Growing up, my dad would often say that things were “not bad” when most others would have said they were “good” or even “great”. My mom would spend all afternoon putting together an enormously delicious Shepherds Pie and my dad would render his post-meal verdict: “that was…not bad”. If my mom had particularly outdone herself she might hear: “I will say this, that was really not bad”. When my high school soccer team won the state championship, I believe we received a collective: “that was really, really, not bad”. It wasn’t a mean habit of his at all – we all knew that anything “not bad” was actually something to be proud of. Well, using my father’s lingo, I’m comfortable saying already that Aaron Rodgers is really, really not bad.
As a preface to what I’m about to write, I want to establish the following: 1) I understand that statistics don’t always tell the whole story; 2) I realize that career passer rating isn’t the only way to measure a QB’s effectiveness and 3) I understand that Aaron Rodgers needs more games under his belt to more accurately compare him to some of the people I’m about to compare him to. With that out of the way, Aaron Rodgers has a career passer rating of 96.3. (This includes his first 3 years when he was a back-up and played in garbage time that didn’t matter – and stats from those years bring down his overall rating. If we counted only the years he’s been a starter, his rating would be 98.4. He’s #2 overall this year at 110.8.) Again, while I know Rodgers needs to play more games for this to be fair, at this moment, his 96.3 career passer rating would put Rodgers behind only Steve Young (96.8) in NFL history. Steve Young has been on top of this category for years now. The next two are Peyton Manning (95.4) and, you may be surprised by this, Tony Romo at 94.7. That’s some good company.
While I recognize that it will be difficult for Rodgers to maintain this high level of proficiency, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he ends up doing it mostly because he is a very smart quarterback. Rodgers takes the plays that are there but at the same time, he’s been showing more this year that he can also improvise intelligently. As he continues to develop this critical balance between being smart with the ball and taking intelligent chances, my guess is that Rodgers could arrive at a Peyton Manning-like level of sensible QB decision-making. Consider the Havner TD yesterday, the long 3rd down conversion to Donald Lee yesterday, the Finley TD against the Vikes, etc. The guy has a great feel for the flow of the game, throws a beautiful ball and outside of some pocket awareness issues, has a very well-rounded game for a 2nd year starter. (And, a solid case could be made that he’s done all of this with a mediocre-at-best offensive line in front of him.) Even this early in his career, it’s already evident that Rodgers just plain gets it. In fact, I will say this: I’m growing more and more confident that some day Aaron Rodgers will end up being better than “really, really not bad” – perhaps he’ll reach “tremendously not bad” status.