presenting the nfl’s best quarterback… and it’s not tom brady or peyton manning


In football (the round balled version) the debate as to whether Lionel Messi or Christiano Ronaldo was the best player in the world was finally won by the diminutive Argentinian scored 50 goals  for the first time in the 2008/09  season. In the NFL a similar turning point in the battle between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning took place when Brady hit 50 touchdowns in 2007 leading the Pat’s to a near perfect 18-1 record including the playoffs (losing only in the superbowl). But while eyes were focussed on who the best was between these two, other NFL quarterback’s were afforded comparatively little value in their claim to be the best in the league. In my opinion one man has been badly overlooked. Aaron Rodgers.

Yes, Aaron Rodgers is hailed as one of the league’s best quarterbacks but he is rarely considered to be the best quarterback in the league, cheeseheads aside. But he has honed his skillset well, has a superbowl ring on his finger, a record breaking stats sheet and the advantage of youth on his side. Firstly let’s breakdown the stats.

Career Passer Rating

The passer rating is a complex algorithm that takes into account completion percentage, touchdowns, yards per completion, passing yardage and interceptions making it the most obvious comparison method. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the statistics, a good score for a quarterback’s career would be somewhere in the mid-eighties; for example Dan Marino’s was 86.4. Of our three quarterback’s under comparison Peyton Manning’s 94.9 is third, Tom Brady’s 95.2 is second while Aaron Rodgers passer rating of 99.8 is an NFL record for starting quarterbacks. Even more impressive is Rodgers postseason record. While both Brady and Manning’s passing rating’s fall in the more competitive playoffs (88.4 and 85.7 respectively) Rodgers’ passer rating improves to 112.6 an NFL record passer rating for the post season.

The 4000 yard seasons.

Tom Brady has reached 4000 yards three seasons out of eight where he started all 16 games. Peyton Manning has 4000 yards to his name in 13 out of the 15 seasons in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers has a one hundred percent record hitting 4000 in the only two seasons he played the full sixteen games (2008 & 2009) making him the first NFL quarterback to throw for 4000 yards in his first two full seasons.  Last year Rodgers missed one game and still fell just 88 yards short of the milestone. This is a slightly warped comparison as Rodgers one hundred percent record comes from a sample of just two seasons while Manning’s is over a total of fifteen but it does highlight that Rodgers is on at least an equal footing with the two greats at this stage in his career.

TD-INT Differential

For a starting quarterback, these are the two columns that define a quarterback’s career. If you’re turning the ball over to the defence more than you’re getting the ball into the endzone, chances are, your NFL career is going to be seriously curtailed. Peyton Manning holds the NFL record for the differential scoring 399 touchdowns and 198 picks. in his career giving him a differential of 201. This is an impressive record but it’s not a fair comparison for assessing who the best man under centre is. Manning has completed 15 seasons, while Rodgers has just 3 seasons as starter. Therefore the fairest comparison would be the rate of touchdown’s to interceptions. For every interception Peyton Manning throws 2.01 touchdown passes, for Brady the number improves to 2.52. However, Aaron Rodgers touchdown to interception record is another all-time NFL record with 2.88 touchdowns to every interception.

Intangibles & Technique

I could go into completion percentages and interceptions as a percentage of total yardage to highlight further where Rodgers is ahead of the curve in terms of all time greats but I feel by this stage most of you who have read this article are now starting to question if the Packers man can lead his side as well as Manning or Brady. Is he an offensive coordinator in a helmet like Manning, no, but Manning is in a class of one in that field. Can Manning or Brady scramble when the pocket breaks down, yes, but nowhere near as well as Rodgers. Furthermore, while Manning and Brady clearly have quality throwing techniques nobody has the speed of release or ability to improvise passes under pressure that Rodgers does.

Conclusions

At the end of their careers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will rightfully be hailed as two of the greatest ever to start under centre in the NFL after to exceptional careers. Some have suggested that Tom Brady will be considered the best to have ever played the game at the end of his career, Montana and Unitas will certainly have something to say about that but he’ll be right up there. Even if he does earn ‘the clubhouse lead’, if Rodgers carries on performing at this level, he may even unseat Brady from the highest table.

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