“We got a defense.” Those four words, repeated multiple times by Aaron Rodgers during his Michelle Tafoya interview after a week one victory over the Bears, perfectly encapsulate the 2019 Green Bay Packers. After years of Rodgers harboring the burden of a lackluster defense and watching his contemporaries, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, have success with the help they required, Green Bay management finally stepped up to the plate and delivered Rodgers the defense he needed, and quite frankly the one he deserves.

According to PFN’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM), Aaron Rodgers ranks 27th among quarterbacks so far this season. That doesn’t suggest that his play has been towards the bottom half of the league; rather, his role in the offense has been significantly lower relative to quarterbacks around the league. Here is the complete breakdown of Rodgers’ OSM grades through five weeks:

  • Overall: 19.09 (27th overall)
  • Week 1: 21.57 (22)
  • Week 2: 13.91 (28)
  • Week 3: 24.75 (16)
  • Week 4: 22.46 (12)
  • Week 5: 12.78 (25)

As you can see, his numbers have gone up almost every week, in large part, no doubt to his adjustment to Matt LaFleur’s new system. Still, he has yet to crack the top ten in terms of quarterback OSM.

Is this good or bad for Rodgers?

Some could point to these numbers and use it as evidence of Rodgers’ decline. He’s older, less mobile, can’t make the same throws that he used to, and it’s clear the offense doesn’t want to give him free rein. Without any context, that is a logical conclusion. The reality, however, is much different.

Mike Pettine’s revamped defense has allowed the offense to be much more experimental through the first five weeks; but even more so, more methodical. Gone are the days where Rodgers has to throw 40 times, put up 300 yards, and score 30 points. It may buck the current trend in the NFL and go against some of the analytics, but the 2019 Green Bay Packers want to be a ground and pound defensive team. And so far, it’s working.

Running back Aaron Jones ranked 8th in OSM in week five at 18.31 and is clearly the focal point in LaFleur’s offense. This is a smart approach by LaFleur. By no means is Rodgers being forgotten, or is his talent is being misused; it’s just relied on less frequently. We have seen the old Rodgers in short bursts this season. He made some incredible throws against Dallas last week to give Green Bay a 31-3 lead, and even after a Cowboys comeback bid, he was able to close that lid shut. And how can forget his no-look dime to Marquez Valdes-Scantling in week one against Chicago?

As the year goes on, as this offense evolves, as the competition gets better, and as the playoffs roll around (yes, I’m hedging my bet that this is a playoff team), Rodgers will be asked to do more. But until then, with a stellar defense and a new offensive system, why unleash the beast this early?

Ethan Knipfer is a writer for PFN covering the NFC North. You can find him @KnipferEthan on Twitter.