"I haven't really turned the ball over in excess since my freshman year of football," Rodgers said, turning back the clock to when he was a 14-year-old at Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, Calif. "My sophomore year, I think I threw eight. My junior year, I threw nine. My senior year, I threw six. Year after that (at Butte College) I threw four. I threw five my sophomore year (at Cal). I threw eight my junior year."
Rodgers joked that his mind is filled with such meaningless information.
Not all of that information is meaningless, of course. Like what he learns watching film, how it plays out on the practice field and how that translates to game days. And, most importantly, how an incompletion or a sack is better than a turnover.
"I don't like throwing interceptions," Rodgers said. "I like throwing touchdowns."
Rodgers is the rare quarterback who can make a ton of big plays for his team while avoiding disastrous mistakes. Of the top 10 quarterbacks in terms of touchdown passes last season, the average number of interceptions was 13.7. Rodgers, on the other hand, threw merely seven interceptions, with his percentage of 1.29 leading the league.
"Thankfully, we don't play (Tampa Bay) this year, so that might take three away from my season total," Rodgers joked, recalling his three-interception games there in 2008 and 2009.
Rodgers had 12 pick-free games last season. Not coincidentally, the Packers went 9-3 in those games — a record that would have been better had the defense not allowed 106 points in the losses. In his two years as the starter, he's had five streaks of at least three games without being picked off.
Rodgers is so good — and so consistently good — that Greg Jennings suggested Rodgers could go the entire season without throwing an interception. That's ridiculous, of course. Balls are tipped in the air at the line of scrimmage or go through a receiver's hands. Protection breakdowns lead to quarterbacks getting hit at the instant the ball is being released. And even a guy like Rodgers makes the occasional bad read.
Rodgers, however, is as good as any quarterback in the league today. And if he keeps this up, Rodgers will be as good as any quarterback in league history. Entering this season, Neil O'Donnell boasts the lowest career interception percentage in NFL history at 2.11 percent. Donovan McNabb fell from No. 1 to No. 2 last year and is at 2.12 percent. Rodgers enters this season with a percentage of 1.85. It takes 1,500 career attempts to qualify, which Rodgers will easily attain this season, barring injury.
"Obviously, I hate throwing interceptions," Rodgers said. "It's a matter of taking care of the ball, whether I'm running or throwing the ball. If we're not turning the ball over, we feel like we're going to be in just about every ballgame."
True. Teams that win the turnover battle historically win about 80 percent of the time. In the Packers' final eight games last year, Rodgers didn't throw an interception in seven of them. No wonder they staved off the vultures swirling after an embarrassing loss at Tampa Bay. That end-of-season success has led to what Rodgers called "real confidence" rather than the conjured-up confidence that has a tinge of uncertainty festering just below the surface.
Rodgers prefers throwing touchdowns to interceptions, and winning to losing. Fortunately for him, those two are linked, which is a big reason why the Packers are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.