Friday, October 30, 2009
Imagine what it must be like to be Aaron Rodgers.
You're a young, star quarterback in a town that loves its football. You attended the top public university in the country (but you haven't graduated, yet) and mothers send you their daughter's picture in the mail in the off chance that you might fall madly in love with them.
You currently rank second in the NFL in passer rating behind some guy named Manning and your team is a game out of first place in the NFC North despite an offensive line that resembles a group of blind matadors. You've got a huge game coming up on Sunday against your most bitter rival. And all anyone can talk about is some 40-year-old dude who's thrown more interceptions than anyone in NFL history.
Something tells me for the understated Rodgers, life is good.
Living in the shadow of the aforementioned dude is nothing new for the 25-year-old Rodgers, who spent the first three years of his career watching and learning from the great Brett Favre, albeit with little actual help from the Packers' star.
It's been written that Rodgers, in almost every way, is the anti-Favre. Favre is a southern man who is just as comfortable in a pair of faded jeans as he is in pads and a helmet. Rodgers is very much the cool West Coast type, often donning three piece suits during post game interviews.
But perhaps where the two differ the most is in status within the game of football, where Favre holds a place among the all-time greats, as much for his accomplishments as for his grit. That is a place where Rodgers ultimately wants to be, and while he may go about it in a much different way, it's ironic that he would pursue that goal for none other than Favre's Packers.
The man who made the legend that is Brett Favre expendable in Green Bay couldn't possibly be more different, and in my opinion, perhaps one day even better.
Oh no he didn't? Oh yes I did.
Lets get this out of the way right now. I do not think Aaron Rodgers is a greater quarterback than Brett Favre. To think such a thing is beyond idiotic. But right now, and at the same point in their development, Rodgers is the better quarterback.
In what is only Rodgers' second season as the full-time starter, he has a better than 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio for his career (40 TDs, 16 INTs). Favre over his first two seasons, not so much (37 TDs, 37 INTs).
You might be thinking about how bad the Packers were in those days, and you'd be right. Favre was sacked a total of 64 times in his first two seasons as the starter. Rodgers however is well on his way to eclipsing that mark as he's been victimized 59 times in only a season and a half. Hell, he could reach Favre's mark this Sunday if Jared Allen has anything to do with it. So both played behind equally shaky offensive lines, we can agree on that.
One more set of numbers to consider are their QB ratings in their first two seasons. Favre posted marks of 85.3 and 72.2 in 1992 and 1993 respectively. Rodgers, in what was effectively his rookie season, had a sparkling 93.8 rating in 2008 and is currently sitting at 110.8.
Now obviously, numbers don't tell the whole story. Fans will point to the intangibles that a young Favre brought to a struggling Packers team in the early 90's, and they would be right on. Favre, along with head coach Mike Holmgren, lifted that organization on his shoulders and made it great again.
Rodgers has yet to have that type of impact, compiling a 10-12 record as a starter. But to be fair, Mike McCarthy is no Mike Holmgren and the team that surrounds Rodgers at this point is still very young and on the rise.
But from a production standpoint as well as a skills standpoint, Rodgers is well ahead of where Favre was at this point in his career. Sure Favre had (and still has) the big arm, but Rodgers is no slouch in the arm strength department. Rodgers also has far superior footwork, which helps explain his better completion percentage as well as ball security in terms of interceptions.
Rodgers also seems to have a far better grasp of the offensive system he plays in, whereas Favre often got by on (insert 'guts' cliche here). This also helps Rodgers eliminate mistakes and more consistently make plays with both his arm and his legs, as he is a better runner than Favre ever was.
So while no one can dispute the greatness of Brett Favre, it has to be said that Rodgers has the ability and opportunity to one day take his place alongside the former Packer as one of the NFL's best. So what if oil and water seemingly have more in common?