In an era of new-age mobile quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray, the old-school stay-in-the-pocket passers are made to believe to be a dying breed.
Except that no one told Aaron Rodgers.
Not only is the Green Bay Packers quarterback hitting milestones at this stage of his career, playing in his 16th season after being drafted in the first round with the 24th overall pick by the Packers out of the University of California in 2005, but the 37-year-old is putting up a season for the ages.
Through 12 games in 2020, Rodgers is averaging 283 yards per game, is completing 68.9 percent of his passes, and has thrown 36 touchdown passes to just four interceptions.
In addition to those statistics, and particularly that gaudy nine-to-one ratio in that last area, Rodgers’ milestones not only have him on a Hall of Fame-level trajectory but at unprecedented paces:
In the Packers’ 30-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13, Rodgers threw for three touchdowns, including No. 400 for his career, reaching that milestone faster than any of the six other quarterbacks which preceded him;
In those 193 games, Rodgers reached that plateau while throwing fewer than 100 interceptions (88 at present) for his career, which the others among the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Dan Marino did not accomplish;
Rodgers also became the first quarterback in NFL history to top the 35-touchdown pass mark for a season five times – although Brady may join him in that exclusive club by season’s end
In the process, Rodgers has led the Packers to a 9-3 record so far, one game behind the New Orleans Saints for the NFC’s top seed and an all-important first-round bye when the playoffs start next month.
Over a vast majority of those 16 seasons, Rodgers has been a part of a team – mostly after succeeding Brett Favre as the Packers’ quarterback – that has been a playoff and Super Bowl contender.
Rodgers’ lone success on the NFL’s Sunday of Sundays was following the 2010 season in Super Bowl XLV, where he was the game’s MVP, in a 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Hard to believe that Rodgers, for all of his greatness over the course of his career, has only one Super Bowl ring to his credit – however, Rodgers has had the misfortune of playing in the same era as Brady, as well as the likes of Brees and Russell Wilson in his own conference.
But the way that Rodgers is playing, a run at the Super Bowl for the Packers is definitely not out of the realm of possibilities.
Having a marquee receiver such as Davonte Adams having a career year has also aided to Rodgers’ evergreen form for Green Bay.
Adams, in forming a partnership with Rodgers that could be seen as a classic one in years to come once Rodgers’ career is done and reflected upon, is on pace for single-season career highs and all-time team records in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns with four games to go in the regular season.
“He’s a great one, and he’s got a great quarterback throwing to him as well, which definitely helps, there’s no doubt about it,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said about the Adams-from-Rodgers connection after the win over the Eagles.
That union may not rank in the NFL annals alongside the likes of Joe Montana or Steve Young to Jerry Rice, or Brady to Randy Moss, as of yet – those partnerships are cemented in history by virtue of Super Bowl wins – but LaFleur believes they’re currently the league’s finest.
“Those guys are two phenomenal players. You could argue they're the best at what they do,” said LaFleur. “It’s not just every now and again. It feels like it’s every game.”
And LaFleur – a coach previously seen as having a rift with his veteran quarterback, especially after the first-round drafting of Utah State quarterback Jordan Love earlier this year as Rodgers’ ultimate heir apparent, an alleged conflict since resolved if not outrightly denied – cannot say enough good things about Rodgers alone.
Odds-on for this year’s NFL MVP honour, in LaFleur’s opinion.
“Just his ability to go out there and get us in the right looks and, shoot, even when I make a bad call, he definitely makes us look good. So that’s a credit to him.
“In my eyes, he’s an MVP player. No doubt about it. And I wouldn’t want any other quarterback on our football team,” added LaFleur.
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