Award-winning effort by Rodgers
By Rob Reischel, Journal-Sentinel
~Green Bay – James Jones chuckled. Jordy Nelson did the same.
Scott Wells gave an “Are you serious?” look. And Josh Sitton simply shook his head up and down.
The topic was the NFL’s most valuable player award. And while there’s still nine weeks left in the 2011 regular season, the Green Bay Packers know that at the midway point, the MVP is in their locker room.
“If it’s not Aaron Rodgers, who is it?” Jones asked. “I mean who else can it be? He’s playing lights out.”
Wells wasn’t arguing.
“I think it’s Aaron, no doubt,” Green Bay’s center said. “I think he’s playing some great football . . . and I don’t know if anyone’s playing better than he is. It’s an honor to be able to play with a guy like that, and I’m happy he’s on my team.”
Green Bay’s players all admit they’re biased. But through seven games, Rodgers is playing the position at an all-time level and would be a runaway winner if votes were taken now.
As the Packers exit their bye week and get ready for Sunday’s game in San Diego, consider some of the records Rodgers seems poised to break:
Passer rating: Through seven games, Rodgers has a passer rating of 125.7, which would break Peyton Manning’s single-season mark of 121.1 set in 2004. Remarkably, Rodgers’ lowest rating in a game this season was 111.4 at Chicago in Week 3.
Completion percentage: Rodgers has connected on 71.5% of his passes, which would break Drew Brees’ single-season mark of 70.6% set in 2009. It would also break Brett Favre’s team record of 66.5% set in 2007.
Touchdowns: Rodgers leads the NFL with 20 touchdown passes and is on pace to throw 46 TDs. That mark would break Favre’s single-season Packers’ mark of 39 set in 1996 and rank fourth all time.
Yards: Rodgers is on pace to throw for 5,422 yards, which would shatter Dan Marino’s NFL record of 5,084 set in 1984, and Lynn Dickey’s Green Bay record of 4,458 set in 1983. Brees is on pace for 5,492, and he and Rodgers could have an interesting race down the stretch.
In addition, Rodgers is averaging an NFL-best 9.92 yards per passing attempt and has thrown just three interceptions.
As terrific as all those statistics are, Rodgers may have earned the ultimate compliment last week from Packer coach Mike McCarthy.
Remember, McCarthy was Kansas City’s offensive control assistant in 1993-’94 when Joe Montana quarterbacked the Chiefs, and McCarthy also coached Favre in Green Bay in 1999 and 2006-’07.
“(Rodgers) is clearly the best decision-maker that I’ve been around probably since my time in Kansas City with Joe Montana,” McCarthy said. “(Rodgers) does not get bored throwing an easy completion, and that’s a great tribute to have as a quarterback.
“He’s clearly in tune taking what the defense gives you. He can throw to the tight spots. He has the anticipation and arm strength and accuracy to attack the seams, but he does a great job of staying disciplined and staying within the offense.”
If Rodgers continues at his current clip, he’ll compile the greatest single season in team history. And that’s saying a mouthful considering both Bart Starr and Favre are generally regarded as two of the top 10 quarterbacks in NFL history.
Starr won the league’s MVP in 1966 and led the league in passing three times. Favre won MVP honors three times (1995-’97), was named to the Pro Bowl nine times as a Packer and holds almost every franchise passing record.
But right now, Rodgers is trumping them both.
“He’s playing as well as anyone ever has,” said receivers coach Edgar Bennett, who played five seasons with Favre. “Now, all the rest of that stuff like MVP will take care of itself.
“All I know is we are extremely blessed and fortunate to have a guy like Aaron Rodgers as our quarterback. This guy is phenomenal. He really is.”
Jones echoed Bennett’s sentiments.
“There ain’t nobody better right now,” Jones said. “I’m not sure if there’s ever been anybody better here.
“I’m not saying he’s better than Brett, but Aaron’s my quarterback and I’m always going to have his back. And I’m saying I’d take him over anybody.
“He’s my quarterback and I’ll take him over anybody that’s playing today, yesterday or in the future.”
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