GREEN BAY—Aaron Rodgers was the dominant quarterback of the 2011 season, which has caused it to not only be the standard by which other quarterbacks are judged, but also the standard by which Rodgers is judged.
"Was that the year he won the MVP?" Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said in response to a question that sought to compare the Rodgers of 2011 to the Rodgers of today. "I've never been a part of something like that. He's getting there. What was his rating today? Why are we comparing him to (2011)? Isn't today good enough?"
Aaron Rodgers' passer rating in Sunday's 38-17 whipping of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers is 154.5. Late in the game, Rodgers was a perfect 158.3, and then he overthrew Richard Rodgers in the end zone, an unforgivable mistake that apparently begged comparison to 2011.
McCarthy didn't waste any time.
"Aaron is a better player today than he was in 2011," he said. "Watching him grow, he's clearly a better player."
Translation: The Rodgers of 2011 was a passer. The Rodgers of 2014 is the total package. He runs the offense. He does it all.
Apprised of his coach's evaluation of his quarterback's growth, Rodgers said, with a wry smile: "If Mike said it, it must be right. He's our leader. I hope I'm better. There were stretches in that season I was playing really, really well. We're in a stretch now that we're playing well."
Is he headed toward another MVP?
He's certainly one of the top candidates. He began the day trailing only Philip Rivers by a point and a half in the league passer ratings. A 154.5 is likely to put Rodgers in the lead following the day's action.
"Back in '11, I felt we spread it around a little more. We're still not getting as many attempts for Eddie (Lacy) and James (Starks) as we'd like, but the production is good. Our defense is playing more like the 2010 season," Rodgers said.
So, on a day when the game was decided before the Wisconsin band sounded its first halftime note, comparisons were the talk of the postgame press conferences, and all of the comparisons are positive. Rodgers is playing at an MVP level and the defense is playing at its highest level since Dom Capers became the target of the fans' disdain.
"We have a feeling if we don't turn the ball over we'll be in a situation to win the game. (Rodgers) takes care of the ball. He makes sure he's reading the right thing and I think the line is giving him some time and, hopefully, we're doing our job of getting open, too, to make it as easy as possible," Jordy Nelson said.
The Packers made it look easy on Sunday, and that was one of the trademarks of the 2011 team.
Would another MVP interest Rodgers?
"It doesn't. I wouldn't mind it, but it doesn't. I'll take a Super Bowl championship first," he said. COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE