Five Reasons Aaron Rodgers Is Still an Elite Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers remains an elite quarterback despite critics who say he's not as good as he was during his MVP seasons.

Five years after Aaron Rodgers retires, he has an instant reservation in Canton, Ohio, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But if you read many articles and examine Packers Twitter, you’d think Rodgers’ play was falling off in a huge way.

No, Rodgers is not playing at the same level he did during his MVP seasons of 2011 and 2014. But if you think about it, few quarterbacks in the history of the game ever approached that level of excellence. But even now, at the age of 36, Rodgers is still an elite quarterback and is more than capable of taking his team back to the Super Bowl.

Here are five reasons Aaron Rodgers is still an elite quarterback as the Packers enter the 2020 season:

1. He’s Still Winning Football Games

Rodgers may not be throwing for 40 touchdown passes each year anymore, but in the current offense, he doesn’t have to. The bottom line in the NFL is winning and Rodgers is still doing that. The Packers finished the 2019 season 13-3 and won a playoff game this season as well. Rodgers is still finding ways to get the job done.

In fact, over the course of his career, Rodgers has had only two seasons where he lost more starts than he won. In 2008, his first year as a starter, Rodgers started all 16 games and went 6-10 despite throwing for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns. Then in 2018, Rodgers was 6-9-1 although he played all season with a serious knee injury that he suffered in the first half of the season opener.

Rodgers had the Packers within one game of reaching the Super Bowl in 2019 and it’s clear he’s still good enough to get the team there.

2. His Numbers Are Still Very Good

A quick look at his statistics and you can clearly see that Rodgers is still an elite quarterback. The biggest reason for the criticisms he faces now is quite honestly his own past success.

Rodgers’ quarterback ratings for the last three seasons have been 95.4 in 2019, 97.6 in 2018 and 97.2 in 2017. Over that span, he has thrown for 10,119 yards, 67 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. Keep in mind Rodgers missed nine games in 2017 and played hurt all of 2018.

In fact, Rodgers has been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of the last five seasons he’s been healthy dating back to 2014.

By comparison, in his final three seasons as quarterback of the Packers, Brett Favre’s quarterback ratings were 95.7, 72.7 and 70.9.

3. Rodgers Doesn’t Throw Interceptions

Aaron Rodgers has a career interception percentage of 1.4. Over the past two seasons, that number has gone down. Over the past two seasons, Rodgers has thrown six total interceptions in 1,166 pass attempts. That is roughly a 0.5 percent interception percentage, well below his career mark of 1.4.

Keep in mind, the NFL record for most interceptions thrown in a single game is seven, held by Ken Stabler, Steve DeBerg and Ty Detmer. Rodgers hasn’t even thrown that many picks total in the past two seasons.

Rodgers doesn’t give the ball to the opposition and in the modern era where offenses are so explosive and efficient, that’s a huge plus. It’s also the biggest difference between Rodgers and his predecessor.

4. Rodgers Still Leads Comebacks and Late Drives

Rodgers continues to find ways to lead the team to victories in close games. Last season, the California alum led the Packers to three game winning drives including two comebacks in the fourth quarter. In 2018, he had three more.

Rodgers remains strong in the clutch. The Packers were 9-1 this season including playoffs in one score games and Rodgers was certainly a big reason for that success.

5. The Team Still Has Confidence in Their Quarterback

Rodgers still has the confidence of his coaching staff and teammates. They believe in him and want to win for him.

“I have full trust in Aaron [Rodgers],” head coach Matt LaFleur said in December. “He’s seen enough during his career. I trust he’ll make the right call.”

After the Packers playoff win over the Seahawks, wide receiver Davante Adams told reporters, “He's definitely hungry for another Super Bowl. He [Rodgers] deserves it, so we're doing everything in our power to put him in that position.”

Earlier this past season, offensive tackle David Bakhtiari also expressed his confidence in Rodgers by saying, "If Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback I would never say never. Because you never know what would happen.”

