5

January

Another ho-hum Playoff Performance from Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Once again, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers could not lead the Packers to a playoff win.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers signed a $110 million contract extension before the 2012 season. In Sunday’s wild-card round playoff loss to the 49ers, Rodgers made a couple of $110 million plays, but didn’t have a $110 million game.

The performance was a microcosm of Rodgers’ postseason play since winning Super Bowl XLV.

Now before you get all bent out of shape, I’m not blaming Rodgers for the loss or demanding that the Packers try and find a new quarterback. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league and he gives the Packers a legit shot at the Super Bowl every season.

And I do feel guilty for writing a post that is critical of Rodgers when there are all kinds of other reasons why the Packers season has ended early three years in a row.

But ever since going on a tear and winning the Super Bowl in 2010, Rodgers hasn’t had another standout postseason performance — the kind of game that cements legacies and delivers memorable playoff wins that are talked about for the next 30 years.

Rodgers’ quarterback rating on Sunday was 97.8. That’s very good. However, he only threw for 177 yards and when the Packers had a chance to take control of the game early, Rodgers and the offense went three-and-out on its first three possessions. Then when the Packers had a chance to take a lead late, Rodgers and offense sputtered in the red zone and only managed a game-tying field goal.

Rodgers hasn’t thrown for more than 300 yards in the postseason since Super Bowl XLV and has only six touchdowns in four games.

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has 1,025 passing yards and two fourth-quarter rallies in four playoff games (and 362 rushing yards). Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has 731 passing yards one fourth-quarter comeback win in only two playoff games. Rodgers has 972 passing yards and zero fourth-quarter comebacks in his last four postseason games.

Since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy three seasons ago, the Packers are 17-for-49 (35 percent) on third-down conversions in the postseason. During the Super Bowl run, Rodgers helped the Packers convert 24 of 49 (49 percent) third downs.

A $110 million quarterback needs to make plays on third down and deliver touchdowns when in the red zone late in close games. Since the Super Bowl win, Rodgers hasn’t been getting it done.

Individual stats don’t tell the whole story, either. Rodgers frequently talks about winning games in the first or second quarter and eliminating the need for a fourth-quarter comeback. He’s 100 percent correct in his assessment, but when Rodgers and the offense have had opportunities to take control of playoff games early, they fail to do so.

With the score tied at 10 in the second quarter of the 2011 playoff loss to the Giants, the Packers blocked a field and got an interception on consecutive Giants drives. Rodgers and the offense failed to score on each of the ensuing possessions, punting on the first and losing a John Kuhn fumble on the second.

We’ve already covered the Packers inability to move the ball, let alone score, early on Sunday when the defense was hanging tough.

This post isn’t my attempt to be Skip Bayless and troll Packers fans into a mind-numbing shouting match about Rodgers being “clutch” or better than (insert whatever elite quarterback Bayless uses when he spouts off on this topic).

Rodgers is probably the only quarterback in the league capable of making those crazy escape-the-rush-and-find-Randall Cobb passes on Sunday, and the game-winning throw last week against the Bears. Those are $110 million plays and don’t happen if Rodgers isn’t on the team.

I also don’t hold Rodgers responsible for postseason defensive meltdowns, drops and fumbles by teammates or all the injuries that strike the Packers every single season.

But the Packers are built around Rodgers, and fair or not, it’s on him to come up with big games — not just a few big plays — in January. Recently, he hasn’t been getting it done.

Until Rodgers plays a $110 million game in the postseason instead of just making a few $110 million plays, the Packers will likely keep coming up short when it matters most.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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120 Responses to “Another ho-hum Playoff Performance from Packers QB Aaron Rodgers”

  1. Sam says:

    I like the article. The Rodgers clock is ticking… The obvious reasons are the pathetic defense and poor protection, but if Rodgers puts up 30-40pts as other greats that he’s now mentioned with, the Packers win this game. Let’s look deeper. With the SBXLV success, Thompson seems to have bought into his draft and develop praises and forgot that veterans played a big role on that defense. Current veterans Hawk and Burnett are weak links in the middle of a poor defense. I hope Mark Murphy sits down with Thompson and let’s him know that with Rodgers, four playoff “one and done”s is not getting it done. I’d also like to see Adam write a similar article about a defensive “star” who’s getting paid Rodgers-money on defense, who didn’t even suit up! C’mon Matthews! Playing would have helped your teamates AND your marketing image.

