9.09.2014

Revisiting 3rd and 3

After a few days of reflection, I'd like to delve a bit deeper into Rodgers error in judgement on 3rd and 3 in the third quarter.



That isn't to say he's off the hook.  It felt a bit like the Giants playoff game in 2007 to me, when Favre looked so cold that he would rather go home early than finish the game.  I remember thinking to myself, "If the yearly goal is to make the Super Bowl, and the Packers will have to play in Lambeau in January to get there, then I don't think Brett Favre can be our QB anymore."  Both Rodgers's and Favre's plays left me reevaluating who they were.

I'm not suggesting Rodgers is no longer capable of leading the Packers.  Far from it.   I simply believe that this is a play Rodgers should have made.  It's a play people have come to expect him to make, simply because he's been that good.  I'm still frustrated that he botched it, and I might argue he would be too, were he in my shoes.

We actually got an excellent example of this on Thursday night.  Consider the differences between the two offensive linemen who took the field on Thursday night as injury relief:  Corey Linsley and Derek Sherrod.

Linsley, a rookie playing his very first regular season NFL game on a huge stage, played a very good game, making one mistake while otherwise being invisible, a desired trait on the offensive line.   Sherrod, on the other hand, was embarrassed to the tune of recovering the fumble that he allowed in his own endzone for a safety.  But who drew the wrath of Rodgers on camera?  Linsley.

Why?

It's a difference of expectation.  Linsley had prepared all week for this game with the starters, and barring a personnel change, will be starting until week 9.  Sherrod, on the other hand, was a reserve unexpectedly jumping into a game against the defending Super Bowl champs.  Maybe Rodgers has a higher opinion of Linsley, maybe he just feels Linsley has more potential than Sherrod, but the bottom line is Rodgers demanded perfection from Linsley, and when he didn't deliver, he heard about it.  Rodgers had no such expectations for Sherrod, which might tell us something about Sherrod's future with the team.

So as Rodgers goes with Linsley, so do I with Rodgers, as should anyone else rooting for Green Bay.  If that's Scott Tolzien filling in due to injury and erring, I give him a pass .  But Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL.  He holds the current record for highest career passer rating, preps for games with a relentless attention to detail, and year after year has proven his ability to make plays with his arm and his feet that very few at his position can mimic.  Most of the time he lives up to that standard, but on third and three at a pivotal moment in a nationally televised game, he fell short.  I don't think it's unfair to expect him to make that play, and I think he would agree.

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