Tag Archives: Aaron Rodgers

NFL Preview 2012

The NFL is the most popular sport in America for a lot of reasons, but one of them is chaos. It is hard to rule out more than a few teams when making your preseason playoff predictions. This just isn’t true in other sports. In what NFL city aren’t fans saying, “This could be our year!” (OK, maybe not in Cleveland, Minnesota, Jacksonville, or Indianapolis.)

For the past nine seasons and 11 of the last 12, a team has gone from worst to first within its division. In each season since 1996, at least five teams made the playoffs that didn’t qualify the previous year. The average playoff turnover rate over that span is 50 percent (six teams)!
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New York Giants Upset Green Bay Packers

I could feel the middle-aged woman’s eyes, studying me like I was an animal at the zoo. She shouldn’t have been surprised by what she saw, but she was. I heard her not-so-quietly ask her friend for an explanation. Finally she asked me.

“Excuse me,” she said. “Why are you wearing a cheesehead?”

It was an interesting phrasing of the question. It turns out she meant it in the most literal way possible—she had no idea Green Bay Packers fans wore such a thing or that she was at a Packers bar. Had I never come across a cheesehead, I don’t think I’d know to call it a cheesehead. I’d probably ask, “Why are you wearing a hunk of foam cheese on your head?” but that’s just me.

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Pilgrimage to Lambeau Field

I had a feeling Aaron Rodgers would not be playing on Sunday when, on Saturday night, a cab driver told me he had given Rodgers a ride home from the bar the night before. In possession of a ticket for Green Bay’s regular season finale for months, I had been hoping to witness perfection, but the Packers’ Week 15 loss ended that possibility.

At the very least, I figured I’d get to see Rodgers, the frontrunner for the league MVP, flash his patented discount double-check once or twice, even if it wasn’t en route to a 16-0 season. But with the No. 1 seed in hand, Rodgers rested, and a potentially historic game turned into a meaningless one.

As I found out, there’s no such thing as a meaningless game at Lambeau Field.
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Super Bowl XLV: Steelers vs Packers

Super Bowl XLV pits two extremely good quarterbacks against each other, as most Super Bowls do. Both Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers have finished in the top five in quarterback rating the last two seasons. They were also both first round draft picks.

Again, this is not surprising. Assuming both start this year’s game, it will mean that 48/90 quarterbacks to start the Super Bowl were first round draft picks, according to DraftHistory.com.

Neither was the first QB chosen in his respective draft, however. In the 2004 NFL Draft, Roethlisberger was taken 11th, behind Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. The following year, Rodgers was selected 24th, behind Alex Smith, whom the 49ers chose with the first overall pick.

It’s hard to say the Giants or Chargers regret their decisions. Manning has underperformed at times but leeway is given when you’ve won a Super Bowl, as Manning did in 2008. Rivers has been in the top three in QB rating the last three years. Of course the eight other teams that passed on Big Ben would likely consider a do-over.

Big Ben has already won two Super Bowls. Nice choice, Pittsburgh. (Credit: SteelCityHobbies)

There is no debate between Rodgers and the lone QB chosen before him. Smith has been a complete bust and Rodgers is turning into one of the elite quarterbacks in the game. Most of the other 23 teams that passed on Rodgers would take him if given the chance.

Quarterback is the most important position in sports, and given that it typically takes a few years for one to develop, the drafting of a QB is critical. You’ve heard this before: Choose the right one and you potentially set up your team for years of success. Choose wrong, and it’s a major setback.

The problem that teams often make is they commit to drafting a quarterback even when there are no really good options. Let’s review the most recent drafts and the quarterbacks selected in the first round:

2010: The Rams chose Sam Bradford with the first pick. The only other QB chosen in the first round was Tim Tebow at 24.

2009: The three first-round picks—Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez, and Josh Freeman—are looking good.

2008: Again, the two first rounders are looking good: Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.

2007: The first overall pick, JaMarcus Russell, was an enormous bust for the Raiders, but none of the other quarterbacks in the class have done much either. Brady Quinn was the only other in the first round.

2006: Jay Cutler, at 11, has performed better than Vince Young (3) or Matt Leinart (10), but even he didn’t play in his first playoff game until this year, and it was not for the team that drafted him.

2005: The Smith/Rodgers draft. Jason Campbell was also taken in the first round, one slot after Rodgers.

Perhaps Rodgers is giving thanks that he wasn’t drafted by San Fran? (Credit: Chad Davis)

2004: The Manning/Rivers/Roethlisberger draft. There was a considerable drop-off after this trio, with J.P. Losman being the other first round choice.

2003: Carson Palmer was the first pick and is the best of the bunch. Byron Leftwich (7), Kyle Boller (19), and Rex Grossman (22), also went in the first round.

2002: David Carr, the first pick, was a bust, but which quarterback did you want the Texans to draft—Joey Harrington? Patrick Ramsey? Those were the other first round choices. David Garrard, the best QB of this class, was taken in the fourth round.

Again, other than 2005 and to a certain extent 2006, the team to take the first quarterback did not choose the wrong one. Their mistake was choosing a quarterback in the first place. The Raiders went with Russell in 2007 over wide receiver Calvin Johnson (who went second) and running back Adrian Peterson (seventh). Two six-time Pro Bowl defensive ends were drafted after quarterbacks in 2002: Julius Peppers went right after Carr and Dwight Freeney was chosen 11th.

The 2011 draft is another one that simply may not have an elite quarterback. Even if it’s a position of need, a team is better off taking the best player available at another position and waiting until the next year to target a quarterback. The time invested in developing a young QB who never amounts to anything is backbreaking.