Green Bay Packers: Can Aaron Rodgers Finally Become NFL MVP in 2011?
Search the name Aaron Rodgers in a household dictionary, and you'll find nothing. Search the Internet for the Green Bay Packers star quarterback, and you'll most likely come to several brilliant definitions:
Majestic, talented and one of a kind.
Those are words which will follow Rodgers for eternity. He's earned it. He won the Super Bowl. He placed the Packers back in the winners circle. And he also single-handedly picked apart the Pittsburgh Steelers defense in rather effortless fashion.
But the word MVP? Hold your horses.
Somewhere along the line, God forgot to select that title when he created this demolisher of a quarterback. Consequently, it's an issue that stands out like a sore thumb as Rodgers' young career progresses.
That is until now.
Let's pretend for one minute that the 2011 season is a go-ahead. A new CBA has been reached, nauseating lawyers have disappeared, and Roger Goodell's pep talks never occurred. Feel better? Good. This argument is purely about Rodgers, and no one else.
What Rodgers does is simple; he wins games in style. He may never accomplish some kind of New England Patriots streak, but he has managed to place a group of impressive wins on the board. Last year's playoffs obviously opening the argument entirely.
Still, amongst the rewards, some things have been lost. A guest spot on Ellen was great, true. So were a few quirky tweets to begin the offseason. But what about the one accolade that separates Rodgers from his previous mentor?
The fact that he won Super Bowl MVP, something Brett Favre could never accomplish.
Now it should sound alarm bells.
Yes, Rodgers appears to be one step ahead of Favre if you exclude a few things. The touchdown record isn't in serious danger just yet. Nor is the abnormally high interception ratio, either. But as far as success goes, Rodgers is chipping away at the stone rather quickly.
Don't release the chain and ball too early, though.
It's an ongoing process, relieving the world of Favre and replacing him with a much more polished version in Green Bay. Folks at Lambeau Field still sport the No. 4 no matter how tattered the jersey may be, and for some, the sheer love for Favre will be an ever-growing flame.
That connection stems from three consecutive MVP awards in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
Welcome to Rodgers' dilemma.
There's plenty of time to play catch up. Rodgers is only 27. He has an offense which is for the most part young and skillful, while with each regular season game, Rodgers' precision and ability for the quarterback position seems to intensify with every "Down, set, hut!"
However, this is where I stop and become a little frightened. Are we really willing to expect an MVP award from Rodgers based on these assets? Maybe. But if we are going to place all of our eggs in the obvious basket, the negatives are also worth discussing.
1. Tom Brady
He's a threat, always has been, always will be. The Patriots could reach the playoffs for the next 10 years and still not win a Super Bowl, but Brady could be awarded the hardware on every occasion.
Brady threw for 3,900 yards and 36 touchdowns last season. He also turned the ball over just four times via interception.
Rodgers has the statistics to compare to this kind of display, sure, yet at the same time Brady is normally a shoo-in by the time the season winds down; it's not easy to compete with those odds.
Let's not forget Brady also gains a bundle of points for the Patriots regular season record. If New England sat at 10-6 in Week 16, chances are Brady would miss out.
If the Patriots stand tall at 12-4, the NFL will normally throw him a bone. It comes down to a team effort, something to which Brady contributes a lot.
2. Peyton Manning
Four-time MVP, most in NFL history. Yeah, I'm jealous too.
Fortunately for the Packers, Manning is on the decline, though (slowly). He still has a handful of years left in the basket, but with age comes a much more predictable attack.
You can thank the loss of Marvin Harrison for that. The unpredictable run game of Joseph Addai isn't much help, either.
It has never taken much for Manning to seek out the award. Last season was a colossal exception as he threw 17 interceptions, but like Brady, the Colts haywire season contributed to Manning being overlooked.
I'd be surprised to see him go the way of the modern-day mullet and see him fade right out. Perhaps that is an unfair comparison; still, Manning is competition for the waiting Rodgers.
3. The Rest of the Field
Rodgers has the worry of upcoming players like Michael Vick to keep an eye on. Quite possibly the only reason No. 7 missed out last year was due to an early-season injury, as he became the unofficial fan favorite...and more than likely still is.
Other than Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers are the other flies on the wall. Rivers had a career year throwing for 4,710 yards and 30 touchdowns. Big Ben missed out due to an early-season suspension; that's no surprise.
Go ahead and throw Joe Flacco or perhaps Mark Sanchez onto this list if you like. Don't hold your breath, though. If Rodgers can't overcome Brady and Manning, the odds only multiply as the list descends.
So How Can Rodgers Become the Most Valuable Man?
If he can overcome the above problems, I'll buy him a Coke and congratulate him. Outplaying Brady and Manning is an accomplishment in its own right, something that very few individuals can pull off these days.
Aside from that, however, Rodgers needs to avoid the small mistakes which pop up when it comes to deciding on a winner.
Does a year which features two unnecessary concussions look good on a resume? No, not unless you're down on cash and looking to gain funds from Roger Goodell's helmet-to-helmet policy.
Do four regular season losses by no more than three points flatter the offense? Of course not. It just looks plain inconsistent.
It's a broad area, but one Rodgers needs to take a look at.
Skill wise, give him a tick. You don't throw just four incompletions against the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional Round and not receive some recognition.
Going along with that, Rodgers' brilliance outside of the pocket on the ground game also places him into the rare category of multi-talented quarterbacks.
His ability to share the ball is also a huge bonus, something that is worth everything after having little to no run game for most of the season.
Fans will argue and say Rodgers is the next best thing to hit the streets. I don't find a reason to argue. But a Super Bowl ring without an MVP award almost seems unimaginable.
Especially for a passer who seems to be breathing superhuman air in comparison to the other 31 quarterbacks.
In a year's time, this argument could mean nothing. Both of us may be staring down the barrel of a Rodgers MVP announcement, crediting him for a season worth acknowledging.
Packers fans will love that, Bears fans will be pointing at Jay Cutler and saying, "What's wrong with you?"
That's a debate for another time.
Until then, Rodgers is great. Packer fans will praise him, and everything will be close to perfect in Green Bay. The cheese will flow, the good times will come and if the lockout remains persistent, the Packers will remain untouched champions for another year.
If you want that last piece to the puzzle, though, an MVP award must be achieved.
Because in the end, great and immortal are two totally different things.
Check out Ryan Cook's new blog: The Front Page.
Ryan Cook is an Australian Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and a writer for Acme Packing Company. He is also a guest writer for PackerChatters. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email: email@example.com.
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