A rough start to the season should mean that Aaron Rodgers won’t be defending his MVP title from last season, but when he’s on his game, like he has been for the past two weeks, he just might be the best quarterback in the NFL, and has the Green Bay Packers looking like a contender again.
His numbers against the St. Louis Rams? Not bad, not bad at all. One of those “almost-flawless” games. Rodgers finished with 30-37 for 342 yards and three touchdown passes, finishing with a 132.2 passer rating. And it’s not like the Rams make it easy for quarterbacks, with the previous visiting three averaging a 68.3 passer rating. This is a defense that’s not bad at stopping the pass and knows how to get to a QB. Rodgers was sacked three times, but he simply destroyed the Rams’ pass rush.
Rams rushed with four players or less on 24 of Aaron Rodgers’ attempts, causing only 4 incompletions, one of them a drop by Alex Green (on a terrible day with only 35 yards on 20 carries). Rodgers entered Sunday with a 68.5 Total QBR against four or fewer pass rushers this season, ranked 15th in the league after finishing the 2011 season with a 88.7 Total QBR against the same pressure (second best).
For the second straight week, his QBR was higher than 95. Over the last 5 seasons, he is the only player to accomplish the feat in 2 road games and 4th player to do it overall. Eli Manning has done it this season, Michael Vick did it in 2011 and Matt Ryan did it in 2008. Not exactly a common feat.
The thing that makes Rodgers stand out to me above Drew Brees and Tom Brady, usually the other two mentioned in discussions of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, is the talent Rodgers has in the backfield to assist him. The New England Patriots are the 5th best rushing team in the NFL. The Saints have been terrible on the ground this season (last with 76.2 per game), but there’s talent there, unlike the tools Rodgers has to work with when he’s not throwing. No one really buys a play action from him.
And so, he sits on top of the passer rating charts (109.6), over 13 points better than both Brady and Brees, out of the top 5. He has more touchdown throws than anyone else in the NFL with 19, and an even more impressive touchdown to interception ratio, passing to the oppositiong only 4 times this season. Tom Brady is the only one to attempt more and get intercepted less, but Rodgers TD-INT ratio is better. Plus, he’s the worst protected quarterback among the top 16 in the NFL, sacked 26 times so far this season. Not the recipe for success.
The Packers needed some shaking up after their loss to the Indianapolis Colts. It made them look beyond the injustice done to them in Seattle, and start focusing on what’s actually not working, and not relying on the fact that things will turn around by themselves. These two road wins against the Texans and the Rams are the proof that this team is back on track, because their quarterback is. With him in this kind of form, the dissapointing start to the season can be left behind, never to be looked back at again.