Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Rodgers’

SAN FRANCISCO – With the “What have you done for me lately?” attitude found everywhere throughout the sports world, there are numerous occasions when single game performances, good and bad, are blown way out of proportion. At the root of such occasions a common theme can be found – expectations. Perhaps no quarterback in the NFL has to fight lower expectations than Alex Smith.

This has never been more evident than after the 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks 13-6 in the week seven, “Thursday Night Football” game in Candlestick Park on October 18, 2012.

Smith did not play his best game of this season by far. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Very mediocre numbers by NFL quarterback standards. The reaction to Smith’s performance, however, was not standard for this type of performance.

Rewind to just after week five – Alex Smith and the 49ers were coming off of the most lopsided victory of the 2012 season, beating the Buffalo Bills 45-3. In fact, of all 92 NFL games played this season, the 49ers own two of the three largest margins of victory (34-0 over the New York Jets ranks third).

Going into the highly anticipated week six match-up against the 2012 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, Smith was receiving praise, not for “managing” football games, as was the case during the 2011-’12 season, but as a true leader and veteran capable of leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory in 2013. A poor outing by Smith put an end to that.

Smith threw three interceptions in a 26-3 defeat at the hands of the Giants and once again, murmurings of Smith’s inabilities resurfaced.

Pregame analysis for the Seahawks match-up was littered with doubts of Smith’s capability to get the Niners to the “promised land.” Anything less than a perfect game against Seattle was predestined to attract scorn from the naysayers, chomping at the bit to compare Smith in a bad light to the Aaron Rodgers and Tom Bradys of the league. But is that fair?

Let’s do that comparison using concrete facts. Luckily for us, both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have faced the Seattle Seahawks this season (the Patriots just the week before the 49ers), so it shouldn’t be difficult.

Here are the passing stats:

Alex Smith – (14/23) 140 yards 1 TD 1 INT

Aaron Rodgers – (26/39) 223 yards 0 TD 0 INT

Tom Brady – (36/58) 395 yards 2 TD 2 INT

Looking at the stat lines, all three QBs completed over sixty percent of their passes (Rodgers – 66.7%, Brady – 62.1%, Smith – 60.9%) and each threw an equal number of touchdowns to interceptions. Smith ranks right between the two, throwing for more TDs than Rodgers yet less INTs than Brady.

Smith out-shined both Rodgers and Brady in his touchdown passes per completion percentage (Smith – 7%, Brady – 2.7%, Rodgers – 0%). He also finished between the former MVPs in yards per attempt (Brady – 6.8 yards/att., Smith – 6.1 yards/att., Rodgers – 5.7 yards/att.).

The glaring hypocrisy of the whole mess is that the Patriots and the Packers both lost to the Seahawks, whereas, the 49ers won. The story line after the Packers’ loss was the terrible call that gave Seattle the victory over Green Bay. After the Patriots’ loss it was how great a comeback the Seahawks mounted over the Pats, once again winning on a last second pass play.

Neither Tom Brady nor Aaron Rodgers received even a tenth of the criticism that Smith received, even though Smith compares not only similarly, but in some areas more favorably than both Brady and Rodgers. Why?

Expectations – and it’s about time they changed.

Smith ranks tenth in the NFL in Total QBR (quarterback rating) this season. He ranks ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers and 14 other starters.

Smith has the highest Total QBR in a single game this season (99.2 on a 100 scale). This game is also the fifth highest rating of any quarterback in any game since 2008.

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Alex Smith, quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers have 2 weeks remaining in their historic turn-around season.

The 49ers have suffered from about a decade of coaching musical chairs, horrendous offensive lines, and weak QB consistency.

Enter Jim Harbaurgh.

Instantly, the vibe in San Francisco changed from despair to hope.

Within a matter of weeks, the 49ers established themselves as the top contender in the NFC West and have not left an inch of space for refute since.

Sure, there have been hiccups along the way, with losses to Dallas, Baltimore and Arizona but, overall, the Niners have torn a path of defensive destruction and offensive reliability. The losses were by an average of just 5 points.

San Francisco has the league’s #1 rush defense and have not allowed a rushing touchdown all season (the rest of the NFL teams have allowed at least 6). Their offense is also one of the leagues best at efficiently protecting the football, which is reflected in their +25 turnover ratio.

QB Alex Smith has contributed greatly to the success of the team as well, holding one of the league’s lowest interception ratios (second only to Aaron Rodgers, who seems pretty good).