Even at 36, Rodgers remains a great quarterback. The Packers are perfectly capable of winning with him at the helm. In fact, he remains one of the primary reasons for their success.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (47)

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Bearmeat's picture

March 05, 2020 at 12:59 pm

If Rodgers doesn't re-ascend to elite status in 2020, then we have a contractual problem on our hands. He was borderline above average to excellent in 2019. All 5 hopeful arguments/Op-Eds to the contrary above, those are the facts as they exist currently.

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scullyitsme's picture

March 05, 2020 at 01:05 pm

By this time next year his pay will probably be around top ten in qb salaries. So it’s relative. By the time his contract expires he’ll probably only be top 20. The idea that he has to perform as an elite qb doesn’t make as much sense when you put it in perspective. He has to be good. I guarantee there are now and will be a whole lot of worse qbs making more money.

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Bearmeat's picture

March 05, 2020 at 01:21 pm

his cap hit is exceedingly high starting in 2021. I think highest in the game right now.

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scullyitsme's picture

March 05, 2020 at 01:51 pm

It won’t be. Don’t get me wrong. He frustrates me as well, the alternative though, well, that’s the point, there really isn’t one at the moment. Unless someone falls in this draft like he did.

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:04 pm

Rodgers is not the quarterback he was 5 years ago, but those years were among the greatest any quarterback had ever. He is still more than capable of taking this team to the promised land and had them within one game of it this season. Thanks for commenting.

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CoachDino's picture

March 06, 2020 at 04:44 pm

Big Bear - If you look at his salary compared to his peers you may think differently. Then calculate what the QB's that are better than him is going to make when they reach FA. Rodgers is still BY FAR the most valuable player on the Packers and his being paid accordingly. Not an opinion but a quantitative analysis.

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Lare's picture

March 05, 2020 at 03:19 pm

IMO, Aaron Rodgers will be fine for a few more seasons as long as you give him adequate coaching(scheme), protection & weapons.

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Point-Packer's picture

March 05, 2020 at 03:28 pm

"they just need play" - Aaron Nagler

I thought he already had weapons?

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JerseyAl's picture

March 06, 2020 at 12:36 pm

And just how many times do you plan to post the exact same thing?

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scullyitsme's picture

March 06, 2020 at 01:38 pm

It wasn’t the comment really, it was how he staunchly defended it through the whole season. Also it was they way he ridiculed those of us who dared think our receivers kinda sucked on several occasions. With that said, I agree with probably 95% of Naglers perspectives, I got over it. I can also see why others haven’t.

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JerseyAl's picture

March 06, 2020 at 01:45 pm

I'm not judging the original comment or Point Packers' opinion of it. Just that PP has posted the same comment on various articles about 10 times and that kind of repetitiveness we can do without. We get the point already.

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scullyitsme's picture

March 06, 2020 at 01:56 pm

You won’t get an argument from me on the repetitiveness. Like I said, I got over it. Thought I’d try and explain It. Ironically I had to stop watching the podcast because of Naglers repetitiveness on this exact subject.

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:06 pm

I think that's true. Look, John Elway and Peyton Manning won Super Bowls with the Broncos when they were no longer in their primes. Favre got the Packers to the NFC title game in 2007 and the Vikings there in 2009. If Rodgers has a few more quality targets, he will be just fine.

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NickPerry's picture

March 06, 2020 at 02:24 am

"weapons".... You had me at weapons Lare.

As far as I'm concerned THIS is the biggest reason for Rodgers decline, ESPECIALLY if you compare his recent production to 2011 and 2014. I mean even the biggest homer has to admit the receivers Rodgers has had to throw to has been lacking the last few years.

Get Rodgers another WR high in the draft and add a TE like Hooper to go with Adams and Jones, and Rodgers will throw close to 40 TD's and have a QB rating near 110. At 36 the Packers can't afford to have basically one WR to throw too. I like Lazard but not as a #2. I also like Sternberger but the reality is we have no idea what he can bring.

