Rodgers Leads Charge as Offenses Dominate

Of course you know that offenses are putting up shocking numbers but we lend perspective that you won't find anywhere else. While he's not on pace for 7,000 passing yards like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers is on pace to set two NFL records and rewrite the Packers' record book.

It's no secret that quarterbacks are putting up mind-boggling numbers early this season.

So, to further boggle your mind, how's this: Aaron Rodgers is on pace to throw for 4,891 yards. That would rank third in NFL history behind Dan Marino's 5,084 yards in 1984 and Drew Brees' 5,069 yards in 2008.

Incredibly, though, Rodgers ranks just ninth in the NFL this season. With 305.7 yards per game, Rodgers trails Tom Brady (442.3), Brees (353.0), Cam Newton (337.3), Philip Rivers (326.3), Matthew Stafford (325.7), Ben Roethlisberger (314.0), Tony Romo (314.0) and Matt Hasselbeck (310.7). Brady, Brees, Newton, Rivers and Stafford all are on pace to break Marino's 27-year-old record.

The record for most 300-yard passing games through three weeks had been the 21 in 2009. This season, there were 34.

Nobody seems to have a good grasp on why quarterbacks are putting up such monster numbers when defenses — in theory, anyway — were supposed to be ahead of the game with offenses short-changed prep time due to the lockout.

"One thing you have to point to at some level is the rule change on the kickoffs," Rodgers said last week. "You're starting more drives at the 20-yard line. The kickoff-touchback percentage has got to be up. The tackles inside the 20 on kickoffs has got to be up. When you're going longer distances to drive the ball, I think that's definitely going to count for more yards."

That's not a bad theory. In 2005, offenses set a record with 19,826 net passing yards (quarterbacks' yardage minus yards lost on sacks) through the first three weeks. That record was broken in 2007 (20,957), 2009 (21,072) and 2010 (21,521). The incremental increase of 1,695 yards from those seasons has been dwarfed by this year, with offenses having totaled 23,560 net passing yards — an increase of 2,039 net yards over last year's three-week record.

Where Rodgers' initial theory falls short is that longer fields should translate to fewer points. That, however, has not been true. The league's three-week total of 2,157 points is 84 more than the record set in 2008. Again, the increase dwarfs the incremental rise between the fifth-place total of 2,040 points in 1989 and the second-place total of 2,073 of 2008 (33-point difference). Ditto for touchdown passes, with a three-week record of 153 dwarfing the then-record 137 set in 1987. The 137, in turn, is just two more than the fifth-place total of 135 set in 2007.

So, it's not just that offenses are setting records. It's that they're obliterating records at a dizzying pace.

"The second thing, maybe a bigger trend, the league is going to more pass-oriented offenses," Rodgers said, noting Brady was "on pace for 7,500 yards" or something crazy like that (actually, 7,077). That's the trend in the NFL."

However, you slice it, Rodgers has to be the early front-runner for NFL MVP. Rodgers leads the league with 71.8 percent accuracy and a passer rating of 120.9.

Not only would Rodgers smash Brett Favre's Packers record of 66.5 percent in 2007, Rodgers would break the league record of 70.6 percent set by Brees in 2009 and Ken Anderson in 1982. Bart Starr owns the best passer rating in team annals at 105.0 in 1966, and Rodgers is right in line to break Peyton Manning's 2004 record of 121.1. Rodgers is on pace for 43 touchdowns, which would break Favre's record of 39 in 1996 and rank fifth in NFL history. The team record for passing yards is Lynn Dickey's 4,458 in 1983.

With Rodgers' prolific start, the Packers are on pace to score 528 points. That would crush the 461 points scored by the 2009 team.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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