Are the Packers Too Reliant on Aaron Rodgers Playing Brilliantly?

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Are the Packers Too Reliant on Aaron Rodgers Playing Brilliantly?
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Just how important is Aaron Rodgers to the success of the Green Bay Packers? Well, he is the best player on the team and also the best player in the NFL.

For one thing, he is the top rated QB in the history of the NFL in both the regular season and the postseason. Rodgers has also been a Super Bowl MVP (Super Bowl XLV) and a NFL MVP (2011).

Just look at the stats Rodgers put together in his MVP season last year.

Rodgers threw 45 TD passes to just six interceptions for 4,643 yards and had a QB rating of 122.5 of 2011. The 122.5 QB rating was the best in the NFL and also broke the all-time record set by Peyton Manning in 2004, when Manning had a 121.1 QB rating.

Rodgers also ran for 257 more yards and three more TDs.

Rodgers was also named first-team All-Pro and was named the starting QB for the NFC in the Pro Bowl in 2011, as he led the Packers to a 15-1 regular-season record, the best record in the NFL and the NFC North.

The 2011 season was one for the ages for Rodgers. Just look at all the awards he took home. Rodgers was NFC Offensive Player of the Week three times. He was also the NFC Player of the Month three times.

Rodgers was named Professional Athlete of the Year by the Sporting News. He was also named Male Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. Rodgers was not only the AP NFL MVP, but was also named NFL MVP by both Pro Football Weekly and Sports Illustrated.

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Finally, Rodgers was named the very best player in the NFL in The Top 100: Players of 2012 which NFL Network ran earlier this year and was voted upon by the players in the league.

Needless to say, the trophy room at the Rodgers' residence is pretty crowded.

The bottom line is the Packers have absolutely no chance to win a Super Bowl in 2012 if Rodgers goes down with an injury. Back up QB Graham Harrell might be able to win a few games for the Packers if Rodgers couldn't play for a few weeks, but that's about it.

Now don't get me wrong, general manager Ted Thompson has accumulated a lot of talent for the Packers since 2005 on both sides of the ball and on special teams. But the best player Thompson ever put on the Packers is the first player he ever drafted. That would be Rodgers in 2005.

The Packers aren't the only team that are tied to the hip of an outstanding QB regarding any real success the franchise might have. The same holds true in New Orleans with Drew Brees. How would the Saints do if Brees was lost for the season? They wouldn't be NFC championship contenders, that's for sure.

The Packers expect Rodgers to play brilliantly. Rodgers started out the 2011 season by playing in 12 straight games with a QB rating of over 100.

When Rodgers had a QB rating under 100, the Packers lost two out of those three games, including the painful playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl XLVI champs, the New York Giants.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Even in the game with the Giants, Rodgers played well for the most part. Rodgers had at least a half dozen passes dropped in that game. Overall, Rodgers was 26-for-46 for 264 yards for two TDs and one interception. Rodgers ended up with a 78.5 QB rating.

Rodgers also fumbled on a play when LT Chad Clifton let his man get by him and strip the ball from Rodgers' hand just as he was about to throw a pass to a wide open Greg Jennings for a TD.

Rodgers was also the leading rusher for the Packers that day, as he ran for 66 yards as the G-Men applied heavy pass pressure in that playoff game.

The Packers didn't just lose that game because Rodgers didn't have his best game in 2011, as there were also two other fumbles offensively. Plus the defense of the Packers could not make a big play and unfortunately gave up some big plays, like the 37 yard Hail Mary pass from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks on the last play of the first half for a TD.  

The Packers and Rodgers never recovered and the Packers lost 37-20.

The Packers have certainly improved their defense in 2012, both through the draft and in free agency. Special teams should be an asset too. The offense behind Rodgers will be a top five offense in the NFL.

But the Packers will only go as far as Rodgers will take them.

Head coach Mike McCarthy expects Rodgers to play brilliantly in each and every game. Rodgers does that almost all the time too. When he didn't play fantastically in 2011, the Packers lost two out of those three games.

That should be a warning sign to the Packers.

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