NFC North: Otto Graham

Aaron Rodgers Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesAaron Rodgers continued his MVP-type season Monday with four TD passes against Minnesota.
LambeauOrWrigley offered some perspective through the mailbag that I thought should be shared with the group. As you know, I'm always in favor of letting someone else do the heavy lifting around here.

As the chart shows, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has the second-highest career completion percentage in NFL history, based on a minimum of 1,000 attempts. If he continues at his current pace, Rodgers will leapfrog Chad Pennington and finish the 2011 season atop this list.

(That's provided New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose career completion percentage trails Rodgers' by .064 percent, doesn't exceed his current 2011 pace of 70.9 percent completions over his final six games.)


It's only fair to point out that accuracy has elevated substantially over the past decade in the NFL, a product both of West Coast offenses and rules changes that have favored the passing game. A look at the extended list reveals that 18 of the 20 most accurate quarterbacks in history have played within the past three seasons. Two Hall of Famers are the only exceptions: Steve Young and Joe Montana.

I know you're probably bored with it, but I keep going back to Rodgers' rare combination of high completion percentage and yards per attempt (YPA). According to the always-fantastic database at pro-football-reference.com, Rodgers has the third-highest average per attempt in NFL history (minimum 1,000 attempts). He is the only player among the top four on this list who played after 1960:

1. Otto Graham (8.98 YPA)
2. Sid Luckman (8.42)
4. Norm Van Brocklin (8.16)

YPA is one measure of downfield passing. It stands to reason that the more downfield (i.e. low percentage) passes a quarterback throws, the lower his completion percentage will be. Graham, Luckman and Van Brocklin all had career completion percentages less than 56 percent.

For those who don't appreciate the numbers, consider a more detailed way of saying that Rodgers is putting together one of the best and historically rare seasons -- and careers -- for a quarterback in the history of the NFL. Plus, who wouldn't want to find a way to get Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young, Joe Montana, Drew Brees, Otto Graham, Sid Luckman and Norm Van Brocklin into a single NFC North blog post? Thanks again to LambeauOrWrigley.

Quick Take: Packers at Bears

January, 16, 2011
1/16/11
5:52
PM ET
Three things to know about next Sunday's Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears NFC Championship Game:

1. The numbers are in. The Packers and Bears have made the playoffs in the same season in only four years of the rivalry's 89-year history. Next Sunday will mark the second postseason game between them; the Bears won a 33-14 Western Division playoff in 1941 at Wrigley Field. This season, the teams split the season series, with each team winning at its home stadium. Overall, the Bears own a 92-83-6 advantage in the series. One more number: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 7-3 when the game-time temperature is 30 degrees or below. He has 25 touchdowns and five interceptions in those games.

2. The game will feature two quarterbacks coming off historic performances. As we suggested Saturday night, Aaron Rodgers played one of the better playoff games of this generation, completing 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards while accounting for four touchdowns in a 48-21 victory against the Atlanta Falcons. Rodgers' 86.1 completion percentage was the fifth-best in NFL postseason history, and he became the first quarterback to throw 10 touchdown passes in his first three playoff games. Meanwhile, the Bears' Jay Cutler also accounted for four touchdowns in a 35-24 victory against the Seattle Seahawks. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cutler became only the second quarterback in NFL history to both pass and run for multiple touchdowns in a playoff game. The other was Otto Graham, who did it in 1954 and 1955 for the Cleveland Browns.

3. Familiar, shamiliar. The Bears and Packers have been playing each other for nearly a century, but don't rule out a few schematic surprises. It will be especially interesting to watch the back-and-forth between a pair of notorious mad scientists, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz and Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers. "With the coaches that are going against each other, coach Martz and coach Capers, there will be some new stuff out there," Bears center Olin Kreutz said. "So we'll be ready." Sunday, Martz provided a preview with three Wildcat plays -- including a pass from tailback Matt Forte -- and an early emphasis on targeting tight end Greg Olsen.

Clayton: Favre's place in history

January, 19, 2010
1/19/10
3:41
PM ET
Make sure you check out this piece from ESPN.com’s John Clayton, who takes a stab at putting Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre's career in context relative to the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

Here are John’s top 5 quarterbacks, a list that could change as the 2009 playoffs continue:
  1. Johnny Unitas
  2. Joe Montana
  3. Otto Graham
  4. John Elway
  5. Brett Favre

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