Monday, September 28, 2015

The Packers Are Freerolling

Sitting here with Monday Night Football on the teevee, watching Aaron Rodgers exert his mastery once more as the Green Bay Packers are rolling over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Not to get too carried away with a fast-crowding bandwagon here during Week 3, but the Packers look great and Rodgers in particular has become kind of incredible as one of the more dominating quarterbacks around. This has been building for a couple of years now, with Rodgers’s ability to see the field and react insantaneously to what is happening around him giving him an edge even we non-experts can see unfold in real time.

The MNF crew just made a persuasive comparison between Rodgers and the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, highlighting how quickly each is able to translate thought into action.

Rodgers similarly makes me think of other sport-transcending players like Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky -- guys who could survey a scene filled with more variables than most of us can track, “chunk” them somehow (as psychologists talk about) into manageable units, then act accordingly with precision and efficiency, seemingly “one step ahead” of everyone else.

A favorite play of Rodgers’ that I’ve enjoyed tonight and during recent weeks is the “free play” whereby he is able to induce the defense to go offside with a hard count, then call for a quick snap that allows him to fire deep down the field without any fear of a negative outcome. It’s something no other team aside from the always edge-seeking New England Patriots even seems capable of trying, let alone executing. But Rodgers and the Packers have done it multiple times already tonight, with a TD pass and another 52-yarder resulting from a couple of them.

In poker we are familiar with the concept of “freerolling,” say, when you’re all in with AcKc against AdKd and two clubs come on the flop. You can’t lose, but you could win big. Don’t see that scenario so often in football or other sports, but Rodgers and the Pack have found a great example of “freerolling” in football. And there’s something exceedingly enjoyable about watching it work.

(EDIT [added 9/29/2015]: Here’s an article discussing the eight “free plays” Rodgers and G.B. have enjoyed so far during the season’s first three games.)

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