- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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I figured we might hit a nerve with this week's debate to determine our preseason NFC North Player of the Year, but nearly 800 comments' worth of nerve? Jeez. Y'all are ready for training camp.
Most of you considered the question a matter of trend, making it hard to choose anyone but Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- especially relative to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Rodgers improved in every statistical category last season to become the NFL's fourth-rated passer, while Peterson's fumbles increased and his yards per carry decreased for the third consecutive year.
Sgunderson17 considered it a matter of "TDs vs. turnovers." Meanwhile, JustTray made a valiant attempt to combine Rodgers' fumbles and sacks totals. But as many of you noted, Rodgers will handle the ball roughly three times more than Peterson in a given season and will have far more "opportunities" to make a mistake.
Packfanforlife85 noted that Peterson managed only three 100-yard games last season, and provided what I thought was a representative cool-headed argument for Rodgers:
Although [Peterson] is contributing significantly, he was a long way from taking over and dominating any game last year. I think it has a lot to do with the o-line and just the style of offense the Vikes play now. AP definitely has the potential to rush for 2000+ yards, but the Vikes haven't done much to change the situation for him. With Brett Favre they are a pass-first team.
Also, I think AP may have plateaued as far as his individual ability goes. RBs don't get stronger or faster as the years pass. He is in his prime right now. Unless the Vikes do something drastically different with their offense, I look for AP to put up similar numbers this season as he did last year.
I can see Rodgers taking his game to yet another level this year. This offense has consistently improved each season [Mike McCarthy] has been head coach, and [general manager Ted Thompson] finally has a decent o-line in place to protect Rodgers for a full season. Rodgers becomes more experienced and a bigger leader of this team with each passing day. I think he will continue to improve over the next few years.
Frankly, it was difficult to find anyone with an emotionless argument for Peterson. TKroll_28, however, suggested Peterson is capable of MVP numbers but won't put them up assuming Favre returns. By the end of last season, as we've discussed, the Vikings were a passing offense:
The first two years [of his career], AP had the best individual impact and performance. This past year and moving forward as long as Uncle Brett is at the helm there will be the split of those two. Unless Ryan Grant or James Starks step up to another level, Aaron Rodgers will be hands down the best individual performer.
My take? I think Peterson has outperformed Rodgers over the course of their careers, and that's where I was coming from in the original post that started this whole thing. That shouldn't be a knock on Rodgers. We're simply talking about three All-Pro seasons for Peterson compared to one Pro Bowl year for Rodgers.
But this conversation wasn't about who has been the best player. It's about who will be the best in 2010. A few of you mentioned Favre as a possibility, but I guess I'm not counting on him equaling his stunning performance of 2009.
So here's the fence I'll sit on: There is every reason to believe Peterson will have an elite season, but I agree with many of you on Rodgers. If you look at his first two seasons, factor in continuing maturity, experience and a deeper offensive line, the sky is the limit for him. I would imagine he'll be on a short list of MVP candidates when the season opens in September.
So there we have it: Aaron Rodgers is our NFC North preseason Player of the Year. Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is our preseason Rookie of the Year, and the Packers are our preseason pick to win the division. Now that it's all settled, I'll see you in January.