Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers enters this season having posted a quarterback rating of more than 100 for five consecutive years. Only in his first season as a starter in 2008 did he post less than a triple-digit rating (93.8).
More importantly, the Packers are 52-19 over the past five seasons with Rodgers in the lineup, and his importance to the team was illustrated last year when the Packers went 6-3 with him and 2-4-1 when he was sidelined because of a broken collarbone. Rodgers perfectly illustrates the dependence many teams have on quarterbacks in today’s pass-driven NFL.
Rodgers is also a diverse thinker, loyal to his teammates and has a clear preference of rockstar. He took a few minutes to answer some questions from Bleacher Report this week.
Bleacher Report: If you were resting your mortal soul on someone catching the ball, you throw it to...
Aaron Rodgers: Jordy Nelson.
B/R: Anybody else in the league?
AR: I don’t want to throw it to anybody who is not my teammate. But maybe (former teammate and current Oakland Raiders safety) Charles Woodson. Put him on offense.
B/R: His hands were that good?
AR: Yeah, he had the best hands on the team. Charles Woodson could catch anything.
B/R: Charles Woodson, a defensive back with good hands?
AR: Charles Woodson.
B/R: But Jordy is the guy among current teammates. Any particular reason why? He’ll be in the right spot, something like that?
AR: He has a humongous margin of error. He can catch it all over the place. Down low, over his head, behind him. He has a really big window. One hand, no hands, the whole thing. Maybe two hands or one hand. I don’t know about no hands.
B/R: Looking back, it wasn’t always smooth between you and Brett Favre, but was that part of your career and how he pushed you vital to your development?
AR: In the long run, it was a great thing. It was maybe not the smoothest thing the first year, but I thought in Years 2 and 3 it was great. We had a lot of fun together and then there was obviously some friction between him and the team, but I never felt like it was between me and him.
B/R: I’m a big believer in creative dissonance, that sometimes when people don’t get along it can fuel their ability to create something great. Do you buy that in this case?
AR: That’s interesting. Yeah, I think that applies.
B/R: Who is the one guy in history whom you would have loved to have played against?
AR: Mike Singletary. He played for Chicago, so it would have to be against Chicago. Give me that defense against our offense for a day. That defense was pretty damn good. They played Green Bay twice a year, so I’d have loved to go against them.
B/R: You’re not old enough to really remember them.
AR: No, I was just a little kid. But they had Richard Dent, William Perry, everybody knows that defense. That would have been fun.
B/R: Every time the NFL has put an emphasis on contact beyond the five-yard bump area, passing numbers have exploded. Considering how much passing numbers have already taken off, how much further can it go?
AR: I don’t think much further. I think defensive players and coaches need to realize it’s going to be tough to enforce much more than (the officials) are already enforcing and keep a competitive fairness. If they up the illegal contact and holding...I know that they are trying to up the offensive pass interference, too. They don’t want anybody touching each other down the field, I guess, because they called (penalties) on like 12 out of 14 one-on-one drills we did out here (in practice) last Wednesday.
B/R: If you get that many flags, isn’t it going to just slow down the game too much?
AR: I agree, that’s what’s going to happen. You can’t referee a game like that. You have to allow some of it. People are going to see Week 1 (when Green Bay opens the season at Seattle) what’s going to happen, because these guys (Seattle) like to put their hands on the receivers and press and that’s their game. We’re going to see how they call the contact starting Week 1.
B/R: Speaking of Seattle and its defense, let’s discuss Richard Sherman. Is he a loudmouth Stanford jerk and creation of the Madden video game world? Or is he a really entertaining, wonderful player who is fun to play against?
AR: The second part. He’s a really entertaining, exceptional player. He’s fun to play against.
B/R: But you’d still like to torch him for six touchdowns if you could.
AR: I don’t think anybody has ever done that against him in his life.
B/R: But you’d like to do it.
AR: I want to compete against the best.
B/R: Is he the best?
AR: He has stated his opinions on Twitter pretty well.
B/R: There are about 18 cornerbacks who have stated their opinion on Twitter about how they are the best in the league.
