NFL

Aaron Rodgers: The NFL MVP Candidate Nobody's Talking About

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 01:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers calls out a play against the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter of the game at Lambeau Field on November 1, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Eddie BeckerCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2009

If any Packers fans were still gripping tight to their No. 4 jerseys before this season began, by now they've probably exorcised the Favre ghosts and opened their eyes to the bright future in Green Bay.  His name is Aaron Rodgers.

Now in his second season as a starter, Rodgers will be making his first Pro Bowl appearance and, more importantly, has led the Packers into the playoffs. 

Yet his impressive season is buried behind the glittery successes of the big stats, guys like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.  A closer look, however, shows just why Aaron Rodgers deserves as much MVP hype as those guys, if not more.

Currently, Rodgers ranks fourth in the league in passer rating, just behind Brees, Phillip Rivers, and Brett Favre.  He's sixth in yards per game.  He's tied for third with (guess who) Favre in touchdowns, just behind Brees and Manning. But the most impressive stat, the one coaches and fans love to see most, is that Rodgers has only thrown seven interceptions all season, the least among all full-time starters. In fact, of all his pass attempts, only 1.4 percent end in a pick.

A big factor we must consider in the rising stardom of Rodgers is the offensive line he plays behind, which can be called horrendous at best.  Rodgers has been sacked 50 times this season, more than any other QB in the league.  8.8 percent of plays in which Rodgers is attempting a pass end in a sack. 

This disadvantage causes Rodgers to lose some ground against the NFL's other big guns. Consider Peyton Manning, who has only been sacked 10 times all season and has attempted roughly 40 more passes than Rodgers.  The closest QB to Rodgers in sacks with at least 500 pass attempts is Favre with 34.  You can only imagine how great Rodgers could be if he had a decent line to play behind.

Another highly impressive stat line for Rodgers is his efficiency on third downs.  The Packers rank third in the league in third down success percentage.  Rodgers is a big part of that success.  On third down plays alone, Rodgers has a 67.8 completion percentage, throwing for 11.01 yards per attempt.  His QB rating on third downs alone is 135.1.  Lastly, on third down plays, Rodgers has thrown 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions.  When it comes to critical downs, few in the league manage the game better than the young gun QB for Green Bay.

I doubt Rodgers will win the MVP this year.  His team's record isn't as sexy as that of the Saints and Colts, and his offense isn't completely reliant upon the pass.  But rest assured that Rodgers will have his share of MVPs by the end of his career.  And feel free to go ahead and start those comparisons to Brett Favre.  Even in only his second year as a starter, Rodgers isn't that far off from No. 4.

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