This comes from Lori Nickel at the JS Online Packer Blog.
While many fans are questioning the Packers and the high penalties, and whether or not that’s a product of poor discipline or coaching, remember that the Packers were the second-most penalized team a year ago, too. Last year, the Packers and the playmakers were able to overcome the penalties. Perhaps more significant is that in 2007, the Packers converted 43% of their third downs. It’s down to 41% now, a noteable drop.
Two percentage points didn’t seem like a notable (not “noteable”) drop to me. So I looked it up. The Packers are 50 for 122 on third down conversion attempts. If they were 52 out of 122, their percentage would be 42.6. If they were 53 out of 122, their would be converting at a rate of 43.4%.
Any missed third downs hurt. But for someone looking to explain the difference between last year’s Packers and this year’s version, I’d respectfully submit that not converting three third downs is not it.
UPDATE: Great comment from Bucky.
Interesting stat about third downs: SI.com has passing splits for all quartbacks, including Aaron Rodgers. On third down, he is 59 for 88 (67%), for 778 yards, 10 TDs, and 2 picks. A passer rating of 123.2
And oh yeah, he’s been sacked 8 times.
This other quarterback I looked up was 57 of 82 (69.5%), for 575 yards, 2 TDs, and 6 picks, with a passer rating of 66.9.
I’m pretty happy with the guy we’ve got. I’d be even happier if we could keep guys on the other team off of him.