New normal for Rodgers: MVP numbers every week
At this point, it’s practically expected of Aaron Rodgers every
time he takes the field: Throw three or four touchdown passes, only
a handful of incompletions and no interceptions.
Given Rodgers’ accuracy and the skill of his receivers, it’s
becoming something of an oddity when one of his passes hits the
Those expectations of excellence are a sign that Rodgers is
accomplishing his main offseason goal: To become more consistent,
narrowing the gap between his best and worst performances.
”I think through nine games, I am shrinking that distance
between a real good game and a game where I didn’t play as well,”
Rodgers said. ”It’s about consistency for me, and making sure that
I’m in the right frame of mind when I’m breaking the huddle and
when I’m stepping on the field.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers’ remarkable consistency
this season is a function of having more experience to pair with
the natural ability he already had.
”I just think Aaron has hit the point in his career that he’s
figured it out,” McCarthy said. ”When a quarterback plays in a
system of offense, you get to the point where you make the system
work for yourself. It’s a lot like, I think it’d be similar to
NASCAR. You finally get to sit in the seat and make it go,
everybody drives it a little differently.”
With his play so far in 2011, Rodgers is on track to challenge
several significant single-season passing records:
– Completion rate: Rodgers is completing 72.9 percent of his
passes through nine games. The NFL record for highest completion
percentage in a season is Drew Brees, who completed 70.62 percent
for New Orleans in 2009.
– Touchdown passes in a season: Rodgers has 28 through nine
games. Tom Brady threw 50 for New England in 2007.
– Passer rating: Rodgers’ rating through nine games is 130.7.
The single-season record is 121.1, set by Peyton Manning for
Indianapolis in 2004.
”It’s amazing,” veteran receiver Donald Driver said. ”He gets
better and better. Every week he seems to be breaking another
record. And sooner or later, he can’t do anything but break his
own. You have to take your hat off to him. If he’s not the guy
that’s going to win MVP this year, then something’s wrong.”
And those potential record-setting performances don’t reflect
what is perhaps Rodgers’ most impressive feat so far, throwing only
three interceptions in 295 attempts.
”I’ve played with two quarterbacks,” Driver said. ”One just
went out there and did what he did, and he wasn’t patient at all.
But Aaron takes what the defense gives him, and that’s the type of
guy you want.”
Including the playoffs and dating back to last season, the
Packers have won a franchise-record 15 straight games.
Look for a rough game by Rodgers during that streak and the
closest thing you’ll find is his performance at Chicago in the NFC
title game, where he was 17 of 30 for 244 yards with no touchdowns
and two interceptions – still a winning performance.
Rodgers’ last truly ”off” game was the Packers’ Dec. 12, 2010,
game at Detroit. Rodgers was 7 of 11 for 46 yards with no
touchdowns and an interception before leaving the game with a
concussion. Rodgers sat out the following week, and has been tough
to stop ever since.
”Aaron has mastered the offense,” McCarthy said. ”He’s always
looking for how to do something better.”
From a consistency standpoint this season, Rodgers hasn’t had a
game with a completion rate under 62.1 percent, has thrown two
touchdowns or more in all nine games and hasn’t thrown more than
one interception in any of them.
His lowest quarterback rating all season is 111.4, at Chicago in
”When you’re playing like that, I think you’re probably seeing
a lot of different looks, your experience level’s gone up,”
Rodgers said. ”And I’m fortunate enough to have played in this
offense for a number of games, and feel very comfortable with my
role in it, what I’ve got to do each week and the kind of guys I
get to throw to.”
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