GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Passing perfection.
Zip. Nada. Zilch.
Zero interceptions for an entire NFL season? The prospect is highly unlikely. But, if done, it could be the most impressive accomplishment in sports history.
“It would be up there,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Forget a 16-0 record. 16 games and 0 interceptions? Now that would be something.
Rodgers has turned in some of the best stretches of “perfect” quarterbacking the league has ever seen.
More than 200 attempts between interceptions twice in 2014.
586 passes between picks at home from 2012-2015. He tossed 49 touchdown tosses during that span.
Then, of course, there was last year’s run-the-table mastery in which the green-clad wizard went 8 full games (and parts of 2 others) without an interception.
Rodgers willed Wisconsin’s team into the playoffs with a stretch of sublime football. His streak ended in the Divisional round at Dallas, but not before 318 pass attempts had gone by.
He currently maintains a streak of 245 regular season throws without a defender crashing the party.
Will a passer ever obtain a sublime season of perfection? The list of candidates to do so would seemingly start with Rodgers.
“Absolutely,” Packers receiver Davante Adams said. “He’s the guy to do it.”
Rodgers is “the guy” in NFL history when it comes to avoiding interceptions overall. His 4.12 TD/INT ratio leaves 2nd-place Tom Brady (3.00) in the dust.
There is not another quarterback with more than 4,000 career attempts above a 2.17 ratio.
“It’s just a different level of football when he’s out there quarterbacking,” Adams said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are some great QB’s out there. But I get to see him firsthand in practice. I get to see how he takes care of the ball and how he extends plays to make it tough on defenses. Zero interceptions is a stretch because it’s tough, and it’s the NFL. But if there’s anyone that can pull it off, it’s ‘12.’”
Rodgers though, insists he has never entertained the thought of a perfect passing season.
“I don’t think it will ever happen,” Rodgers said.
The odds are low. But it’s a record that would likely never be matched.
This isn’t the NFL’s career passing yards or touchdowns record, ceded from Brett Favre to Peyton Manning in under a decade.
This record would stand alone.
“Throwing a high volume of passes, we’re probably going to be in the 600 range again, it’s tough,” Rodgers said.
While the perfectionist Packer may not have the perfect season on his radar, his teammates won’t count it out.
“I mean there are pitchers that throw no-hitters,” Packers tight end Martellus Bennett said. “I’m pretty sure that it could happen.”
Just last year, the tight end Bennett played a part in Brady’s near-perfect campaign.
The Patriots’ passer threw 28 touchdown passes, offset by only 2 interceptions in 2016.
“Tom (Brady) got an advantage,” Bennett said. “He missed 4 games. That’s 4 games he didn’t get a chance to throw an interception.”
Brady was suspended the first 4 games of last season.
But it’s time to suspend disbelief about an interception-less season.
A 2-interception season sits as the current gold standard for passers meeting the minimum-passes (350) threshold.
In recently memory, Nick Foles threw 27 touchdown and 2 interception for Philadelphia in 2013, but had only 317 attempts. Foles, like Brady in 2016, did not start 16 games that year.
The best 16-game regular season turned in with turnover-conscious quarterbacking came from Rodgers 3 years ago.
In 2014, Rodgers did not throw an interception that was his fault until December 14th, at Buffalo.
Of his 5 interceptions that season, 4 bounced off the hands of his own receivers.
Rodgers played an entire (MVP) season throwing only 1 interception that was due to quarterback error.
In Week 1, Jordy Nelson ran a slant in Seattle. The ball was on the mark, only to bounce off Nelson’s hands before landing in the waiting mitts of the Seahawks’ Byron Maxwell.
7 weeks would pass.
In Week 8, Rodgers was luckless in New Orleans.
First a pass bounced off the hands off Andrew Quarless and a defender, then the tight end in the helmet, ricocheting to the Saints’ David Hawthorne for an interception.
Later in the game, a pass out in front of Adams was tipped by the receiver, up and back to Saints DB Corey White.
7 more weeks would pass.
In Week 15, Bacarri Rambo got Rodgers twice in Buffalo. The Bills DB undercut a route to give Rodgers his first at-fault interception of the season. Later, Jarrett Boykin saw a perfect pass bounce off his hands and into Rambo’s reach.
16 games. 1 at-fault interception.
“There are just so many things that are out of your control,” Rodgers said in looking past the possibility of perfection.
Yes, luck sometimes goes both ways and defenders drop the ball.
And it’s certainly often better to be lucky than good.
Rodgers has the “good” part covered, in spades. Good fortune, then, could net the first (and likely only) perfect passing season in NFL history.
It’s just unlikely.