Why Have the Top Quarterbacks in the NFL Been Struggling?

9/17/12 in NFL   |   Jnewman482   |   138 respect

To start nearly every fantasy football draft this year, the top four quarterbacks drafted were Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford.

Fantasy owners who drafted these players must have been elated that they were able to nab stud quarterbacks since the preseason talk was all about how the NFL has become a passing league, but all of these users must be sorely disappointed right now with how their QBs have played in the first two weeks of the season.

There are a couple of common themes that seem to plague each of these quarterbacks’ respective situations. Either both apply or at least one is true.
  1. Lack of effective running game
  2. Loss of important member of the team due to injury or otherwise
Let’s take a look at all four quarterbacks individually and see if we can figure out what’s going on.

1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)Sep 9, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA;  Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to the scoreboard during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field.  The 49ers defeated the Packers 30-22.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

In standard ESPN scoring leagues, Aaron Rodgers had 22 points against the 49ers in Week 1 and 10 points against the Bears in Week 2. To this point, he has an impressive completion rate of 68.4 percent, but has thrown two interceptions and only three touchdown passes.

The main issue for Rodgers is that Mike McCarthy relies on him for just about everything on offense. Bringing in RB Cedric Benson this season after ineffectively using a trio of unproven running backs last year was supposed to give Rodgers a successful running game or at least a serviceable running game to accompany his offense.

But despite being the featured back in the first two games of the year, Cedric Benson has yet to break 100 yards rushing, and his longest run from the line of scrimmage is 11 yards.

Opposing defenses know that Rodgers is essentially the entire Packers offense, so they play the pass on every down. It’s clear Benson doesn’t have enough juice in his legs to burn them, so they sit back in coverage and make Rodgers’ life miserable.

Losing star wide receiver Greg Jennings in Week 1 didn’t help especially since his replacement, James Jones, had two catches for negative one yards against the Bears.

Moreover, while Rodgers is a supreme talent, he needs Jennings to return, and he absolutely needs either a miraculous resurgence from Cedric Benson or for Mike McCarthy to find another running back who can actually present a threat to opposing defenses. 

2. Tom Brady (New England Patriots)Sep 16, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts during the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE 

Tom Brady is just behind Aaron Rodgers in terms of fantasy scoring with 31 points in standard ESPN scoring leagues.

Now, Brady actually has a decent running threat in Stevan Ridley, who has started the season off averaging 98 rushing yards per game.

Certainly, it hurt the passing game when TE Aaron Hernandez, one of Brady’s favorite targets, injured his ankle in the first quarter against the Cardinals. However, that should not serve as an excuse for the Patriots to lose to a team that oddsmakers predicted them to beat by 14 points. 
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9/17/12   |   Dan_B   |   1067 respect

I thought having Brady and Brees in a 2-quarterback fantasy league was going to make me a juggernaut...