AR: But he puts his stats on there.
B/R: OK, but who’s the best?
AR: I’m always going to back our guys, but I think it’s hard to have a stronger argument against Richard Sherman. Patrick Peterson is a strong player as well. And I think Joe Haden in Cleveland is not bad, either.
B/R: Darrelle Revis?
AR: Yeah, I would say...
B/R: You’re being so politically correct on this.
AR: There are about 10 great corners in this league who you have to be really aware of what they’re doing when you throw the ball to their side.
B/R: Are there big differences in how they play? Or are the differences very subtle?
AR: They play to their strengths. Richard is one of the smartest players in the league. He knows what he does well, and he plays to his strengths.
B/R: It seems that increasingly in the regular season that the game is tilted toward offense and then it shifts to defense in the postseason. Fair assessment?
AR: I don’t know. I just think that when you get in the postseason most of the teams have really good defenses, so the defenses show up a little more and good defenses can often stifle good offenses, although I still think a good offense beats a good defense most of the time. But you’re not really seeing that in the postseason a lot the last couple of years.
B/R: It seems to me that refs don’t like to make a lot of the ticky-tack calls that you see in the regular season.
AR: Possibly, but all the crews that are working the postseason are the highest-rated crews, so they want to get calls right.
B/R: Do you steal ideas from other quarterbacks, like little things that somebody else might do?
B/R: If you did steal something from another quarterback, what would an example of that be?
AR: I wouldn’t give that away.
B/R: Is it that secretive?
AR: I think there are some competitive advantages that you don’t want to give away.
B/R: Who is your favorite quarterback?
AR: Does Bart Starr count?
B/R: Sure, but you didn’t see him play. You weren’t even born yet.
AR: OK, Brett (Favre), Steve Young and Joe Montana.
B/R: Your former coach at Cal, Jeff Tedford, is now in the NFL working with Lovie Smith, who you played against. How do you see that pair working out in Tampa Bay? Does Tedford change Smith’s devotion to conservative, defense-oriented game plans?
AR: I don’t think Jeff changes anything. I think he complements what Lovie does. Lovie is a hell of a coach, and I loved competing against him for so many years.
Jeff brings a lot of things to that offense. When that team was at their best in Chicago, the offense really complemented the defense. I think that defense played so well for so long, but the offense didn’t always complement the defense the right way.
I think you’re seeing the Chicago team now playing in Tampa with an offense that can really work with it. I think they definitely have the right fit with the big wide receivers. Vincent (Jackson) is a good wide receiver, and Mike Evans is a talented young guy. They can be tough, and Josh (McCown) showed that he can play last year.
B/R: If you could have been a rock star, your life would be most like which current musician?
AR: Taylor Hawkins, drummer of Foo Fighters.
B/R: I would have thought Anthony Kiedis.
AR: Adam Duritz.
B/R: Clever, smart writer. Not Flea? Too far off the edge?
AR: Probably Dave Grohl, who played with two of the greatest bands of all time and plays drums with Paul McCartney. That’s a pretty good run. I’ll go with him.
B/R: When Ed Hochuli starts to explain a call during a game, you think?
AR: I get excited.
B/R: Really? Why?
AR: Because I know it’s going to be really informative. Yes, informative. It’s like, "Turn the sound up, here we go." I do get excited, yes.
B/R: You have a certain edge. You remember slights from years ago to keep yourself motivated, such as getting passed over in the draft. Does that fade as time goes by, or do you reach back for it on a regular basis?
AR: I have other stuff that keeps me going, but I think you do have to have an edge to yourself to be successful. I remember things. I have an opinion.
B/R: You keep that opinion to yourself most of the time?
AR: It depends on the situation.
B/R: Anybody stand out as that person who gets you fired up?
AR: Nobody sticks out. I’m not going to give them that satisfaction, that luxury of knowing if they stick out.
Jason Cole covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. He has covered the league since 1992, winning numerous awards for his work, particularly for investigative stories on Reggie Bush and on financial crime against athletes.