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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Rodgers not worthy of praise from Packers

Being a displaced sports fan creates many annoying situations. You hear a lot more about the hometown teams than you want to, you get a lot of biases about how good the local teams are and you're stuck watching Packers-Lions on Sunday afternoons instead of a good game.

All this and the other nuances that come with living in a foreign sports city are irritating, but understandable. If it were an out-of-towner back in New York, where I'm from, it would be the same deal for him.

But for about the last year or so, there's been one bias of sports fans in Wisconsin I simply cannot take. I try to identify with it and make an effort to see the other side of the argument. But it's a bias I find completely absurd: the notion that Aaron Rodgers is a top-5 NFL quarterback.

The argument was brought to my attention last summer when the Bears traded for Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, creating a natural quarterback rivalry between Green Bay and Chicago.

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First I started hearing how Rodgers was better than Cutler, which seemed fair to me. At the time I always thought both were decent quarterbacks at best, middle-of-the-road at worst.

They were two quarterbacks in the early stages of their careers who had progressed well thus far and had shown the potential to develop into elite quarterbacks, giving both teams' fans reasons to be excited about their signal-callers.

But eventually discussions with my friends turned into arguments for Rodgers being a top-5 NFL quarterback; worse than the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, but better than very good quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

I've argued this with my roommate, my friends and enough people at bars to realize Green Bay Packer fans actually believe Rodgers is an elite NFL quarterback.

I know I haven't watched every minute of Rodgers the last two seasons, but as long as Green Bay isn't playing at the same time as the Jets, I'm watching the Packers games, and I know I've seen more than enough of Rodgers to assess him as a middle-of-the-road NFL quarterback.

When I hear arguments for Rodgers, I always hear the same things: how he passed for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with only 13 interceptions his first season as a full starter. This season he's already eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark and could be well on his way to another 4,000-yard season.

The statistics are very impressive, I'll be the first to admit it. But I always point to the same statistic when arguing against Rodgers: his record.

After last weekend's loss to Tampa Bay, Rodgers is now 10-14 as a starter. It's not a huge sample size, but it's enough to show me Rodgers isn't a superstar in the NFL.

Of the seven quarterbacks I listed before whom I deemed ranged from elite to very good, they all have a glaring similarity: winning.

Brady, the two Mannings and Roethlisberger all wear Super Bowl rings. McNabb's never won a Super Bowl, but has played in one, along with five NFC Championship games.

Brees hasn't always played for great teams, but he has usually won, averaging nine wins per season, including the 8-0 start he's led the Saints to this season. And Carson Palmer's been a winner, too, averaging over eight wins per year with an 11-win season in 2005 and, now that he's healthy again, a 6-2 start in 2009.

Watching Rodgers in games, he can look good at times, but also struggles in other moments.

I watched Rodgers play at Lambeau against Minnesota and thought he played a pretty poor first half and improved a little in the second half, but didn't turn in a great performance. When you look at his stats it will show 287 yards, 3 touchdowns and a 100-plus quarterback rating.

I'm sorry, but that just doesn't reflect how he played in that game at all. If any Packers fan was satisfied with Rodgers' performance in that game, you just don't know football.

Rodgers' contest against the Vikes in the Metrodome follows the same story: a 384-yard game with another 100-plus quarterback rating. But don't lie to yourselves, Packers fans—he didn't put in a great performance.

One thing the quarterback ratings don't show is how many sacks Rodgers allowed (8), many of which just killed Packer drives. While the offensive line wasn't good, neither was Rodgers, as he held the ball way too many times, killing his team in field position.

Of course Rodgers has had his good games this year as well against the Lions and the Browns, but his inability to consistently win pulls his status down.

Football is like no other sport out there because one player, the quarterback, can dictate the game and impact it like no other player of any position can in other team sports.

Look at the NFL standings and you'll find some bad quarterbacks on teams with good records, and some good ones on losing teams. But teams with mediocre records, like one that's 10-14 the last year and a half, are likely to have mediocre quarterbacks.

Packers fans like Rodgers, and they should. They have a young quarterback who's progressed very well after only one and a half years as a starter. In the future he could very well do great things as a quarterback.

More than half the teams in the NFL would be more than happy to take a player like him and get solid production while seeing him mold into a better quarterback as he gains experience.

But don't fool yourselves anymore. Rodgers is not an elite quarterback, because elite quarterbacks don't produce wins as inconsistently as Rodgers does.

How do you think Aaron Rodgers has done? E-mail Scott at kellogg2@wisc.edu.

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