Taking a break from what has been just a dreadful Eagles season thus far, I have been enjoying the various story lines developing in other NFL cities for the past few weeks. My favorite underdog B-team, the Texans, have had some terrible luck with a great team this season. The Bears are looking at Donavon Mcnabb as a possibility. Even the Lions have gone from a league-wide embarrassment to a… different kind of league-wide embarrassment. As with all things, NFL, these stories have gotten plenty of play on the local and national level.
The most prominent story, however, has been the spectacular play of MVP candidate, Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay QB is on pace, with company, to break Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season. His Quarterback Rating is almost high enough to be considered a joke. There is no doubt that the season he is having is one of the greatest we have ever seen in the NFL. Many national pundits are already declaring his season the greatest they have ever seen and until this morning, I shared those sentiments.
I found myself wasting time on ESPN.com’s (stats) page for a good 35 minutes mostly wondering what Michael Vick and other Eagles players could do to make themselves not look terrible on paper by the season’s end. For some time afterwards, however, this devolved into uncontrollable gushing over Aaron Rodgers’ numbers as I compared them to other leading QBs in the league. The numbers are impressive to say the least. They’re almost inhuman, leaving little evidence that he has ever made a mistake on the field.
This set of numbers, as do most things, led to me wasting more time as I sought to line up Rodgers’ numbers with the best seasons for QBs in history. As expected, these first twelve games for the Packers signal caller bore out to be, indeed, one of the most prolific stretches of the last half-century. Still, I found that it may not even end up being the best season for a Quarterback in the last four years.
After a historically brilliant first three quarters of this season, Aaron Rodgers needs to significantly step up his game if he wants to have anything other than the best season ever by a player not named Tom Brady. I realize that talking about Brady’s greatness has grown stale at this point. It’s no longer sexy to talk about the career of someone who is assuredly headed to Canton, Ohio shortly after his career comes to an end. I’m not going to argue that he needs to be talked about more, either. Tom Brady gets all of the respect that he deserves, the standard, against which, elite QBs will be measured for the foreseeable future.
I bring Tom Brady’s ’07 season to light because it has only been four NFL seasons and I had already forgotten just how astonishing that year was for the Patriots’ QB. I watch Aaron Rodgers now, and am impressed with every single throw. Touch throws, power throws, location throws, he makes them all. It just seems like whenever he has the ball, he is going to score and you know you are doing something right when a team “holds” you to 38 points in your closest win of the season.
That is why I am so retroactively moved by Brady and the reality of his ’07 season. Rodgers is behind the Pats QB’s pace for touchdowns and only leads by .02 in completion percentage; a ratio that is normalizing with every game Rodgers plays. Also, considering what empty calories passing yards have proven to be this year, that advantage may not be all too valuable looking back on these stats in years to come. Amazingly, when all is said and done, this year’s runaway MVP may not ever have threatened that immaculate ’07 season.
Thinking of Brady in this light, with the entirety of his career in perspective, you just have to appreciate it on a different level. We get so caught up in the moment sometimes that we become prisoners of it. It seems humorous to say that someone has been “written off” as a hall of fame QB but that’s sort of what’s happened here and he’s not done yet, folks.
Aaron Rodgers is clearly on his way to an all-time elite career and I don’t aim to take anything away from that. I think the questions just become; if we are all so dazzled by the performance of Rodgers this year, just how good was/is Tom Brady? Was his season in ’07 just too good to be aptly appreciated? Maybe that season was just too hot for us humble Goldilocks’ while Rodgers’ ’11 manifestation is juuuuuust right. This morning, I simply felt the need to bring some attention to these thoughts of mine.