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.——————