Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers: Don’t Mock the Belt

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Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a signature celebration. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. What happens after his opponents mock the belt?

Your mother heard it from her mother who heard it from her mother, and on down the line. The story is nearly as old as time itself, told in hushed whispers to children to keep them in line. “Don’t cross this line, child, or the earth will surely be scorched.”

I am, of course, talking about any who dare mock The Belt after sacking Aaron Rodgers.

There have been numerous tribute videos to this phenomenon. Aaron Rodgers gets sacked and the defender hops up and mocks his trademark belt celebration. The pure, unmitigated gall! A fire is ignited, and Rodgers makes the defense pay.

For their mockery.
For daring to show up to the stadium that day.
For their mere existence.

He makes them pay for it all.

After the mockery, fathers hug their children tight, already knowing what is to come. “Hush child, and do not look directly at it, or you will surely perish.” The fathers – older, wizened – steal glances, but even they not dare to fully embrace it. That way lies death, madness and despair.

Rodgers going scorched earth after facing that specific mockery is something that is taken as fact. But what is the reality? If you mock the belt, will you turn to ash?

I went back and looked at every sack of Aaron Rodgers from 2011-2020. I started with 2011 because the Rodgers’ Belt celebration started in earnest in 2010.

Rodgers also started his work with State Farm in 2011, putting The Belt on full display and leaving him open for mockery by every person who sacked him.

Over the span of 2011-2020, I looked at 380 sacks, watching closely for every post-sack celebration. I tended to use the broadcast angle, as it would linger longer on the sacker and give me a better view. Sometimes I went to the All 22 angle if I felt I couldn’t get the view I needed to determine. There were times I would watch a celebration over and over again. “Was that a belt, or some other movement around the waist?” Dear Reader, I looked closely at the waistline of many a man during this project.

Some celebrations were a judgment call, but I feel as though I found all of the celebrations that mocked the belt. Over that time frame, I counted 14 instances of the belt being mocked. But what came next? Well, let’s find out, shall we?

In those 14 instances, there was not a single instance where a team mocked the celebration twice in the same game. Only two teams mocked the celebration twice over this time frame: the Lions mocked it in Week 12 of 2011 and Week 13 of 2015 (the 2015 game, of course, ended with The Miracle in Motown). The Giants mocked it twice in the same season: Week 13 and the Divisional Round of the 2011 season.

Let’s get to some numbers. Was Rodgers really better after the belt celebration was mocked? In short, yes. Yes he was.

As you can see from this table, over the entire span, his completion percentage went up by 4.4 points, his YPA went by 1.96, and his TD% jumped by 3.8 points. His INT% declined slightly, but only by 0.1 point.

Of course, there’s more to the story than just the high-level numbers, so let’s have a little fun.

By Game

His biggest game after being mocked was in 2019 against the Raiders. Maxx Crosby mocked the belt early in the game, and that was a mistake on his part. Rodgers started off well in that game – 4/6 (66.7%) for 79 yards (13.17 YPA) and a TD – and didn’t slow down after being mocked. After that moment, Rodgers went 21/25 (84.0%) for 350 yards (14.0 YPA) and 4 TDs.

He did something similar to the Chargers back in 2011. He was off to a good start before being mocked, to the tune of 5/6 (83.3%) for 32 yards (5.3 YPA) and a TD. As you can tell from his YPA, he was throwing short before he was mocked: he didn’t attempt a single pass over 15  yards. After he was mocked, he went 16/20 (80%) for 215 yards (10.75 YPA) and 3 TDs. After not attempting a single pass over 15 yards in his first 6 attempts, he went 3/5 for 106 yards and a TD throwing 15+ yards down the field after being mocked.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. In 2018 against the Dolphins, Rodgers started off the game by going 11/14 (78.6%) for 95 yards (6.79 YPA) and a TD. After being mocked, he went 8/14 (57.1%) for 101 yards (7.21 YPA) and a TD.

