Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (left) and Tom Brady obviously have more in common than their jersey number and the state in which they were born. They both figure to put overall excellence on display on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Aaron Rodgers/Tom Brady comparison questions were inevitable. Leading up to Sunday’s game between the 8-3 Green Bay Packers and 9-2 New England Patriots, the focus was bound to fall on the battle of two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
Head coaches Bill Belichick and Mike McCarthy prepared their material accordingly.
"They both wear No. 12," Belichick told reporters in Foxborough before concluding his press conference.
McCarthy did his best to top that performance.
"I guess to add to it, they’re both from California," McCarthy said before exiting stage right.
Rodgers agreed with those assessments.
"That’s probably it right there," said Rodgers, followed by a four-second pause during which media members expected him to expound. Laughter then broke out — along with a smile from Rodgers — upon realizing that was his final answer.
Humor aside, Brady and Rodgers obviously have more in common than their jersey number and the state in which they were born.
A far cry from his response to Patriots reporters, Belichick went into great detail on a conference call with Wisconsin media about what makes Rodgers a lot like Brady.
"Aaron, he does everything so well," Belichick said. "He’s an incredible player. He’s got great touch on every pass — the short ones, the long ones, the ones on the sideline, throwing on the run, screen passes. He always puts the ball in the right place and puts it right there for the receiver to catch it in full stride and run with it and make extra yards after the catch, which several of their players do a great job of.
"He does an excellent job in the pocket of extending plays, feeling the rush. He can run when he has to, but he also is probably even more dangerous when he just buys extra time in the pocket and lets his receivers uncover and lifts it down the field to somebody for 20 or 30 yards that is able to get open because the play has been extended for another couple seconds.
"He just puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your defense as well as reading defenses and at times getting the offense into the right play or the right protection. They very rarely run a bad play where somebody is just unblocked or the play just doesn’t have a chance. They do a great job — Coach McCarthy and Coach (Tom) Clements and Aaron — do a great job of collectively, however it’s done, getting plays run where it’s hard on the defense because the defense is outnumbered or the defense doesn’t have any kind of advantage. They do a great job of staying away from the plays where the defense does have an advantage and them getting into something else.
"So, collectively, how all that’s done, through play-calling and audibling and check-with-mes and all of that, the end result is it’s obviously got to run through the quarterback at some point, which it does, and Aaron does a tremendous job with that, too. I don’t think that can definitely be in any way understated. It may not be him making the play but it’s him directing the team and maybe somebody else makes the play, but it’s still part of his job.
"This guy’s really a good player."
That couldn’t possibly have been one continuous answer from Belichick, right? The same guy who only used five words on that topic at a different point of his Wednesday morning? Well, it was.
Some similarities between Rodgers and Brady are obvious. Brady is a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player. Rodgers is the odds-on favorite to be the MVP this season, which would match him with Brady at two.
More uniquely, Brady has spent his entire career (15 seasons) playing for Belichick. McCarthy came to Green Bay in 2006 and has coached Rodgers for nine seasons, including all seven of Rodgers’ years as the starting quarterback. That continuity is something that doesn’t happen in the NFL for such an extended period of time.
"This is rare," Rodgers said. "We’re both on the original team that drafted us, so that’s pretty special. I think he’s been with one coach his entire career. I’ve been with the same GM and one coach my entire starting career, as well. That’s pretty special."
Rodgers and Brady are both very efficient. Brady has thrown 26 touchdown passes this season and just six interceptions, while Rodgers has an incredible 30:3 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions.
But, as Rodgers has always said, he strongly dislikes looking at any game as being between two quarterbacks. He wouldn’t acknowledge the Week 8 matchup against New Orleans as being Rodgers-Drew Brees and that isn’t changing now with Brady traveling to Green Bay.
"I’ve never really looked at it like that," Rodgers said. "I’ve always prepared to be efficient against a defense. Regardless of who’s on the other side, you know you have to score points, you have to lead your team to scoring drives and hope your defense stops them. Obviously when you’re playing against a quarterback like that, you expect him to play well. But we expect to play well on offense and we have to try to be efficient."
Jordy Nelson isn’t fond of looking at it as a quarterback competition, either, but he knows the league is.
"It’s always interesting when they think it’s quarterback versus quarterback when they don’t ever see each other, but it’s great," Nelson said. "Two of the probably best quarterbacks who’ll ever play the game, on the same field, in Lambeau Field.
"It’s probably what the NFL really is wanting. Hopefully it can be a good game and a good show on both ends and we can come out on top."