is certainly on his last legs. Roethlisberger is working as an elderly game manager as the Steelers rely on their outstanding defense, anchored by TJ Watt (who is, to be clear, not Kevin King). Rodgers looked awesome last season, and maybe he’ll be awesome later this season, but being old, inaccurate, and having the same CPOE as Ben is no way to go through life, especially if your defense is utter, utter, garbage.
MVS catches short passes
To round things out, we have the single craziest stat of the opening week for the Packers. Last season, Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught a ton of deep balls, but just as impressively caught absolutely no pointless, short bubble screens. Oh, MVS did catch some short balls, but he always turned them into something. In 2020, MVS had only one reception all season that gained fewer than 5 yards, and that one single short gain was a 1-yard touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers. If MVS had more than 5 yards of field position in front of him, he gained at least 5 yards.
After essentially not having a reception of under 5 yards all last season, MVS had two of them against the Saints on Sunday. The first was an important 3-yard gain in the first that converted a 4th-and-1 at the Packer 34. The second was a 4-yard gain in the second quarter on 2nd-and-10.
Aaron tried MVS deep several times, often while he was double covered, but never managed to connect with anyone but Saints. MVS seemed to be featured with Bradley Roby and Ken Crawley out, leaving Marshon Lattimore and a string of rookies and backups in the secondary. It made sense to target MVS and Allen Lazard, but it didn’t work. Nothing worked.
I’d advise burning the tape from this game, but good luck getting fire to come anywhere near it.