Aaron Rodgers, the 2011 NFL MVP, is coming off one of the greatest seasons ever recorded by a quarterback. Fans and media alike expect Rodgers to repeat his legendary numbers.
But how realistic is it to expect Aaron Rodgers to repeat one of the greatest seasons in NFL history?
Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in football. He’ll be throwing to one of the best group of receivers in the NFL, and he’s in the prime of his career. There are no indications that there will be a drop off.
In fact, there is no current reason as to why Rodgers should not be able to build on his 2011 season.
Heading into 2012, the Packers still lack anything even resembling a consistent running game. They will undoubtedly continue to rely on throwing the ball to put points on the board.
Ryan Grant appears to be gone, leaving James Starks and Alex Green as the featured backs. This is not a good thing for the Packers’ offense, but it will be good for Rodgers’ passing numbers.
Greg Jennings, who missed the final two regular season games last year, is back and healthy. Jordy Nelson is coming off his break-out campaign. James Jones is in his prime, and Randall Cobb is entering his second year—where many receivers take a step forward in Green Bay’s offense.
There is no shortage of weapons at tight end either, where Jermichael Finley will be playing for an extension and second year H-Back D.J. Williams will likely see an expanded role.
Rodgers’ ability to spread the football around and seemingly always make the correct read is what makes him so special. Having so many weapons at his disposal makes him deadly.
An understated reason that Rodgers could build on his 2011 campaign is that the Packers' offensive line is finally coming together.
Although they lost center Scott Wells in free agency, the Packers were able to find a suitable replacement in veteran Jeff Saturday.
2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod should be healthy, and the Packers added a high reward pick in the draft this year in offensive tackle Andrew Datko.
The additions of these players should help solidify the offensive line and give Rodgers more time in the pocket to make his reads.
Despite all of these things playing in his favor, everyone still needs to keep in perspective just how rare it is to pull off a 16-game season like he had in 2011.
In 2011 Aaron Rodgers accomplished the following feats:
- NFL MVP and NFL Offensive Player of the Month in September, October, and November.
- FedEx Air Player of the Week in six of the 15 weeks he played.
- Recorded the highest Passer Rating in NFL History.
- Highest Total QBR dating back as far as the statistic goes (2008).
- Highest DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) in the NFL.
- Tied an NFL record with two or more touchdown passes in 13 consecutive games.
- Became only the fifth NFL player in NFL history to throw for 45 touchdowns (accomplished in 15 games).
- Threw for 309.5 yards-per-game, ninth most in NFL history.
- Recorded the highest yards-per-pass attempt by any player in NFL history who attempted over 400 passes.
- Recorded the 8th highest completion percentage in NFL history by a player who attempted over 500 passes.
Considering those accolades and the historical significance of his 2011 campaign, it is not fair to assume that he’s going to build on that and put together an even better campaign in 2012.
Throughout NFL history, after a player has a record breaking season, those players often fall off the next year.
Even after Tom Brady had his historical 2007 season, his numbers took a step back the next few seasons.
Peyton Manning is another example. After his historic 2004 season, his numbers fell drastically in 2005. It is incredibly difficult for a player to achieve greatness in back-to-back seasons.
When projecting numbers, remember that football is a team game and statistics reflect a team’s performance. Aaron Rodgers’ ability is likely the exact same as it was last year.
However, there are so many variables throughout the course of the season that can throw him off from achieving greatness in back-to-back seasons. For a player to achieve a season like Rodgers had in 2011, it is almost a “perfect storm” type of situation.
Many variables have to come together to put those numbers into place.
It is unrealistic to expect that Aaron Rodgers is going to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns—nearly his 2011 16-game pace—but it is realistic to think that Rodgers could have a season resembling his 2010 and 2011 campaigns.
2012 Season prediction: 350-550, 4,450 yards, 42 TD, 12 INT