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  2. Briana says:

    Its tough to blame Rodgers when in his three previous playoff losses the D has given up I believe an average of 42 points. And yes, I took the fumble return for a TD before calculating that number since that’s obviously not on the D. Still, you can make the case that in the 2011 Giants game and this game, the OFFENSE (not just Rodgers) didn’t do enough to win. The Packers scored enough last year to win they just couldnt stop Kaep from running all over the field. So really, 2 out of 4 times, the offense didn’t do it’s job. And the other times, D didn’t hold up their end. Hence why it’s so difficult to win a SB. You need both phases of the game to win.

    So what I’m really saying is I sort of agree with Adam about this game, but only to an extent. It was an offensive failure but it was the result of pretty much everything. The offensive lines, the WRs, the play calling, and yes the QB.

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  3. Razer says:

    This team did about as well as could be expected, Rodgers included. They played against a relatively healthy and very talented 49ers squad and held their own. One might even argue that we over-achieved. Our O-line starts to fold with the snap of the ball. Against a good 4 man rush, like the 49ers, there isn’t much time for plays to develop. And, it is not like there are many weaknesses in that San Fran defense.

    We did very well against that team. Our 110 million dollar man behind the 49ers O-line is a surgeon. I give our O-line credit for being a hardworking collection of low round and undrafted FA, but at this level of play, it is the difference.

    People are irked by the “ho hum” inference in the headline and the $110 million reference. Maybe we should focus on the fact that the Packers got the most out a injury depleted, rag-tag group of gutsy, blue collar players. It is the story of this team, this season and this game. All the rest is noise.

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  4. Jack says:

    while you may not be blaming Rodgers for the loss, the headline says it all. in your view, if Rodgers hadn’t had another “ho-hum” performance, they would have won….so in effect you are blaming Rodgers.

    if you can’t come up with something better for why the Packers failed to win this game, you should stop writing anything, period. you FAILED miserably on this one!

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  5. Russell says:

    Adam, I’m not alone in the way I perceive your article. The implication and the tone of your article suggest that ARod is the blame. However, it may not be your intention to place blame, but it certainly implies in my opinion that you blame him.

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    • Dobber says:

      My impression was that Adam is sayting that ARod needs to be more than just good in these games for the Packers to be at their best.

      That doesn’t blame ARod for the loss, but what it says is how much the Packers–and all teams for that matter–rely on their stars at playoff time.

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  6. J204 says:

    Thought he deserved a B+ for this effort. That play on 4th and 2 pretty special.. Just 2 or 3 plays short of winning. Very fine line in the NFL. Hopefully we can sign a vetran FA or two on D. You really notice the youth on D compared to when Collins and Woodson were on the back end running the show. Collins picks off that Vernon Davis TD pass all day.. Burnett a step to slow to react.. The team went down swinging unfortunately you could tell the injuries eventually caught up with them.

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  7. mark says:

    The head line of the article says Aaron Rogers plays another ho-hum playoff performance. TOTALLY WRONG! It was amazing Rogers did what he did with 49ers hanging all over him. Kapernick could eat his LUNCH with the pass protection he got the FINAL 5 MINUTE DRIVE. Once again the defense did not show up in the CRITICAL part of the game. Ho-hum? GREAT is more like it when talking about Rogers. Don’t forget that Jones dropped some game changing passes also.

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  8. Tommy c says:

    The inability of TT to sign any free agents is part of the problem, Arod won”t be around forever. The pass protection has stunk for years, The D hasn’t shown up since the SB win. TT doesn’t upgrade the team like the Patriots, Niners, etc. these teams fill in gaps with free agents and will continue to do so. The draft is important, but a mix of free agent signing is a must. In the ninety s that happened, NFC Championship game appearances and SB appearances were there more. TT seams content on just making the post season. Until he realizes this, the team will continue to have quick exits from the post season

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    • Rob says:

      Yeah, too bad da Bears resigned Cutler to seven more years–he was due to be a free agent–could have had him.

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    • Peter Locke says:

      The assesment of Rodgers is fair, but I think a more important assesment should be of the coaching. The same defensive mistakes have happened repeatedly against the 49ers. Not setting the edge, to contain the quarterback, over and over again. Or no adjustment to the same player beating you on third down time and time agian. Kaepernick, Bolden, now Crabtree. No discipline comes from poor coaching, top down.

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  9. Russell says:

    Tommy c, you are right. When the Packers won the SB in 97 they had a number of free agents that made huge contributions. Players that I can think off the top of my head, Reggie White, Desmond Howard, Andre Rison, Shawn Jones. I’m sure I’m missing a few but you get the point. TT has to change his philosophy a bit.

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  10. Rob says:

    Summary of Article: For $110M Rodgers could have played better.

    He made some absolutely fantastic plays, but yes, he could have played even better.

