Football is a team sport, and playoff wins and losses are on everyone; certainly it’s never just the QB, even if the QB has a horrible performance. But the way we tend to think about sports invites a narrative that a QB is who determines things, for better or worse. That narrative should be totally blown up after last year’s NFC Championship, when Russell Wilson had an absolutely miserable game and yet became the first NFC QB to attend back-to-back Super Bowls since Brett Favre back in the Clinton administration. Also for better or worse, we define QB legacies by playoff performance — that’s why Joe Montana is set for life, and Andy Dalton might be out of a job in two years.
Here’s something semi-troubling, thus: Aaron Rodgers is fast becoming Peyton Manning V2 — and not in a good way.
After yesterday, Rodgers is 6-5 as a starter in the playoffs; that includes three one-and-done years. If you take away the 2010 Super Bowl run when they were a six-seed, he’s 2-5 in the playoffs. He has 23 TD vs. 7 INT in his playoff lifespan, and a passer rating of 101, so he’s not exactly bringing up the rear — but he’s basically won as much as he’s lost, and he’s only appeared in 1 Super Bowl at age 31.
Manning is 11-13 in his playoff career, with twice as many one-and-dones as basically anyone else. (His most recent one was just a few weeks ago, vs. the Colts, who then lost by 38 to the Patriots.) If you’re not good at understanding numbers, let me clarify: he’s actually lost more than he’s won.
You could argue that a big problem Manning had was the Patriots’ ascendency — it wasn’t until the 2006-2007 AFC Championship Game that he finally got over that hurdle (that was the year they won it all).
You can argue that Rodgers’ problem is with the NFC West. In his first major playoff game as a starter, the Packers lost a shootout to the Arizona Cardinals. He’s since been eliminated twice by the 49ers — once in a Divisional game in SF, and once in a wild-card game in Green Bay — and once by the Seahawks (last year’s NFC Championship). Except for that loss to the Giants when the Packers were a 15-1 regular season team, all his playoff defeats have come at the hands of the NFC West.
With the way the Seahawks win games, it definitely looks like they could become an NFC dynasty; and if that’s the case, we may see a lot more Rodgers’ playoff losses before we see a handful of wins.
In January 2011, it definitely looked like there was a chance Rodgers would be a guy that led Green Bay to 3-4 championships — kind of a modern-day Troy Aikman with better stats. Now he seems like he’s headed for a Peyton Manning narrative, and while that’s good in some respects, it’s awful in others.
Of course, there’s always this: