Sports media has begun asking the annual question, “Who is the NFL MVP” for the 2012 season. The super majority of the MVP talks have been concentrated around three players: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. All three are having stellar seasons both statistically and in the resurgence of their franchises. A player who has been forgotten is 2011 MVP Aaron Rodgers. Through Week 15, Rodgers has quietly compiled the best statistics in the league this year. Additionally, he has led his team to one of the best records in the NFL. Not once have I heard his name mentioned and today I present the case of why he should be in the talks.
When talking at the Packers offense this season, it has only been about Rodgers. Forget the politics of giving credit to other players, their success as an offense has been because of No. 12. As said previously, the receiver position has been a turnstile while the running back has been eerily similar. This year the Packers have gone through five different running backs, six if you consider John Kuhn. Including Kuhn, the Packers have combined for a measly four rushing touchdowns the ENTIRE SEASON. What does this mean? The offense is ultimately one dimensional, “Rodgers-Dimensiona,l” with his ability to throw and run the ball. Earlier this season head coach Mike McCarthy said in numerous interviews the Packers were going to try to be a more balanced team this season, running the ball significantly more to hopefully make a run at the Super Bowl as they did in the 2010-2011 season. During that time, James Starks emerged as the Packers go-to-running back. The acquisition of Cedric Benson was supposed to fill the void this season, but his early season ending injury ended the Packers hopes (at the time he was only averaging 3.5 yards per carry). The void at running back has since remained but Rodgers offensive production has been just as impressive.
Statistically, Aaron Rodgers has the highest quarterback rating of any quarterback in the NFL this season. At 104.7, he has a higher rating than Brees, Brady, Manning, Luck, Griffin III, you name it. While scouring over statistics, this became one of the most pieces of compelling evidence to me Rodgers should most definitely be in the conversation for MVP. The recently introduced “QBR” which measures the quarterback’s contribution to winning (according to ESPN.com) places Rodgers in the top-5 among NFL quarterbacks. This season Rodgers is second in the NFL in touchdown passes behind Drew Brees and second in fewest interceptions thrown by a season-long quarterback (Tom Brady). Statistics in football may be misleading, but the team’s record usually serves as confirmation for performance.
Often a compelling case for the NFL MVP is the record of the team the player in question plays for. This season, Rodgers has lead the Packers to one of the best NFL records at 10-4, capturing a second-consecutive divisional crown. Without the “Worst Call in NFL History” working against the Packers in Week 3, the Packers would be well on their way to a first round bye. They even could be in a tight battle for the first seed in the NFC at the moment. Hypotheticals aside, the Packers are going to be a team poised to make a Super Bowl run in the NFC.
One thing is for sure, without Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers would not be in the playoff position they are today with another NFL quarterback. Peyton Manning relies on a heavy dose of running setting up play-action passes while Tom Brady and the Patriots run a high paced offence catering to Brady’s style of play. Rodgers has shown this season he can do it with his legs and his arm and the statistics confirm his status as the NFL’s most elite quarterback. His record and his resilience with an ever evolving supporting cast has made his 2012 season even more remarkable. It takes a special player to make good from the list of casualties from the beginning of the season’s roster. Rodgers should definitely be in MVP conversation starting right now, and should get some votes for the 2012 NFL MVP.