Aaron Rodgers threw 45 touchdowns to just six interceptions.
Digest that for a moment, if you could.
That was Green Bay Packers quarterback Rodgers' MVP-winning performance for the 2011 season. Despite the heartbreak of losing in the divisional round after a stellar 15-1 regular season, stat lines can't get much better than that for Rodgers.
Or can they?
There was some concern in Titletown after the Packers failed to re-sign center Scott Wells, who left for the St. Louis Rams. Center is a key position on the offensive line, basically being the quarterback of the front five whilst also protecting the actual quarterback.
Concern was met with relief last week when the Packers signed former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday. The same Jeff Saturday who spent the past several years snapping the ball to the great Peyton Manning.
Saturday was one of Manning's best friends on the team, and the chemistry between the two was a key cog in the smooth-running machine that was the Colts offense with Manning under center.
If Saturday was that good with Manning, think of how good he could be with Rodgers and his arsenal of weapons.
Sure, the Colts had some good receivers, like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, but never were they as deep in the receiving corps as the Packers are right now. Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and (maybe) Donald Driver plus tight end Jermichael Finley, and you have a cabinet stocked full of goodies for Saturday to make one more Super Bowl push before retiring.
What about Rodgers?
Quarterback/center chemistry is one the most underrated aspects of a strong offensive attack. The Packers have to look no further than Rodgers' predecessor for a prime example. Brett Favre and Frank Winters were not only the best of of friends, but they also were of one mind on the football field.
Is it no wonder that Favre's best years in Green Bay came with Winters under center?
That's not to say Rodgers and Saturday need to become best buds, but developing that chemistry will be crucial if the Packers offense is to continue humming along with Saturday snapping the ball to the 2011 NFL MVP.
Saturday is also the kind of player that makes those around him on the line better. He mentioned TJ Lang and Josh Sitton by name during his conference call with the Green Bay media. Lang and Sitton have shown potential, but having someone of Pro Bowl-caliber like Saturday next to them could help push them to elite status.
If the offensive line is performing well, then Rodgers will excel.
He didn't spend a whole lot of time on his back in 2011, but sparing Rodgers from using his legs will not only add time to Rodgers' career by reducing his exposure to big hits but also will allow the offense to play at an even higher level.
Given how the Packers' offense performed in 2011, could there be any scarier of a thought for the rest of the NFL?
Can one center really make that much of a difference? We'll see, but all signs point to Ted Thompson's first big-name signing since Charles Woodson in 2006 being a smashing success.
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