Packers Training Camp Countdown: 23 Days

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. Aaron Rodgers' brilliance can be seen in his situational numbers, including third-down dominance.

Aaron Rodgers owns the highest passer rating in NFL history.

That's all well and good, but the NFL is all about situational football. Can you move the chains on third down? Can you seal the deal upon entering the red zone? Can you make defensive coordinators pay for sending a blitz?

In all three of those areas, Rodgers has been the NFL's most productive quarterback.

We lead off this three-part series within a series with Rodgers' production on third down. For the second time in four seasons, Rodgers in 2012 led the NFL in third-down passer rating. His mark of 110.82 was just ahead of Tom Brady's 110.78 and Ben Roethlisberger's 106.85. In 2009, Rodgers' 133.5 mark on third down was the NFL's best since Kurt Warner's 137.3 in 1999. Rodgers also finished second with a third-down rating of 113.3 in 2011.

Over the last four seasons, Rodgers' third-down rating of 114.0 is well ahead of Brady (107.4) and Drew Brees (103.9), and it's a big reason why Green Bay ranks third with a 44.7 percent conversion rate on third down over that span.

Rodgers also is first with 9.24 yards per third-down attempt — Eli Manning is second, with his 8.37 yards per attempt almost a full yard back — and is tied with Manning with 53 completions of 25-plus yards. While Brady boasts a gaudy 45 touchdowns vs. five interceptions on third down, Rodgers has the second-best ratio with 43 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

What separates Rodgers from the rest of the quarterbacks is his combination of mobility and intelligence. Rodgers is able to buy time for his receivers to get open, and he understands that a punt is better than an interception.

"I think Aaron's a good decision maker," quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo said. "He takes pride in taking care of the football, and that's something that we emphasize, but that's important to him – always has been, always will be. It's always fun to take a look at the scramble tape and see some of the throws he makes in awkward body positions and the talent he has there. He's very gifted and very special there, so that's always fun to watch at the end of the year."

Last season, Rodgers completed 92-of-144 passes (63.9 percent) on third down for 1,298 yards, with nine touchdowns and one interception. His 110.8 rating was his best of any down.

Surprisingly, Rodgers was at his best the further the distance to the first-down chains, according to data from STATS. When needing 1 or 2 yards on third down, Rodgers completed 57.1 percent with three touchdowns and one interception. He tied for 20th by converting third down into first down on 52.4 percent of his passing attempts. When needing 3 through 6 yards, Rodgers completed 60.3 percent with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He tied for eighth by converting on 51.5 percent of his passes. When needing 8, 9 or 10 yards, Rodgers completed 70.4 percent with one touchdown and no interceptions, and he completed 71.4 percent with one touchdown and no interceptions on third-and-11-plus. On third-and-8-plus, Rodgers ranked fourth by converting on 36.4 percent of his passes.

All told, Rodgers finished sixth by converting on 45.8 percent of his third-down passes. Plus, Rodgers converted a shocking 10-of-13 third-down scrambles, according to the league's media-only stats site. Not only was he 5-of-5 on third-and-1 and third-and-2, but 5-of-6 between third-and-4 and third-and-8.


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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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