Rodgers earning his due among QB hierarchy
Aaron Rodgers not only is becoming one of the best among the NFL’s active quarterbacks, but also one of the best of all time.
And he definitely deserved to earn a berth on the NFC’s Pro Bowl squad announced Tuesday. Instead, he was named as an alternate.
There was some doubt heading into the announcement whether Rodgers would be voted into the Pro Bowl, given the presence of four worthy candidates in the NFC and only three roster spots available. Mike Vick, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Rodgers are all Pro Bowl worthy.
But Rodgers is developing a quality that sets him apart, as evidenced by his performance Sunday in a must-win game against the New York Giants that kept the Packers’ playoff hopes alive.
“He’s back; he’s definitely back,” said wide receiver Greg Jennings after Sunday’s game. “And the stats definitely show that he’s back. I’m excited for what he did.”
Rodgers’ stats show he completed 25 of 37 passes for 404 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the most yards thrown by a Green Bay quarterback in a single game since Lynn Dickey passed for 418 yards in 1980.
It was all the more impressive seeing as he missed the previous game and a half dating back to the concussion he suffered back in Week 14 against the Detroit Lions.
“Aaron’s a competitor,” said center Scott Wells, “so anytime he has to take a week off, he doesn’t like that. It’s fuel for the fire. He came out tonight ready to play, and I think he demonstrated that with his game out there.”
Because Pro Bowl voting already had concluded prior to the Giants game, Rodgers’ showing didn’t factor into anyone’s decision. But if somebody was on the fence about Rodgers’ merit before Sunday, they might have been swayed based upon what transpired at Lambeau Field.
Perhaps more importantly, Rodgers continued what’s become a larger trend of consistently solid play over the course of his career.
Rodgers worked his way into NFL record books on Sunday by becoming the highest-rated passer in league history with a career rating of 98.6.
He went into Week 16 ranked No. 2 behind Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers, but with a great game by Rodgers and an average game by Rivers, the Green Bay quarterback jumped into the No. 1 slot.
Coach Mike McCarthy characterized it as one of the best performances he’s seen from his quarterback.
“It’s one of his better ones because I pay more attention to the decisions and the ball accuracy and some of the type of the small, detailed things that he does,” said McCarthy. “I thought he was extremely sharp, especially after not playing last week.
“He did an excellent job at the line of scrimmage, keeping us in favorable down and distances. When the big-play opportunity presented itself, he and Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, all the way through, were able to convert on those plays.”
Avoiding interceptions factors into the equation when calculating quarterback rating, just another reason Rodgers performed so well against the Giants and over the course of his young career.
Heading into last week’s game, Rodgers also ranked first in NFL history in interception percentage at 2.0, keeping pace ahead of Neil O’Donnell (2.1) and Donovan McNabb (2.2).
Sunday was the seventh game this season in which Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception, including a five-game stretch from Week 8 to Week 13 without a pick.
The Packers have gone 6-1 in those games. The only loss was at Atlanta, a game in which Rodgers didn’t throw an interception but did lose a fumble in the red zone.
Without a doubt, the only thing preventing Rodgers from entering the conversation among the best quarterbacks in history is the lack of playoff wins.
A win over the Giants to keep the Packers in the playoff race was a step in the right direction. So would be a win over Chicago to secure a playoff spot.
Even more impressive would be an actual playoff victory, which—if the Packers qualify—also would come on the road this season.
It’s all there for the taking for Rodgers. Now he just has to take advantage.