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Packers Stock Report: A "negative" graded game for Aaron Rodgers edition

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Packers Stock Report: A "negative" graded game for Aaron Rodgers edition

September is way too early to declare any team in the NFL the best, the worst or anything in between. The first two months of the season are for staying in contention, fine-tuning your team and overcoming early-season injuries.

When Thanksgiving comes around, that's when we can start talking about who's the best, who's the worst and who needs a couple of fortunate bounces to weasel their way into the postseason. Once the turkey is consumed and the pumpkin pie digested, we'll start to see the good teams make their move to become great, and average teams exposed as frauds before they fall off the face of the Earth.

At 3-0, the Green Bay Packers are off to a great start. But don't get sucked into the silly narratives and manufactured sports media debate about who's the best team in the NFL. September is not the time to be yelling at each other about which team is on the fast track to Levi's Stadium for the Super Bowl. 

There's no doubt the Packers are rising heading into October. But avoid the big-picture narratives for now. It's a waste of valuable brain space less than a quarter of the way through the season.

Now that I'm done lecturing you, onto this weeks Packers Stock Report:

Rising

James Jones
If I'm a defensive coordinator preparing to play the Packers, the first thing I do is install a chip inside the brain of each of my defensive backs. This chip would send a signal to the DB's brain that causes the DB to sprint to wherever James Jones is on the field when Aaron Rodgers has a free play. Jones has been lethal on free plays. The only way to stop him and his sleeveless turtleneck might be computer-programmed robot DBs. 

(Is it even legal to implant a chip into one of your player's brains? Probably not. But I bet the Patriots are already doing it.)

Josh Sitton
The Packers offensive line set the tone for the Chiefs game early. Sitton was his usual solid self -- getting to the second level, giving Rodgers plenty of room to step up in the pocket, and generally bulldozing a path for Eddie Lacy, James Starks and even Alonzo Harris.

Sam Shields
After a miserable season-opener against the Bears, we didn't hear a peep from Shields in pass coverage until his interception on Monday night. And that's a good thing. Shields hasn't given an inch since getting picked on by the Bears.

Steady

Randall Cobb
Cobb had a quiet eight catches for 116 yards (if you can possibly be "quiet" when putting up those numbers) against Seattle and kept zipping around the Chiefs' Tyvon Branch with ease on Monday. Cobb hasn't completely taken over a game yet, but he's doing solid work in filling the void left by Jordy Nelson.

Mike Daniels
The Chiefs lone hope for victory on Monday night was a big game from Jamaal Charles. Daniels played a key role early in making sure Charles never got going, then revved up his pass-rushing motor later in the game. Ted Thompson: If you have a free couple of hours this week, pull out the Packers wallet and sign Daniels to a new contract.

Tom Clements
Hats off to the new Packers playcaller. The offense has been efficient, dangerous, unpredictable and successful. No doubt Rodgers' work at the line of scrimmage and McCarthy's input during the week also play a big role, but all has been smooth on the playcalling front under Clements.

Falling

Mike Nolan and Scot McCloughan
Who are Mike Nolan and Scot McCloughan? They were the 49ers coach and general manager, respectively, who drafted Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers. Nolan and McCloughan: Packers fans throughout the world salute you.

Pro Football Focus
The popular analytics site gave Rodgers a negative grade for his performance against the Chiefs. Let that sink in for a moment: A quarterback who threw for 333 yards and five touchdowns was given a negative grade by a website that (supposedly) studies film of football games. I get that you have to look beyond the box score to add context to a player's performance, but anyone who watched what went down on Monday knows that Rodgers was not an average quarterback. Yikes.
 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (35) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Since '61's picture

PFFs negative rating of Aaron Rodger's performance against the Chiefs is just another of many reasons why I pay very little attention to PFF. Their ratings are like preseason football games, totally meaningless. PFF can do what they want, I will take Rodger's MNF performance every game and post-season game right to the SB, thank you very much. Thanks, Since '61

Tundraboy's picture

Well put. I'll take Rodgers game and performance any time over a rating.

Steve Cheez's picture

Don't forget MM's input on the Niners passing on ARod. Maybe he knew where he'd end up?

croatpackfan's picture

I'm sure he make a phone call and tell to Ted Thompson before the draft: "If you are seriuos to offer me the HC job, pick Aaron Rodgers. I will insisit that 49ers pick Alex Smith!"

4thand1's picture

Oh yeah, that happened. He made the call from my living room, I remember it well.

jh9's picture

PFF's negative rating for Aaron Rodgers' performance against the Chiefs is a joke. Being a successful NFL quarterback is maybe the most difficult position in any sport to master. Taking into account all the physical skills it requires like arm strength, accuracy, movement in the pocket, it more than anything else requires an ability to process an incredible amount of information in fractions of a second to perform well.

