Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers beat out Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray to take home the 2014 Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award at Saturday’s NFL Honorsceremony.
Murray was honored as the Offensive Player of the Year.
Although Watt authored perhaps the most dominant, game-wrecking season by a defensive lineman in NFL history, he couldn’t overcome the quarterback factor.
Legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi often lamented to friends that football would be the perfect team game if not for the glaring imbalance of the quarterback’s importance. It’s the most valuable position in professional sports.
If Rodgers played quarterback a higher level than it has ever been played in his masterful 2011 MVP campaign, coach Mike McCarthy insists this season was “much better.” Nobody plays faster than Rodgers, who has reached the point where he is “coach-smart” in his pre- and post-snap reads.
Recency bias tells us that Rodgers’ 2014 season will be remembered for the postseason calf injury and a gut-wrenching NFC Championship Game, but it’s the early-season R-E-L-A-X that paints a more accurate picture. Rodgers put the onus on his own shoulders, turning the season around and igniting a torrid three-month stretch.
From a statistical standpoint, Rodgers fell just shy of Peyton Manning’s record-breaking 2013 campaign. If not for a string of Lambeau Field laughers with leads of 30-3, 45-0, 38-3 and 42-0, the Packers wouldn’t have taken the air out of the ball for quarters at a time. Rodgers could have flirted with the “magical” marks of 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards if not for his own dominance.
Rodgers’ value has been self-evident every time the Packers are forced to play without him, such as the seven-game stretch in 2013, his momentary absence in Week 17 versus the Lions and even the hamstrung offense late in the Week 8 loss to the Saints.
No other quarterback matches Rodgers’ combination of arm talent, improvisational ability and awareness. He’s the most valuable asset in football.