GET the man some weapons, the clock is ticking!

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croatpackfan's picture

March 06, 2020 at 02:35 am

Well Nick, you can give Aaron Rodgers very fast WR and get nothing. Why? Because he will over or under throw him, like so many times happened with MVS. And people will blame WR for that. The problem is not WRs or TEs nor it is Aaron himself. By my opinion it is the question of coaching and understanding slow fade of Aaron Rodgers physical abilities. Aaron is still most valuable player on the team (at least offensive side of the team) because of his knowledge, intelligence, experience and understanding different concepts of the game tactics and plans.

The main question is will team offensive strategy will adapt to fading physical abilities of QB and advantages offensive players has (will have). Also, it is necessary that Aaron Rodgers admit his stubbornness and get rid of it for better sake of himself and team.

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NickPerry's picture

March 06, 2020 at 05:45 am

I said absolutely fast about a "Fast Receiver". I said he needed more weapons. You brought up MVS, the guy with Alligator arms? The WR who caught 6 passes in his last 11 games (playoffs included) of the season for 34 yards and no TD's? Let that sink in...6 catches for 34 yards and no TD's? Really? That's the guy you want to use Croat?

You just made my point for me Croat.

#MOREWEAPONS!!!

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flackcatcher's picture

March 06, 2020 at 02:21 pm

Looking back, losing ESB and trading away Davis really hurt this WR group. Rodgers's lack of trust showed up in a big way last season with this very young group. While I was disappointed in this group in the second half, I also know that the offense as a group had some trouble getting into MLF scheme. Not enough time during OTA and training camp. Should not be an issue next season. If it is, it's on the head coach.

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Stroh's picture

March 05, 2020 at 03:39 pm

I'd Rodgers can still be an elite QB. The catch is will he commit to his fundamentals like Brees and Brady? If he does he's elite, if not I think he'll continue to regress. Lets face it... he's gotten very sloppy with his footwork and arm position when he throws. As he gets older he must start using his legs to throw again. He's too reliant on just his arm. That's not going to cut it in his late 30's.

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egbertsouse's picture

March 05, 2020 at 04:07 pm

I used to think he had poor footwork until I heard Trent Dilfer explain that his footwork is fine. He uses a hip-swiveling motion more like a shot putter rather than stepping into the throw like a baseball pitcher. This allows for a quicker release and allow him to work in a tighter pocket, according to Dilfer.

Although he seems to have lost a little bit of arm strength and considerable foot speed, his big problem seem to be his head, locking in on one guy and refusing to throw any passes that could be contested by the DB.

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Stroh's picture

March 05, 2020 at 08:32 pm

He never sets his feet to throw anymore. Outside the pocket he does swivel his hips and do all that. But when he's in the pocket he doesn't ever throw from a stable platform anymore or even a normal arm position. He tries to throw w/ a flick of the wrist and from poor arm positions. Brees and Brady have remained very effective till age 40+ because they have impeccable mechanics. If Rodgers continues as he has, he won't retain the velocity and arm strength and he'll continue to regress IMO.

It seems to me he still thinks he's the same guy he was 5+ yrs ago. He's not.

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CoachDino's picture

March 06, 2020 at 05:14 pm

I'm with you Stroh. PFF rates him very high but the main issue that stood out was his accuracy in the pocket with no pressure. I think that is footwork. I always say he wants to be Favre in that respect. If he just hits the throws he should it will have the greatest impact on his/team performance. He still makes big-time throws and low interceptions at an ELITE level. The ones he should make are where he is average at best. That can be corrected. Footwork, understanding of the scheme by him AND the Receivers along with just one more year in the program. He is not the problem

I hear so much about getting him more weapons and agree. That said I don't want him throwing for league-high yards and attempts, most TD's and throws over 20yds. That would be an indication that the team is not balanced. Let's focus on solidifying the running game. It was shut down way too often. Why? Jones is good so it's not the RB. What is it? Letting BB walk and replacing him with a below-average run blocker is very scary. Our LT and guard are good but the run game is not their specialty.

