The Lass Word: Rodgers Is, and Always Has Been, Better Than Brady

Don't be misled by Super Bowl success.

Sunday's game between the Packers and the Tampa Bay Bucs is being nationally billed, to nobody's surprise, as a battle of legendary quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers versus Tom Brady. Okay, so which one IS the better player? Not just right now, but over the course of their entire careers?

If you are a bottom line type person (in other words, just win, baby), the case for Brady is hard to deny. Six Super Bowl titles to just one for Rodgers. For many fans, the debate ends there. Brady is also ahead of Rodgers in average number of games won per season.

But football is a team game, perhaps the ultimate team game. Comparing individual players by using team wins can be misleading, if not downright inaccurate.

There are several reasons for this.   For example, since becoming a starting NFL quarterback in 2001, Brady has played on teams with much, much better defenses than Rodgers.   In his 19 years as a starter, Brady's defenses finished, on average, ranked 7th in the league.   Seven of those 19 years his defense was top five.   By comparison, in Rodgers 12 years as a starter (not including the current season), his defenses finished, on average, ranked 16th in the league.   Only once in that span was his defense a top five.   And he won the Super Bowl that year.

Then there is the level of competition.   Brady has faced significantly easier challenges from the AFC East than Rodgers has gotten from the NFC North.   During Brady's 19 years as a starter, other AFC East teams were good enough to make the playoffs in just ten of those years.   During Rodgers 12 years as a starter, other NFC North teams were good enough to make the playoffs in eleven of those years.

You can also make a good case that Brady has had a higher number of better players around him during his career, although breaking down all of the teammates for Rodgers and Brady over the years would be too cumbersome for a column such as this.

So, sufffice it to say, judging Rodgers and Brady by team wins is not the most efficient way to go.   Now, let's look at some individual stats.   All of these numbers reflect 19 years as a starter for Brady, and 12 for Rodgers, and take into account regular season only.

Rodgers has a career passer rating of 103.0, the highest in NFL history.   Brady's rating is 97.0.   Rodgers' career completion percentage is 64.7%, Brady's is 63.9%.   Rodgers has thrown for an average of 2.1 touchdowns per game, Brady 1.9.   Rodgers is a far more talented runner, averaging 3.4 yards per game rushing.   Brady is at 2.1.   These numbers are reasonably close, but Rodgers has a clear advantage in all.   

Average passing yards per game is about even as well.   Brady stands at 261 yards per game.   Rodgers has averaged 260.   

How about head-to-head?   Surprisingly, despite their long and illustrious careers, Rodgers and Brady have only started two games against each other.   In 2014, the Packers beat the Patriots 26-21.   In that game, Rodgers threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns.   Brady passed for 245 yards and two scores.   In 2018, the Patriots prevailed by a score of 31-17.   Brady had 294 yards through the air and one touchdown.   Rodgers threw for 259 yards and two scores.   So call it a draw, although Rodgers had better numbers if you combine the two contests.

Brady has three MVP awards to Rodgers two, but Brady has also played seven more seasons as the starter for his team.   Arod's opportunity to put at least one more MVP season together is more likely than Brady.   In fact, it could be this year.

Put it all together, and, at least to me, Aaron Rodgers is, and always has been, the better all-around quarterback.   Put it this way.   I'm glad he's going to be on our side Sunday.

 

OUTTAKES

•  Vikings coach Mike Zimmer made the correct call in going for it on 4th down against the Seahawks Sunday night.   He knew that his young defense would not stop Russell Wilson if Seattle got the ball back, and he was right.   It only made sense to go for it on 4th and one and put the game away. 

•  I look for Matt LaFleur to be similarly aggressive this Sunday for the same reason.   I'm guessing he doesn't want to rely on his defense to win the game against Brady, Evans, et al.   Don't be surprised to see the Pack going for it on 4th down all over the field. 

•  Aaron Jones has scored at least one touchdown in all four games thus far.   Robert Tonyan has scored the last three games in a row.   There's a couple of streaks I'd like to see continue.

