Over the last two days, football fans and their sidecar of watchers got the rare opportunity to watch the best quarterbacks in the league play in the biggest games of their respective seasons. Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott, Alex Smith (well…), Brock Osweiler (I’m so sorry, we’re all on the same page, but hold on), and Ben Roethlisberger all took the field on Saturday or Sunday, but none of them were even close to the same company as the two remaining.
Today, I’m going to pick between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, in terms of football’s best quarterback, because I’m so damn sick of the “1a and 1b” notion. There can only be one. Sorry, ESPN.
They both wear number 12 and are unquestionably the best two quarterbacks in the National Football League. Who else would you try to throw in the mix? Drew Brees? Pass (no pun intended).
Listen, it can depend on the season, stretch, week, game, drive, or play, but I’m going to pick the one who fits the bill as the best quarterback in the NFL.
The Case for Tom Brady
With the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select Thomas (Tom) Edward Patrick Brady Jr. from the University of Michigan to be the back-up quarterback for Drew Bledsoe.
Upon joining the Patriots, New England had zero Super Bowl victories and only two appearances. Granted, those appearances came in games against Brett Farve’s early Green Bay Packers and the 1985 Chicago Bears, who are considered one of the greatest teams in league history.
Since joining the Patriots, Brady has lead the team to 6 Super Bowls and has taken home 4 trophies, winning Super Bowl MVP in 3 of those contests.
Overall, the guy is tremendous in the postseason.
He has the most wins in the postseason and has a combined record of 23-9, owning the wins record by 7 over Joe Montana, who was pretty good, by the way.
When Brady has been the starting quarterback, as in we’re not counting the season where he suffered a torn ACL in week 1, Brady has only missed the playoffs once, in 2005, which was 11 years ago if you’re doing the math at home.
Brady averages 257.6 yards, 1.8 TDs, and completes 61.9% of his passes in postseason games, which is incredibly similar to his regular season averages, which stand at 259.8 passing yards, 1.9 TDs, and completing passes at a rate of 63.8%.
In terms of hardware, Brady has enough to fill a trophy
cabinet room estate.
In addition to 4 Super Bowl rings and 3 Super Bowl MVPs, Brady has 12 Pro Bowl selections, two first-team All Pro selections, two second-team All Pro selections, 2 Most Valuable Player awards, 2 Offensive Player of the Year awards, has led the NFL 4 times in touchdown passes, 2 times in passing yards, and I should note won a National Championship at Michigan in 1997.
Now, how do you compare to that? Well, it turns out all you have to do is be named Aaron Rodgers.
The Case for Aaron Rodgers
With the 24th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select Aaron Charles Rodgers from the University of California-Berkley to play back-up to Brett Favre.
Upon joining the Packers, Green Bay was already under a successful regime, as Brett Favre had become a beloved member of the organization, leading the Packers to a Super Bowl victory in 1997 over the New England Patriots. What Packers fans didn’t know is that the best was yet to come.
In 2008, when the Packers sent their previous franchise centerpiece east to the New York Jets, many people wondered what the hell they were doing; they were still having success with the product that has around.
Then Aaron Rodgers stepped into the game, so everyone shut up and cheered.
Since taking over for Favre, Rodgers has led the Packers to a Super Bowl Championship, where he took home the game’s MVP award.
In the playoffs, Rodgers is 9-6, which puts him at 13th all-time on the wins list, which is pretty great considering he’s still in a relatively early stage in an incredibly promising career.
His numbers in the postseason are pretty great, as he averages 260.8 yards passing, 2.2 TDs, and completes 63.8% of his passes per game.
Make sure to note that Rodgers is 33 years old, which makes a lot of room for his Super Bowl victories to accumulate.
Rodgers is still pretty fantastic in the regular season, as he averages 259.3 yards passing, 2.1 TDs, and completes 65.1% of his passes per game, all of which are pretty great.
For Rodgers, his trophy room is getting pretty full, with his Super Bowl ring, Super Bowl MVP added to a collection with 6 Pro Bowls, 2 MVPs, 2 first-team All-Pro selections, 1 second-team All Pro selection, and led the NFL in passing touchdowns in 2016. That’s a pretty damn good list considering he sat the bench for two years and is only 33.
Now the hard part…
Why Aaron Rodgers is better than Tom Brady
Aaron Rodgers has tools that Tom Brady only wishes he could attain.
While Brady might have a military-grade sniper for a right arm, Rodgers has a precision missile with a nuclear warhead on his side.
If you’ve been watching the Packers for the last season or two, you’ve seen Rodgers make throws that humans shouldn’t be able to make, completing hail mary’s almost at-will.
One of the reason he’s able to make the throws is his ability to stay alive in the backfield.
Rodgers is by far and without question the best scrambler in the NFL, no offense to your favorite mobile quarterback. Even when his line caves, Rodgers is able to move out of the pocket to either throw the ball out of danger, or increasingly more often completing it to a guy 30 yards downfield.
His mobility is also far superior to Brady, as this season, Rodgers out-rushed Brady 369-64. Both teams have been increasingly prone to a vacant running game, so these yards definitely add up at in key situations.
Not to mention, we all watched the Cowboys-Packers game, where Rodgers made that throw to Jared Cook to set up Mason Crosby for a game-winner, which puts him atop most quarterbacks on that throw alone.
Why Tom Brady is Better than Aaron Rodgers
Tom Brady is simply the more efficient quarterback; he can do more with less.
The New England Patriots have become masters of wearing down the clock with obnoxiously long and monotonous drives throughout the course of a game. Brady’s ability to drain the clock with 5-7 minute drives can keep an opposing offense in check by keeping them off-the-field.
Keeping an opposing offense bodes a huge advantage for both phases, as it keeps your team’s defense fresh and winds the opposition.
Aaron Rodgers is a great downfield passer, which is really fun to watch, but can hurt a team. Take that game against the Cowboys as an example. Rodgers leaving too much time on the clock because of his consistent 15+ passes can hurt his team in the long run, as the Cowboys had a full 2 minutes to win that game.
Credit Brady as well with being the better postseason weapon. I love what Aaron Rodgers can do in January, but no one in their right mind would pick a different option at quarterback come playoff time.
Time after time, we see Brady not only win, but impose his will in the postseason.
It’s fair to say that both guys are tremendous postseason options, and Rodgers is tremendous in the clutch moments, but Brady has the unique ability to come into a postseason and treat it like he’s still playing against the Jets in week 8 of the regular season; he’s going to beat you, because it’s what he does.
So, here we go…
The Number One Quarterback in Football: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
I literally couldn’t sleep last night because I kept going back-and-forth on this topic. How can you pick one over the other?
Watching Aaron Rodgers make big plays to keep the Packers alive against a tough Cowboys team made it hard to pick Brady.
Watching Tom Brady one day earlier annihilate the league’s best defense made it hard to pick Rodgers.
Ultimately, Brady’s ability to dominate any given game is what makes him football’s best.
While Rodgers is always a tremendous threat, he’s been prone to stink streaks, where as Brady is consistently able to keep his poise in a season, rebounding incredibly well after a rough start, which are few and far between with these two.
This was tough, but who knows, we might be able to crown a real winner, as these two teams have a really good shot to represent their conference in Super Bowl 51 on February 5th, 2017.