Aaron Rodgers has won a Super Bowl and looked more than impressive during the 2011 NFL season. Until the Packers lost to the Chiefs back in week 15, he was pretty much a consensus pick for the MVP award. Drew Brees’ record breaking performances took the spotlight from then on.
But I’m still a Rodgers man. He was the best in the league, simply taking a step back after the loss. He didn’t even play in the final week, as Matt Flynn had a huge game in a shootout against the Lions, throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns. That might have been the biggest blow to Rodgers’ MVP aspirations.
Rodgers did set a record of his own this season, a new mark for quarterback statistical excellence, finishing with a seasonal 122.5 QB rating. His 45 touchdowns were good enough for second in the NFL and also his completion rate (68.3%). He averaged a league high 9.2 yards per pass attempt and threw only 6 interceptions, only 1.2% of his passes, good for second in the league. His career 1.8% is the best among active players.
But that still doesn’t make Rodgers the stuff of legends. You need multiple wins, and his career, despite being drafted in 2005, is pretty much only four years old. Brett Favre’s shadow is no longer something that bothers him. Favre’s behavior during off-seasons, retiring and un-retiring, signing for the Minnesota Vikings. He used to be some sort of god, or ultra idol in Green Bay, despite the plenty of interceptions he threw. Rodgers, as players around him often like to say, besides being a much nicer person, is simply the better quarterback.
Rodgers has already tied Favre with Super Bowl wins. He should be looking up the numbers of Tom Brady and Joe Montana. Brady became great in the numbers department only after winning a couple. He thrived in a system meant to protect him, eventually becoming greater than the whole team. The Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since, despite their perfect season in 2007. The Packers not finishing 16-0 this season won’t hurt them in the postseason.
Playing the Giants might, although Rodgers has never lost to them in his career. He’s 2-0 against the G-men, including a very impressive December 4 performance, leading Green Bay to a 38-35 win. He threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns in that game.
Another postseason like in 2011 will move him up a notch on the all time status, debates and numbers. That ability to look so calm, and perform that way, no matter how much yards his defense is giving up. Rodgers get sacked on 6% of the plays, just outside the top 10 in the league. The Packers aren’t perfect in protecting him, but he seems to deal with it. He doesn’t get rattled.
Legends are made from championships, but also from disappointment, unfulfilled potential. Just ask Dan Marino, who pretty much owned every record in the book but saw Montana win four Super Bowl rings while John Elway won two himself much later in his career. I’m pretty sure he’d give up all those records to have just one title ring. The road is long for Rodgers, and losing this postseason doesn’t mean it’ll be his last chance.
The NFL is a fickle league, with power shift that happen often and quickly. Right now, the Packers are the most talented group in the NFL, and Rodgers should make the best of the opportunity given to him, instead of chasing for just another chance in his late 30’s, when he can’t do the things he used to.