Aaron Rodgers May Be Slipping

The best quarterback in the NFL is starting to come back down to earth at the wrong time.

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

I'm one of the last people to over-react when something happens in the sports world.  I don't believe that the Colts are going to win their last three games and miss out on Andrew Luck, I don't believe that playing great in the last 5 minutes of a game makes Tim Tebow a great quarterback, and I don't think the Packers are going to finish the season on a three game losing streak.  


Saying that Aaron Rodgers is having a bad second half of the season is just as ridiculous as saying Albert Pujols had a bad year in 2011.  It's not bad, just a little less god-like than we've become used to.  But after analyzing the Packers' star's statistics, there is a disturbing trend. 

Before the Packers took their week 8 bye, Rodgers was putting up statistics that would place him among the greatest seasons statistically in the history of the NFL.  He still has some amazing numbers after the bye, just not quite what we were spoiled with earlier this season.
 

Season Breakdown

Week 1-7 

Week 8-14 

Opponents Win % 

.431 

.412 

Completions/Attempts 

171/239 

151/234 

Completion % 

71.5 

64.5 

Yards 

2372 

1988 

Touchdowns 

20 

20 

Interceptions 

Average QB Rating 

125.8 

114 

 
I know what you're thinking, "so what?", "His numbers are still pro-bowl worthy!" and I'm not arguing with that.  But against slightly inferior competition, Rodgers has a lower completion percentage and a lower average QB rating in the last seven games.  Now if you look at those last seven games…
 

Opponent 

Comp/Att 

Completion % 

Touchdowns 

QB Rating 

@ San Diego 

21/26 

80.8 

145.8 

Minnesota 

23/30 

76.7 

140.3 

Tampa Bay 

23/34 

67.6 

112.3 

@ Detroit 

22/33 

66.7 

116.6 

@ NY Giants 

28/46 

60.9 

106.2 

Oakland 

17/30 

56.7 

96.7 

@ Kansas City 

17/35 

48.6 

80.1 

 
Rodgers has been on a consistent statistical decline over that time.  And this wasn't seven games against the best teams in football either, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Kansas City are all sub .500 teams and though Rodgers was good, he wasn't great.  Each of the last seven games, we've seen his completion percentage drop and other than the small up tick against Detroit, his QB rating has been dropping as well.

So what does this all really mean for the Packers if Rodgers doesn't return to his legendary first half run?

Two things:
1.  The Green Bay defense needs to step up:  As of week 15, the Packers D has allowed 5131 yards of total offense while the offense has gained 5254 yards.  That's too narrow of a margin for the defense and while they haven't allowed many touchdowns (32 allowed), they've been bailed out most of the season by the offense (50 touchdowns).  The defense also needs to get at the quarterback, to this point this season Green Bay has allowed 33 sacks while only getting 27.  One thing the defense needs to keep up is their turnover differential, the Packers are currently +20 in turnover margin and have returned five of their 32 forced turnovers into touchdowns. 

2.  The running game needs to step up:  The Packers have been less than impressive on the ground compared to their opponents this season.  Green bay averages 99.5 rushing yards per game (26th in the league) and 3.9 yards per rush (tied for 23rd in the league).  Ryan Grant and James Starks need to play better and need to get into the end zone more, they have combined for only three touchdowns on the ground.  Fullback John Kuhn leads the team in rushing touchdowns with 4, but the longest of those was only two yards.

The Packers do have a chance to become the first back to back super bowl champions since the Patriots won super bowls 38-39 back in 2004-5, but if the rest of the team doesn't play better they'll need Aaron Rodgers to once again play like greatest quarterback of all time.  

 

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS