Rodgers’ performance against Seattle was one of QB’s worst of the season
Aaron Rodgers’ performance vs. the Seahawks was nothing to brag about.
Green Bay — If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 1,000 times.
You know, if the Green Bay Packers aren’t careful, they’ll win only one Super Bowl with a franchise quarterback like Aaron Rodgers just like they won just one with Brett Favre.
Favre’s 16-year run as the starter is ancient history now. Football’s statute of limitations has expired on that era.
Seven years in as the starter, Rodgers is at the very peak of his powers.
Not sure about you, but I’m sick of the blame game for Green Bay’s overtime defeat in Seattle.
One could identify the head coach, the special-teams coach, the defensive coordinator and 15 or more of their players and charge them all with gross negligence, dereliction of duty and other heinous acts against Packers fans here, there and everywhere. It was the loss that will never go away. The Packers, a 7½-point underdog, made a tremendous effort at the NFL’s least welcoming venue. Not many teams can go into CenturyLink Field and all but dominate a talented, well-coached team like the Seahawks for 57 minutes, which the Packers did.
You might want to vilify everyone that wore a green and gold uniform or coaching parka in the NFC Championship Game. The truth is, the Packers played their butts off to come as close as they did.
Yes, victory slipped away from Green Bay at the end of regulation and in overtime, after Seattle won a coin toss to get the ball first. But when you watch and re-watch the tape there are countless plays and decisions throughout the 63½ minutes that might have resulted in a different outcome.
Today’s NFL is set up as a quarterback’s game. He has the ball in his hands on every play. No one can affect the scoreboard like him.
The Packers consider Rodgers to be the best quarterback in the business. He’s considered a shoo-in for his second most valuable player award, and for good reason.
He had a great season. More than any other person, he’s the reason the Packers were playing in the NFC Championship Game.
Rodgers, however, probably played as poorly in Seattle as he has in any of his 11 playoff games. You can come up with any number of excuses why that was the case, but the fact remains it was one of his three or four worst performances of the season and his team couldn’t overcome it.
The Packers built their big lead because of turnovers, defense, run game and, yes, special teams (Mason Crosby’s five field goals, Brad Jones’ forced fumble on a kickoff return, Micah Hyde’s 29-yard punt return).
Their passing game, on the other hand, was all but null and void.
Great players need to make great plays in big games like this, and Rodgers really didn’t make any at all.
All the other blunders and bloopers that plagued the Packers wouldn’t have mattered if their main man, their highest-paid player and the face of their franchise would have stepped up and played up to his ability.
We know what the Packers do when Rodgers is terrific in the postseason. They win the Super Bowl.
When Rodgers plays ordinary or worse, they’re eliminated early.
In 2010, Rodgers was solid in rugged, low-scoring road games against Philadelphia and Chicago and brilliant against the Falcons in Atlanta and Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.
The Georgia Dome was about as loud as any venue could be early in that NFC divisional game four years ago. Impossible to hear or not, Rodgers spun away from four dead-to-rights sacks, looked to be three steps ahead of a blitz-crazy defense and hit 31 of 36 for a cool 366 and three scores.
Dick LeBeau’s “Blitzburgh” defense blitzed an incredible 59% in the Super Bowl, flooring Rodgers 11 times. Still, he kept looking off Troy Polamalu, firing bullets to Greg Jennings and shaking off six dropped passes that had a combined catch point of 100 yards.
In my 2012 book, I ranked it the fifth-best performance by a quarterback in the history of the Super Bowl.
Largely because Rodgers developed into a stellar player, the Packers have been a playoff team six seasons in a row. Again, largely because of him, they’ve been a legitimate contender for the Lombardi Trophy all six times.
Again, we can cite chapter and verse from the five elimination games quarterbacked by Rodgers why the Packers fell short. Trumping it all is the fact the game revolves around the quarterback, and the Packers’ quarterback was outplayed in all five of those games.
Rodgers opened his first playoff start with probably the worst decision he made that entire 2009 season, the
Great players need to make great plays in big games.
interception back inside that set up a quick touchdown for Arizona. After a woeful first quarter, he was all-world leading seven straight scoring drives, matching Kurt Warner strike for strike.
On the first play of overtime, Jennings was 50 yards downfield 3 or 4 yards behind safety Antrel Rolle, who was playing on a bad wheel. Instead of becoming the game-winning 80-yard touchdown, the pass from Rodgers was badly overthrown.
Two plays later, Rodgers blew a read, didn’t see a slot blitz, fumbled and Karlos Dansby ran it in. Ball game.
The Packers were trying to repeat as Super Bowl champions in January 2012 when Rodgers turned in one of the two poorest outings of his MVP season against the Giants at Lambeau Field.