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:07 pm

He definitely can improve his mechanics and must make adjustments as he gets older. Let's hope he will do that. Thanks for commenting.

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AllisonB's picture

March 05, 2020 at 04:09 pm

I've always been a huge fan of ARod, but there are of course things he needs to stay on top of. Though he should be able to stay in an elite category if he can get some help from the front office in the draft this year!

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:08 pm

Agreed, Allison. He can't do it alone. I think he has a few more very good seasons left if he gets some help and does the right things to prepare himself. Thanks for commenting.

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Samson's picture

March 05, 2020 at 04:46 pm

Give AR a few more weapons (WR, TE) & protection in season 2020 & he'll be in the picture for another MVP season. --- Gute + MLF + AR = SB.

LOL every time fans make believe they know what's happening concerning AR... Uninformed biases & opinions only cloud the reality that is....

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:09 pm

He's definitely capable. With only one quality wide receiver this year, he got the team to the NFC title game. Hopefully, Gutekunst adds some weapons to his arsenal this offseason. Thanks for commenting.

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 05, 2020 at 05:06 pm

The five reasons given aren't the separators many believe them to be and when defending someone with reasons that are met by others and not just 1 or 2, it reeks of desperation to keep one above all or to maintain a higher relevance that actually has already ebbed.

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 05, 2020 at 05:12 pm

Rodgers has gone from...
Is dangerous to...
not as dangerous to...
can still be dangerous moving toward...
was dangerous but is closer to not majority of the time.
The next to last is where I see Rodgers especially based on the talent less receiver corps as a whole.

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:11 pm

No, he's not the quarterback he was five years ago, but not many quarterbacks in the history of the game have reached that level. Rodgers got the Packers to the NFC Championship Game this year without a lot of receiving weapons. If the Packers add another weapon or two, he's capable of leading them to another title. Thanks for commenting.

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 06, 2020 at 05:41 pm

The Packers season was a benefactor of an incredibly easy schedule and the help of many on the schedule hitting low points when they played each other. Play that season again and the Packers struggle to win 7 games.

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Yooper56's picture

March 05, 2020 at 05:09 pm

I think Rodgers could be elite again if he were able to take coaching and practice some good fundamentals. He doesn't throw interceptions and that's great, but how many times in the last three years has he tossed the ball to the sideline because he keeps waiting for the big hero play that he can make. He refuses to take many chances. No guts, no glory. But no interceptions! Also, while trying to make the big pass, how many easy 3-4 yard-make-first-down-passes has he not taken? I think his biggest problem is he thinks he's the smartest guy on the field, in the locker room, and well, basically in any room. He needs to get his body language under control and stop blaming everybody else in front of God and everybody. He's not good enough to do that anymore. You tell me that doesn't piss off these receivers when he's yelling at them on the field. They all have big egos, Rodgers just happens to be bigger than all of them combined. Draft a QB high this year. Just sayin'.

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:13 pm

For salary cap reasons, I think they should wait one more year before drafting a quarterback in the first round. You want the guy to start while still under his entry level contract, not to sit too long behind Rodgers. there are definitely adjustments he can make, but the team was successful this season and was within one game of reaching the Super Bowl. Thanks for commenting.

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dobber's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:14 pm

"He doesn't throw interceptions and that's great, but how many times in the last three years has he tossed the ball to the sideline because he keeps waiting for the big hero play that he can make."

The funny part is that when a QB, early in his career, throws that ball away, we pat him on the back and call it "maturity" or "smart play" or "protecting the ball".

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Oppy's picture

March 07, 2020 at 09:36 am

Not exactly, Dobber.

We pat the young QB on the back and call it maturity of smart play or protecting the ball when the big play isn't there, AND the short, move the sticks play isn't there, either.