The Giants mocked him in the 2011 Divisional Round. Rodgers started that game by going 12/21 (57.1%) for 117 yards (5.57 YPA) and a TD. After the mockery, he went 14/25 (56%) for 177 yards (7.08 YPA), 1 TD and 1 INT. A slight improvement in YPA, but certainly a far cry from scorched earth.

By Receiver

What receiver benefited most from the mockery?

Jordy Nelson is the receiver who received the most targets (40), has the most completed passes (25), most yards (365) and tied for most TDs (4) out of the 36 receivers targeted post-mockery. However, out of receivers who have been targeted at least 20 times, his YPA is 2.3 yards lower and his completion percentage is 12.5% lower than Randall Cobb. Cobb was targeted 20 times, catching 15 of those passes for 228 yards.

The only two receivers to be targeted but not catch a pass post-mockery are Jared Abbrederis and Ryan Taylor, both of whom went 0/1.

If we take away any minimum targets, Marcedes Lewis is the king of YPA. Post-mockery, Lewis is 2/2 for 66 yards, posting a whopping 33 YPA.

The TD% king is Jake Kumerow, going 2/2 for 54 yards, and a TD, giving him a TD% of 50%. The immortal Tom Crabtree comes in 4th on this list, going 3/5 for 69 yards and 1 TD, for a TD% of 20%.

Home/Away Splits

Rodgers was better playing after mockery when not at home. After being mocked in front of his home crowd, his stats improved, but not by much.

 

But when he was mocked as a visitor in a stadium? Well, he didn’t like that one bit, and he let them know it.

Pass Depth

We’ll end here, because you probably don’t want to read 3,000 words about this. This is the one I thought was most telling. Here are his stats pre-mockery when throwing short and deep (with short being within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage and deep being 15+ yards).

And here are his stats at both depths post-mockery.

Pre-mockery, he targeted the deep part of the field 17.4% of the time, completing 35.7% of his passes for 10.2 YPA with a 9.5% TD% and 2.4% INT%.

Post-mockery? Bombs away. He targeted the deep part of the field 22.2% of the time and got better in every category. He completed 45% of his passes for 13.5 YPA and an insane 16.7% TD% and a miniscule 1.7% INT%.

The conclusion? You can mock the belt. Maybe you’ll be fine. There have certainly been instances where teams have done it and have gotten away with it. However, just know that you may have unleashed a Rodgers that will just start chucking down the field and kill you with a barrage of bombs. Your life is in your hands, dude.

I’ll end with some random observations while doing this project:

  • Under LaFleur, the belt has only been mocked twice and Rodgers has been a maniac afterwards, going 46/59 (78.0%), 645 yards (10.93 YPA), 8 TDs (13.6%), 0 INTs.
  • Over this entire span, the Bears mocked the belt once. The game was in 2018, Joe Philbin was the head coach and they broke out the celebration on the final play of the game. It was, like, the only game they won in that span and they do it on the final play? That’s a coward’s way. COWARDS, I say.
  • As it turns out, most sack celebrations are kind of boring. A guy raises his hands in the air or screams or something. Not a ton of variety.
  • There are a couple I’m a really big fan of. I love when they pretend to hit a home run. Just pretend to throw a ball in the air and hit that sucker to kingdom come. Big, BIG fan. I grin like an idiot every time.
  • I’m also a pretty big fan of anything involving a fake sword. Take down a QB and engage in some Three Musketeers nonsense. Big fan.
  • I forgot how much I disliked Jared Allen’s hogtie celebration. It’s somehow more obnoxious than I remembered it.

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Joel Anderson

Don’t forget the Lions’ Stephen Tulloch tearing his ACL mocking “The Belt” back in 2014.

Richard

Rodgers is not that great. And by the way thats a wrestling thing. Not an airhead rodgers thing😉

jj*

clearly you dont watch football

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