•  Despite being immobile, Tom Brady is surprisingly hard to sack.   He's taller and stronger than most give him credit for.   On several occasions I've seen him shrug off defenders a la Ben Roethlisberger.

•  Brady is also the master of the quarterback sneak.   How many times have you seen him extend those long arms over the goal line from the one?

•  It didn't bother me at first, but I am getting gradually more annoyed with the canned crowd noise on the network telecasts.   It's bland and generic and often not properly synced to the game.   Anybody with me?

   

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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Comments (52)

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Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:07 pm

Brave man. Since you stuck your head above this parapet I will get in the spirit.

The implication is that Bellicheck simply transcended as coach and GM?

I think that luck and an easy route to the Super Bowl are part of it.

I will say this, I am glad to have had Rodgers not Brady. If I had a time machine and a choice I’d take Rodgers every time.

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Gravedigger93's picture

October 15, 2020 at 05:26 pm

And Brady and Bellicheat were very good together, but remember they are cheaters with no honor.
I agree....Rodgers every time.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:43 pm

When the Big Game was on the line, Brady delivered the play to get them the winning points.

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Razer's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:14 pm

Sorry Ken but I can't buy what you are selling. Brady may even be better than the numbers suggest given that he has done it without many of the offensive tools that Rodgers has had over the same period. Brady consistently performed with fewer weapons, in the face of defenses that knew what was coming. He and his coaches adapted his game to get the most out of the surrounding cast.

If you tried to make the point that the Packers and Mike McCarthy failed to maximize Aaron Rodger's talent by locking him into a singular offensive formula and thereby reduced his potential...well, then I might have bit.

Liked the outtakes.

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Packers2020's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:31 pm

Razer,

Explain this to me then.

Playoffs:

Brady's Defenses: Avg of 22 points per game
Rodgers Defenses: Avg of 34 pts per game

You do not think this is the reason Brady has 6 titles? Go revisit those SB wins. Brady still very easily with all those great D's could only have 2 SB Titles.

Rodgers has the 5th highest QB rating of all time in the playoffs. 100 rating. (Bart Starr is 2nd. 104.8 rating :) )

Brady has the 15th best playoff QB rating of all time. A rating of 89. 89! He does not even have a QB rating above 90.

More numbers to suggest that Rodgers is better overall. I respectfully disagree. Brady won alot of games due to his defenses, Belichek, and a great GM.

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Razer's picture

October 15, 2020 at 05:20 pm

Guys - I am not going to argue stats and team strengths or weaknesses. And, I am not going to defend a seven year difference between these two QBs. Brady used his support cast better to win 6 Super Bowls and he led his team back to win on last minutes drives many more times than Rodgers. In his prime, I would take Brady to win a game on the line over anyone in the last thirty years.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:48 pm

Well, there's an interesting thought. Without a doubt, Brady/Belichick are the best QB/HC tandem in history, hands down. It is a purely academic question to ask if Brady or Rodgers would have succeeded more in the other's system.

The only question that matters to me is who is better, and better positioned to succeed, right now, and I would take Rodgers every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Brady has been looking old and is starting to sack himself, while Rodgers is playing like a man on fire and doing so with a calmness and precision we haven't seen in years.

I have a hard time believing there will ever be another QB to achieve what TB12 has done over the course of his career, but this is an every week league, and this week Rodgers is much better positioned to take home the W.

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blffan4's picture

October 16, 2020 at 11:26 am

Razer: Rodgers has thrown 2 TDs EVER to a first round pick and those 2 were both to Mercedes Lewis in the past 2 seasons who is looooooooooong past his days as a receiving threat. Brady has had Moss, Welker, Edelman, Gronk, Deion Branch, James White and Kevin Faulk (Faulk & White were/are exceptional receiving backs). They've also traded for and signed FA receivers much more often than the Packers have (Moss - of coursse, Sanu, Amendola, Cooks, Stallworth, Josh Gordon). For the past 4 years Rodgers has pretty much had Adams along with either old, past their prime TE's or very young inexperienced ones and a very average WR corp. And as malta1099 says, the coaching isn't even close to equal. McCarthy hasn't been a good play caller since 2014 and the Packers consistently had below average defenses and special teams under McCarthy. I may not like him but it's tough to argue how great a coach Belichick is not to mention maybe the best defensive coach of all time. Put Brady in Green Bay over the same time as Rodgers and I can't imagine the Packers have more Super Bowls, in fact they may not even have the one they won in 2010-11.

