Rodgers surpassing Favre's legend

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 21, 2011 - 7:04 AM

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers waited his turn to start behind Brett Favre. Now he's outperforming the future Hall of Famer in most passing categories, while cutting back on the interceptions and the drama.

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The student got the better of the mentor in this 2010 game, when Aaron Rodgers’ Packers defeated Brett Favre’s Vikings 28-24 at Lambeau Field. Rodgers is moving ahead of Favre in most categories save longevity.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre have one thing in common, other than quarterbacking Super Bowl champions in Green Bay and shunning razors:

They both hate ties. Favre refused to wear one, even when showing up in Minnesota to sign a $25 million contract, favoring T-shirts, jeans and soiled golf caps. Two weeks ago, after beating the Falcons in Atlanta, Rodgers threw on a tie for his postgame news conference, then walked briskly toward a couple of Packers equipment men, ripping off the tie and popping open his collar as if he were choking.

They're also different in this important way:

Rodgers is better than Favre.

Not just better than the guy who hangs around high school and college football teams in Mississippi, sometimes even embarrassing himself by taking shots at Rodgers in passive-aggressive radio interviews. Rodgers is better than Favre was at his best. And Favre was one of the best who ever played.

If Favre was a Ferrari, Rodgers is a Ferrari that gets 40 miles per gallon while emitting the scent of lilacs instead of exhaust. Rodgers mimics all of Favre's best attributes and none of his faults.

Rodgers is more accurate. His career completion percentage is .651; his career best is this year's mark of .702. Favre's career percentage is .620, and he peaked at .684 with the 2009 Vikings.

Rodgers is more reliable. Two weeks ago, he became the first NFL quarterback to reach 100 touchdown passes while throwing as few as 34 interceptions, according to ESPN.com and Elias Sports Bureau. After three seasons and 37 touchdown passes, Favre had already thrown 39 interceptions. Rodgers' career interception percentage is 1.9; Favre's was 3.3.

Rodgers is more mobile and a more effective runner. Favre rushed 602 times for 1,844 yards, a 3.1 average, with 14 touchdowns and 166 fumbles. Rodgers has rushed 216 times for 993 yards, a 4.6 average, with 15 touchdowns and 28 fumbles.

Rodgers has won 62.3 percent of his starts to Favre's 62.2. It's a virtual draw, but Rodgers just passed Favre in that category and should blow past him this season. Both have won one Super Bowl; assuming good health, Rodgers should separate himself in that category as well.

Rodgers is a better teammate today than Favre was at the end of his career, when Favre was willing to hold entire organizations hostage while he mulled retirement.

Favre holds one obvious advantage: He proved himself to be one of the toughest players in NFL history, starting 321 consecutive games (including playoffs). Rodgers has started 12 in a row. Perhaps no one will ever match Favre in this category.

Rodgers is moving past Favre in high gear by almost any other measure. This season, Rodgers has a completion percentage of 70.2, with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. He has passed for more yards through six games, 2,031, than any quarterback in franchise history.

He ranks first in the NFL in passer rating, at 122.5. Tom Brady is second at 104.8. Rodgers leads the league in touchdowns, yards per attempt and completion percentage. He's thrown for 300 yards in five of six games this year. Favre holds the franchise record of seven in one season.

Against Denver this season, Rodgers became the first quarterback in NFL history to amass 400 passing yards, four touchdown passes and two touchdown runs in one game. And he's still improving. Over his past 17 starts, including playoffs, Rodgers has completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 5,036 yards, 42 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 119.3 passer rating.

Rodgers and Mike McCarthy have developed a rapport that parallels that of Joe Montana and Bill Walsh.

"I think it's a combination of getting more experience and getting more comfortable and getting the opportunity to make this offense my own, to figure out how to make this offense work for me," Rodgers said. "Mike and I have really gotten on the same page, I would say, in those last 16, 17 games, whatever it might be.

"We have a great play caller-to-quarterback relationship, and when that line of communication is great, and you have some playmakers on the outside, you should have success."

McCarthy inherited Favre as his starter and Rodgers as his backup. "I would say everybody felt strongly that Aaron was going to be a good player, just from the first day our staff had the opportunity to work with him, just because of his talent level," McCarthy said. "He was a great fit for the offense, as far as in the pocket, out of the pocket. Very bright, very cerebral, good work ethic. But you never really know until you play the games if your quarterback has a chance to be a great one.

"I always felt strongly that he'd be a good player, but it's been exciting, it's been fun to watch him develop and turn into a great player."

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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