Aaron Rodgers: His ‘stinker’ only proves he’s the league’s MVP


Aaron Rodgers had the worst statistical day of his career last Sunday.

Frankly, I don’t think any of us want to go back and look at what transpired, but if there’s a point to make here, it’s pretty clear that Aaron Rodgers has to still be considered among the top three candidates for NFL MVP.

Being nominated as the NFL Man of the Year this week is a tremendous tip of the hat to one of today’s shining stars in the NFL … but at this point in the year, it’s even more important to see Rodgers as a clear MVP front-runner.

If we consider the true definition of “Most Valuable Player,” one has to look at what the player does for his team – where his team would be with and without that particular player.

If we consider the true definition of “Most Valuable Player,” one has to look at what the player does for his team – where his team would be with and without that particular player.

One can argue the same for Tom Brady and J.J. Watt. When they play badly, their team’s chances of success tank.

It’s the same with Aaron Rodgers.

Sure, Rodgers got plenty of help from his receivers in contributing to his overall final statistics. The drops were many and significant. But Rodgers wasn’t on from the first snap of that game at Buffalo – and his team suffered because of it.

Though the Packers were still in the game and had a chance to win it right down to the end, it was the defense that helped that cause … something that doesn’t happen much in Green Bay.

But Rodgers’ importance to his team is evident. When he isn’t on the same page as his receivers – missing on back shoulder throws, badly missing his best receiver on a broken pattern – the team is not going to do well.

When Aaron Rodgers is on, so is the team.

So, to those who feel that one bad game has destroyed any chance that Rodgers could earn his second career MVP Award, I say phooey.

In my mind, his chances are just as good, if not better than they were before the loss to Buffalo.

What will propel him back into the thick of that race will be a turnaround performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this coming Sunday. If Rodgers comes out and lights up the Bucs – a team with a pretty decent defense, despite their overall record – he should be considered neck-and-neck with both Brady and Watt.

Should Rodgers take his team to two straight season-ending wins, and do it in convincing style, grace and professionalism, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be poised to win the league’s most prestigious award.

And if past history is any indicator, Rodgers should do just that. He’s had a handful of awful games in his career, with the bulk of them very early in his career when the team wasn’t very good.

From those “stinkers,” he has always bounced back to be the quarterback we all know and love.

In 2008, he suffered through some pretty unspectacular afternoons. One of them was in Week 4 of that season when he completed just 51 percent of his passes and had a quarterback rating of 55.9. The next week against Atlanta, he rebounded to a rating of 109.4.

Corey Linsley, Aaron Rodgers, John Kuhn and Eddie Lacy prep for a play. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Later that same season, he recorded a 59.8 rating against New Orleans and came back to a 96.3 rating against Carolina.

Fast forward to 2009, when he once again struggled against Tampa Bay … he had a rating of 57.6, but came back with a 91.1 rating the next week against the Dallas Cowboys.

One has to jump to 2010 for his next worst rating when he had a 34.7 QBR against the Detroit Lions, but that was the game he suffered a concussion and only played one half.  When he came back two weeks later, he exploded for a QBR of 139.9 against the New York Giants and then went on to lead the Packers to a Super Bowl championship.

Aaron Rodgers. Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports photograph

My belabored point here is that Aaron Rodgers has had very few bad days at the office – performances that have demonstrated how important he is to the overall success of the team. His MVP stature is bolstered by these statistics.

And if Aaron Rodgers’ proverbial chip on his shoulder reappears this weekend, I pity the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who will have to try to deal with the MVP candidate.

Expect Aaron Rodgers to bounce back, the Packers to bounce back and for his name to once again be bandied about as one of the top two candidates for MVP.