I decided to start a series of ‘What makes him so good’ to break down the best players in the game today and what makes them so special. I am going to analyze a couple of their traits and what the factors are I am measuring their performances by.
First up is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers:
Rodgers is a league MVP, Super Bowl MVP, has the highest quarterback rating in NFL history and right now is the best quarterback on the planet. Here’s why:
In the conversation for the biggest arm in the league Rodgers is often forgotten, but he has a cannon. This not only allows him to throw the ball everywhere on the field, but also makes him a great passer even without stepping into throws. Moreover it enables him to get the ball into some tight windows.
Against Dolphins a couple of weeks ago the Packers needed to keep the drive alive. Rodgers completed a fourth down without being able to step up because of the pressure right in his face.
When you hear the word mobility at the quarterback position guys like Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick come to mind, but Rodgers is probably the best at it. The thing with him is that he knows when to step up and when to get out of the pocket. Then he either steps into the throw or when he gets out he has the arm to still throw it down the field and the athleticism to run the ball himself very well. With the Packers’ struggle on the offensive line over the last couple of years this has been crucial.
In 2011 against the Rams Rodgers made this Fran Tarkenton-like play.
Throwing on the run
The first two factors come in handy for this. When Rodgers is flushed out of the pocket his eyes remain down the field. If there’s nobody open down the field he is not afraid to tuck the ball and pick up some yards himself, but if there is one he can get it to him not matter where he is on field – he can dump it off short and over the top of defenders but also let it fly for 50 yards.
Rolling to his right against the Titans Rodgers gets the ball to Randall Cobb in the end zone as soon as he sees him.
When you watch a Packers game you almost never see Rodgers miss more than one or two throws. Not only does he hit his targets, he puts the ball in best possible position for them to catch it. Much like Drew Brees, it’s not about getting the ball to his receivers, but about body position.
This is a thing of beauty. The ball placement is just perfect.
Decision-making / Game management
Over his career Rodgers almost has a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio, which displays his great ability to take care of the ball. He will give his receivers a chance to catch the football, when they are one-on-one by throwing it to places where only they can get it, but you rarely see him forcing any throws. He also has a great understanding of defensive schemes and where the openings are, while always knowing where the first down is.
Rodgers gets nothing but praise for his leader role and the fact that he treats everybody around him the same. While you can’t really judge this trait if you’re not involved in the organization, he has led by example and has played through injury. He never hangs his head and drives his team to winning. Which brings me to my final point.
After his ascend to the elite quarterbacks with his first Super Bowl win in the 2010 season, Rodgers is 36-12 in the regular season. Most players will tell you that winning is the most important factor when you evaluate quarterbacks and while there have been a lot of good signal callers on bad teams, who just couldn’t win a lot of games, Rodgers never had the supporting cast of some other great teams. When the game is on the line he has proven to be the guy in whose hands you want to put the ball in. He simply finds ways to win games for his team.
Just like when they won the NFC North in week 17 last year against the Bears.
When you consider all the factors mentioned above, you simply have to put Rodgers at number one. He never had a superb defense, always had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and before this season’s combination of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb never had an elite receiving corp. Just look at Greg Jennings – he was considered one of the best receivers in the game at some point, but since going to the Vikings he’s almost been forgotten. He can throw it with power, he can put touch on the ball and seemingly always finds the open man.
For all of you who want what I just said backed up by stats:
Over his career Rodgers has completed 66 percent of his passes for 213 touchdowns and just 55 interceptions while boasting the best quarterback rating in NFL history at 106.2.
But even though those statistics are very impressive, his greatness is not about numbers. He has consistently made everybody around him better and has driven the Packers to victories.
Watch him on Sundays. You can witness something special. Maybe one day the greatest ever.
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