Rodgers Gets a Harsh Critique
In his film study review of the Packers playoff loss to Arizona, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Bob McGinn was less than charitable in his assessment of the play of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers:
The stark difference between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals in the NFC wild-card playoffs Sunday was the play of the two quarterbacks.Kurt Warner looked every bit the sage veteran with 11 playoff starts under his belt, including three Super Bowls. He was so extraordinarily precise that the Cardinals only needed to reach third down five times to amass their 30 first downs.
On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers could have been tight for his playoff debut. The Packers didn’t seem ready to play, which is on coach Mike McCarthy, but Rodgers had been so sharp for so long that something was on his mind. The playoffs, especially a playoff opener, do things to some people. He didn’t play his game.
Rodgers might have made his worst decision all year on the first play of the game (interception). He reverted back to holding the ball. His deep-ball accuracy deserted him with the outcome at hand. And he didn’t see a slot blitz on the final play (fumble) that turned into the winning touchdown for Arizona in its 51-45 overtime victory.
In a game in which Rodgers’ passer rating was grossly misleading, the Packers simply couldn’t overcome their disadvantage at the most important position. When one quarterback doesn’t make a mistake and the other makes half a dozen or more, it should be clear why the game turned out as it did.
For such a gross disparity in QBs when all other elements of the game were, in McGinn’s rendering, equal, the final score was mighty close–and the game went to overtime, too. How can that be when Rodgers made so many mistakes? I have a theory: McGinn’s analysis is skewed and he has exaggerated, perhaps even blown out of proportion, Rodgers flaws.
I will also submit that 12′s flaws, notably the sacks he took, aren’t why they lost the game–their flaccid defense was far more important. In fact, Rodgers ability to keep plays alive — which is going to lead to some sacks — is probably more likely a reason why they were able to dig themselves out of the hole they were in and rally.
Dinging Rodgers for trying to keep plays alive is like dinging Brett Favre for his interceptions: This negative in his game is also part of the reason he is as good as he is. Like 4′s INTs, this trait of 12′s might be something we have to accept in order to get the rest of the package, which is overwhelmingly good.