Last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, Rodgers wasn't quite the quarterback fans have come to expect with a couple passes thrown behind his intended receivers and several more off-target. It was almost regarded as ho-hum.
But looking at his stat line, it was a performance most quarterbacks would kill for. Rodgers completed 19 of 30 passes for an over 63% completion rate, had more than 300 yards passing (308) along with two touchdowns and zero interceptions, good for a 119.9 passer rating.
The stark reality is Rodgers, who will make his 50th career start on Sunday when the Packers travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears, is placing himself among the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.
Rodgers attributes at least part of his success to his experience. He sat and learned and honed his mechanics for his first three years in professional football behind Brett Favre. Now he's been the starter in Green Bay for three-plus seasons and has gotten the lion's share of practice reps that come along with it.
"In my fourth season starting, you start to pick up on things," said Rodgers on Wednesday, meeting with local media. "You learn little intricacies that you can do, inside an offense or inside a game to get an advantage. You're always looking for those competitive advantages."
Certainly, winning a Super Bowl and being named the game's MVP, will secure Rodgers' place in the football history books. But from a statistical standpoint, the numbers are nothing short of astounding.
Rodgers' career passer rating of 99.5 ranks first in NFL history among those with a minimum 1,500 passing attempts. Let that sink in for a moment.
In a game with luminaries such as Bart Starr, Fran Tarkenton, Joe Montana, John Elway and so many others, Rodgers stands at the very peak, the top of the mountain.
Perhaps surprisingly when looking at career passer rating chart, among the legendary quarterbacks the game has produced, Rodgers is one of four out of the top five that are currently playing.
Behind Rodgers in order are San Diego's Philip Rivers (96.9), San Francisco and Tampa Bay's Steve Young (96.8), Dallas' Tony Romo (95.9) and New England's Tom Brady (95.8).
Rodgers acknowledged that some of the reason players are putting up such gaudy numbers in today's game is a shift toward more passing-oriented offenses in the NFL.
"In order to combat some of the things the defense has been doing, I think offenses have looked to change tempos on them and to spread things out a little bit more," said Rodgers. "As that trend has kind of progressed in the NFL, I think the pass-run ratio has changed and you're going to see more passing yardage and more balls in the air."
Rodgers' career passer rating might be 99.5, but he regularly puts up games in which his rating is over 100. Based upon his past history, he's had a rating over 100 more than once out of every two games.
Through 49 starts, Rodgers has had 27 games in which his rating has exceeded 100. By the time Sunday is over, he'll have at least tied the NFL record, if not surpassed it, for the most games with a rating over 100.
Romo currently sits atop the list, also with 27 such games. The next closest is Kurt Warner who had a rating above 100 in 24 out of his first 50 starts.
Again, it comes down to Rodgers' experience.
"I feel I'm more comfortable, definitely, from game one, start one to start––what is this for me? Fifty, I think, coming up in the regular season," said Rodgers. "It's a nice learning process and you gain a lot through experience."
Part of the reason Rodgers' rating is so high has been his ability to avoid interceptions, which adversely affect a quarterback's passer rating.
Rodgers has thrown only 31 career interceptions for an interception percentage of 1.9%, which also ranks first in NFL history among players with at least 40 starts.
He's also the only player in history with an interception percentage below 2%. Neil O'Donnell, who played for several teams in the 1990s and early 2000s, has the second-best percentage at 2.1%.
Making these statistics all the more impressive is that Rodgers has had some of the most success in the most adverse of situations, on third downs and when facing an opponent's blitz.
Since 2009, Rodgers' passer rating on third downs is 117.0, better than Brady's 111.5 who's second on the list. Rodgers also tops the register in yards per attempt, averaging 9.25 yards on third down, ranking ahead of Rivers who's second at 8.86.
Finally, Rodgers has an 111.5 passer rating and averages 9.45 yards per attempt against the blitz since 2009, according to STATS, both tops in the league.
Certainly, passer rating is not the be-all, end-all measuring stick of quarterbacks and his its drawbacks. But to rank first among the dozens of current quarterbacks and literally hundreds in NFL history is no small task.
It still might be premature to talk about Rodgers as an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, but given the big wins he's directed on the field to go along with putting up such lofty numbers, he's certainly putting himself at the front of the queue as long as he stays healthy for the next several seasons.
Brian Carriveau is the editor of the Maple Street Press Packers Annual. To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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