Ranking Aaron Rodgers Amongst the Last 11 NFL MVPs
So, what's left to discuss?
In order to strum up any debate here, we have to go back and compare MVPs of the past 10 years. This isn't a ranking of who did or didn't deserve to win in a given year, but who had the best seasons.
Was Aaron Rodgers really that good in 2011?
11. Steve McNair, 2003
The co-MVP with Peyton Manning, Steve McNair was good, but not fantastic in 2003. The Titans star put up a quarterback rating of 100.4, but he threw for just 3,215 yards.
Like his yardage total, McNair's 24 touchdowns were decent, but nothing exceptional. McNair's 2003 season was a good year, but nothing about it really stands out.
10. Rich Gannon, 2002
2002 was Rich Gannon's final season as a starting quarterback, and it was also his best. The journeyman quarterback threw for 4,000 yards for the first time in his career, ending up with 4,689.
Gannon's 26 touchdowns were nothing special, but his 10 interceptions and 67.6 completion percentage both impressed. A passer rating of 97.3 is nothing to scoff at either.
9. Peyton Manning, 2008
In 2008, Peyton Manning threw for 4,002 yards but scored only 27 touchdowns. Manning's passer rating stood at a solid 95.0, but 2008 was not one of the four-time MVP's better years.
Manning turned the ball over 12 times—which isn't bad, but compared to his 27 touchdowns, it's not great either.
I'm as big a Peyton Manning fan as you can find, but he won in 2008 because of his assumed influence, not statistics.
8. Peyton Manning, 2009
For Peyton Manning, 2009 was only slightly better than 2008 was. Manning ended up with an improved passer rating of 99.9, but his interception total went up to 16.
Once again, Manning ran the Indianapolis offense and scored 33 touchdowns on the year. It's hard to argue that Manning didn't deserve the MVP trophy, but he wasn't as awesome as he has been in other years.
7. Peyton Manning, 2003
Make no mistake about it, Peyton Manning should have been the sole MVP in 2003. He threw for just 29 touchdowns, but he also threw just 10 interceptions, which would be the first of three years with exactly 10 picks.
Manning completed 67 percent of his passes and threw for 4,267 yards and had a 99.0 passer rating. None of these numbers are amazing, but combined, they make for one fantastic season.
6. Shaun Alexander, 2005
I'm usually of the argument that a running back shouldn't win the MVP award, but there are always exceptions. Shaun Alexander's 2005 campaign was historic—the Seattle Seahawks star broke the record for rushing touchdowns.
Alexander's 27 touchdowns and 1,880 yards gave him one of the best rushing seasons ever. His 5.1 yards per carry is impressive, and Alexander carried the rock a ton with 370 carries on the year.
5. LaDainian Tomlinson, 2006
LaDainian Tomlinson's 2006 season was eerily similar to Shaun Alexander's historic 2005 campaign—L.T. rushed for .1 yards per carry more, and one more touchdown. Alexander gained 65 more rushing yards on the year.
In the end, ranking Tomlinson over Alexander comes down to receiving. In 2005, Tomlinson gained 508 yards and three touchdowns through the air on 56 catches. In 2005, Alexander gained 78 receiving yards on 15 receptions.
4. Tom Brady, 2007
Brady's eight interceptions serves only to help his argument. However, Brady had a ton of talent around him in 2007 and wasn't quite as dominant as others have been.
But in all honesty, we're kind of splitting hairs here.
3. Tom Brady, 2010
According to most statistics, Tom Brady's 2007 campaign was better than his 2010 season. One stat disagrees.
In 2007, Brady threw eight interceptions. In 2010, he threw just four. As any football fan knows, interceptions are key to the game, and Brady's improved touchdown-to-interception ratio was key to his placement on this list.
2. Peyton Manning, 2004
Peyton Manning's 2004 season is the former holder of the single-season passer-rating record. That changed in 2011, but it doesn't change how much Manning dominated.
Manning threw for a then-NFL-record 49 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. His 4,557 yards didn't hurt his resume either, as he threw for an impressive 9.17 yards per attempt.
Manning's 2004 passer rating and yards per attempt are both better than Tom Brady's career highs.
1. Aaron Rodgers, 2011
It makes sense that the best passer-rating season of all time would be the best MVP season of the past 10 years, right? Aaron Rodgers barely broke Peyton Manning's 2004 mark, but he beat Manning in other ways, too.
While Manning threw 49 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2004, Rodgers threw 45 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2011. The latter is much better, and Rodgers also put up the better yards per attempt.
This is a close call, but Rodgers edges out Manning in the most important stats. Manning won in total touchdowns, but by just three total.