How Much did Aaron Rodgers' Injury Impact His 2018 Season? Plenty

Cameron Smith

Aaron Rodgers revealed in an interview Tuesday that he suffered a a tibial plateau fracture and an MCL sprain during his team's Week 1 comeback victory against the Bears. It was an injury that looked bad at the time, then less drastic when Rodgers returned and led another epic comeback.

Well, maybe the first impressions were more accurate. And while Rodgers proceeded to play through the entire season with the injury, he was never quite the same quarterback as the last full season he was healthy (2016). The Quality Stats bear that out.

The 2018 Packers finished ranked 16th in Real Quarterback Rating, at the exact midpoint of the league. That's not good, and it's particularly startling for an Rodgers-led squad. The team had 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions (a 2.45 ratio), which is fine, but nothing near what the team had posted under Rodgers when he was healthy in the past:

Real QBR
102.11 (1st)
83.97 (15th)
94.36 (6th)
83.20 (16th)

Note the correlation there? In 2014 and 2016 Rodgers excelled, reaching 40 touchdowns in both campaigns while minimizing interceptions in 2014 and keeping them in range in 2016. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was 4.44 and 3.33, respectively, both excellent for a passer with his volume. The 2015 and 2018 seasons appear almost like siblings, with the 2018 season the slightly more disappointing of the two. And perhaps that's just because Rodgers' knee injury was slightly worse.

No, really. While it was never disclosed during the year, Rodgers spoke following the 2015 season and hinted at a re-aggravation of an old basketball injury during the season. It's been speculated that the re-aggravation of the injury came during a November loss to the Lions at the hands of Ziggy Ansah, but whenever it did, it had an impact; his conventional passer rating fell from 103.4 in Weeks 1-10 to 79.8 after the injury. Following the season, Rodgers had a knee procedure aimed at cleaning up the left knee injury.

Fast forward to 2018, and Rodgers suffers what we now know was not only an ACL injury, but also a tibial fracture. He played through it, finished the season with the same injury, and saw his stats suffer as a result.

Was the rotating cast of offensive weapons he passed to part of the dip? Surely. What about his protection? That likely played a role, too. Still, there's little doubt that the injuries he played through made a meaningful impact on his own effectiveness and efficiency, not to mention his team's regular season scuffles.