Every week throughout the 2020 season, we'll revisit the biggest storylines around the NFL's quarterback play and try to add proper context to PFF grading and traditional stats.
Before we start, here are a few disclaimers to aid in the understanding of the PFF system and its interaction with box score stats.
- There's no doubt that quarterback play is the biggest driver of passing production, and most people are conditioned to have a picture of how well a quarterback played based on the five basic box score stats — completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns and interceptions.
- The reality is that the best quarterbacks will rise to the top, or close to it, statistically over time, but in one-game samples or even full seasons, there are other forces at play that heavily influence those numbers.
- The PFF grade is here to isolate the quarterback's play away from his playmakers, playcaller, opposing defense and anything else that could influence his statistics. We give credit for good throws regardless of the result, and we do the same for bad throws. The PFF passing grade has proven to be one of the most stable passing metrics available, and we believe adding proper context to every play is crucial for long-term player evaluation.
Week 1 is in the books, so here's a look at some of the top stories from the NFL's return.
[Editor's Note: PFF's advanced statistics and player grades are powered by AWS machine learning capabilities.]
1. Aaron Rodgers is back to form
Our own Mike Renner did a fine job explaining the importance of Rodgers playing within rhythm, and that should be the biggest takeaway from his Week 1 performance. Even as his stats and performance declined in recent years, Rodgers still had one of the league's best highlight reels, and he has been excellent at avoiding turnover-worthy plays.
However, Rodgers has declined on the stuff that looks easy at first glance but truly separates highlight-reel quarterbacks from the game's best. On Sunday, Rodgers played within structure, notched an incredible 84.6% accuracy percentage (per PFF's ball-location data), and perhaps most importantly, he didn't take a sack all afternoon. Oh, and Rodgers also tied for the league lead with his six big-time throws. Week 2 will be telling if the old Rodgers is truly back or if this was simply a one-off effort against an overhauled Vikings defense.