GREEN BAY – Last year for the first Packers-Vikings matchup of the season, this very column focused on how Minnesota was starting yet another quarterback against Green Bay.
Sam Bradford was the 10th Vikings QB to start against the Packers in the Mike McCarthy era, and lo and behold, it’s only taken one more year to add another.
Case Keenum will be the 11th starting quarterback for the Vikings against the Packers over the last 12 seasons, while Green Bay has used just three – Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and Scott Tolzien (for one game). And that number of three dates all the way back to 1992, of course, because Favre never missed a game.
For those wondering, here’s the full list for Minnesota since McCarthy took the helm in Green Bay in 2006 – Brad Johnson, Tavaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, Gus Frerotte, Favre, Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, and Teddy Bridgewater before Bradford and Keenum.
Bradford played one of the best games of his career last year in Week 2 against Green Bay, in the U.S. Bank Stadium opener in his first game as Minnesota’s starter. Keenum played one of his best games earlier this season against Tampa Bay, and then came off the bench to lead the Vikings to a Monday night victory in Chicago this past week.
“I think the team believes when he comes in there he’s going to play well, and that’s the most important thing,” Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer said of Keenum this week.
From the Packers’ side of things, while there was a lot of unknown heading into Bradford’s Minnesota debut last season, the situation with Keenum isn’t the same.
“We’ll see how much the playbook changes, but we’ve got several games on Keenum to study,” linebacker Clay Matthews said.
The constant carousel with Minnesota quarterbacks against Green Bay puts in perspective just how different life has been in this rivalry for the Packers versus the Vikings at the game’s most important position.
So, in the spirit of interesting statistical nuggets, here are a couple of others to keep in mind heading into Sunday’s showdown in Minneapolis.
Stadium count: Rodgers is getting his second chance to add U.S. Bank Stadium to the list of NFL venues in which he’s won a game as a starting quarterback.
“Unofficial” research has his current total at 23, so a win on Sunday would put him at an even two dozen, including Lambeau Field of course.
That’s not bad in less than a decade’s time as a starting QB. For comparison’s sake, in Favre’s 16 years as Green Bay’s starter, he won games in 29 different stadiums, including Lambeau and Milwaukee County Stadium as home venues.
For the curious, Rodgers and Favre have 14 of the same stadiums on their respective lists. Favre’s years as a starter for the Jets and Vikings were not included in the “unofficial” research.
Should Rodgers get to 24 stadiums on Sunday, he’ll have a chance to get to 25 by the end of the regular season, with the Packers visiting Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field in Week 12. Rodgers lost by one point in his only previous game at Heinz Field, in 2009.
Rookie numbers: Aaron Jones’ 125-yard rushing performance last week in Dallas made him the first Packers rookie with a 100-yard rushing game since Eddie Lacy in 2013.
Jones will make some history if he does it again Sunday.
Lacy actually posted four 100-yard games his rookie year, but none of them were consecutive. The Packers could be getting back Ty Montgomery (ribs) for their backfield this week, but if Jones manages to crack the 100-yard mark again right away, he’ll be the first Packers rookie to go back-to-back in three dozen years.
The last Packers rookie with consecutive 100-yard rushing games was John Brockington back in 1971. Brockington actually had a streak of three straight, all against NFC Central Division opponents, no less.
With his 100-yard day in Dallas, Jones became the 52nd player in team history to top 100 yards rushing in a game. Interestingly, exactly half of them – 26, including Jones and Montgomery – have just the one 100-yard game to their credit. Montgomery’s came last season at Chicago, in Week 15.
Here’s another curiosity – Jones got his 125 yards on just 19 carries. That means five of the last seven 100-yard rushing games for the Packers, dating back to the beginning of the 2015 season, have been achieved with fewer than 20 carries, including Montgomery’s aforementioned effort in Chicago (16-162).
Prior to 2015, only three of the previous 13 100-yard rushing games for the Packers were accomplished with fewer than 20 carries.
In any event, the next 100-yard rushing game by a Packers player, whoever gets it, will be a milestone in its own right – the 200th in team history.