Why Aaron Rodgers Is the True Key to the Green Bay Packers 2014 Campaign

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Why Aaron Rodgers Is the True Key to the Green Bay Packers 2014 Campaign
Mike Roemer/Associated Press

There is absolutely no doubt who holds the key for the Green Bay Packers to be successful in 2014. That would be quarterback Aaron Rodgers. No. 12 is the straw that stirs the drink for the Pack.

If nothing else, the fractured clavicle that Rodgers suffered last season proves my point. The injury caused Rodgers to miss seven games and most of the game he was injured in. That's basically half the season.

In the games that Rodgers started and finished, the Packers were 6-2. In the other eight games, the Packers were 2-5-1.

Don't get me wrong, there are other players who will be key factors regarding the success of the Packers in 2014, but none are more important than Rodgers—especially if the team expects to have a successful postseason.

Let's look at what Rodgers has accomplished in his career since becoming the starting quarterback of the Packers.

He has led the Packers to a 58-29 record in the regular season and to five straight playoff appearances. He has also become the all-time leader in NFL history with a 104.9 quarterback rating—the only one with a career rating of over 100 (based on 1,500 pass attempts).

Then there is also the fact that Rodgers has had five straight seasons of having a QB rating of over 100. That is unheard of in today's NFL.

Rodgers was also the NFL MVP in 2011, when he had a season for the ages. Rodgers threw 45 touchdown passes versus just six picks for 4,643 yards. That adds up to a quarterback rating of 122.5—the highest single-season quarterback rating in NFL history.

In his career as a starter, Rodgers has thrown 187 touchdown passes versus 51 interceptions for 23,868 yards.

In the postseason, Rodgers is second only to Bart Starr in terms of all-time quarterback ratings with a mark of 103.1.

The record of the Packers behind Rodgers in the playoffs is just 5-4, but his play has been exceptional for the most part, judging by his quarterback rating and stats.

In those nine games, Rodgers has thrown 19 touchdown passes versus just five picks for 2,489 yards.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In addition to that, Rodgers was also named MVP of Super Bowl XLV after he threw three touchdown passes versus zero interceptions for 303 yards—a 111.5 quarterback rating.

Rodgers is definitely the key to the success of the Packers, but he needs help for the team to reach the ultimate prize of hoisting another Vince Lombardi Trophy.

One thing that will help is the fact that Matt Flynn is once again a Packer and that he is a very capable backup if Rodgers does miss some playing time.

Keeping the team healthy is also a key ingredient—especially regarding key players. However, Rodgers and the Packers overcame 15 players being placed on injured reserve in 2010 to still win the Super Bowl that year.

In 2013, the Packers once again had 15 players placed on injured reserve. In addition to that, other players like Rodgers (seven games), Clay Matthews (five games), Randall Cobb (10 games), Nick Perry (five games), Brad Jones (four games) and Casey Hayward (13 games) missed a large number of games during the season.

Still, the team somehow finished 8-7-1 and won their third straight NFC North title.

The Packers couldn't overcome the loss of players like Matthews, Hayward, Sam Shields and Mike Neal in their playoff loss to the 49ers last postseason. But even with those key losses, the Packers almost beat the Niners as San Francisco survived on a late field goal to win 23-20.

Rodgers is the focal point, but the other key ingredient for the Packers has to be the play of their defense.

When the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, they were ranked fifth in the NFL in total defense. Since then the Packers have been ranked 32nd, 11th and 25th.

For Rodgers and the Packers to have a successful 2014 regular season and postseason, their defense has to improve significantly.

The additions of Julius Peppers and rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will surely help. So will the fact that the Packers are going to be more innovative with their defensive schemes in 2014—players will be moving around a lot depending on the down and distance.

But when it's all said and done, no player on the Packers is a bigger driving force behind the success of the team than Rodgers.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you want to see just a snapshot as to why that is true, just look at the final minute of the game against the Bears in Week 17 in Chicago. The winner of that game wins the NFC North. The Packers were trailing 28-27 with just double-digit seconds to go.

The Packers were in a 4th-and-8 situation just inside Chicago territory when Rodgers eluded a sack by Peppers (then with the Bears) and heaved a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with just 38 seconds to go in the game.

In 2014, Rodgers should have one of his best years yet. The offense of the Packers is now as balanced as it has ever been since No. 12 became the starter. The Packers now have a top-10 rushing attack (led by Eddie Lacy) to go with the prolific passing game led by Rodgers.

I would not be the least bit surprised if Rodgers won his second NFL MVP award in 2014. Nor would I be surprised if Rodgers won his second Super Bowl MVP award.

But for Rodgers to do all that, his teammates are going to have to help. Rodgers is the captain of this Green Bay ship, but all hands onboard must do their part as well.

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