If Tom Brady were to retire today, this is what Aaron Rodgers would have to do to match him statistically: go 93-7 while completing 2,210 of 3,567 passes (62%) for 24,755 yards, 159 touchdowns and 80 interceptions. That would roughly work out to 6 seasons of going 15-1, while completing 351 of 566 for 3,929 yards, 25 TDs and 13 INT. Having just finished the regular season of his age-33 year, Rodgers’ average numbers suggest Brady is in reach: 333 of 511 for 4,055 yards and 33 touchdowns. But Brady is the only QB ever with that many total yards or completions after his age-33 season, Brady and Peyton Manning are the only ones with that many TDs after 33. And that won-loss record? Forget it. Brady has the most QB wins after 33 of all time at 72, and Manning’s 55 a distant second. And there’s no way the Pack are winning 15 games any time soon.
But maybe you’re the kind of person who likes to look at peak value as well as career value, and there Rodgers already has the edge, but it’s not as big as you might think. From 2009 to 2014, Rodgers completed 1,910 of 2,880 for 24,211 yards, 197 TD, and 43 INT, while Brady was 1,902 for 2,894 for 23,242, 187 TDs and 45 INT. But Brady’s peak run includes the 2008 season, when he lasted all of 11 pass attempts before being knocked out for the season. If you average their numbers out to a per-season basis, the gap all but evaporates: 380 of 579 for 4,648 yards, 37 TD, 9 INT for Brady, 351 of 530 for 4,453 yards, 36 TD, 8 INT for Rodgers. Rodgers does have the better passer rating, for what that’s worth, but the margin is just 109 to 105.4.
Brady sometimes got knocked as being the product of a brilliant system, with people pointing to the 2008 when the Patriots went 11-5 with Matt Cassel at the helm. But Brady the year before had gone 16-0 with essentially the same offense. And while Brady had posted a passer rating of 117.2, Cassel’s was 89.4, a dropoff of 23.7%. Conversely, Rodgers is perceived as being the man keeping food on Mike McCarthy’s family, but in 2013, when Rodgers went down for 7 games, Matt Flynn had a 86.1 rating, compared to 104.9 for Rodgers, a dropoff of 17.9%.
Rodgers has an incredible ability to dance about and evade defenders in the pocket, and once he’s forced out of the pocket, he becomes even more dangerous. His knack for the Hail Mary is uncanny, his ability to throw off his back foot is perhaps unprecedented and he seemingly twists in more directions than Stretch Armstrong while still firing missiles. “I always love watching his tape, admiring the things he can do, because I can’t do many of those things. … Whenever he’s on, I usually stay up and watch,“ Brady himself acknowledged recently.
Mobility is where Rodgers really creates some space between himself and Brady, as he has rushed 501 times for 2,544 yards and 35 TD, compared to Brady’s 532 carries for 940 yards and 17 TDs. Brady however gets sacked far less, just once every 19.7 pass attempts, compared to Rodgers’ once every 13.7.
There’s an even wider gap between them than their athleticism and mobility, and that’s their jewelry. Brady has won four Super Bowls to Rodgers’ 1 – heck, Brady’s lost more than Rodgers has played. If Rodgers could beat Brady in Super Bowl LI, he’d go a long way towards gaining ground. But first he has to get past the Atlanta Falcons.
Watch Aaron Rodgers’ quest for GOAT-ness as he leads the Green Bay Packers vs. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons Sunday at 3:05pm on FOX by subscribing to Sling Blue