Aaron Rodgers: Pro Bowl Starter and Soon to Be Named MVP

Bob FoxContributor IDecember 28, 2011

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 25: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is chased out of the pocket while playing the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on December 25, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers received an honor yesterday that most in the world of the NFL saw coming.  Rodgers was named the starting quarterback for the NFC in the 2012 Pro Bowl.  Rodgers had a number of his teammates join him as well. 

CB Charles Woodson, OLB Clay Matthews and FB John Kuhn were also named to the NFC team as starters.  In addition, WR Greg Jennings, C Scott Wells and DL B.J. Raji were named to the team.

The Packers also had a number of alternates named to the NFC squad.  K Mason Crosby was named as a first alternate.  Others included ILB Desmond Bishop, KR Randall Cobb, TE Jermichael Finley, WR Jordy Nelson, G Josh Sitton and CB Tramon Williams. 

Rodgers was honored to get the recognition he received yesterday.  He wasn't available to the media yesterday, but the team did release this statement by him:

"It does have special significance, because when I was voted in in 2009, I was the third guy and I was very thankful to be voted in, and got the opportunity to start because of some injuries and guys not going," Rodgers said. "But it's great to be voted in as a starter; that means a lot to me and it's a special honor."

Like last year, however, none of the Packers want to play in the Pro Bowl.  The game is played the week before Super Bowl XLVI, and the Packers hope to be preparing for their second straight appearance in that game.

Rodgers will have more honors coming his way soon enough.  That is being named the NFL MVP for 2011.  One can see why.  Rodgers was named NFL Player of the Month in September, October and November, for one thing.

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11:  Aaron Rodgers  #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks for a receiver against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Raiders 46-16.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Ge
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Rodgers has had a year for the ages in 2011.  His stats are out of this world. 

He has thrown 45 TD passes vs. just six picks for 4,643 yards and a QB rating of 122.5.  The seven-year veteran from the University of California also has a completion percentage of 68.3.

If Rodgers can maintain or improve his QB rating the last week of the season vs. the Detroit Lions, he will have set a new NFL record.  The current record was set by Peyton Manning in 2004, when he had a 121.1 rating.

It's hard to say how much playing time Rodgers will get against the Lions on Sunday.  The Packers have now clinched home-field advantage and head coach Mike McCarthy wants to be smart about resting his starters and not making them prone to injuries before the playoffs start. 

If I had to guess, I would think that Rodgers may play in the first half only.

Rodgers has already set team records with his play in 2011, too.  His 45 TD passes have eclipsed the old record set by Brett Favre of 39 in 1996.  The 4,643 yards that Rodgers has thrown for in 2011 have also broken the old mark set by Lynn Dickey in 1983, when Dickey threw for 4,458 yards.

It is certain that Rodgers will also break the old team records in QB rating and completion percentage.  Bart Starr had a QB rating of 105.0 in 1966, while Favre had a completion percentage of 66.54 in 2007.

Rodgers certainly has competition for the MVP award.  Namely Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.  Both have had outstanding years in 2011.  Both have their teams at the top of their respective divisions with 11-3 records.  Right now, the Patriots are the No. 1 seed in the AFC, as a matter of fact.

Brees just broke Dan Marino's record for yards thrown for in a season on Monday night.  Overall, Brees has thrown 41 TD passes vs. 13 interceptions for 5,087 yards.  Brees also has a QB rating of 108.4 and has a completion percentage of 70.7.  Brees has a chance to break his own record set in 2009 of 70.6 in completion percentage.

When one compares Rodgers to Brees, the first thing one sees is the difference in passing attempts and completions.  Brees has attempted 120 passes more than Rodgers and has completed almost 100 more.  One can see why there is a difference in passing yardage.

However, Rodgers has more TD passes, less interceptions, just as many 20-plus-yard completions and more 40-plus-yard completions.  And there is the fact that Rodgers and his Packers beat Brees and his Saints in their head-to-head meeting this year in the opening game of the season for the NFL.

Brady has also had a nice year.  Brady has thrown 36 TD passes vs. 11 interceptions for 4,897 yards and has a QB rating of 105.1.

In terms of completion percentage overall, the top three leaders in the NFL are Brees, Rodgers and Brady.  The top three in passing yardage are Brees, Brady and Rodgers.  In terms of TD passes, the top three are Rodgers, Brees and Brady.  And finally in QB rating, the top three are Rodgers (by a wide margin), Brees and Brady. 

Rodgers is also much more nimble on his feet compared to Brees and Brady.  Rodgers has rushed for 257 yards and three TDs.  Meanwhile Brees has rushed for 81 yards and one TD, while Brady has rushed for 109 yards and three TDs.

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 25: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers runs the ball and is tackled by Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears on December 25, 2011 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

Rodgers, Brees and Brady all have a number of offensive weapons at their disposal to throw to during a game.  Rodgers has spread the ball around in marvelous fashion during the 2011 season.  Look at this statistical breakdown:

  • Greg Jennings—67 receptions for 949 yards and nine TDs.
  • Jordy Nelson—59 receptions for 1,101 yards and 12 TDs. 
  • Jermichael Finley—48 receptions for 703 yards and seven TDs.
  • Donald Driver—35 receptions for 393 yards and five TDs.
  • James Jones—32 receptions for 546 yards and seven TDs.
  • Randall Cobb—25 receptions for 375 yards one one TD.

Rodgers has also completed 68 passes to his running backs for 529 yards and two TDs.  In addition to that, Rodgers has completed 11 passes to his back up tight ends for two TDs.

Rodgers has led his team to a 14-1 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.  Statistically, he has had one of the best years ever by a quarterback in NFL history.  Rodgers was honored yesterday by being named the starter for the NFC in the Pro Bowl.  More honors will come.  Like being named MVP of the NFL in 2011.

That will be nice, but Rodgers hopes for a repeat of what happened last year in the postseason.  The Packers went on to win Super Bowl XLV and Rodgers was named MVP of that game.  I could see that happening again in Indianapolis on February 5th, 2012 for Super Bowl XLVI. 

Plus Rodgers might end up facing Brees in the NFC Championship Game and perhaps Brady in Super Bowl XLVI.

That would be apropos based on the season those three have had.