Same Old Aaron

With a depleted supporting cast of proven playmakers, Aaron Rodgers might be having his best season. Nonetheless, Rodgers' brilliant numbers haven't exactly dropped the jaws of anyone in the Packers' locker room. That's because he's set the bar ridiculously high over the years. (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Even by his lofty standards, Aaron Rodgers is on an unprecedented roll.

Since throwing a third-quarter interception at Seattle, Rodgers has thrown 18 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

Rodgers has been so exceptional for so long that nobody is the least bit surprised that he’s the only quarterback in NFL history with 18-plus touchdowns and zero or one interceptions in his first seven games. Or that Rodgers tied Bart Starr’s franchise record by going six consecutive games without an interception. Or that Rodgers broke his personal record and has now gone 192 consecutive passes without an interception. Or that Rodgers joined Tom Brady as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with four consecutive games of three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I don’t really follow the statistics that much,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements said on Monday. “I just know watching him daily and watching him play in the games that he takes care of the football, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s happened.

What Rodgers has done this season can’t be overstated. In 2011, when he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player behind his 45 touchdowns, six interceptions and league-record 122.5 passer rating, Rodgers had an embarrassment of riches at his disposal in the passing game. Randall Cobb, a second-round rookie at the time, was merely the seventh option in the passing game. Yes, the seventh.

This season, Rodgers has had to carry a bigger load. Greg Jennings is in Minnesota. James Jones is Oakland. Donald Driver retired. Jermichael Finley has been forced out of the game.

There’s no disputing Jordy Nelson’s greatness. Randall Cobb’s recovery from a slow start has mirrored the team’s recovery from a 1-2 start. However, there’s no reliable No. 3 threat. Jarrett Boykin, a breakout performer due to injuries last season, talked this summer of becoming a household name and Pro Bowl performer. Instead, he’s caught two passes. Davante Adams is your typical rookie receiver, with a total of 11 catches in two games and six receptions in the other five. The Packers’ tight ends have contributed 17 receptions; 22 tight ends around the league have at least that many receptions.

And yet, there’s Rodgers on top of his game, lifting those around him like all great quarterbacks have done over the years. His 117.3 passer rating is the second-best in the league. Despite a sporadic running game and unit-wide inconsistency, the Packers rank fourth in the league with 28.4 points per game.

“He doesn’t surprise me anymore,” Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton said on Monday. “I think he’s the best maybe to ever play.”

Sitton went on to say that Rodgers has “kind of mastered” the quarterback position. That’s bold talk yet it’s hard to argue.

In a league in which more games are lost than won, Rodgers almost never loses the game. His career interception percentage of 1.67 is the best in NFL history; Brady (1.99) is the only other quarterback at less than 2.0 percent. Rodgers could throw interceptions on his next 10 passes and still be the all-time leader.

Of the 20 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 200 passes this season, only Rodgers (one) and Brady (two) have thrown fewer than three interceptions. Avoiding interceptions isn’t all that difficult if the quarterback wants to play ultraconservatively. However, Rodgers is No. 2 in touchdown percentage (8.53) and No. 5 in yards per attempt (7.93) to go along with his No. 1 ranking in interception percentage (0.47 percent).

All of this has sparked premature MVP talk, though some of the numbers are at least comparable to his historic MVP season of 2011. When Rodgers won top honors that year, he completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 4,643 yards, averaged 9.2 yards per attempt, and threw 45 touchdowns against six interceptions en route to his 122.5 rating. This season, he’s completed 66.8 percent of his passes. He’s on pace for “only” 3,826 yards (7.93 yards per attempt) with 41 touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating would rank fourth in league history.

“I’ll say this about Aaron: Aaron is a much better today than he was in 2011,” coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. “His responsibility level has increased a lot since then. So, what he does during the course of the week, during the course of the game, at the line of scrimmage, the communication between (quarterbacks coach) Alex Van Pelt and myself, he is, in my opinion, watching him grow throughout his career, he’s clearly a better player.”

That one of the best quarterbacks of all-time is getting better is a scary proposition for the rest of the league.

“When you set the standard that he’s set over the years, you expect that week in and week out, and I know he does of himself,” Nelson said after the game. “It doesn’t surprise us. He just set the standard, I guess, too high. But that’s the way he’s going to play, and that’s what we expect from him, and that’s what everyone else is trying to get to that level, too. And that’s why I think our offense is starting to click because we’re all striving to get better. He’ll look at the film, he’ll find something I’m sure to nitpick and get better at. Across the board, we just need to continue to improve but hopefully able to do it while winning.”

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

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