10 Reasons Why Aaron Rodgers is NFL’s Top QB
10 Reasons Aaron Rodgers is NFL's Top QB
Don’t forget to send out your Aaron Rodgers’ Day cards!
That’s right, kids, today - 12/12/12 - is Aaron Rodgers’ Day in Wisconsin. It is both a solemn and joyous holiday, as Wisconsinites shudder to remember what it was like before Number 12 came into our lives and wiped away bitter memories of He Who Shall Not Be Named, but we also come together to celebrate the joy of having the best quarterback in the NFL.
Yes, the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league. And to be honest, I don’t even think it’s that close.
He’s a stat machine. He led his team to a Super Bowl victory with his extraordinary play, particularly in the postseason, collected Super Bowl MVP honors, and then went on to have one of the most eye-popping, unbelievable, untouchable regular seasons in 2011, when he would win league MVP.
Go ahead and anonymously poll every general manager and head coach in the league about the one player they would choose to build a team around - I promise Rodgers would win in a landslide.
It’s insane to me how Aaron Rodgers is not more prominent in this year’s MVP discussion. His team is 9-4, in first place in a tough division, and looking to make a playoff push. I don’t think it’s a runaway like last year, but Rodgers certainly deserves back-to-back MVP awards. The guy just doesn’t have bad games. The worst that can be said about him is that sometimes he has not incredible games. But with Rodgers, “incredible” has become the norm.
There’s lots of evidence to back up this assertion that he’s the best. I’ll put aside my more periphery reasons like his chiseled jaw, dreamy blue eyes, and wry sense of humor and focus more on football reasons.
Click through for the 10 reasons that Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL.
I just don’t think there’s a place on the field that Rodgers can’t throw to. Several times a game, you hear the announcers shout in incredulous excitement, “He put the ball in the only spot it could go!” Granted, Rodgers has an amazing receiving corps, but how many times a game do you see a Green Bay receiver catch a ball from Rodgers without having to break stride, slow down, turn his body, or pretty much adjust in any way? Rodgers’ accuracy is a main reason why Green Bay receivers have burned up defenses in the Yards After Catch category.
The man has insane stats. For his career he has a 66% completion rate, 161 touchdowns, and 46 interceptions, with a 104 passer rating. Last year he was just out of this planet, completing 68.3% of his passes for 45 touchdowns, six interceptions, and an NFL-record passer rating of 122.5. Yeah, go ahead and read those numbers again.
This year, there’s been a lot of“What’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers?” talk in the media. Well, let’s see what’s wrong with him: 67% completion rate, 29 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a passer rating of 104. This is an off year??
Rodgers is so ridiculously talented that when he occasionally misses a throw people actually do wonder, “What’s wrong?” He has been so stunningly accurate that the typical measures of success for quarterbacks just don’t apply to him anymore.
Rodgers is a very smart quarterback. He makes the high-percentage throws. He can throw it away when there’s nothing there. He uses checkdowns effectively, even when he’s dying to go to the endzone.
Sure, sometimes Rodgers holds onto the ball too long trying to make things happen, but that’s a small flaw compared to how many good decisions he makes per game. Compare him to someone like Jay Cutler (eek) throwing a late pass two yards behind his receiver or even the fantastic Drew Brees, who always has a throw or two a game that makes you think, “What was he thinking?”
Decision making is one of those traits that really separates the “elite” quarterbacks from the very, very good quarterbacks, and Rodgers is right at the top of the list. It’s not to say he’s never had a bad throw, but Rodgers never hurts his team with his decision making.
Rodgers doesn’t panic when the Packers get down. The whole team stays calm, and that’s partly a reflection of their quarterback.
Rodgers also doesn’t get flustered during those games where he’s taking a lot of sacks and hits. He definitely gets frustrated by protection break downs, but you don’t see him rushing throws or making stupid throws out of fear of getting hit.
Rodgers seems to have a good relationship with head coach and playcaller Mike McCarthy. Having dealt with adversity his whole career, from his failure to get a Division I scholarship offer to plummeting in the draft to having to deal with the whole Brett Favre thing, Rodgers isn’t afraid of hard work or adversity. He has an attitude that makes him coachable because he’s willing to buy into the team mentality.