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malta1099's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:33 pm

Ken, great points all around. I have to agree with you. The only thing I would add to your narrative is that Brady's teams benefitted from far superior coaching than Rodgers. The Belichik organization vs McCarthy? Come on. McDaniels' playcalling vs McCarthy's? It's not fair to Rodgers that he's had to excel despite having that anchor tied to him. It only further demonstrates his innate superiority as a QB. And I say that with no disrespect to Brady, who deserves all the credit he gets.....except the GOAT title.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:39 pm

Fron 2018 in a Brady interview: Brady said that if Rodgers had the Patriots' offensive system and exhaustive knowledge of opposing defenses, "He'd throw for 7,000 yards every year. He's so much more talented than me."

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TheVOR's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:51 pm

I'll be semi controversial I guess, and everyone should know, I love Brett Favre! That said, Rodgers is a better QB than Brett Favre was. They were clearly different, and both Clearly HOF and exciting to watch, but Rodgers is a better technical QB than Brett Favre. All that said, Gosh I loved Watching Brett Favre Sling it, and Aaron Rodgers surgically do brain surgery on opponents defenses through these last 2 decades.

I've always said "Franchises" seem to fall into categories of what they field well. Bears? Definitely defense and primarily LB's. Green Bay? And thank god for this.... QB's... ! Think about this... Hutson, Rote, Starr, Dickey, Majkowski, Favre, Rodgers.... Enough said, it's what the Packers do... Sorry to say this, Love, will never be on that list, huge mistake.. But! Not worrying about that right now, a future HOFer is under contract..

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BradHTX's picture

October 16, 2020 at 07:31 am

(Psst... Don Hutson wasn’t a QB.)

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GLM's picture

October 16, 2020 at 10:57 am

You're pre-mature on judging Jordan Love. I agree with the rest of your commentary.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 16, 2020 at 11:02 am

TheVor people said the same thing about Rodgers that you're saying about Love. You're no expert and have no way of knowing what the Packers have in Love. Enjoy the ride with Rodgers and see what we have in Love when the time comes. Packers drafted in 2020 for the future and look unstoppable offensively in the present.

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blffan4's picture

October 16, 2020 at 11:33 am

I'll replace Hutson with the two you should've mentioned, Cecil Isabell and Arnie Herber. That said, I don't think any franchise has the history of QB greatness that the Packers have. When Rodgers retires and goes into the HOF, the Packers will have 4 QB's enshrined. Jury is still out on Jordan Love. I hated it when the Packers drafted Rodgers because I thought it was a wasted pick. Thought the exact same thing when they drafted Love. I'm hoping I'm just as wrong about Love as I was about Rodgers. Mostly though, I'd love to see Rodgers keeps this kind of play up as that will make it impossible for the Packers to "move on"

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oceanstrength's picture

October 15, 2020 at 05:04 pm

Isnt and never has been.
talk means nothing. especially when it's nonsense. Brady is the GOAT. Rodgers is a wannabee. Just win championships.

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TheVOR's picture

October 15, 2020 at 05:07 pm

By the way, Tom Brady is THE G.O.A.T........... Any suggestions otherwise are Moran time. ..

Sorry, championships matter.. Aaron? Got an answer for that? Ya, forget you played most of your career under MM and Thompson.. This is now? What have you got, what have you done for me lately?

Going up against who clearly is the G.O.A.T... There is ABSOLUTELY NO ARGUMENT HERE!!!!! At the end of the day, Aaron Rodgers is Trent Dilfer!! Think about that people! We're not in this to be moderately entertained, we're in it to win Championships! Anything else is the voice of the LOSER!

