Filed under: NFL | Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Football, Green Bay, NFL, Packers, Sports, Super Bowl
He’s quickly becoming the new “Quarterback Poster Boy.”
As Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Drew Brees watch from the sidelines, Aaron Rodgers remains standing. Brady and Manning could very easily have already reached the pinnacle of their careers, suffering early departures from an abnormally wide open playoff hunt. Nearing their mid 30′s, it’s becoming a realization that their run can only endure so many seasons. While Rivers has yet to leave his mark on the playoffs, the only other QB worth mentioning, Ben Roethlisberger, has struggled all season to rebuild his permeated image. Brees and Rodgers could be the “next wave” of prolific passers who don shiny Super Bowl rings.
But is Aaron Rodgers for real? Has he withered enough storms to tackle the all-mighty Vince Lombardi trophy, a trophy which looms over him every day of the week at Lambeau?
Their is two schools of thought on Rodgers. There’s the class of “He doesn’t have the experience or the track record in big games to truly be elite.” There’s also the, “Rodgers’ gaudy statistical performance’s have elevated him to that level, and this is his year” legion of followers.
The easy answer would presumably sound something like, “well he’s made it to the Super Bowl, surely he can win in the playoffs right? Well, yes. But has he done it convincingly? That’s where the juicy, tender nucleus of this debate reveals itself.
I won’t even touch the Divisional round against Atlanta. The Packers thoroughly dominated on all sides of the ball. Backtrack to Wild Card weekend and the tune changes its pitch. The Packers totaled 14 points in the first half, a mere 7 in the second half. More importantly, they scored on 2 of their 3 drives in the first half, but fumbled on their first second half possession. They didn’t manage a single point when they needed to put the game away in the 4th quarter.
Outside of their sole scoring drive, which was due mostly to the breakout attack of James Starks, Rodgers amassed a whopping 1 first down in the second half through the air. He also committed one turnover. How’s that for a trade-off?
This past weekend, Rodgers’ Green Bay offense took an eerily similar approach. Their drive summary in the second half? Riddled with punts and a costly interception. Rodgers put up 14 points in 16 minutes. The next 44 minutes?
A big fat goose egg.
After the aforementioned interception thrown to Brian Urlacher, Rodgers made little to no noise the rest of the ballgame. As Chicago served up opportunities the size of beach balls, Rodgers declined, waiting for the perfect pitch that was never thrown.
Sure, the Packers won both games. This isn’t trying to take away from what the Packers did as a team or what Aaron Rodgers was able to do early in ballgames. Simply put, I question if Rodgers has what it takes to lead his team to victory on football’s greatest stage. While it’s not an individual sport, Rodgers ability to dismantle a stingy Pittsburgh defense will hold Green Bay’s collective fate.
While I think Rodgers is a good QB, perhaps even great, I’m not sold on him in the playoffs. He’s 0-5 in his career in overtime games. If Rodgers can’t finish against the Bears or Eagles, why should I blindly put faith in him to carry Green Bay down the stretch against one of the top defenses in the league?
There’s no one who believes Rodgers lacks the talent to do it. But will he?
While statistics are nice, it’s easy to overlook the struggles Rodgers has had putting meaningful games away the entire season. He relied on his defense to stop 3rd string Caleb Hanie this past Sunday, masking his downright putrid second half performance.
Aaron Rodgers is undoubtedly the future, but maybe I’m just not sold on the future just yet.
- Mark Chiarelli
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