-by Braden Gall (follow him on twitter @AthlonBraden)
The Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers was the NFL’s first half MVP – and it wasn’t even close.
But where could Rodgers’ 2011 campaign rank in the annals of this great league should he continue ravaging opposing defenses? Very simply, it would be the greatest season by an NFL quarterback in history.
Before we dive into Rodgers’ push for immortality, let's address the question of who currently claims the mantle of ‘Best season by an NFL quarterback.’
Is it Kurt Warner of 1999? Steve Young of 1994? Tom Brady of 2007? Peyton Manning of 2004?
While Warner and Young went on to win the Super Bowl and were likely more complete from Week 1 to the Super Bowl, it is hard to make the claim that Manning’s ’04 and Brady’s '07 performances weren’t the greatest statistical regular seasons in history.
The Colts’ gunslinger was unstoppable. He set the single-season NFL record with 49 touchdown passes and an unheard-of – and still NFL-record – 121.1 QB rating. Manning completed 67.6% of his passes, threw only 10 interceptions and averaged 284.8 yards per game that year. He led his team to a 12-4 record before losing to New England in the AFC Divisional round.
Brady broke Manning’s single-season touchdown record when he tossed 50 scoring strikes just three years later. The Pats’ quarterback posted a 117.2 quarterback rating, which trails only Manning as the most efficient in league history. Brady averaged 300.4 yards per game and completed 68.9% of his passes with only eight interceptions. Brady led what was only the second undefeated regular season in history when New England finished 16-0 before losing to the Giants in a memorable Super Bowl XLII.
While New England, Indianapolis, Michigan and Tennessee fans will never agree on which of those two seasons was greater, both would take a clear back seat to Mr. Rodgers if he carries his first half MVP tempo through the second half of action.
Rodgers is currently averaging 327.4 yards per game and has thrown a league-leading 24 touchdowns against only three interceptions. He is on pace for a single-season NFL record 5,238 yards, third-best 48 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He is currently completing 72.5% of his passes, which would break Drew Brees’ 2009 NFL single-season record of 70.6%. His astonishing 129.1 passer rating would shatter Manning’s 2004 single-season NFL mark. He is averaging 9.9 yards per attempt, which would place him fifth all-time in NFL history behind only Sid Luckman (10.9 in 1943) Otto Graham (10.6 in 1953 and 10.2 in 1947) and Norm Van Brocklin (10.1 in 1954). Not exactly an assortment of spring chickens. Rodgers is also leading the league in completions of 40 or more yards with nine such passes.
Moreover, the Packer passer became the first player in NFL history to reach 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns in the first eight games of the season. He became the first player in NFL history to start a season with a eight consecutive games with a passer rating of at least 110.0 and currently owns the longest single-season streak of games played at 110+ (8) – breaking Hall of Famer Young’s 1994 record.
Rodgers has led the Green Bay offense to three 28-point first-half performances this season — a number that equals the combined total of the 31 other NFL teams. He is also leading the NFL in 3-TD games since 2009 with 16. Brees is second with 15, Manning has 13 and Brady has 12.
Much of Rodgers' success can be attributed to his incredible accuracy while on the run. He keeps plays alive with his superior athletic ability and is nearly as pinpoint outside of the pocket as he is between the tackles. Just ask Super Bowl-winning coach Brian Billick, who displayed an obvious man-crush on No. 12 while calling the Packers' 45-38 win over San Diego last weekend. And rightly so — Rodgers posted a 145.8 rating in the win.
Back in 2007, Brady rushed for 98 yards and two scores while Manning “rolled up” 38 yards and no scores on the ground in 2004. Through three and a half seasons (55 career starts) Rodgers has rushed for 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has rushed for no fewer than 201 yards or four scores in any season and is on pace for a 254-yard, 4-TD performance in 2011.
This means Rodgers would smash single-season NFL records for passing yards, QB rating and total offense while setting single-season benchmarks for completion percentage and touchdowns accounted for. It would, in fact, be the greatest season by a quarterback in league history.
Have I mentioned that he is the reigning Super Bowl MVP who hasn’t lost a game since December 12, 2010?
NFL Single-Season Quarterback Records and Rodgers' current pace:
Rodgers' 2011 Pace
TDs Accounted For:
More Packers Content:
Will The Green Bay Packers Go Undefeated in 2011?