Monday, January 23, 2017

Aaron Rodgers Mister Irrelevant Redux

So the NFL now has its Superbowl LI contestants and the Conference Championship Games were revelatory about how good the New England Patriots are and how much a fraud the Pittsburgh Steelers and especially the Green Bay Packers are.  

Back in 2011 and 2012 several pieces first raised analytical awareness of Aaron Rodgers' inability to win clutch games.    Entering 2012 Rodgers was Mister Irrelevant in the fourth quarter at just 3-18 in comeback attempts.   By October 2013 - following Green Bay's 34-30 loss to the Bengals in which Rodgers erased a 14-0 gap, led 30-14, and when a 4th-down fumble became the go-ahead Bengals touchdown failed to lead the comeback - he fell to 5-24 in comeback attempts.

And since then, nothing has qualitatively gotten any better - my quick and dirty count indicates he is now 10-41 in comeback attempts, and even more damning, by my quick and dirty count he is 4-31 in games where he trailed by at least two scores and also 0-35 in comebacks against quality opponents.   For 2016 he finished 0-7 in games where he had to stage a fourth quarter comeback and 0-6 when he trailed by at least two scores; his only two game-winning drives were against the Bears - after blowing a 17-point lead - and at the Cowboys - where he was outscored 18-6 in the fourth quarter.  Indeed the fourth quarter of Green Bay's 2016 games is illustrative of Rodgers, doing nothing well beyond frontrunning, and inability to make clutch plays -

@ Jaguars - 3 points in a game the Packers never trailed

@ Vikings - 7 points down 17-7, lost game

vs Lions - shutout in fourth of game the Packers never trailed

vs NY Giants - 6 points in game they never trailed

vs Cowboys - 10 points when they trailed 27-9, lost game

vs Bears - 13 points where they were leading at the start of the fourth

@ Falcons - 8 points, fell behind 33-32, Rodgers comeback failed, lost game

vs Colts - 13 points when trailing by 18, lost game

@ Titans - shutout in fourth, lost game

@ Redskins - 14 points when down 22-10, outscored 20-14 in fourth, lost game

@ Eagles - 10 points in game they never trailed

vs Texans - 14 points after game was tied entering the fourth

vs Seahawks - 10 points in game already up 28-3 entering the fourth

@ Bears - 3 points after blowing 17-point lead

vs Vikings - 10 points when up 28-10 entering the fourth

@ Lions - 14 points when leading 17-14 entering fourth

vs NY Giants - 14 points when leading 24-13 entering the fourth

@ Cowboys - 6 points where they blew a 15-point lead and were outscored 18-6

@ Atlanta - 6 points in game they never led, lost game

The funniest Green Bay meltdown of 2016 was also the most prescient toward Green Bay's ultimate massacre at the hands of another southern division NFL team

By this point of Rodgers' career it's obvious he is not a great quarterback. When he faces clutch situations, he falters - if he has to stage a comeback, he fails.    People fall in love with the athleticism and arm strength, but too often these are substitutes for smart quarterbacking the way he plays - his lack of a small ball attack is a fundamental weakness, as he prefers the spectacular play - athleticism and arm strength.   Indeed what is striking the more one watches him is he so often gets away with what dumb quarterbacks usually do.   

And so he falls short yet again and has now lost in the playoffs six straight seasons, 5-6 in overall playoff games in that span.

Meanwhile there's not much to say about the Patriots' usual demolition of the Steelers beyond sayonara Steelers.  

So the two week interregnum for New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons begins.

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