This season was a fun one, unless you were a Indianapolis Colts’ or Minnesota Vikings’ fan. The Green Bay Packers got off to a blazing start on the offensive end and didn’t let it up, or so it seemed, all season. The only real blunder was their only loss, which came against the Kansas City Chiefs, away from home. Defense was another story. It seemed as though the Packers were not alone in struggling defending the pass. Three quarterbacks amassed 5,000 passing yards, with both Drew Brees and Tom Brady absolutely destroying the past record for most passing yards in a season, set back in 1984 by Dan Marino, who threw for 5,084 yards. Matthew Stafford came within 46 yards of the record, putting up 5,038 yards for the Detroit Lions, leading them to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. There was even a rookie quarterback that came in and lit up team’s secondaries, passing for over 4,000 yards while rushing for over 500 yards. Cam Newton is the only player to accomplish that in one season. Newton also set a record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback. He is an easy favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award, as he should be. This was, truly, the year of the quarterback.
Two quarterbacks stood out above the rest, though and both have led their teams to great seasons. Drew Brees passed for 5,476 yards while leading the New Orleans Saints to a third seed in the playoffs. On Saturday evening, they face Detroit. Brees attempted a pass 657 times this season, completing 71.6 percent for an average of 8.34 yards per attempt. He passed for 46 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while playing all 16 games. No defense could stop him all season, posting over 250 passing yards in each game. The team that came the closest was St. Louis, back in week eight.
The other quarterback was Aaron Rodgers, who led the Green Bay Packers to a one loss season and the first overall seed throughout the playoffs. If the Packers make it to the Super Bowl, they will have home field advantage the entire time. Rodgers played in only fifteen games, sitting out the last game against the Lions, which his skills weren’t needed. The negative in sitting him out was possibly costing him the MVP Award and with the way back-up quarterback Matt Flynn played, it certainly put the thought in people’s minds around the NFL. Flynn dominated, setting some records. He passed for 480 yards with 6 touchdowns and only 1 interception. I don’t think that Flynn’s great performance took anything away from what Rodgers was able to do all season. Rodgers posted 4,643 passing yards in 502 attempts. He completed 68.3 percent of the passes for a 9.2 yards per attempt. Rodgers had 45 touchdowns and an amazing 6 interceptions.
Looking at the statistics that have presented, you can say that they are damn near equal. Recently, for the radio station that I’m working an internship at, they discussed the possibility of co-MVPs shared between Brees and Rodgers. Many callers were not happy with that suggestion, but they were mostly Packers’ fans. Looking at this from an unbiased point of view, they had some pretty equal seasons. But, when you dig a little deeper into it, you can see just what Rodgers was able to do. Rodgers had only one less touchdown in one less game played, had more yards per attempt, and had eight less interceptions. But, Brees did have a considerable amount of passing yards more than Rodgers with a better completion percentage.
This is where statistic nerds, like myself, come in. Digging deeper, and doing some math yourself, you take Rodgers 9.2 yards per attempt and multiple it by Brees’ attempts which equals an insane 6,044.4 passing yards on the season. Or, you can do the opposite and multiply Brees’ 8.3 yards per attempt by Rodgers’ pass attempts and get 4,166.6 passing yards. Just shows you what Rodgers was able to do. If that isn’t enough for people, touchdown percentage and interception percentage are what levels the playing field in touchdowns and interceptions, especially with such a large difference in attempts. Rodgers had a touchdown percentage of 9.0 while having an interception percentage of 1.2. Brees put up 7.0 and 2.1, respectively. While digging deeper, you find just what kind of year that Rodgers had and why he deserves this award.
Looking away from the passing statistics for a moment, you have to look at what the teams are like. The Packers have a horrible pass defense while the Saints are 30th, giving up 600 less passing yards on the season. Another advantage the Saints have is the rushing game. New Orleans is ranked sixth overall while Green Bay is ranked 27th overall, making sure opponents cannot just plan, week in and week out, a way to attempt to stop Brees. Opponents facing the Saints have two facets of an offense to worry about, with Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram (now injured) and Pierre Thomas to be concerned with. When facing the Packers, teams put the rushing game on the back stove and concentrate on just the passing game, forcing Rodgers to have tougher competition week in and week out. If I had a vote, my vote would easily be going to Aaron Rodgers.