Change the perception Aaron, still plenty of time! You lost the last time you played him , huh? You're the better team, time to prove that, and put a lot of this BS to bed? This is monster game. Aaron Rodgers, who usually folds like a 10 cent small town newspaper when pressured with legit defensive opposition?

Time to step up brother, you're either what people "think you are", or you're HOF? Question, if Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers retired at the same time, and went into the HOF at the same time? How could you be Aaron Rodgers sharing that same stage? Is there a bigger stage, or a bigger game than this?

Sorry, for all the chronically morainic? Championships MATTER PEOPLE!!! Tom Brady's championship run and dominance may never be equaled. Lets keep it real..

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Gravedigger93's picture

October 15, 2020 at 05:24 pm

Don't forget he and the Pats cheated...what did they get caught two or three times?. But I'm sure that's the only time they ever did it. I hate when people always leave that out.

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stormin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:30 pm

TheVOR, you are the only moron here, go troll somewhere else asswipe !

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Since'61's picture

October 15, 2020 at 10:29 pm

TheVOR - if you’re going to use the argument that Brady is the GOat because it’s about championships, then Bart Starr would be the GOAT.

Starr won 5 championships in 7 years including 3 in a row. Brady has won 6 in 19 years. So yes, Brady’s record has been equaled and surpassed by a QB who played over 50 years ago. Starr’s has a .900 winning percentage in post-season games.

So if we apply your logic Starr is the GOAT and Brady well he’s not.

Thanks, Since ‘61

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JerseyAl's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:59 am

^^^^ THIS ^^^^

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CoachDino's picture

October 15, 2020 at 05:30 pm

Couple things.

Championships like all factors are taken into consideration. The question is how weighted are they? Some of the best players in sports have never won championships. IMO the best pure passer to play is Dan Marino, he has zero championships. Love him, hate him, cheater etc.. The best Baseball Player of all-time (arguably) Barry Bonds never won a WS. QB has a huge impact in Football but IMO is not a very big factor in judging the"GOAT" There's also factors that don't always show up in stats. Leadership, team play over stats play, handling of adversity. Comebacks should be a big piece as well.

Tom Brady is arguably the Goat, as is Aaron Rodgers, how about Joe Montana don't forget some of the oldies as well. These guys called their own plays, thats huge!!! It was also a much tougher league to be a QB in. Copuld some of the Stars of today sat back in the pocket all comfy back when there rules allowed the D to do just about anything to the QB. Now talk of taking a guy out of the game is unheard of. Back then it was a game plan.

My top 3 factor on the head to head between Brady and ARod, Bellichech (sp) he can do more with less than any other coach Ive seen. Name all the Big time stars on defense or offense on the Pats? Check what most were like before and after their Pats days? Its crazy.

Fun article - brings out some great debate.

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CoachDino's picture

October 15, 2020 at 05:34 pm

Luck!!
Bostic botches an onside kick. The Packers lay an egg against NY G at home in a year they had their best record and home field advantage throughout. The NY G and Eli caught fire, crazy.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:48 pm

Great teams make the plays to win. No excuses.

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CoachDino's picture

October 16, 2020 at 11:09 am

Don't disagree, the point was how you judge players and the impact of winning championships on ones GOAT rankings. This instance showed how Rodgers can be an all-time great but one poor decision by a member of your team can keep you from winning. Should that tarnish his legacy?

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:25 pm

Teams.

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egbertsouse's picture

October 15, 2020 at 05:47 pm

Sorry homers but Brady is better. How many games did Brady piss away because he was looking for the highlight reel shot Instead of a first down and then gets sacked instead? How many times did Brady refuse to throw to an open receiver because he didn’t “trust” him? How many times did Brady pass up multiple open receivers because he was locked on to his favorite guy of the moment and then throw it away when favorite guy isn’t open? Not many, I bet. Whereas AR has done it over and over and over.

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mnbadger's picture

October 16, 2020 at 09:02 am

Egbert, I'd definitely take AR over TB for many reasons. TB's biggest advantage is exactly as you stated. he dumps it off, moves the chains and wins with great coaching, defense and special teams. AR never had the luxury of relying on the other facets to win. GPG

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Since'61's picture

October 15, 2020 at 07:33 pm

Rodgers is the better player. Forget about the Championships. Put Rodgers on the Pats and Brady on the Packers and the number of SBs are flipped for both players. The defensive numbers in the playoffs are the difference in the SB wins not because one QB is better than the others.

