Rodgers Atlanta Masterpiece Ranks Best
Its Martin Luther King Day, and its snowing so heavily in Titletown the roads are virtually shut down. Business is basically non-existent. So I decided to see if my ass could cover a personal check I wrote late on Saturday night following the Green Bay Packer’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons (and following a few of Milwaukee’s finest).
Anyway, on Saturday I wrote that Aaron Rodgers passing performance was the greatest in Packer playoff history, and that he has already proven to be a much better Quarterback than Brett Favre ever was. It turns out I was right on the first count, but on the second count I think I was selectively remembering Favre’s horrible playoff performances, and forgetting that he had a few masterpieces tossed in there as well.
I measured each Packer postseason quarterback performance since 1944 (the first postseason the Packers participated in that the NFL kept boxscores — the NFL was actually quite advanced compared to the NBA). My measurement stick was the Quarterback Efficiency Rating I use, adjusted for opponent. (QBER= Total Passing Yards + Total Scrambling Yards – Yards lost on sacks – (30 yards x interceptions) /Incomplete passes + Sacks). Notice I take no account of touchdowns thrown. I think touchdowns thrown are simply the situational by-product of a completed pass, much like an RBI in baseball is just the situational by-product of a contacted baseball. In other words, in my mind, there is no skill involved in throwing touchdowns that is distinguishable from the skill involved in completing passes to your teammates.
So, to measure each performance I took the Quarterback’s QBER in the game and subtracted it from the Opponent’s QBER Allowed during the season to get the “Adjusted QBER”.
Here is how the Packers postseason QB performances rank since 1944:
GB PACKERS QB PERFORMANCES SINCE 1944
As you can see, my memories of Favre are selective. I tended to hang onto the five performances that rank the lowest in Packer postseason history: the “4th and 26” loss to the Eagles; the Michael Vick first postseason loss ever at Lambeau; the six interception disaster at St Louis; and the worst performance in Packer QB postseason history: the Randy Moss mooning game.
What I forget about is Favre’s masterpieces that constitute 7 of the 15 best performances in Packer postseason history, including: the brilliant win against the 49ers in which the Packers came of age in 1995; the snowy beatdown of Seattle a couple of seasons ago; Favre’s miracle against the Lions in 1993, and his performances leading up to the Packers 12th World Championship in 1996.
Rodgers, though, owns the single greatest postseason performance in Packers history, along with two very good performances in the other two games (by my rating, the Arizona game was not as good as most think, the Philadelphia performance was not as blaise as most think).
I would also like to point out the performances by Bart Starr that are thrown in there. Although his numbers are also adjusted against opponent average, still QBER may not adequately reward him for the brilliant efficiency he showed (especially in the Ice Bowl).
If you are looking forward to next week’s Championship Game, the Bears pass defense is worse than Philly’s but better than Atlanta’s. I think weather will play a large part in the outcome. Ironically, Packers fans should probably hope for cold but otherwise calm conditions. If that happens I like the Packers chances against the stingy Bears. And I love their chances against anything the AFC has to offer.
Footnote: A couple other points. You will notice that among the ten worst performances in postseason Packer history are two world championship wins: The Ice Bowl (1967), in which Bart Starr was throwing against arctic conditions, and the (+0.39) adjQBER turned in against the New York Giants in the 1944 World Championship Game by the legendary back and Milwaukee native, Irv Comp (who was actually listed as a tailback, so the Packers must have still run the single wing in 1944).