You reward the smart choice and the discipline. But when your 15 year vet QB is bypassing the safe, get a few yards, high percentage pass that IS available, because he seemingly only wants to throw the long developing, big play pass to his favorite target.. That's not a commendable play. Not for the vet, and not for the rookie. Yes, you take your shots, but you take the available yardage on the field and live to see another set of downs.

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PatrickGB's picture

March 05, 2020 at 06:00 pm

As a fan, I have been spoiled by Brent and Aaron. Someday we fans will have to come back to earth. Rodgers in his twilight is better than most of the other QBs in the league. I would not mind keeping him until he is ready to retire but having a decent backup ready for those days in the future. Yet it’s way too early to make plans to replace him now.

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:14 pm

I think you're spot on. Remember, Elway and Peyton Manning won Super Bowls when they were no longer playing at their best level. Rodgers has the football IQ and savvy to continue to win football games. Thanks for commenting.

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Lphill's picture

March 05, 2020 at 06:34 pm

Give him protection and weapons he will take care of the rest.

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:15 pm

I think that's true. Give him time to throw and open receivers to throw to and then look out. Thanks for the comment.

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CAG123's picture

March 05, 2020 at 06:45 pm

One thing I want to see ARod work on is building trust with WR I mean Tom Brady will take these no name WR and work with them during the offseason to build chemistry I feel like Rodgers should be doing the same thing with guys like MVS, ESB, Lazard etc they can only do so much in practice these days if Rodgers cares about winning like he says he does this is an option he should heavily considering.

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:16 pm

That will be important going forward and I know it's been an issue to last couple of years especially with some of the younger receivers. Lazard certainly earned his trust by midseason. I hope he works on this with whoever his receivers are next season.

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stockholder's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:15 pm

In 2008 TT drafted Brohm and Flynn. He made it clear to Brohm, he would back -up Rodgers. I'm expecting Gute to draft a Back-up QB. Hopefully it won't require extra picks. TT could do it. Shouldn't Gute be able to do it too? To be fair, Brohm was a Bust. Rodgers wasn't. So what did TT tell Rodgers? Seems Gute needs to tell the QB he's drafting, the same thing Rodgers was told. Bet he won't!

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GilMartin's picture

March 05, 2020 at 07:18 pm

They could draft a backup in the middle to late rounds or sign a veteran backup as a relatively inexpensive free agent. We shall see what Gute does this offseason. Thanks for commenting.

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Lphill's picture

March 05, 2020 at 09:45 pm

I don’t think the Packers should have a rookie as a backup QB , they need a game experienced QB who can fill in if need be, the last good backup was a Flynn. There has to be some vet out there that can be brought in. Even Favre had Jim McMahon.

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GilMartin's picture

March 06, 2020 at 12:31 pm

Depends what kind of rookie, a first round pick who is the long term successor or a lower round pick who is a backup.

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flackcatcher's picture

March 06, 2020 at 02:03 pm

If anything, the west coast trip exposed Rodgers last season. Slow reacting on his backside, locking on one WR, not taking check downs when available, and checking out of runs a bit to often on a run first/play action pass offensive scheme. The good news is most of what ails Rodgers can be easily fixed. Rodgers knows his mechanics were bad, you could see him at times during last season making an effort on his 5-7 step drops to set his feet. The overall question is will Rodgers commit to MLF offensive scheme, in which he is no longer the prime driver. But as last season has shown, Aaron Rodgers is no longer THAT Aaron Rodgers. How he adjusts will be the story for next season...

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Oppy's picture

March 07, 2020 at 09:37 am

Side bet: Aaron Rodgers will someday reveal to the world he's a scientologist.

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4thand1's picture

March 07, 2020 at 11:59 am

The Packers did a lot of good things last year. Swept the div which no one saw coming. AR doesn't lose games and they can run the ball. They will be balanced this year even more I believe, only making a smart QB like AR even more effective. I see around 4k passing yards, 30 td's and around 6ints along with 11 + wins. That's elite to me.

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