Rodgers has always been and is now a better and more accurate thrower on the run than Brady ever was. That alone separates Rodgers from every other QB who has ever played. Also while Beady has been very good at ball security Rodgers is one of the best ever in that department as well.

The concept of QBs being solely responsible for their teams winning SBs is a media hyped concept that began back in the 80s and was built around Joe Montana. Montana was the best QB of his time and one of the all-time greats no doubt. But the media has carried the concept beyond all reason.

Terry Bradshaw won 4 SBs in the 70s and no one even back then included him as one of the greatest QBs of all time and we still don’t

My top 5 all-time based on how they played their position not on the number of titles they won are:

1. Johnny Unitas
2. Joe Montana
3. Dan Marino
4. John Elway
5. Peyton Manning

I would probably put Brady at # 6 for now until Rodgers reaches at least 15 completed seasons at which point if he is still playing at a high level like he is now and definitely if he has another league MVP and/or SB I would move Rodgers past Brady. If Rodgers reaches 19 seasons and is still playing as he is this season I’ll probably move him to #1.
You need to include the players impact on the game. Unitas invented the modern QB position, the modern passing game and changed the NFL forever. Rodgers with his ability to throw on the run has made the greatest impact on the QB position since Unitas. Brady has been great but he hasn’t done anything that redefined his position the way Rodgers has.

We’ve seen the Packers record without Rodgers. While the Pats won 11 games the season Brady was injured. That should tell us the difference between the teams and how much more one QB means to their team than the other. Thanks, Since ‘61

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splitpea1's picture

October 15, 2020 at 06:42 pm

Outstanding analysis here....And think how much Rodgers could have benefited from a money TE(s) throughout the course of his career, as well.

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Since'61's picture

October 15, 2020 at 07:28 pm

I appreciate your feedback Splitpea. Good point about the TEs. Brady has had some great ones. Rodgers had Finley for a few seasons but even dropped too many passes. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2020 at 09:00 pm

Well put. Players can be divorced from results in team sports and have to be assessed in context. Tips hat to comment.

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Starrbrite's picture

October 15, 2020 at 07:24 pm

I agree—the canned crowd noise absolutely sucks!!

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The_Justicar's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:35 pm

Very tired of it.

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Lphill's picture

October 15, 2020 at 07:27 pm

Rodgers is the better athlete but the Patriots provided the talent on offense and defense every season to allow Brady to be successful , the Packers don't do that for Rodgers this past draft proved it , the Pats are a win today team and the Packers are a draft and develop for tomorrow team.

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ricky's picture

October 15, 2020 at 07:44 pm

Another factor not mentioned yet is that Rodgers' contract demands eat up a large part of the salary cap. And even before he married a super model worth millions, Brady never demanded huge bucks. So the Patriots had the ability to get big name FA's to up their game. They also had a much better coach (is Belichick better than Lombardi? Probably, and I grew up with Lombardi in Green Bay), and a front office that always seemed to make the right moves to keep them a bit better than the opposition. Though Mike Florio at PFT (a probably Vikings fan) wrote today that if Rodgers had been the Patriots QB, they'd have ten SB wins.

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Tarynfor12's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:34 pm

Whether Rodgers has/hasn't better stats, talent, athleticism, HC, players etc, the only thing that makes a QB great is winning what counts more than the other QBs, Super Bowls.

Winning is everything!
Not winning is exactly what it is, losing.

Brady in NE regardless of the above mentioned was a Winner.

Rodgers in GB regardless of the above mentioned is a loser, less the one SB, period.

Rodgers may be a great loser, but a loser all the same in comparison to Brady, period.

Yes, even great players by virtue of not Winning are losers. It doesn't take away from their ability and talent, but more losses than the other guy makes you the loser in the comparison world that are winners.