I’m sure the guy’s cocky and has a healthy ego like most 20-something-year-old, superstar, millionaire football players, but that cockiness doesn’t get in the way of his play. He's coachable. He doesn’t think that because he’s reached the pinnacle of football success that he doesn’t have to work hard every single day.
McCarthy can trust him in the no huddle. He can trust him to lead by example in practice. Rodgers fits into the Green Bay “team first” mentality.
The “chip on the shoulder” thing is played up too much for my taste, but it certainly has seemed to work for Rodgers. He remembers all the schools that turned him down. He remembers that he had to play at junior college before he got an Division I offer. He remembers all the teams that passed him over on draft day.
He even remembers a college professor who once laughed at his plans to play in the NFL. He told the story with a smile, but it was clear how much that still bugged him.
Part of his workman’s attitude comes from the fact that, amid all the lavish praise that is heaped upon him, what Rodgers always hears are the people who say and said he couldn’t do it.
This guy is a freak. It’s not just every negative thing anyone has ever said about him that he remembers, but he can explain a formation on a particular snap from games when he was in high school. He makes a reference to a play they ran in a 2009 preseason game. He remembers how many yards he threw for and the score of a college rivalry game.
Besides being a cool party trick, Rodgers’ memory serves him well on field. He remembers the various defensive looks he’s seen from specific team; he remembers a cornerback’s tendency to slide too far to the middle from the last time he played him three years before. And then he makes him pay.
This is a skill that distinguishes Rodgers from Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Brees - the only other three legitimate contenders for best NFL quarterback. His mobility gives him that one extra option when a play seems to be breaking down.
He makes good use of his mobility, running only when the defenses have left him unguarded. He holds defenders with his eyes so that they can’t quite abandon their man in pursuit of Rodgers. He has an incredible knack for pivoting, spinning, and stepping out of sacks that allows him to extend the play.
Controls the Line of Scrimmage
Rodgers is great at using cadence and hard count to get defenses to jump offsides. Many a Green Bay touchdown has come off of a “free play” when a defender has crossed the line too early. Rodgers is excellent at running with these free plays, making sure the ball is snapped immediately and then looking down field.
Somehow, Rodgers’ leadership has come into question and I simply cannot understand why. First it was not getting the team together in the locked-out offseason, then it was casually echoing his coach that the practices haven’t been as sharp as they should be. This translated into Rodgers not being a good leader; Rodgers blaming the scout team for bad games; and then, absurdly, Shannon Sharpe saying - in the same breath as admitting he does not know the quarterback - that he’s not sure “deep down inside, how well [Rodgers’] receiving corps really likes Aaron Rodgers."
Aside from Sharpe’s bizarre accusations, the main drummer of this beat is none other than national joke and former journalist Skip Bayless. That guy has it out for Rodgers in a big way and uses every opportunity he has to criticize him. The only substantial thing he can come up with against Rodgers is that he has too many commercials on TV. (Has Skip ever heard of a Peyton Manning?)
All the evidence points to the fact that Rodgers is an excellent leader. His teammates gush about him and are the first to jump to his defense when he comes into question. He is reputed to be a hard worker and a diligent preparer during the week and we’ve all seen what he does on game days. To grown men, that’s leadership.
Furthermore, anyone who listens to Rodgers’ radio shows or other interviews knows that he’s always quick to praise his teammates. He points out when a receiver’s key block springs open a lane for a teammate. He calls attention to a fullback picking up a blitz. Rodgers uses his elevated media status to laud his teammates, as a leader should.
Student of the Game
Great quarterbacks always have a reputation for being students of the game. Tales are told of Peyton Manning’s legendary at-home film room. Rodgers is in the same mold.
You can tell from the way Rodgers talks about opposing defenses the week before a game how well he prepares. You can tell because he can list every defender on the other team, describe each of their styles of play, and which college they attended.
You can tell by the adjustments he makes at the line of scrimmage that he’s seen that look on film before. You can tell by how quickly and sharply he gets the ball out under pressure that he’s spent hours memorizing his hot reads.
Even before the Super Bowl, Rodgers said he didn’t feel nervous. It wasn’t arrogance, he explained, it was confidence. "[M]y confidence ... comes directly from my preparation. You know I put the time in, I watch film, I study our game plan, and I practice hard. So when I go into a game, I expect to play well."
That’s why he’s the best.