He threw incomplete on 20 of 46 passes (six were dropped), didn’t have a completion longer than 21 yards and turned the ball over twice.
The next January at Candlestick Park, Rodgers lacked the patience to beat the 49ers’ conservative two-shell defense and threw a bad interception.
Last year, in his second game back from a broken collarbone, Rodgers was indecisive in the first half at Lambeau Field against another two-shell look coordinated by San Francisco’s Vic Fangio. He could find nothing available downfield and was at least partially responsible for three of his four sacks.
Out in Seattle, Rodgers was afforded some of the finest protection any quarterback has enjoyed in a long time against a defense justifiably regarded as one of the best in any era.
It was like one of those shooting-gallery games in which Rodgers waits and waits and waits until a receiver comes free and he puts the ball on him.
For the third game in a row the Packers went right down the field on their opening possession. Then, from the 29, Rodgers threw behind Davante Adams on a slant, was fortunate not to be intercepted on a shot play to Jordy Nelson and was intercepted by Richard Sherman on an end-zone throw to Adams that was late and underthrown.
Earlier, Rodgers had Nelson a step behind Byron Maxwell at the Seattle 22 but the long pass was overthrown.
The incompletion on what should have been an easy 6-yard TD is more on Nelson, who tripped at the top of the route. Still, the throw could have been slightly better.
A great throw to Adams on a free play would have resulted in a 33-yard TD. That was overthrown, too. Randall Cobb was wide open sprinting across the middle for a probable 36-yard TD but the pass was a tad high and he couldn’t handle it.
On first down from the Seattle 33, Cobb was correct hooking up on his option route that the unhurried Rodgers threw outside for his second pick.
In the third quarter, Rodgers stepped funny on a second-down screen to Eddie Lacy that promised to be a long gainer. It’s like Rodgers instantly fell apart, bailed and missed the simple 10-yard throw and, after he held the ball too long (4.4 seconds) for a third-down sack, out trotted the punt team.
As the Packers’ four-minute offense proceeded, Rod- gers went to a flanked Andrew Quarless on third and 4 against linebacker coverage. He really wasn’t open, Quarless’ route wasn’t great and the pass was broken up; Adams might have been a better choice on the other side.
Rodgers finally came alive on two 15-yard completions and a 12-yard scramble to the Seattle 36. Thirtyfive seconds remained.
As Rodgers extended right, he gestured toward Lacy as if to say, “Peel off downfield.” As soon as Lacy turned to do so, Rodgers flipped the ball incomplete where he had just been.
Seattle blitzed six on second down, and Rodgers tried a back-shoulder fade on the sideline to Richard Rodgers, who is hardly a back-shoulder receiver. On the other side, Adams was wide open.
Rodgers did make a superb toss to Nelson from an odd angle on the next play as he was getting hit, giving Crosby a shorter attempt by 7 yards.
How much was Rodgers limited by his calf injury? You could see he felt trapped inside the pocket at times, and the Seahawks cover initially extremely well.
Rodgers did have the capacity to run fast and extend plays to his heart’s content in the Sept. 4 defeat at CenturyLink Field. He was equally ineffective that night, too.
His counterpart, Russell Wilson, was horrendous until the final 18 plays. Not fazed the least by his numerous misfires, Wilson then made a series of extraordinary plays with his arm and his legs to tie the score.
In overtime, Wilson rainbowed two perfect 35-yard bombs, the precision of which hadn’t been seen from Rodgers all afternoon. There’s not much more important in the winning equation than passing accuracy in the clutch.
In Rodgers’ six post-season victories, his passer rating of 111.8 is 38.4 points higher than the opposing quarterbacks.
In his five defeats, Rodgers’ rating of 89.4 is 9.1 points lower than the opposition. Warner, Eli Manning, Colin Kaepernick (twice) and Wilson also have combined to outrush him, 314-130.
If this trend continues, Rodgers will run the risk of having a football epitaph along the lines of Peyton Manning, a one-time Super Bowl winner with a playoff record of 11-13 and a playoff passer rating of 88.5.
It isn’t a question if Rodgers possesses the right stuff. His history tells us that he does.
But, until Rodgers brings that to bear against the big boys in the postseason again, he won’t win another Super Bowl no matter what Ted Thompson does, Mike McCarthy does or anybody else in Green Bay does.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played a great game against the Atlanta Falcons in 2011. The Packers won, 25-14.
In Super Bowl XLV, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was solid despite being sacked 11 times.
Aaron Rodgers walks away after a missed pass in the fourth quarter of the the NFC Championship Game.