Entering the 2020 season, questions abounded in Green Bay regarding the future of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers traded up in the first round to select Jordan Love. Even Rodgers said he wasn’t quite sure what this meant about his future in Green Bay. In 2018 and 2019, Rodgers failed to throw more than 26 touchdown passes in either season. By his standards, they were down years.
Then the 2020 season started, and Rodgers has launched himself into contention for his third career MVP Award. He looks better now, at age 37, than he has in nearly three years. Now, all of a sudden, the question is not whether or not Rodgers is washed up; but rather, it’s is this the best Aaron Rodgers we have ever seen? To answer that question, we have to take a look at his two other MVP campaigns.
Aaron Rodgers’ 2011 MVP Season
While we will look at Rodgers’ 2014 season, when fans think of vintage, top-of-the-world Aaron Rodgers, they are usually thinking about this season. In terms of greatest regular seasons by quarterbacks, this one is arguably near the top of the list. Rodgers and the Packers finished with a 15-1 record following an improbable Super Bowl win the year before.
The Packers had the worst defense in the NFL that year, but Rodgers’ amazing play made the Packers the winningest team in the regular season. That year, Rodgers completed 68.3% of his passes, throwing for 4,643 yards. That yardage total is still his career-high.
He also threw 45 touchdown passes against just six interceptions. He also set the NFL single-season record for quarterback rating with 122.5. He also led the NFL in QBR with 84.5. 2011 was also the only season in which Rodgers ever averaged over 300 passing yards per game.
His 309.5 yards per game that year remains his career-high by a very large margin. What is amazing about these numbers is that Rodgers accomplished them in just 15 games. With the top seed wrapped up in the playoffs, his backup, Matt Flynn started Week 17 against the Lions (and threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns).
Aaron Rodgers’ 2014 MVP Season
Following his 2011 MVP, Rodgers had another great season in 2012. He threw 39 touchdowns against eight picks and had a 108.0 quarterback rating, which led the NFL again. 2013, though, was a different story. Rodgers was fractured his left collar bone against the Bears and only played in nine games.
Aaron Rodgers returned in 2014 with a brilliant campaign most experts did not see coming. That year, Rodgers completed 65.6% of his passes for 4,381 yards. He also threw 38 touchdowns and just five interceptions. At that point, the five picks were his career low for a season in which he played a season.
His quarterback rating that eyar was 112.2 and his QBR was 78.3, the second-highest of his career. It looked as if Rodgers and the Packers were on their way to the Super Bowl that year until a heartbreaking loss to the Seahawks in the playoffs ended their season.
Aaron Rodgers’ 2020 Season
Since 2014, Rodgers has still played very well. In fact, despite his “down years” in 2018 and 2019, Rodgers has made the Pro Bowl in each season except 2017 (another season-ending injury). A coaching change was made last season, and it was obvious that Rodgers was not comfortable in the offense then.
Despite that, the Packers still went 13-3 and made an appearance in the NFC Championship. Many expected Rodgers to look better in his second year in the offense, but no one saw this level of production coming (maybe except Rodgers, himself).
Entering Week 17, Rodgers has completed a career-high 70.3% of his passes. His passing yard total stands at 4,059 and he leads the NFL with 44 touchdown passes against just five interceptions. His quarterback rating is the best it has been since 2011 at 119.4. Additionally, his QBR is approaching his 2011 QBR and stands at 83.9.
The Packers’ opponent on Sunday is the Chicago Bears, who have a depleted secondary. With the NFC’s top seed on the line for the Packers, Rodgers very well might set a new career-high in touchdown passes this year.
So, is 2020 Aaron Rodgers the best version of Rodgers that we have seen? It’s incredibly close. I still think that his 2011 season is his best season because he was the sole reason the Packers won 15 games that year. In addition, his completion percentage that year is not far below this year’s, and he accomplished all those numbers in one less game than he will play this year.
That being said, this is the best Aaron Rodgers has played since 2016, a year in which he threw 40 touchdown passes. Additionally, I think that his season, while not being the “best” he’s ever played, is his most impressive given that he is 37 years old. In any case, it is clear that Rodgers is having fun playing football again, and it sure is fun to watch.