In any event, I was reading two things around the same time in the past several hours — the excellent @JScomments Twitter feed, which reads the comments on Packers stories so you don’t have to, as well as Bob McGinn’s breakdown of the Packers’ 17-14 loss to the Vikings.
In the Twitter comments feed, fans were relentlessly ripping quarterback Aaron Rodgers — which on the surface has always seemed ridiculous. And indeed, some of the remarks like “Rodgers is a one time champ that wasn’t consistent. He’s basically Trent Dilfer” are patently absurd. Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer. Dilfer was a mediocre QB who played in a great situation.
But the cumulative weight of the comments made me reconsider how Packers fans view their QB just a little bit. And then one whopper of a stat from McGinn’s piece really stood out:
Rodgers completed 20 of 36 for 213, one touchdown and one interception. He also fumbled three times. His passer rating of 70.7 marked the 14th straight game in which he has been under 100.
Now, passer rating is hardly the best way to gauge the effectiveness of a quarterback. But the fact that Rodgers has gone that many games — 14, almost a full season’s worth, which was 10 regular season games last year, two playoff games last year and the first two regular season games this year — without topping the century mark is pretty startling.
By comparison, Teddy Bridgewater hit the mark five times last season, including twice in back-to-back December games vs. Chicago and the Giants. Noted elite QB Tom Brady hit it nine times last season, including once in the playoffs. And the guy playing opposite Rodgers on Sunday night, Sam Bradford, cleared the bar with ease at 121.2.
Basically, breaking 100 means you were efficient, didn’t turn the ball over and probably threw at least a couple TD passes (as was the case with Bradford on Sunday night).
Rodgers has come close during his 14-game drought, topping 90 in five of those games. So it’s not like he’s been terrible. But he’s also had plenty of duds in there: last night’s 70.7 and four other games below 70.
In just the last 12 regular-season games (10 last year, two this year), Rodgers has a combined passer rating of 82.0 and is completing just 57.2 percent of his passes with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Those numbers are fine, but hardly elite. And the Packers need Rodgers to be elite (as evidenced by their 5-7 record in those games) By comparison, a fella named Christian Ponder had a comparable passer rating of 81.2 in 2012, his best year as a pro, when the Vikings went 10-6.
Nobody would compare Rodgers to Ponder (OK, nobody except a Journal Sentinel online commenter). But this is a long enough stretch of decidedly average play to make criticism of Rodgers seem more reasonable than it once was.