Aaron Rodgers, the Indianapolis Colts, and The Gyllenhaal Switch

I’ve been taking a stand for a few years now that angers people:  “Batman Begins” is better than “The Dark Knight.” Sorry I’m not sorry. I would watch “Batman Begins” before “The Dark Knight” ten times over. There are two words that bring me to this shocking conclusion and two words only: Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Her selection in “The Dark Knight” to play Rachel Dawes, the love interest of Bruce Wayne/Batman, is very much like the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. No one saw it coming and it’s not a whole lot to look at on the surface.  Every time she is on the screen it angers me to the point where I cannot enjoy the movie. Even when she isn’t in the scene…in the back of my mind I know she is lurking somewhere and  shall be on screen wasting my time and Batman’s time once again.

I have nothing against Maggie Gyllenhaal personally. She seems like a very nice woman and I’m sure that she is. It’s not even really that I can’t buy into the “hey-audience-pretend-not-to-notice” actress swap they pulled because Tom Cruise told Katie Holmes she had to worship an alien race that came out of a volcano instead of filming the second Batman movie (I wish I was making that up).

This is not an adequate replacement.

It is just preposterous to me to believe that Bruce Wayne would go to such lengths to save Maggie Gyllenhaal. I watch the movie waiting and hoping for Christian Bale to turn to the camera and say “Eff this. I’m not wasting any more precious time saving this 7.  There are much more important things going on here.”

You tell me which is more believable: A mastermind criminal nicknamed “The Joker” places a bomb on two ferrys – one transporting criminals and one normal citizens – and gives them each the ability to detonate the opposing ferry’s bomb while he watches from an abandoned skyscraper OR Maggie Gyllenhaal playing an attractive and compelling love interest.

For me, if Katie Holmes is in “The Dark Knight,” I’m 100% on board. Gyllenhaal ruins it for me. Luckily, the movie was good enough and had enough going on despite her that it was still well-received and very successful.

Now if you were to take a movie that was not so good…perhaps a movie that was completely reliant on its attractive female lead – “The Gyllenhaal Switch” as we will call it just won’t fly.

For example…how do these sound?

“Tomb Raider” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Into the Blue” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Entrapment” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Desperado” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Summer Catch” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Striptease” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

You get my point. If you Gyllenhaal Switch any of these movies they turn into unwatchable turds. What if Aladdin went into the market and saved the poor cloaked girl stealing an apple…and when the hood came off it was not Princess Jasmine…but it was Princess Maggie? Animated Disney movies might have ceased to exist at that exact moment.

Fortunately for us, none of these things happened.

Unfortunately for the 2011 Indianapolis Colts, they were forced to pull off their own Gyllenhaal Switch. (and I’m not saying this because Curtis Painter is about as attractive a woman as Maggie Gullenhaal).

Curtis Painter also the son of Dr. Okun from Independence Day..."peace....nooooo peace"

The Colts had to take their charismatic, compelling, sexy leading actress and replace her with someone who was the 8th hottest chick in “Mona Lisa Smile.”

This has caused the Colts to be 0-12 this year with basically the same supporting cast as 2010.  The Colts were the movie “Tomb Raider” and Peyton Manning was a young, busty Angelina Jolie. Gyllenhaal Switch that shit and you go from a 10-6 playoff team to not winning a single game through twelve weeks.

This made me wonder. If the Colts were “Tomb Raider,” what are the Packers this year? Is Aaron Rodgers as valuable to his team/movie as Manning/Jolie? If you take him away, are the Rodgers-less Packers as bad as the Manning-less Colts?

This is Peyton Manning.

Using some statistical comparisons to Peyton Manning and the 2010 Colts, we can try to get that answer.

There are 3 ways to compare the situations. The first is comparing Peyton Manning’s 2010 season with Aaron Rodgers’ 2011 season (projected out to 16 games):

2011 PACKERS: RODGERS (Projected)

2010 COLTS: Manning (16 games)













Comp. %

70.6 %

66.3 %

NFL Rank















Rodgers statistically is better across the board. More yards, TDs, Comp %, and QB rating while having less INTs and no losses (so far).  From an individual standpoint, Aaron Rodgers in 2011 is much better than Peyton Manning was in 2010. The statistical difference (especially TD-INT ratio) alone could be worth an extra 4-6 wins depending on how the Packers finish the season their last 6 games.

If you go to the next level metric-wise, you can compare the two quarterbacks with some stats help from Football Outsiders.  Using their QB metrics (DYAR, DVOA, and EYards – All explained here, we can get a better idea of just how valuable each QB is to his respective team.

