6

July

The Year After: Aaron Rodgers and How Other NFL QBs Have Fared After Winning the MVP

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers was the 2011 NFL MVP

Aaron Rodgers was the 2011 NFL MVP after leading the Packers to a 15-1 record and throwing for 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

At 28 years old, Rodgers has already established himself as the best player in the NFL. Now his challenge will be to hold onto that title, and bring more Super Bowls back to to Titletown.

Recent history shows that it’s no sure thing for a QB to hold the title of best in the world the year after winning an MVP. Factors like age and injury have caught up with some recent MVP QBs and their post-MVP career have been less than spectacular.

Let’s take a look at how MVP-winning QBs since 2000 have performed in the season following their MVP win. I’ll have a few thoughts on how all of this relates to Rodgers and the Packers at the end.

Kurt Warner (2002)
After throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 36 TDs in his 2001 MVP season, Warner dropped off. Big time.

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
2002 31 STL qb 13 7 6 0-6-0 144 220 65.5 1431 3 1.4 11 5.0 43 6.5 4.5 9.9 204.4 67.4 21 130 5.4 3.6 8.7 2
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2012.

Post-MVP Warner didn’t win another game until 2004 and went 13-29 from 2002-07. He threw 27 TDs and 31 interceptions from 2002-06 and only started 31 games.

Warner stayed healthy and became a dangerous QB again the final two years of his carerr, but the years immediately following his 2001 MVP run were frightening.

Rich Gannon (2002)
After playing out of his mind and winning the MVP in 2002, it didn’t take long for Gannon to resume playing like, well, Rich Gannon.

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
2003 38 OAK qb 12 7 7 2-5-0 125 225 55.6 1274 6 2.7 4 1.8 46 5.7 5.4 10.2 182.0 73.5 17 90 4.9 4.6 7.0 1 2 3
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2012.

Those numbers aren’t pretty. And they didn’t get much better in 2004, Gannon’s final season. After his MVP run in 2002, Gannon went 4-6 with nine TDs and six interceptions over his final two seasons.

Steve McNair and Peyton Manning (2004)
McNair and Manning split the award in 2003, then went on to have completely different careers.

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
2004 31 TEN QB 9 8 8 3-5-0 129 215 60.0 1343 8 3.7 9 4.2 37 6.2 5.1 10.4 167.9 73.1 13 95 5.5 4.4 5.7 1 1 3
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2012.

McNair started only 22 games for the Titans over the next two season, winning just seven of them and throwing 24 TDs and 20 interceptions. His QB rating never went higher than 82.5 after his MVP season and he was out of the league following the 2007 season.

Manning’s story is completely different. Finally, we get a QB who got even better after winning an MVP.

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
2004*+ 28 IND QB 18 16 16 12-4-0 336 497 67.6 4557 49 9.9 10 2.0 80 9.2 10.2 13.6 284.8 121.1 13 101 8.7 9.8 2.5 2 4 21
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2012.

Those are crazy good numbers. So good, that Manning won the MVP again in 2004. Let’s see how Manning performed in 2005 after winning back-to-back awards.

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
2005*+ 29 IND QB 18 16 16 14-2-0 305 453 67.3 3747 28 6.2 10 2.2 80 8.3 8.5 12.3 234.2 104.1 17 81 7.8 8.0 3.6 1 1 18
Career 208 208 141-67-0 4682 7210 64.9 54828 399 5.5 198 2.7 86 7.6 7.5 11.7 263.6 94.9 231 1483 7.2 7.0 3.1 35 46 220
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2012.

Another great season. Manning lost out to RB Shaun Alexander in the MVP race, but very easily could have racked up his third in a row. After RB Ladanian Tomlinson won the award in 2006, it’s been only QBs wearing the MVP crown since.

Tom Brady (2008)
Brady led the Patriots to a perfect regular season to win the 2007 MVP. Then, this happened:

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
2008 31 NWE qb 12 1 1 1-0-0 7 11 63.6 76 0 0.0 0 0.0 26 6.9 6.9 10.9 76.0 83.9 0 0 6.9 6.9 0.0 0
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2012.

Brady didn’t even last the first half in the season’s first game before blowing out his knee.

Dear God, I know all of us Packers fans bother you a lot on Sunday afternoons with various requests related to our beloved team, but please, please, please do not let something like this happen to Aaron Rodgers.

Peyton Manning (2010)
Manning won this third and fourth MVPs in 2008 and 2009. How did he fare in 2010?

