Aaron Rodgers had already established his first-ballot Hall of Fame credentials, but back-to-back NFL MVP awards certainly added to his legacy.
In the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Rodgers completed 69.8 percent of his passes for 8,414 yards, 85 touchdowns and only nine interceptions combined. During that span, 42 players threw more than nine interceptions.
In winning MVP back-to-back, Rodgers joined just four other players who did it: Hall of Famers Jim Brown (1957-58), Joe Montana (1989-90), Brett Favre (1995-97) and Peyton Manning (2003-04, 2008-09).
But winning three in a row? That’s another thing entirely. Could Rodgers go back-to-back-to-back in 2022?
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Players with three consecutive NFL MVP awards
That subhead ought to just read “Player with three consecutive NFL MVP awards,” because there has only been one back-to-back-to-back MVP winner: Brett Favre. He was named three times in a row from 1995-97, although he shared the third one with Barry Sanders as the two were tied in the voting.
How did Favre do it?
For starters, he led the league in passing touchdowns each year and ranked near the top in almost all other passing stats.
|Year||Comp pct (rank)||Yards (rank)||TDs (rank)|
|1995||63.0 (6th)||4,413 (1st)||38 (1st)|
|1996||59.9 (9th)||3,899 (4th)||39 (1st)|
|1997||59.3 (7th)||3,867 (2nd)||35 (1st)|
Of course, Favre also threw at least 13 interceptions each season, but interception rates across the league were higher than they are in today’s NFL.
All this is to say that it is not easy to win three straight MVP awards.
And it may be even harder for Rodgers to do it given how Green Bay’s offense looks heading into the 2022 season.
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Can Aaron Rodgers win three straight MVPs?
Can he do it? Sure. He’s a future Hall of Fame quarterback who constantly elevates those around him. But there’s no question that his weapons are not what they have been over the past two seasons.
Last year, Davante Adams, widely regarded as the best receiver in the league, caught 123 of Rodgers’ 366 completions, gained 1,553 of Rodgers’ 4,115 passing yards and hauled in 11 of his 37 passing touchdowns. He is now in Las Vegas catching passes from Derek Carr. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (26 receptions, 430 yards, three touchdowns), is now with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.
That leaves Allen Lazard, who caught 40 passes for 513 yards and eight touchdowns, and Randall Cobb, who caught 28 passes for 375 yards and five touchdowns, as the most established returning wide receivers.
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The Packers addressed Adams and Valdes-Scantling’s exits by signing Sammy Watkins and drafting Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. But replacing a receiver of Adams’ caliber is not easily done.
And lacking that top option could be what holds Rodgers back from winning a third straight MVP. When Rodgers was the MVP in 2011, he had Jordy Nelson rack up 1,263 receiving yards and Greg Jennings gain 949 more. When he was MVP in 2014, Rodgers had Nelson and his 1,519 receiving yards, and Cobb, who had 1,287 yards. In 2020 and 2021, Adams was there to record more than 1,300 yards each season.
Rodgers won’t have that type of target in 2022. Cobb hasn’t had a 1,000-yard receiving season since 2014, his lone season in four digits. Watkins hasn’t had a 1,000-yard receiving season since 2015, also his only time reaching the milestone.
There is upside with Watson and Doubs, certainly. Watson never had a 1,000-yard receiving season with North Dakota State but twice had more than 700 yards and has been touted as a potentially dynamic option with his combination of size and speed. Doubs had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Nevada and has received rave reviews during training camp.
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Rodgers can make a lot happen with his ability to read the field, make accurate throws and make things happen in general. But only two quarterbacks going back to 2010 have won MVP without at least one 1,000-yard receiver: Lamar Jackson in 2018 and Tom Brady in 2010. Jackson had the rushing yards to bolster his case.
Brady could be a more realistic model. He had 3,900 passing yards with 36 touchdowns and four interceptions. No receiver had more than 848 yards (Wes Welker) and no one else had more than 706 yards (Deion Branch).
Could Rodgers elevate this group of receivers to the level needed for him to win a third straight MVP? Certainly. But this would undoubtedly be his most challenging path to the award.
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