Drew Brees vs. Aaron Rodgers: Breaking Down Each Part of These Gunslingers' Game
There have been two quarterbacks head and shoulders above the rest in 2011.
They are New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers. These two quarterbacks are currently battling it out for the NFL's Most Valuable Player award and also trying to lead their respective teams to another Super Bowl title.
There are many different keys to a quarterbacks' play, and these two have mastered just about all of them. These two quarterbacks are redefining how the position of quarterback should be played.
Despite the great performances from mobile quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Tim Tebow, Rodgers and Brees are showing why a team still needs a true pocket passer to succeed in the NFL. Each of these quarterbacks have the ability to take a team all the way to the championship.
The many different tools that a quarterback uses, and how well he uses them, normally defines how well a player can perform. There are many different aspects to a quarterback's play, and it all depends on the team's system and the talent around the quarterback.
When comparing Brees and Rodgers, we can look in the same areas because they are in such similar situations. Both players have a great offense surrounding them, loaded with talented players. '
They also play with defenses that struggle at times, but can step up when needed and special teams that do more than enough to secure victories. These two quarterbacks are oddly similar in most areas.
Let's take a look at each part of a quarterback's game, and compare Brees and Rodgers.
As all of these categories will be, this is a close one.
However, Drew Brees has the better career completion percentage, albeit not by much, but still better. Brees also holds the NFL record for completion percentage in a season and is on pace to break his own mark he set in 2009.
Aaron Rodgers is a very accurate quarterback, but he is not quite on Brees' level in this area. Both quarterbacks will continue to put the ball in a spot that only their receivers can get it, but Brees barely edges Rodgers out in this part of the game.
Brees may end up being the most accurate passer ever to play the game, and Rodgers could very well end up right behind him.
This is another area in which these two quarterbacks are very close.
I believe that Drew Brees has the edge in pocket presence over Aaron Rodgers. Let's define what pocket presence is before we continue this comparison.
When I think of pocket presence, I think of the passer's ability to step up in the pocket and avoid sacks. The quarterback with the best pocket presence has an automated clock in his head that tells him exactly when he needs to get rid of the ball before getting hit.
The player who excels at pocket presence does not necessary have to take off and run to succeed, but just buy more time by avoiding the hit or getting rid of the football.
With that being said, I believe that this area has to go to Brees. He consistently makes defensive linemen look foolish by stepping past them and throwing the ball. Rodgers is very good in the pocket, but he does not have quite the kind of knack that Brees has.
Brees is able to sense rushers and avoid them to make plays. He makes his great offensive line look even better by getting away from tacklers every game.
Brees may have the best pocket presence of any quarterback playing the game of football right now.
Some people may be upset with the last slide because of Aaron Rodgers' ability to escape the pocket.
That is where Rodgers' great mobility and athleticism comes into play. He may not have quite the same pocket presence that Brees has, but Rodgers is able to out-run would-be tacklers and pick up 10 yards. There have been plenty of games in 2011 where Rodgers was the Packers' leading rusher.
You will never see that from Brees. I am not saying that Brees is not athletic, because he is a very athletic quarterback, just ask the Giants safety who got juked out of his shoes by Brees on Monday Night Football.
However, Rodgers has a knack for tucking the ball and running. He may never put up rushing yards like Cam Newton, Tim Tebow or Michael Vick, but I am sure that the Packers will take 250 rushing yards from their quarterback any time.
Rodgers is definitely a more mobile quarterback than Brees, and he has shown that throughout his career.
Aaron Rodgers may throw the best deep ball that I have ever seen.
The best part about Rodgers' deep ball is that half of the time he is doing it on the run without even planting his feet.
Drew Brees has a great deep ball, but he is limited. Brees sometimes throws the ball a little short and it leads to interceptions and incompletions, whereas Rodgers hits his receivers in stride just about every time he gets the chance.
Rodgers has a great arm and everyone knew that, but in 2011 he has really showcased his ability to hit receivers deep down the field.
This is a very close category to compare Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, but I will have to give the edge to Brees.
He is not only a leader on the football field, but off the field as well. Brees has helped rebuild the city of New Orleans from the outside in. Brees holds charities every year and is often seen out in the community.
I am not saying that Rodgers does not do this, but he is not known as a citizen of Green Bay. Brees and his family live and breathe the life of New Orleans.
Brees is also the emotional leader for the New Orleans Saints. He has led the Saints' pre-game chant every game since 2008, and he is constantly helping the team to improve. Brees is seen giving pre-game speeches, post-game speeches, and often times even speeches in the middle of the game.