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  11. Archie says:

    I believe AROD is the best 30 year old QB in the game today. outside of his 2nd half runs, I thought Kepernick looked bad throwing the ball. And I thought our defense played about as well as they could all things considered EXCEPT when it counted most at the end. I think MM had terrible game strategy. Running the ball was going against the strength of their defense. Throw intermediate underneath (because of cold). Red zone play calling is so bad I could gag. MM is an ass clown of a head coach. But let’s not kid ourselves, AROD was from mid-season form in his 2nd week back. Eddie Lacy had lots of asthma problems. MM mismanaged him. Starks should have seen the ball a lot more. Ditto Cobb. It was Lacy or Nelson, nothing else. Too bad Jones picked Sunday to let deep throws hit his shoulder and face before his hands reacted. GB did not deserve the play-offs, no MFC North team did. This was our 3rd 1 and done post-season since catching lightning in a bottle in 2010. let’s face it folks, we are what our record says we are, not a bad team but not a good team, despite having the best QB on the planet. Who’s fault is that? Who hired the HC? Who picks the players? Ted Thompson sucks and until Packer Nation figures that out, we are stuck in the mud. I think many of us did figure it out this year with AR out. No back-up QB, no back-C, no S, same ‘ol shitty ILB play, HIPPO DL, undersized CBs, no pass rush other than CMIII. This is Ted’s team and it has more holes than Swiss cheese. Until the “In Ted We Trust” choir shuts up and the Mark Murphy wakes up, we aren’t going anywhere with this team. Not what we want to hear but I’m afraid it’s the truth. Nothing else matters but get rid of Ted. He is incapable of straightening out the mess he has made with the defense. I’m not a DC supporter but I can’t blame him for the hot mess we call our defense. Get me a young GM and a young DC and a young HC and let’s start over. In three years, with Rogers and Matthews, and Nelson and Lacy we could be back in the SB. Stay the course and we will fall deeper and deeper into the muck that’s called Ted Thompson.

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  12. Since '61 says:

    The key plays in this game were Bakthiari’s penalty on the pass to Jordy before the 1st half ended. If that play stands we have 1st and goal at the 5or 6 with 27 seconds. Probably get 3 cracks at a TD there. Penalty may have cost us 4 points before the half. Next play was drop by Jones on 1st possession of second half. His later drop was a tough but make able play. Needless to say Micah’s dropped pick, lack of pass rush on final drive, and Bush giving up the edge on Kapernick ‘s run. As Al said, Kapernick’s legs were the difference. If we have CM3 and Shields we probably win the game. None of the above has to with MM or his play calling which was sound. If there was any issue on the offense it was lack of execution by the O-line. How many times, even on a positive play was it all Lacy? How many times was Rodgers hurried and hit, even on completions? For all those who criticize the play calls I am sure those comments are based on all the hours of film you all studied all week of the SF defense prior to the game. Thanks, Since ’61

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  13. John Alport says:

    Niners fan here stumbled on this board.

    Look, this game was really even. Somebody had to win. I could say good and bad about both teams and both quarterbacks. SF looked to have the better of it, but it comes down to this. Score was 20-20 when SF got the ball on their 20 yard line with 5:06 left in the game. Everything that happened before this didn’t matter. Either SF runs a great drive to end it, or GB stops that drive and either wins it outright or sends it to overtime. I had it my mind that SF would not be able to manage the drive and clock, and GB would get the ball and win. But GB did not get it done. I can think of 4 close plays where GB could have stopped that drive, and GB just didn’t get it done. That’s the only reason SF won.

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  14. Archie says:

    Short and sweet John. But the $64,000 question is why. Was it injuries? Was it coaching? Was it GMing? Or was it SF is just a great team (Lombardi-like)? Those are the only four choices I think. I s’pose you could say some of all four but to my mind, it was our GM can’t defensive players to save his life. What say you?!

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  15. I READ the article. I read contracts every day: my reading comprehension is quite good. The thrust of the article is clear: Rodgers played an above average game but is being paid to play at a higher level; He did not play up to his contract; Rodgers needs to play better in the post-season. That is, he needs to more of a difference-maker in playoff games.

    I agree with those sentiments, although I give some slack to Rodgers since the cold conditions hurt passing teams, and there is and has been a lack of talent up front due to injuries and personnel decisions, and some other players had the opportunity to make some plays that likely would have changed the outcome of the game.

    Writing that you don’t blame Rodgers for the loss doesn’t mean that readers should not draw the obvious inference that you have placed some (somewhere between significant and substantial in my mind) responsibility on Rodgers for the loss in this game and in previous years.

    BTW, 2 things. Tramon Williams played up to his contract, IMO. Just be careful about his age in upcoming contract negotiations. I think that $90 to $110 million dollar QBs are going to become much more common very soon – See Cutler for example.

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