We can’t really say that anyone on the 2016 Packers has really exploded out of the gate. Sure, the team is 3-1, but nobody is really setting the world on fire by any stretch of the imagination.
But some of the biggest names in Packers history have put up some monster performances in the first four games of the season. Let’s take a quick look at some of the best we’ve seen from any Green Bay player during the first quarter of a season.
In 2011, Aaron Rodgers started the season about as hot as a quarterback possibly can, completing 103 of 141 attempts for 1,325 yards, 12 touchdowns, and just two interceptions. His total passer rating during that stretch was 124.6, and that includes two games where his passer rating was above 130. Though his play ultimately declined into the swoon we’re still seeing today, Rodgers was almost as good in 2015 as he was in 2011. He was 89 of 123 passing for 995 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Brett Favre had a similarly excellent start during the Packers’ 1996 season, though he couldn’t match Rodgers’ incredible accuracy. He completed 73 of 118 attempts for 937 yards, though he also had 12 touchdowns against just two interceptions.
It’s perhaps even more impressive that Rodgers and Favre put up their monster numbers without dominant performances by a single wide receiver; none of the great receiving performances to start a season coincide with the best starts by Packers wide receivers.
That’s not to say that Green Bay wide outs haven’t been crazy good, though, because they have. Five times a Packers receiver has had more than 400 yards in the first four games of the year, and James Lofton did it twice. His best effort was in 1983, where he recorded 454 yards and four touchdowns on just 20 catches.
Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson own the top two totals in early season receiving yards, with 482 and 456 in 2008 and 2014, respectively.
With the evolution of football through the generations and the rule changes that lead to big passing totals, it’s easy to forget that there were some all-time great statistical performances during the Packers’ glory years, too. To that end, let’s consider the greatness of Jim Taylor’s 1962 season, which featured 418 yards on just 77 carries in the first four games of the year. That mark stood unchallenged for more than 40 years, until Ahman Green managed a whopping 442 yards on just 78 runs in 2003.
On the defensive side of the ball, it’s hard to find a better two game start than Clay Matthews in 2010, when he piled up six sacks in two games to open the year. He’s one of just three players to post seven or more sacks in the season’s first four games; in addition to the seven he ultimately recorded in 2010, he also put up seven in 2012.
But his total isn’t the highest. That honor belongs to Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who notched a whopping nine sacks in the first four games of 2001 en route to a 13.5 sack season. KGB had just 1.5 sacks to his name to that point in his career, and had only played seven games.
Sticking with defense, you might expect an all-time great like Herb Adderley or Willie Wood to have come roaring out of the gate with a half dozen interceptions, but neither of them managed big numbers in that department early in the year. But Willie Buchanon managed five picks in the first four games of 1978 on his way to nine for the season.
Finally, let’s give kickers some love, specifically Ryan Longwell. He has the somewhat dubious honor of kicking ten or more field goals in the first four games of a season twice, converting ten in 1997 and 11 in 2000.