Sunday, December 26, 2010

This Just In: Rodgers is Really Good

Aaron Rodgers displays his new concussion-proof headgear
Aaron Rodgers had an absolutely monster game today, throwing for 404 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 139.9.  It was probably the best game of his career so far, and encouraging that it happened in such a crucial contest for the Packers – keeping their playoff hopes very much alive.  Apart from donning a special concussion-minimizing helmet that was reminiscent of one of those conehead collars dogs wear so they can’t lick themselves, Rodgers looked damn good out there today.

Here are a few nuggets just to put his day into perspective:

1) A perfect passer rating is 158.3.  The only quarterback to get a perfect score this year (at least, according to Wikipedia, my source of all factual information) was Tom Brady against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.  Rodgers out-performed Brady by 60+ yards, but had a slightly lower completion percentage.  If James Jones hadn’t dropped two passes in his hands, maybe Rodgers could have gotten a perfect rating today.

2) According to the Journal-Sentinel, Rodgers’ 404 passing yards were the most by any Packers quarterback, including one Mr. Favre, in the regular season since Lynn Dickey’s 418-yard performance against Tampa Bay in 1980.  I repeat, Lynn Dickey!  Of course, NFL historians cannot actually confirm that Tampa Bay had a team in 1980, so the record may actually go back longer than that.

3) According to the Fox announcers (though you have to take everything they say with a grain of salt since neither of them can pronounce the city of Green Bay properly), this is the first time the Giants have given up over 500 yards of total offense in a game since 1980.  The Giants came in as one of the best defenses in the NFL and the Packers punched them in the mouth.

The performance by Rodgers further solidified his reputation among Packers fans, but his equally impressive play caller today, Mike McCarthy, still doesn't get much love.  The rap on the 2010 Packers is that they “can’t win close games.”  All 6 Packer losses were by 4 points or fewer, two in over-time.  And over the last five years, McCarthy’s Packers are 10-16 in games decided by 6 points or less.  The flip side of that statistic is that when the Packers win, they beat the crap out of teams.  Green Bay’s +141 points differential this year is second only to New England (174) and significantly better than any other NFC team (see chart of the top 10 teams below).

Yet, in spite of that impressive statistic, I still hear Packers fans calling for McCarthy’s head.  They pine away for a Gruden or a Cowher, under the rarely-ever-proven-in-the-NFL premise that a previous Super Bowl winning coach will automatically deliver another Lombardi trophy.  Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that neither Gruden nor Cowher have ever been credibly mentioned as candidates in Green Bay, that there are literally dozens of teams desperate for a head coach, and that we’d be firing a coach who has consistently won.  Even if you then still think that it’s time to make a change, are you really prepared to enter at least a year or two of rebuilding under a new administration?

Living in the Bay Area, I’m constantly reminded how different things could be in Green Bay.  Every day on local talk radio, the giant debate of the Smiths (as in "who sucks more, Alex or Troy?") rages.  Fans call in imploring the Yorks to fire Singletary – which they finally did today.  The 49ers once proud dynasty hasn’t been to the post-season since 2002.  That’s what a troubled franchise looks like.  In spite of our frustrations and near misses this season, the Packers are nowhere near that - even if the season hasn't lived up to our high expectations.

Troy Aikman suggested during today’s broadcast that McCarthy should be in the conversation for Coach of the Year.  That may be over-stating it.  Let's make the playoffs first.  But at the very least today’s performance was some sweet redemption for the loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship game three years ago.  And if they can play like that next week and carry the momentum over into a playoff run, McCarthy just might win over the doubters the way Rodgers has.


  1. Cautiously optimistic. Win a playoff game; McCarthy stays. No playoffs Thompson should be fired, but he'll probably throw the coach under the bus.

  2. The thing with McCarthy is that he is a great game planner. The Packers are always in the game and when they win they win big. But in the close games he has trouble managing the clock and challenges well. It seems he shows frustration too in calling some predictable plays at time. I have no qualms with him being the head coach, there are better I'm sure, but there are a heck of a lot worse too.
    As for the previous comment, NO WAY should Thompson be fired. Look at the quality of the team with an obsence amount of injuries this season. He has a great eye for talent, no doubt. I do wish he'd be more willing to make a small splash or two in free agency or trading though, such as picking up Lynch earlier this season.