2011 PACKERS: RODGERS (Proj: 16 games)

2010 COLTS: Manning (16 games)





55.0 %

25.0 %




The two are almost exactly the same when it comes to DYAR – which compares each player’s production versus what the average quarterback would produce in the same situations in relation to total yardage. In DVOA  – which measures the value of each player on each play over what the average replacement would be – the advantage goes significantly to Rodgers; he is that much more valuable than whoever his replacement would be on each play. The final stat, EYards – “Effective Yards,” which measures how effective a player is beyond just the sheer numbers (and based on usage) – goes to Manning. Looking at the 3 next-level stats, Rodgers is worth more every play while Manning is worth more because of the volume of how much he was used…so their respective values to their teams somewhat evens out.

A good comparison here is Brookyln Decker in the movie “Just Go With It” against Jolie in “Tomb Raider.” When she is on screen, Decker’s performance in “Just Go With It” is off-the-charts. Scene-for-scene, it’s arguably some of the best stuff we’ve seen in cinema in quite some time. Jolie on the other hand is the entire movie in “Tomb Raider.” It’s 100 minutes of Jolie being consistently hot. Her usage rate is nuts.

Rodgers is much like Decker. You would probably give Decker – a blonde Victoria’s Secret model crossed with a Hooters waitress – the slight edge over Jolie – brunette, extremely attractive, and almost equally as endowed, but with a few extra years and the burden of being somewhat of a legitimate actress.

Looks just like Aaron Rodgers to me.

So statistically, both QBs are about as valuable to their team; just in different ways. You may even give Rodgers the edge.  Now we have to look at some other factors, though – the supporting casts.

The 2010 Colts and the 2011 Packers were both lacking high-producing backfields and both had similar weapons as far as receivers and tight ends go (very good – with Manning dealing with some WR injuries throughout the year). From an offensive line standpoint, the 2010 Colts gave up only 16 sacks – which was 29th among quarterbacks – while Peyton was 1st in pass attempts – an incredible job by the line.  While some of this can be attributed to Manning, Aaron Rodgers in 2011 is on pace to be sacked 39 times. So offensively, both teams are very similar – with the Colts having better protection.

On the other side of the ball, both team’s defenses were not particularly good. Two defensive stats can be used to compare these: the NFL Total Defense Rankings (based on yards per game) and Football Outsider’s Defensive Efficiency Ranking (“Defensive DVOA”):

2010 IND Defensive DVOA = 8.2 % (24th)

–          Total Defense: 341.6 ypg (20th)

2011 GB Defensive DVOA = 12.3 % (26th)

–          Total Defense: 397.8 ypg (31st)

Comparing the two, Indianapolis had the better defense…or to put it more appropriately, Indianapolis’ defense was less awful. Green Bay’s 2011 defense is among the very worst in the league.  While they do have quite a few take-aways and have had some opportunistic plays, from an overall standpoint they have been one of the worst in the league.

Finally. with the hypothesis – the Packers losing Aaron Rodgers – you have to take into account whoever the replacement would be. As an example, here is how the Colts’ Gyllenhaal switch fared this year:

2010 COLTS: Manning

(16 games)

2011 COLTS: QBs (Proj: 16 games)













Comp. %



NFL Rank















The Colts’ QBs have been well below average. It is arguable that you could say Matt Flynn would fare better than the Colts’ group of Gyllenhaals (Collins/Painter/Orlovsky). If you give Flynn the benefit of the doubt and say he would be average, the difference between Rodgers 2011 season and Manning’s 2010 season would most likely be about the same as the difference between Flynn’s potential average season and the Colts’ QBs in 2011. (Note: Flynn looking like Matt Damon does not warrant a comparison in this NFL-to-Hollywood analogy).

With Flynn as the unknown entity in this situation, it is conceivable that as a QB with almost no experience, Flynn could be just as bad as the collective of Colts’ QBs this year – which would make the drop-off in quarterback play for the hypothetical Rodgers-less Packers that much more pronounced.

Considering everything – Green Bay defense, offensive line, and backfield – without Aaron Rodgers this team doesn’t win 6 games. It looks like Manning (10-6 in 2010) is going to be worth about 10 wins if the Colts’ stay on their valiant path to 0 wins. By all statistical indication, Rodgers is worth at least 10+ wins, and if the Packers finish 16-0 with him, they would be at best 6-10 without him. I say closer to 4-12.

So the conclusions we have drawn here are as follows: the 2011 Colts are “Tomb Raider” without Angelina Jolie, Brooklyn Decker in “Just Go With It” may have the highest VORP (VORA?) of any actress in any movie ever, and The Gyllenhaal Switch is the opposite of The Ewing Theory.

Oh yeah…and the 2011 Packers might be as bad as the 2011 Colts without Aaron Rodgers.

*** I’d also like to point out we went 1600+ words without “Tim,” “Tebow,” or “Jesus Christ” being any of them. Your welcome.


One response to “Aaron Rodgers, the Indianapolis Colts, and The Gyllenhaal Switch

  1. I love it when you google something random, like “Matt Flynn vs Matt Damon” and find a great article. I realize it is a little old now, but still a fun read. Thanks!

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