In 2011, Aaron Rodgers set an NFL record with a passer rating of 122.5.
In 2013, Peyton Manning set NFL records with 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns.
Rodgers probably won’t break any of those records this season. Nonetheless, not only should he be a runaway winner for NFL MVP, but he’s in the midst of arguably the best quarterbacking season in NFL history.
With three-fourths of the season in the books, Rodgers is having a season for the ages. No, he won’t throw for 5,000 yards or 50 touchdowns. In fact, he’s almost 700 yards behind the Colts’ Andrew Luck. He’s four touchdowns behind Manning. But he is No. 1 in all the stats that matter.
— Rodgers’ passer rating of 118.6 is 10.8 points better than second-ranked Manning.
— Rodgers has thrown a touchdown pass on 8.4 percent of his attempts. Manning is second with a touchdown rate of 7.6 percent.
— Rodgers has thrown an interception on just 0.8 percent of his attempts. Brady is second with an interception rate of 1.3 percent.
— Rodgers is averaging 8.75 yards per attempt. Dallas’ Tony Romo is second at 8.39 yards per pass.
There’s no stats-padding in these numbers. This is called efficiency. Ruthless efficiency. History-making efficiency. Winning efficiency.
Not since 1999 and 2001, when the Rams’ Kurt Warner won the MVP award, has a quarterback finished atop all four categories. The only other quarterbacks to accomplish the feat over the past 35 seasons are Joe Montana in 1989 and Steve Young in 1991.
"No disrespect to any quarterback in the NFL, but right now he’s at a level that's much higher than anybody else," Falcons coach Mike Smith, whose team faces the Packers on Monday, said in a conference call on Thursday. "When you look at his pure statistics, they’re phenomenal, and then when you watch the tape, it’s even more impressive. He’s got a great grasp of how to attack defenses. He’s been very accurate. His quarterback rating is off the charts. I don’t know that there’s been a quarterback that’s had a stretch like he’s had in the history of the NFL."
That’s saying something, considering how the team has evolved. In 2011, when Rodgers won his only MVP award, the Packers’ skill-position group was so good that Randall Cobb finished merely seventh on the team in receptions. That’s what makes Rodgers’ 2014 so sensational. Yes, Davante Adams had a big game against the Patriots. But let’s be real: This is hardly a star-studded passing game. Jordy Nelson and Cobb are sublime performers, but who else is there? Adams has four games of five-plus receptions but also five games of zero or one receptions. At tight end, Manning has Julius Thomas, Brady has Rob Gronkowski and Drew Brees has Jimmy Graham. Rodgers has ... Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers.
What’s most impressive about Rodgers is how he’s mastered that tricky balancing act of making plays but avoiding mistakes. This season, he’s thrown 32 touchdown passes against three interceptions. That gives him a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10.67-to-1. If that holds up, it would be No. 1 in NFL history by a mile. Among quarterbacks with at least 320 attempts in a season (or 20 per game), Brady holds the record with his 36 touchdowns and four interceptions for a ratio of 9.00-to-1 in 2010. Rodgers is second on that list at 7.50-to-1 in 2011. In fact, here’s how overwhelming Rodgers’ ratio is this season: There are only six seasons in NFL history half as good: Brady in 2010, Rodgers in 2011, Brady in 2007 (6.25-to-1), David Garrard in 2007 (6.00-to-1), Steve DeBerg in 1990 (5.75-to-1) and Manning in 2013 (5.50-to-1).
For the season, Rodgers’ touchdown-to-interception ratio is more than twice as good as any quarterback in the league, with Brady second at 4.67-to-1, Manning third at 4.0-to-1. He’s almost three times as good as fourth-place Carson Palmer’s 3.67-to-1.
Rodgers turned 31 on Tuesday but is only getting better. More is being asked of him — before the snap and after the snap — and he’s delivered week after week after week. He entered this season with the highest passer rating (104.9), lowest interception percentage (1.76) and best touchdown-to-interception ratio (3.62-to-1) in NFL history, plus the third-highest yards per attempt (8.25). This season, Rodgers is crushing those figures. Among quarterbacks with 320 attempts in a season (or 20 per game), Rodgers’ 118.6 rating would be the third-best of all-time. His interception percentage of 0.79 would edge Brady’s 0.81 for the best ever. Since the 1970 merger, only six quarterbacks have better than Rodgers’ touchdown rate of 8.42 percent.
Simply, from arm strength to intelligence to athleticism, he has no weaknesses.
“He’s the complete package,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements said.
Blitz him? He’s got the NFL’s best passer rating against the blitz this season and over the past five seasons. Play coverage? Then you get what happened against the Patriots, when coach Bill Belichick rushed only two or three on 16 of his dropbacks and was rewarded by seeing the punting unit enter the game just once.
“Everything,” Belichick said last week when asked what kind of challenges Rodgers presents. “He’s a great player. He does a tremendous job, really at everything. He’s got no weak points; makes every throw. Handles the team very well at the line; checks and adjustments, he certainly sees the defense well. (He) uses all his weapons, makes great throws from the short ones to intermediate, down the field, sidelines, back shoulders, deep routes. And then he has a great ability to extend plays, either sliding in the pocket or at times scrambling outside the pocket. They’ve made a lot of plays this year on things like that where he either buys extra time or just flat-out gets away from the rush and lets the receivers uncover. He’s a hard guy to tackle, hard guy to get and a very good thrower, very accurate thrower and has great vision. He’s really good.”
Really good. Coming from Belichick, that’s about the highest praise imaginable for a quarterback delivering one of the greatest seasons email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.