Smith’s ability to control the game and lead the offense is due in part to the massive improvement of the offensive line. The Niners have made strengthening the line a matter of focus the last couple seasons and is now showing results, both in Smith’s play and in RB Frank Gore‘s.

San Francisco boasts the league’s 9th best rushing attack and special teams play second to none. David Akers is the league’s highest scoring place kicker and punter Andy Lee has the second highest average punt distance at 50.4 (#1 averages 50.5).

Throw this all together with a successful coach that genuinely loves the game and is his players’ number one supporter, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for W’s.

The most advantageous aspect of it all, is that the Niners are one of the leagues youngest teams on both sides of the ball (3rd youngest defense and 6th youngest offense).

We could be seeing the next generation of 49er dominance.

17,000 points.  LeBron James became the youngest player to  score 17,000 points.

I am going to declare this right now. LeBron will be the all-time leading scorer in the NBA and will take Michael Jordan‘s place the way Aaron Rodgers is working to eclipse Brett Favre‘s legacy.

I may be a LeBron apologist with a lot of his antics and whatnot become I have watched the guy since we were both in high school. Highlights on SportsCenter after all his games, showing his raw athletic ability and overall dominance on the court.

The King James and Miami Heat band wagons are awfully lonely. Give it time.

 

(Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

The game went the Green Bay Packers way from the kickoff. They held the Pittsburgh Steelers to a punt on the opening drive. Although the Packers also had to punt the ensuing drive, they proved to the Steelers they were there to play.

No one played harder than Aaron Rodgers and the Packers Defense. Rodgers threw for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. The defense forced 2 first half interceptions and a second half fumble. More impressive than that, they continued to play at that high level after losing star CB Charles Woodson to a fractured collarbone he suffered on a tackle made late in the second quarter.

All 3 turnovers can be attributed to the play of the linebackers and linemen because of the pressure they put on Roethlisberger all night long. Both interceptions were due to obstructed throws from defensive pressure.

The Packers, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, capitalized on all 3 turnovers by converting one immediately on the pick 6, the second interception and fumble were also converted into 7 points on touchdown drives. At one point, the Packers led 21-3.

The Steelers dominated the end of the first half and the entire 3rd quarter and were able to pull the game to within 3 points at 28-25.

The Packers weathered the storm and with just over 2 minutes left in the game, kicked a chip shot field goal to increase their lead to 6 at 31-26, eliminating the chance of tying with a field goal for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are famous for last-minute drives to win games. They did it to the Arizona Cardinals in the ’09 Super Bowl with the amazing catch made by Santonio Holmes to win the game. Not to be this time around.

Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense couldn’t get their feet under them. They gained a first down on the first play of the drive but then crashed. Ben threw 4 straight incomplete passes.

Green Bay took the victory formation and that was that.

Of course the poll starts this early. Why not?

Interview after interview, analyst after analyst, picks and predictions favor Green Bay. The Bears still get their spotlight, as is necessary to remain unbiased, and even get their praise. But the Packers are getting the votes.

Obviously it’s not quite unanimous. Mike Greenberg of ESPN’sMike and Mike” did pick the Bears…ironically to the dismay of the Bears’ fans. Greenberg (Greeny) is infamous for incorrect playoff picks this year. The Bears can’t catch a break.

The funny thing is though, I think the Bears like not having support so they can play the “us against the world” card. It makes it easier to get up for a game with a chip on your shoulder. New York Jets‘ coach Rex Ryan rants all the time about how no one thinks the Jets can beat these good teams and waves the underdog flag loudly. Lovie Smith, Bears head coach, is not a ranter. He is content fueling his team with the bulletin board and locker room speeches.

It’s been that way all season for the Bears and even a little before the season. Ex Bears’ great Gayle Sayers said pre-season that he didn’t expect the Bears to be any good. With almost all the focus on Brett Favre in Minnesota and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, the Bears almost silently won the NFC North Division. Though they are the NFC North Champions and #2 overall NFC seeded team, the Bears just do not have the momentum and appeal the Packers carry.

The Packers are coming off a dominant performance over the #1 seeded Atlanta Falcons on the road. The Chicago Bears beat the 7-9 (8-9 including wildcard victory) Seattle Seahawks in Chicago. Jay Cutler is always talked about in terms of potential. No one really trusts him yet. NFL analysts describe him like a ticking time bomb for interceptions. All good comments about Jay sound like, “He really has the arm to make any throw on the field, but you just know he’s going to throw the defense 3-4 balls a game and it comes down to whether or not they can take advantage.”

Definitely, the Chicago Bears enter their own house this Sunday as the underdog. They haven’t seemed to mind the doubt thus far.