I love Rodgers, but he is what he is based on SBs against Brady, the loser.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:53 pm

Just checking...by this logic, Eli is better than Rodgers too?

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Tarynfor12's picture

October 15, 2020 at 09:28 pm

Is Rodgers ahead or behind Eli Manning on the SB win list?

Rodgers is a thousand times better than Eli in every facet.

Eli still has more SBs than Rodgers.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

October 16, 2020 at 04:15 am

Taryn should be an expert on losing. A lifetime of losing provides a lot of experience. Unfortunately, Taryn's jealousy of AR clouds the knowledge that experience should convey.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:50 pm

Thanks for stirring up a bit of controversy tonight Ken. I’m camping in Jackson Hole and it should be about 20 tonight. This should keep me warm for a while. I really don’t have a lot to offer to this topic, but I will say this... every time I see a Brady highlight it is of Edelman or Gronk or somebody pretty much wide open. I can’t ever remember saying, “How’d he do that?” I could be wrong, but are there a lot of memorable iconic tosses by him?

For AR, the incredible toss is nearly an every game occurrence. I vote Rodgers. But then again, I’m a homer and I think Carlos Brown was better than Brady too.

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Handsback's picture

October 15, 2020 at 10:15 pm

No offense Ken, but you are dead wrong. Starr was a great QB, not as talented as Jurgensen, Unites, Gabriel, heck maybe even Namath would be included in that list. Yet, Starr was great because he lead his team to championships. Same can be said for Montana. It's the hardware that counts, not the records.

Yes, Rodgers is one of the most talented QBs ever, but (and its a huge but) has only won one SB trophy. Injuries, timing, defensive breakdowns, you name it it has happened to the Packers and Rodgers over the years, and he wasn't able to overcome that. It's foolish to compare him to the winningest SB QB. You can say he's the most talented, best passer, best moustache or beard...but leave records out of it because Rodgers (and the Packers) have come up short too many times to say he is the greatest.

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Since'61's picture

October 16, 2020 at 04:50 pm

Hands back - yes, Starr was a great QB but you need to consider that Starr played on a team with 12 HOF players, plus a HOF coach who is the GOAT coach. Add in that Lombardi’s defense is one of the best of all time and the best of all time in terms of post- season points allowed. Average a little under 11 points allowed per game in their post- season games.

Starr’s career was going nowhere until Lombardi arrived in Green Bay and he did not play as well after Lombardi left. Starr gets credit for becoming an excellent player at his position but I don’t know if he gets there without Lombardi.

Another point, if hardware counts then Starr is the best based on winning 5 championships in 7 seven years, including 3 in a row, which is more prolific than 6 in 19 years for Brady. Also following the same logic, then the winning SB team has the best QB in the league for that season and we know that’s not true. Thanks, Since ‘61

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marpag1's picture

October 16, 2020 at 03:55 am

Honestly, I've never seen the interest in all of this arguing about which girl is the prettiest or what beer tastes the best or who is the goatiest GOAT in Goatville. You want Brady? You want Rodgers? Knock yourself out. Teams win championships anyway, and teams are more than one guy.

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Guam's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:19 am

I'm with you on this topic marpag1. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there are no absolutes. In a team game it is very hard to pick out one player as the GOAT. I just feel fortunate that the Packers have had three great QB's - Starr, Favre and Rodgers - I have been able to watch during my lifetime.

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Since'61's picture

October 16, 2020 at 10:43 am

Excellent post. I agree. Thanks, Since ‘61

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murf7777's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:19 am

Yes, teams with Belichick will do better.

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 17, 2020 at 11:23 am

"goatiest GOAT in Goatville"

Love it...lol

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:32 pm

I was at the 2002 SB in NOLA when he delivered the deep shot to set up Vinatieri for the last second win. This guy has been in Nine SBs. Nobody else has.

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mnbadger's picture

October 16, 2020 at 09:05 pm

Belicheck has!

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:33 pm

not

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egbertsouse's picture

October 18, 2020 at 05:53 pm

I think the AR is GOAT speeches should be permanently retired. He was whupped by a 43 year old QB.

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