Why is Aaron Rodgers 1-11 in close games? : Packers Insider

Why is Aaron Rodgers 1-11 in close games?

October 20, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Oct 20, 2010 ~ by Pete Dougherty

~Six games into the 1994 season, Brett Favre was nearing one of the low points of his career.

He was in his third season as the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback, so no longer a newbie on the job, but his team was scuffling at 3-3, and his passer rating was a mediocre 81.2 points. Only a week later, after a loss at Minnesota that Favre was unable to finish because of an injured hip, then-coach Mike Holmgren went so far as polling his assistant coaches: Should he bench his erratic starter for Mark Brunell? Several advocated the move.

Here we are six games into 2010, and Aaron Rodgers, who also is six games into his third season as the Packers’ starting quarterback, isn’t playing well. The Packers are 3-3, and his passer rating is 87.9 points, which ranks No. 13 in the NFL.

Could it be coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers are trying too hard to be the anti-Favre? Are they playing a little too carefully after watching the disastrous Favre interceptions over the years?

Clearly, nobody’s kicking around the idea of benching Rodgers, but just as obviously, he’s been far from the potential MVP candidate who looked so dominant in the preseason. He’s directing an offense that bears most of the responsibility for the Packers’ three defeats and that hasn’t been anything like the machine that finished last season No. 3 in the NFL in points scored and No. 6 in yards.

There’s also the issue of Rodgers’ poor record in games decided by four points or less. Three of those losses were this year, including in overtime to Washington and Miami, games in which the Packers had the ball with the chance to win in sudden death.

So what’s going on with the player who went to his first Pro Bowl last year?

Well, when compared with Favre and the top three quarterbacks in the league – Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees – in the first six games of their third seasons as starters, Rodgers’ start doesn’t mean much. The record in close games is more puzzling.

Rodgers’ 87.9 passer rating after six games rates third in that group at the same point in their careers, ahead of Favre (81.2) and Brady (72.0), but behind Manning (94.6) and Brees (98.3).

Like Rodgers and Favre, Brees was 3-3 after six games; Manning and Brady were 4-2.

It also bears mentioning how their seasons panned out. All four went to the playoffs, but with varying results: Brady won the Super Bowl (in 2003); Favre won a playoff game then lost a blowout in Dallas in the divisional round (in ’94); and Manning (in 2000) and Brees (in ’04) lost in the first round.

Favre finished with a 90.7 passer rating (33 touchdown passes, 14 interceptions) and carried the offense the second half of that year.

Brady’s Patriots won 13 straight games, and he pushed up his passer rating to 85.7 points (28 touchdowns, 14 interceptions).

Manning finished with a 90.7 rating and 10-6 record but lost in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.

And Brees finished 12-4 but then lost in overtime to the New York Jets in the wild-card round.

The difference among them is the close games, where Rodgers is 1-11 in games decided by four points or less. Of that group, only Brees at 2-6 was under .500 at the same point in his career.

Brady, on the other hand, already had set incredible standards with his 7-0 record (including playoffs) and would be 12-0 by the end of that season. Favre was 7-3 up to that point, and Manning 6-5.

So how do you explain a 1-11 mark for a quarterback whose 103.2 passer rating last year ranked fourth in the NFL?

One factor is that the first seven losses came in 2008, when Rodgers was learning the NFL’s ropes as a first-year starter. He didn’t come through with late scores in four of those losses, but he gave the Packers a chance in the three others. In a one-point loss to Minnesota, Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal in the final seconds; in an overtime loss to Chicago, Crosby’s 38-yarder was blocked with 18 seconds left in regulation; and against Houston, Rodgers took the Packers to the game-tying touchdown with 5:56 left, but then watched the Texans slowly drive to the game-winning field goal on the final play. A little help in those games, and his record wouldn’t look quite so bad.

What has to bother him and the Packers more is the three overtime losses starting with the NFC wild-card game at Arizona last year. In all three, including at Washington and against Miami the last two weeks, the Packers had the ball in overtime but failed to gain even a first down. That’s when good quarterbacks and offenses have to come through.

So what’s going on?

Full stoy HERE

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