After an arduous 15-game trek through Bizarro World, the future Hall of Fame quarterback that is Aaron Rodgers has returned to form. Over the past eight weeks, Rodgers’ play has steadily improved and he’s taken the Packers from a squad on the verge of a meltdown to a team entering the stretch run playing the best it has in over a year. It’s no secret to say that No. 12 for the Green Bay Packers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and that he’s played well as of late, but it might come as a surprise to hear that he may have thrust himself into the MVP discussion once again.
During his time in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers has been nearly beyond critique, he is and has been the driving force of the team. That is, until last year. For the first time the questions turned to if he was, at times, the one to blame for failures. With criticism at an all time high, he’s more than answered the call. Over the past eight games, Rodgers has completed 68 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,359 yards, 22 touchdowns, and just three interceptions, good for a quarterback rating of 108.2. He has the most yards, most touchdowns, and highest passer rating in the NFL over that same span. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that he’s done this with a porous defense and nearly nonexistent run game, which, sans Rodgers, is ranked 27th in the league.
A Case for MVP?
In most years, a player must meet two requirements to win the MVP. First, they need to be on a team that makes the playoffs. Second, they need to have one of, if not the, best seasons of any player in the league. If the Packers can win their final three games and sneak into the playoffs with a 10-6 record, Rodgers will get his name at least discussed for MVP. It’s the second part of the equation that is an issue. Were he to have strung together 16 straight games at the level of the past eight he would be a near no brainer, posting numbers similar to that of his 2011 and 2014 campaigns, but as it is he already has a few games (see his performances against the Vikings, Giants, and Cowboys) that will prevent him from that. He’s on pace to finish among the league leaders but likely will still fall short of topping the numbers posted by the likes of quarterbacks Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, and Tom Brady (each of whom are also on teams with better records than the Packers). As is the case, the argument for Rodgers lies in the definition of the Award.
The Most Valuable Player Award is, in spirit, intended for the player who has the most to do with a team’s success. It’s the reason that the MVP rarely wins the offensive or defensive player of the year award as well. The MVP need not have the best season, but a great season that the respective team’s performance hinged upon. Focusing on that, it’s hard to deny Rodgers strong consideration for the award each and every year, but this year especially. The Patriots went 3-1 and looked every bit the part of a playoff team without Tom Brady this season, the Falcons have utilized the running back tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman (who together have 18 touchdowns this season) to take pressure off Matt Ryan, and Raiders have relied on a similar running back tandem of Latavius Murray and Jalen Richards (each of whom has more rushing yards than the Packers’ season leader, Eddie Lacy, and have combined for 13 rushing touchdowns). The Packers, on the other hand, have scored three touchdowns all season that were not thrown or run by Aaron Rodgers.
He has been the Green Bay offense, with the team clinging to playoff hopes on the basis of his play. He’s found his touch, hitting on short and deep passes, he’s continued to have arguably the greatest pocket awareness and agility in NFL history, routinely making defenders look like Rocky trying to chase down his first chicken, and he’s kept defenses on their toes, catching teams with 12 men on the field and offsides better than anybody else in the NFL. The main concern is, as it should be, making the playoffs and having the team peak at the right time, but don’t be surprised to see Aaron Rodgers on the shortlist if his play continues at the superhuman level we all too easily grow accustomed to.