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
28

October

Comparing Aaron Rodgers in 2011 to Other Great QB Seasons in History

Every positive hyperbole you could possibly think of has been used on Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and his performance level through seven games in 2011. While there is no doubt that he’s playing at a level above any quarterback in the NFL this season, where does Rodgers’ 2011 season rank historically?

We’ll start by showing you Rodgers’ current and projected 16-game stats, followed by breakdowns of other historically great quarterbacking seasons. You can make the call from there.

One last thing: You’ll notice that no season from earlier than 1994 is included. If we go back too far, say to Otto Graham or Sid Luckman, we lose the ability to compare and contrast stats on a worthwhile basis. So while there are other great seasons by quarterbacks not mentioned here, I picked the ones that can statistically stack up with this era of passing football.

AARON RODGERS 2011

Week Opponent Result Cmp Att Cmp% Yrd Avg TD INT Rating
1 Saints W 42-34 27 35 77.1 312 8.91 3 0 132.1
2 Panthers W 30-23 19 30 63.3 308 10.27 2 0 119.9
3 Bears W 27-17 28 38 73.7 297 7.82 3 1 111.4
4 Broncos W 49-23 29 38 76.3 408 10.74 4 1 134.5
5 Falcons W 25-14 26 39 66.7 396 10.15 2 0 117.0
6 Rams W 24-3 18 29 62.1 316 10.90 3 1 119.3
7 Vikings W 33-27 24 30 80.0 335 11.17 3 0 146.5
7-GM TOTALS 7-0 171 239 71.5 2372 9.92 20 3 125.7
END PROJECTIONS 16-0 390 546 71.5 5421 9.92 45 6 125.7

Quick notes: If Rodgers stays on his current pace, he would set new NFL records in yards (5,421), completion percentage (71.5) and passer rating (125.7). Rodgers would rank fourth in TDs (45), fifth in average yards per attempt (9.92).

The rest of the schedule is something to look at, too. The remaining teams and their pass defense on the Packers schedule: Chargers (3rd), Vikings (29th), Buccaneers (26th), Lions (9th), Giants (18th), Raiders (25th), Chiefs (17th), Bears (27th) and Lions (9th).

TOM BRADY 2007

Wk Opponent Result Cmp Att Cmp% Yrd Avg TD INT Rating
1 Jets W 38-14 22 28 78.6 297 10.61 3 0 146.6
19

August

Packers vs. Cardinals: Things to Watch in Preseason Week 2

In the lead up to the Packers and Cardinals preseason matchup, consider this: in two of the last three games between these two clubs, there has been some serious offensive fireworks—to the tune of  177 total points and nearly 2,000 total offensive yards.

Most remember (or would rather forget) the 2009 Wildcard Card game in Arizona—a back-and-forth affair in which the Packers and Cardinals engaged in one of the wildest shootouts in playoff history.

A week after the Packers dismantled the Cardinals in Week 17 of the regular season, Arizona jumped out to leads of 17-0, 24-7 and 31-10 before Aaron Rodgers and the Packers mounted two impressive comebacks.

With the score 31-10, Rodgers lead the Packers on four straight touchdown drives—all ending on Rodgers’ touchdown passes—to tie the game at 38.

Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who threw for five touchdown passes and 379 yards, put Arizona back into the lead with 4:55 left when he hit Steve Breaston for a 17-yard score. Rodgers remained unfazed, however, as he led the Packers right down the field for another tying-touchdown. His 11-yard pass to Spencer Havner with 1:52 left helped send the game into overtime tied at 45 (of course, so did a Neil Rackers missed chip-shot 34-yard field goal on the Cardinals next drive).

Then, the game abruptly ended when Rodgers was stripped on a controversial play during the Packers first offensive series, giving the Cardinals a 51-45 win. The loss was certainly disappointing from a Packers perspective but the stat line was not: Rodgers threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another. The two teams combined for over 1,000 yards and 96 points, and to this day it remains the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history.

But before the Packers and Cardinals gave the 2009 NFL playoffs an aerial assault that hasn’t been seen since, they put together a high-scoring preseason affair that same year.

In the third week of exhibition play in ’09, the Packers were the ones who jumped out to a big lead in Arizona. In fact, with their No. 1 offense playing the entire first half, the Packers raced out to a 38-10 lead—only to see that advantage shrink to a final score of 44-37.

13

January

Packers Playoff Loss To The Cardinals and Kurt Warner: Who to Blame?

Kurt Warner came into the Cardinals – Packers playoff game with the second-best lifetime QB rating in NFL history. Only Bart Starr is better. Did everyone forget about that?

During the Sunday pregame shows on CBS, NBC and ESPN, only one football analyst picked the Cardinals to defeat the Packers (Bill Cowher). Everyone else picked the Packers. 14 out of 15 of the so-called experts were swayed. Swayed by what? The Packers meaningless win the week before against Arizona? The Cardinals lackluster play over the last four meaningless games of their season?

And a host of Packer fans were wrong. The prevailing sentiment in the week leading up to the game was that the Packers would win going away. I kept scratching my head at that. When I predicted the Packers pulling out a close victory (31-27), I was putting on a brave face, but inside, I feared Kurt Warner. In my mind, a close win would be the best case scenario. Packer fans kept telling me it wouldn’t be that close. I wanted to believe, I really did.

Yet I feared that Warner would pick apart the Packers secondary like he did the Vikings secondary in week 13, the last meaningful game the Cardinals had played. Although his numbers in that game came nowhere near those from this past weekend’s spectacle, I gained a healthy respect for his decision-making and timing. Kurt Warner delivers the ball to the right receiver, at the right time and in the right spot.

Enter the Packers secondary, an injury-depleted and seemingly easily-confused mish-mosh of over-rated players and waiver-wire pickups. There, I said it. Excluding, of course, NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson. Can you picture the Packers secondary without him?

Certainly, Kurt Warner and Ken Wisenhunt’s eyes must have popped out like Marty Feldman’s when they studied Packers game films. There was plenty there for them to like. From a supposed All-Pro safety that will make the occasional big play but struggles with consistency to the infamous Jarret Bush, helplessly chasing after his man while trying to locate the ball. Throw in the suspiciously disappearing Atari Bigby, athletic but mentally unprepared Brandon Underwood, and just not NFL-caliber Matt Giordano, and there was bound to be a Cardinal party in the Packers defensive backfield.