It's this mental component to the position that Rodgers is now taking to a new level. Apparently, the analytics PFF uses to measure a quarterback's play doesn't take this into account. They call it the "intangibles." Well, it's these intangibles that Aaron Rodgers is now mastering in a way that we have not seen in any quarterback in history.

If PFF wants to remain relevant, they had better find a way to take these intangibles into account. If they don't, Aaron Rodgers and all the quarterbacks who will most certainly copy him will pass them by and PFF will end up on the scrap heap of analytic history.

Since '61's picture

I never thought that PFF was relevant, if anything they are desperately searching for relevance. Thanks, Since '61

HankScorpio's picture

Yeah, there is a little bit of a Skip Bayless vibe to this whole thing.

HankScorpio's picture

Wilde just tweeted a link to a short vimeo on Rodgers pre-snap thoughts. Mastering the processing of all that data into the correct diagnosis means the ball is out super quick. Just drop and fire. Or even step and fire. And then the WR does the rest because he got the ball in space after a correct diagnosis of that data by the QB before the snap.

It may be hard to quantify but it's easy to see. Mostly because it looks so effortless, IMO.

Anyways, here is the URL.

https://vimeo.com/97245230

The TKstinator's picture

"Slippery Six"...loads of potential there...

Pack88's picture

PFF lost all credibility with me, that explanation about the non-interception is ludicrous. I am no scout but when your eyes tell you a different story than the book throw the book away.

Does PFF have any valid statistical reference to what they publish, I mean come on how about they pull out their last 96 ratings and lets view each almost interception and review the grade! Christ they sound like Colin Cowherd and Teblow better than AAron Rodgers! BTW Alshon Jeffries said Rodgers is an alien; now that I believe!

Oppy's picture

While I don't agree with the "negative grade" (which really means Rodgers just had a mostly 'average' performance), I don't think there is anything wrong with the idea of putting a negative grade on the 'almost' interception. You certainly can't call that throw a 'good' or 'average' throw, a defender got two hands on it.

THat said, yeah, clearly Rodgers put on a clinic last night. I think the backlash PFF is getting is a little extreme however. They are the first to tell you their grades are a metric and don't tell the entire story.

jh9's picture

If they are unable to quantify the mental component of quarterbacking, they should say using their metrics they can't quantify a quarterback's performance period. To publicly state that Aaron Rodgers' performance against the Chief's was below average is ludicrous and invites ridicule of their grading system.

4thand1's picture

Rodgers was asked about the "almost" int and said, I didn't see him. Then smiled and said, I'm glad he dropped it. It goes down in the books as a incomplete pass BFD! HEY PFF, KMA.

Since '61's picture

PFFs grades are a metric, an irrelevant metric. Thanks, Since '61

EdsLaces's picture

Rising .....the defense as a whole. And this sports fans ...is great news.

Dan Stodola's picture

Rising? How the heck can't you include Raji?! Dude is ballin.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Surprising Statistics: Pennel with 10 snaps, Gaston (11), Datone (22), Raji (25), Daniels (38 - 54% of available snaps). Those add up to 106 snaps for about 70 defensive plays. That means that GB averaged having 1.5 defensive linemen playing each snap.

I assume we played some base, but we must have played a lot of 2-4-5 (no surprise) but also quite a bit of the time we must have had just one real defensive lineman on the field. [Source Football Outsiders]

For comparison: In game 1, GB average 1.98 defensive linemen per play. In game 2, GB averaged 1.92 defensive linemen per play. This of course be due to the big lead or match-ups, but it also a function of the prevent defense.

Oppy's picture

They played an entire series or two without any listed DL on the field, using combinations of Neal, Peppers, Perry, Matthews and Palmer as "linemen" while Joe Thomas played the lone dime backer.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Surprising Statistics continued:

1) Banjo played 33 snaps;
2) Thomas played 38 snaps;
3) Palmer played only 35 snaps despite playing well;

Janis played 16 snaps, Rollins 17, Gunter 3, Kuhn 13, up from 7 against Chicago, and 9 against Seattle (not surprising that more pass pro has been needed), Ripkowski played 3, Walker played 6, and Harris played 4 with 2 carries.

Peppers played 50 snaps (that is too many). Mulumba lost contain a second time against Seattle and was promptly yanked from the game. He appears to be in the doghouse, as he got zero snaps against KC while playing 11 snaps on STs.

porupack's picture

Daniels, Matthews and Raji are all playing very good. But I'm not ready to pronounce that this defense is in top tier. GBP played 3 weak Offensive lines; Chigo, Seattle, KC.
We'll see after some quality opponent Olines.

