What has happened to Aaron Rodgers? The guy, who was being claimed as a MVP candidate going into the 2010 season, hasn’t been that so far for the Green Bay Packers.
In the past four weeks, the Packers are 1-3 with the three losses all being by a game-winning field goal. The team definitely misses injured starters running back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley, but the inability to produce both on third downs and late in games is a big reason why Green Bay has fallen by just three points in its three losses.
Last season, the Packers were third in the NFL in third down percentage, converting 47 % of the time. However, in the past 12 quarters (going back to the Detroit game) Green Bay has been anemic on third downs.
In the past two games, the Packers are just 5-of-26 on third downs, and that includes failing on all three attempts in overtime.
This is with a quarterback who was the NFL’s on third downs in 2009. Rodgers had a rating of more than 130 on third downs a season ago, but this year it’s been a very different story.
After just seven interceptions last season, he has matched that total already through six games. Compounding the problem is four of the interceptions have been on third down.
These struggles on the most important down have made it tough for Green Bay to move the ball consistently since its week 1 win over Philadelphia. But what has the Packers in a two-game skid is the recurring theme of coming up short when the game is on the line.
Since Rodgers took over the starting position in 2008, the team is just 1-11 in games decided four points or less and 0-5 in overtime games (including the Arizona playoff game).
In those five games, the Packers haven’t even picked up a first down. In the 2008 losses both Tennessee and Chicago won the coin toss and scored on the initial drive of the extra session.
But the last three times, Rodgers has had a shot to lead his team down for a score and win the game, and each time he has come up a short.
The Dolphins, like the Bears and Redskins previously, played well enough to win, but a clutch performance from Rodgers late in the game has the Packers’ record much better than the current 3-3.
This is what separates good quarterbacks from great ones; being able to turn a loss into a win. Some guys just have that ability and some don’t. When will Rodgers have that signature game-winning drive, in the way his predecessor would for the Green Bay Packers for more than a decade.
In 39 starts there have been interceptions, missed field goals and late defensive collapses, but all in all Rodgers has yet to have that drive. For this Packers team to ever make that leap forward as a Super Bowl caliber team, he needs to start having them.
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Written by Mitch McLaughlin