He leads by example. Brees is never eating a hot dog or taking a restroom break while on the sideline. He is reviewing the game photos and trying to improve his play, even if the Saints are up by three touchdowns and he has already been replaced by backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
Rodgers does all of this, too, but not to the same extent. Rodgers is a true student of the game, and he studies like Brees does. Rodgers leads his team on offense and commands control of the huddle. However, Brees is just on another level in regards to leadership.
I am not sure there is another quarterback in the league that can compare to the type of leadership that Brees shows.
Aaron Rodgers has been absolutely brilliant in his decision making throughout his young career.
Through four full seasons as a starting NFL quarterback, Rodgers has thrown 37 interceptions. In his career, Rodgers has a 1.8 interception percentage. Rodgers is also great at not making dumb choices throughout a game.
Brees is also one of the best decision makers in the NFL, but there are times in which he will force a ball that should have been thrown away. As any quarterback in the league, Brees' interceptions are not all his fault, but there are many times that a bad decision is made that could have been prevented.
Neither quarterback is known for making dumb decisions, and both would probably be regarded as the best passers in the NFL right now. Decision making is a huge factor in determining the best quarterbacks in the league.
Rodgers has thrown 45 touchdowns and six interceptions through 15 games this season. That stat alone should depict just how good Rodgers is at making decisions in a football game.
Both of these quarterbacks are among the league's best when discussing clutch performances.
Many people would pick either Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees to lead their team on a two-minute drive. However, Brees has been clutch for a long time, and he has led the Saints to many come-from-behind victories.
Rodgers may lost this category for the simple fact that he has not had quite as many opportunities to lead the Packers back because they have played so well since he took over the quarterback job.
Brees, on the other hand, has led the Saints back in many important games. Two of the most important are the 2009 NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings and in Super Bowl XLIV against the Indianapolis Colts.
Brees and the Saints were down in both of these games and Brees was able to will the Saints to victory.
Rodgers, in the same year, was unable to win a playoff game against the Cardinals. He and the Packers finished the regular season at 11-5 and traveled to Arizona to play the Cardinals, but lost in overtime after Rodgers was sacked and lost the football.
In 2011, Brees has led the Saints back against the Texans, Panthers, Falcons and Titans. Rodgers has only one comeback victory, and that came against the Giants in Week 13.
Brees has proven throughout his career, and in the 2011 regular season, that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league when it comes to being clutch.
Drew Brees is a mastermind at figuring out defenses before the ball is even snapped.
Brees has the ability to check into a play he likes and make the defense pay for it. Going up against a middle linebacker as smart as Jonathan Vilma will help a quarterback stay on the top of his game in this area.
Aaron Rodgers is also very good at making adjustments before the ball is snapped. However, the edge goes to Brees in this category.
I can't remember a play in which Brees did not make some sort of call, pointing out a defensive player and telling his teammates what the guy would be doing. Brees is so good at deceiving defensive players as well.
Brees often times will make a faux audible to get the defensive to change to play that suites Brees better. Brees is also great at determining what coverage the defense is in before the play starts and taking advantage of knowing that.
Rodgers is among the elite in this area, but Brees could be the best.
Extending the Play
Aaron Rodgers could be the best quarterback in the league at extending a play.
Rodgers is able to use his mobility to escape the pocket and throw the ball to a receiver on the run. He can escape arm tackles and either take off running, or find one of his play makers and get the ball to him. Either way, Rodgers is great at making something out of nothing.
Drew Brees is great at doing this as well, but it is not a main part of his game. Brees is able to use his quick release to get rid of the ball, or sense defenders coming and avoid the sack. He does not really run out of the pocket to extend the play like Rodgers does.
We have all seen Rodgers do this time and again in 2011 and he has cemented his place as one of the best quarterbacks in the league at escaping the pocket.
This category is completely too difficult to compare.
Both Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees have extremely quick releases. This part of their game makes them so good.
They are able to avoid sacks and complete a high percentage of their passes because they do not hold on to the ball very long and when they do get rid of it, it happens very quickly.
I cannot give the upper hand to either of these quarterbacks and will have to call this area a tie. The quick release of Brees and Rodgers has helped to get them where they are in their careers and adds to their repertoire as elite NFL quarterbacks.
We may be looking at the two quarterbacks with the quickest releases in the NFL, and determining a winner here may be impossible.