Packers 2016 Recap: TE Richard Rodgers
- 30 catches, 271 yards, 2 TD
- Pro Football Focus: 49.0/100 (53 out of 63 qualified tight ends)
Expectations coming into the season were: Low
Expectations were: Met
Analysis: Rodgers is what he is
The only reason Richard Rodgers met expectations this year is because they were finally appropriately lowered. The 2014 third round pick will never be an elite receiver, and he came into his own as a number two tight end in part because the Packers were forced to realize his shortcomings.
This is not a criticism of Rodgers as much as the Packers. It’s always been clear that he is not fast or explosive, but the Packers have continued to put him situations where he needs to be both of those things. One of the great shortcomings of the Packers coaching staff was making Rodgers a focal point of the offense in the midst of the midseason swoon. Over three games near the middle of the schedule (all losses), Rodgers was targeted a whopping 21 times, a mystifying decision even given Jared Cook’s absence due to injury.
Rodgers, while not a great blocker, still has incredible hands and (when appropriately deployed) is adept at finding opportunities to exploit defenses despite his athletic limitations. To wit: even excluding the 61-yard Hail Mary in Detroit in 2015, Rodgers has 10 career regular season receptions of more than 20 yards.
Another such play popped up for Rodgers in the playoffs. Finding himself in single coverage against Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, Rodgers navigated behind the defense and Aaron Rodgers found him for a 34-yard touchdown strike. It was the second time in three years that Rodgers had beaten the Cowboys for a highlight reel postseason touchdown.
Rodgers has not and will not develop into a top end tight end, but his 2016 season showed that he can still be an effective receiving option in the right situations.