How Great Is Aaron Rodgers?

Photo via ESPN

Photo via ESPN

Monday night, the Green Bay Packers beat the Atlanta Falcons 43-37 at Lambeau Field to move to 10-3. They will be going up against my Buffalo Bills in Week 15.

At the center of it was MVP front-runner Aaron Rodgers, going 24-for-36, throwing for 327 yards and 3 TDs.

Rodgers has been playing at an extremely high level all season and continues to make the case of being the best quarterback in the NFL today. He is 6th in yards (3,652), 8th in completion percentage (66.3%), 1st in Yards/Attempt (8.78), 3rd in TDs (35), 1st in QB rating (119.0, up by 10.2 points), 1st in NFL Total QBR (86.3, Peyton is 79.7), and has thrown the fewest INTs amongst qualified QBs (3). That TD/INT ratio of 11.6 is good for best in the NFL this year, and it isn’t even close.

Now, Monday marked Rodgers’ 100th start in the NFL, and the question is raised: How good is Aaron Rodgers and where does he stand amongst the great ones?

For this, I looked at 4 elite QBs that many people consider to be the greatest 4 quarterbacks of the last 30 years: Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning.

Here are the results:

On-field numbers

In terms of the pure stats, Aaron tops the competition:

QB

Games

Starts

Attempts

Completions

Comp %

Yards

TD

Int

Wins

Rodgers 107 100 3371 2221 65.9 27849 223 55 68
Favre 102 100 3404 2094 61.5 24079 194 106 68
Marino 102 100 3603 2146 59.6 27514 217 124 62
Brady 102 100 3268 2044 62.5 23689 174 80 76
Manning 100 100 3514 2216 63.1 26008 178 112 57

Outside of wins, Rodgers leads the others in terms of yards, touchdowns, and fewest interceptions. Could this be due to the changing atmosphere of the NFL where QBs and WRs are more valuable than ever? Perhaps. But note: Rodgers has thrown fewer passes than Favre, Marino, and Manning. At the pace he is at, he could break all  of the major records set by his predecessors. And if you watch him play, it is certainly a realistic goal.

On-field efficiency

There are plenty of quarterbacks that have put up great numbers. The efficiency in which they do it separates the good from the great. For this, we look at three factors: Yards/Att (how well they can get the ball down the field), QB Rating (a way to determine how good stats are in comparison to each other) and TD/Int ratio (rate of scoring vs turning the ball over).

QB

Yards/Att

QB Rating

TD/Int Ratio

Rodgers 8.26 106.7 4.05
Favre 7.07 88.8 1.83
Marino 7.64 89.3 1.75
Brady 7.25 91.1 2.18
Manning 7.40 89.1 1.59

 

Rodgers

 

With Rodgers, his QB Rating is more than 15 points higher than the next one, and his TD/Int is historically good. It is nearly double that of Brady’s and is the best ever amongst qualified QBs (minimum 3000 att). That level of effectiveness translates to long-term success on the field.

Playoffs

While regular season accolades are incredible, championships leave legacies. The playoffs separate the great from the good.

QB

Years In Playoffs

Games

Attempts

Completions

Comp %

Yards

TD

Int

Wins

Super Bowls

Rodgers 5/6 9 318 210 66.0 2489 19 5 5 1
Favre 5/6 13 414 250 60.4 3098 20 9 9 1
Marino 3/6 6 234 131 56.0 1680 13 10 3 0
Brady 5/6 14 486 295 60.7 3217 20 9 12 3
Manning 4/6 6 208 117 56.3 1476 10 6 2 0

With playoff history, no quarterback in NFL history has gotten off to a better start than Tom Brady. He set the benchmark for playoff performance and led the Patriots in their dynasty of 3 Super Bowl wins in 4 years. Since then, he has reached the Super Bowl twice but has no wins.

Rodgers’ numbers are right on pace with all of the other noted QBs. His lack of turnovers is still notable, plus he won 4 games in the 2010-11 postseason to lead his team to the Super Bowl. As his career progresses, he will have to continue to make the postseason and bring his regular-season success to January. Peyton Manning has developed the reputation of being the best regular-season QB in history with little playoff success. Rodgers cannot be eliminated in the first game of the postseason, like he has in 3 postseasons, if he wants to avoid a similar distinction.

Now Rodgers has had a luxury that not many QBs have had before him: be the backup to Brett Favre for 3 years. Brady was Drew Bledsoe’s backup for 1 year as well.

Was their success because of this? Maybe. But with QBs like Manning, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger etc., they were thrown into the fire in their first year and have had quite a bit of success. Not many teams have the luxury of benching a QB for an extended period of time so they can develop and become great. But if teams can afford to do that, why not go for it.

So could Aaron Rodgers be the greatest quarterback ever? Well, the numbers could suggest it. You could argue the only QB who has had a better start to their career is Brady. All I know is that I will be enjoying every game he plays in, as we witness history in the making.

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