4thand1's picture

Lotta football left. This defense is playing good and I think it will get better with age.

mnklitzke's picture

PFF used a fumble that was negated by a penalty and an almost INT to down grade Arod... Cutler would give his left arm for almost an INT... PFF is meaningless to me.. After saying last week that Barclay had 16 hurries in the Seattle game. Barclay didn't stuff Seattle defense but he battled his butt off to keep Arod alive...

ray nichkee's picture

I heard on my am radio that rodgers got some player of the week award. I just caught the tail end of it but i dont think the award came from PFF.

tm_inter's picture

PFF's negative grading of Aaron Rodgers really opened my eyes.
Ryan Mallet was 24-39 for 228 yards, 1 TD and 1 int.
Rodgers was 24-35 for 333 and 5 TD and 0 int.
Mallet got +1.1, Rodgers got -0.8.
Ben Stockwell of PFF must be crazy or stupid or both. He has lost all credibility. And I will never waste my time reading his articles from now on.

4thand1's picture

We should trade Rodgers for Mallet immediately! LMFAO! skippffbayless

toolkien's picture

As a CPA, I deal with numbers every day. Over time you learn that you can either find the best metrics without resorting to analysis paralysis, or you'd better have a highly efficient way to numerically define the whole reality. In short, you can spend time analyzing 20% or 30% more data in an effort to understand your environment better, but you're probably just wasting time, and if you're trusting your incomplete model as better because it's "more", you can draw some very damaging conclusions. Some times eyes and ears and the sniff test is enough.

PFF apparently prides itself that it looks beyond the surface. Great. But then you had better be thorough. They go by what they can "quantify" and set aside intangibles. But in this day and age, with complete game breakdown available and endless computing resources, what's intangible? You can note and categorize everything - if you take enough time. You can define and populate every happenstance within a game. But does PFF do that? Not a chance. The peek under the hood, make some broad stroke additions to their data collection, and then declare there's some different reality, and all the thousands of additional data points they didn't bother with as "intangibles".

And they drew some terrible conclusions.

porupack's picture

I agree. I think that if PFF would just stick to stats alone, they would have been ok. Their problem was introducing qualifiers and subjectivity around certain events, and trying to make math formulas out of that. Stick to key statistics and don't get too fancy.

hobbes's picture

I think the biggest problem with the PFF metric is not that they scored Rodgers poorly, its that they tried to defend their poor scoring of Rodgers. If PFF had said "obviously Rodgers was not below average against the Chiefs, our metric missed what made Rodgers good and we'll look into it/or we can't measure it" I would have been fine with it. Metrics are never 100% accurate and I don't expect them to be. I think the dumb thing was trying to defend the poor score. When I run statistics I check back to see if my analysis makes common sense. If it doesn't I go back and rework the stats, I don't blame common sense.

Dan Stodola's picture

That's just it... They can't measure any of the intangible things Rodgers does before the snap, they can't measure changing plays, drawing the D offsides, they can't be sure of the playcall, they can't measure decision making either. They admit it. All they did was measure the short throws, gave the receivers the credit for scoring on the short TD's since it was yac.

They rightly don't try to measure what they don't know. Only measure the play and since the TD's were very short throws they don't go as a positive.

Clearly its a limitation, but you can't expect them to measure intangibles, changing plays, drawing D offsides. Non of that counts in the grade they give.

Accept it or not. If you choose not to then you can't bother to use any grade they ever give again. The grades are only given to what they can see and measure on each play. That's the only thing they can try to measure.

4thand1's picture

Its obvious they just know what it takes to be a really great NFL QB. The mental aspect of a great QB alone should give him a high positive grade. Look around the league, not many QB's possess it. If PFF had to pick a player, who do you think they would select 1st? Any gm with half a brain would take Aaron Rodgers.

hobbes's picture

I agree but there's absolutely no way to include that into a metric. PFF and every other metric can only measure what they can observe and quantify, Rodgers' mental ability can be observed but not quantified hence it isn't and should not be included. This is an inherent flaw in the metric and PFF admits as such, which again I have no problem with.

Oppy's picture

There's those that don't have a problem with the metric, those that take issue with the metric, and then there's the majority of people who are angry because they think the thermometer is measuring IQ instead of temperature, and are really pissed off because they know it's smarter than 48 IQ outside.

Evan's picture

There are also those of us who don't care even a little bit, are happy we won and don't need any confirmation that Rodgers' is all-time great.

Oppy's picture

That's why I don't understand all the hoopla.

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