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
2010* 34 IND QB 18 16 16 10-6-0 450 679 66.3 4700 33 4.9 17 2.5 73 6.9 6.8 10.4 293.8 91.9 16 91 6.6 6.5 2.3 0 2 16
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2012.

No MVP award was going to slow down the Manning machine. Until he was derailed by a neck injury, Manning kept filling up the stat sheet.

Tom Brady (2011)
Brady took home his second MVP in 2010 and probably would have won his third in 2011 if not for a guy named Aaron Rodgers.

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
2011* 34 NWE QB 12 16 16 13-3-0 401 611 65.6 5235 39 6.4 12 2.0 99 8.6 9.0 13.1 327.2 105.6 32 173 7.9 8.2 5.0 2 3 21
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2012.

I’d be more than happy if Rodgers follows up his MVP season with a season like Brady had in 2011.

Final Thoughts

  • Since 2000, Manning is the only QB to have a good season the year immediately following his first MVP season.
  • Warner, Gannon and McNair started a combined 21 games and lead their teams to a 5-16 record in the year immediately following their MVP season.
  • The trio completed 398 of 660 passes (60.3 percent) for 11 TDs and 24 interceptions.
  • Warner also won the MVP in 1999. In 2000, he started just 11 games, throwing for almost 3,500 yards with 21 TDs and 18 interceptions.
  • Manning’s combined numbers in the season following his MVP wins: 1,484-for-2,200 (67.5 percent), 17,504 yards, 143 TDs, 53 interceptions. His teams went a combined 50-14.
  • Brett Favre’s cumulative post-MVP numbers (three seasons): 976-for-1,607 (60.7 percent), 11,978 yards, 105 TDs, 52 interceptions. His teams went a combined 37-11.

Rodgers and the Packers
What does all of this mean for Rodgers and the Packers?

Nothing.

How a guy like Warner performed in 2002 has nothing to do with how Rodgers will play in 2012. Maybe we can learn a little something about handling success and getting better even after you’ve reached the top of your profession, but other than that, this is just something interesting to examine and discuss while we kill time waiting for the season to start.

I’m confident that Rodgers, if he stays healthy, will be more like post-MVP Manning than post-MVP Warner/Gannon/McNair. Rodgers is still young, and has a young and talented team around him that he’s grown up with since entering the league in 2005.

Of course, anything can happen, but all signs point to Rodgers staying on top for the foreseeable future.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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10 Responses to “The Year After: Aaron Rodgers and How Other NFL QBs Have Fared After Winning the MVP”

  1. zac5 says:

    To look into future you have to look in the past. Aaron has a career passer rating second to none & it’s trending up. Even if he just maintains his average passer rating he will be in line for multiple MVPs. The sky is limit for this young man.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • zac5 says:

      However I would gladly swap multiple league MVPs for multiple SB rings.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

      • Lefty says:

        California owes us one for the home playoff loss. Second one for M3. I guess we’re going to see how the team reacts.

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  2. James david Marsh says:

    Ron Wolf said that his greatest mistake was in not giving Brett Farve the offense weapons that he needed. Ted will make sure that Aaron Rogers has all of the offense weapons that he needs. Rogers has the work ethic, the superior knowledge of the game, and the mechanics to be the best ever. I see no dropoff in production, but rather a continuation of his getting better each year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    Rodgers seems to know/dictate where the open window will be and hits it.
    Most others need to look for it and then more often need to try and squeeze it in..INT.
    Rodgers simply makes it look easy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Ron LC says:

    Makes for an interesting discussion, but not much else. I firmly agree with your conclusion – “nothing”.

    There are just far too many variables in the year-to-year analysis to generate a reliable prediction.

    Nice to know though!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. PatM says:

    I’d prefer to see woodson just beat out rodgers for MVP this year! That is what I want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • PackEyedOptimist says:

      Hey, if we’re pie-in-the-skying, I’ll pick Datko as this year’s league MVP. (Can you imagine how impressive an OT would need to be in order to win that? Bonus: 22 year old 7th round pick) Bennett and Moss would be nice ones too. :-)

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    • Steve Cheez says:

      I see Masthay as having zero chance. ‘Cuz we’ll never need him!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Pat says:

    And of course McNair and Gannon won MVP’s in what was really their one good season. They got lucky. Warner got unlucky, got hurt alot and the other two, Brady and Manning, fine. They are great but have had some years that were not phenomenal! I’d take that for Rodgers.

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