"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." - Bill Cosby
It's true folks, no matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries, Aaron Rodgers simply isn't going to impress everybody.
It's a fact of life. Everybody has critics.
Even if Rodgers becomes the most successful quarterback in NFL history and wins five Super Bowls, the critics will still be out there. And they'll throw whatever they can at him.
But Rodgers is smart enough to never even attempt to appeal to these critics. Trying to please everybody would equal instant failure, and that may be the reason he's had so much success. He proves his critics wrong and lets them eat their own words.
However, that doesn't make what his critics say about him any truer, and it certainly shouldn't be any reason for people to believe he's "overrated".
He Was Able to Start off Great Because He Learned from Favre
"Matt Ryan had to save a franchise from going under when Michael Vick was arrested. Aaron Rodgers got to sit on the bench and hang out at clubs at night in his first three years as a professional. Seriously, he had it easy." - Colin Cowherd, on SportsNation
Aaron Rodgers wasn't really liked by Brett Favre, and Favre made it clear that it wasn't his job to train him. You can argue that it actually wasn't easy for Rodgers to sit on the bench and have to listen to that for three years, especially having it come from a quarterback that he long admired.
But for argument's sake, let's just say it was easy for him.
Rodgers may have been able to learn from the master because he got to sit down for three years, and take it easy. But the real test was when he was finally got to start.
Imagine you're in Rodger's shoes. It's your first ever professional game, the coaches will be evaluating you, and though there are certain circumstances that will make your situation extremely tough, the coaches are simply not concerned about them. You've got to play well, period.
You also probably feel compelled to have to prove that you're a worthy successor to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Not just to yourself, but to your fans — literally millions and millions of fans.
And lastly, these aren't just any fans, they're Green Bay fans. It doesn't matter who you're replacing, these folks are loyal to their franchise and expect great things from you. They really want you to be good, and they have high expectations.
Regardless of how Favre treated him, Rodgers probably felt like the entire world was watching him and just waiting for him to fail. But all he had to do was play like a capable starting quarterback, and maybe he would be given a chance. After all, even Packers' fans understand that it's not often you see a great quarterback replace another great quarterback.
Rodgers did far more than just that. In just his first season he threw for 28 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions with over 4,000 passing yards. He not only fulfilled expectations, he exceeded them. He even handled it like a true professional should, with class.
I'm not sure who else would have been able to handle such a situation.
Just listen to these analysts (former players) commend Aaron Rodgers on what he was able to do (Link Here). They understand the fundamental truth that Rodgers shouldn't have to do anything more than show he's a capable starting quarterback.
There are other great quarterbacks in this league that had to sit on the bench for a little while and got to learn the game before they were the starters. Two excellent examples would be Philip Rivers and Steve Young. You could possibly throw Tom Brady in there as well.
None of them had the explosive start that Aaron Rodgers had.
He Doesn't Have the Same Body of Work as Other Quarterbacks in the NFL
"As for passing yards, Rodgers isn’t in the top three of that category. In fact, had Matt Schaub not missed time to injury in 2008, he also would be well ahead of Rodgers. Brady also missed all but one half of the 2008 season because of a knee injury." - Elliot Harrison, NFL.com (link here)
When I was growing up, I remember hearing about how the Japanese would literally kill themselves before they would surrender, so America dropped two nukes on them to make it very clear that they had to surrender. It was a terrible thing to do, but it was also the right thing to do, and I never heard anyone ever say otherwise.
One day in history class the issue was brought up, and the teacher was bringing up all the reasons for and against bombing Japan through a projector. To my surprise, one of the arguments against dropping the bomb was that America had already toppled 60 cities in Japan, therefore there was no need to drop the big bomb.
I actually stopped him right there (by raising my hand of course), and told him that that actually should count as a reason for dropping the bomb. After I explained he squinted his eyes, rubbed his chin, then crossed out the reason and re-wrote that reason on the other side of the list.
Like my history teacher made the mistake on the arguments for and against nuking Japan, aren't these critics using an argument against Rodgers that's actually an argument for him?
The critics are saying that because Rodgers doesn't have the same body of work as other elite QBs, then he shouldn't be counted as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. That simply doesn't make sense.
If someone wants to say that Rodgers doesn't compare to other quarterbacks in career accomplishments, that's fine. But to say he isn't one of the best in the game right now because of career accomplishments, that's just foolish.
Rodgers has accomplished a lot in the time that he's played in the NFL, not the least of which is winning a Super Bowl, winning MVP honors, establishing himself as the highest rated passer in NFL history at 104.1, and replacing a legend. He's just a darn good player.
If he's done all this in just four seasons, what will we be saying about him four years from now?
He Has the Game's Best Receiving Corps
"Aaron Rodgers is a good player, but he's not as good as Ben Roethlisberger. Ben has won two Super Bowl rings. It's not even close!" - Skip Bayless, 1st and 10
Let's not pretend like Rodgers has a receiver corps that is miles above everyone else's. Yes, Rodgers has the best group of receivers in the entire league, but I've heard that so many times now that sometimes I wonder if anyone realizes that there are other great receiver corps in the league.
But for argument's sake, let's just say the Packers have the best group of receivers in the league, by far. Though Rodgers has had the luxury of working with the best group of receivers of them all, but that's where his advantage over other quarterbacks stops.
There are five main parts to an offense: wide receivers, quarterback, running back(s), tight end(s) and offensive linemen.
Since 2008, Rodgers has been sacked 151 times in 2,054 passing attempts. That's one sack for every 13.5 passing attempts. Compare that to Drew Brees, who is sacked on average about every 26 passing attempts. Tom Brady is 22 passes per sack, and Manning is a whopping 45 passes per sack.
Brady got to work with Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and an offense that ranked No. 1 overall in 2007. In 2011, he played with Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and some cyborg that looked like Wes Welker.
Manning has worked with Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne, and like I said earlier, you'll see Manning getting sacked about as often as you'll experience a Bigfoot sighting.
Brees played with an offense that ranked No. 1 overall in both 2008, 2009, and 2011. You can make a very strong argument that he has the luxury to work with the most complete offense in the NFL.
Rivers has worked with Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson, and even got to play with Ladanian Tomlinson for some time. San Diego's offense and defense ranked No. 1 overall in 2010.
Does Rodgers have a great supporting cast? Maybe, but even if he does, so does pretty much every other elite quarterback in the league.
Aaron Rodgers by the Numbers
"Aaron Rodgers is probably the best quarterback in the game behind Tom Brady." - Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher (2010)
There are two main ways of evaluating a quarterback, and that's by number of championships, and the number of MVP's. Rodgers already has both of those.
Like I said earlier, Rodgers lifetime passer rating is 104.1, the highest ever in NFL history.
Since Rodgers became the starter in 2008, he's accumulated a total of 147 touchdowns. That's the second most of any player in the NFL over that span. The only player in the league that has accumulated more touchdowns in the last four seasons is Drew Brees. And in that same span of time, Brees has thrown 64 interceptions, to Rodgers' 37.
We could crunch the numbers all day long, but of course, I'm not going to do that because I'm sure you get the point by now. Whether it be by statistics, by level of play, by number of wins and champions, by winning MVP honors, Aaron Rodgers simply has it all.
I'm just gonna come out and say. The critics need to seriously get a life, because Rodgers has the potential to become the greatest quarterback of all time.