The ink has not yet dried on the 2008 Green Bay Packers' season, and it may be too soon to draw firm conclusions about it, but one thing is certain: Rodgers finished the 2008 NFL season as the No. 4 QB in the league. But is it enough?
In the NFL, the number of wins is all that matters, and the Favrenatics in Packerland hold onto the 6-10 record that the Packers earned when it comes to judging Rodgers. The legend of Favre still casts a large shadow over Rodgers in the minds of many, and it may always be that way.
Even Rodgers admits it. When asked at the post game interview on Sunday if he had stepped out of Brett's shadow, Rodgers simply responded, "No."
Asked if he thought he ever would, Rodgers said, "Not to some people. But to be honest, I don't worry about that stuff...ask some of the fans."
Before Rodgers ever took over as the starting QB for the Packers, there were whispers in Green Bay as early as 2006, that the coaching staff had to limit the number of snaps in practice because of the diminished arm strength of the veteran Favre.
Packers' fans had begun to wonder if Favre had lost the arm strength needed to play in the NFL. While most believed that Favre could perform at a high level in the first half of the season, the pounding that a QB takes through the course of a season, along with the cold weather of Green Bay, would prove to be too much for the aging legend.
Only a challenge by Favre to have reporters catch his passes in practice ended such public speculation.
With the Ted-Thompson-Brett-Favre-spat behind him, Aaron Rodgers took the field Monday, September 8th and began to produce for the Packers.
He ended the season with the following results: 4,038 passing yards, an average of 7.5 yards per pass completion, 252.4 yards per game, an average of 33.5 passing attempts per game, a passer rating of 93.8, 48 passes of 20 yards or more, and 16 passes of 40 plus yards to end the season.
Only Jay Cutler, Kurt Warner, and Drew Breese posted better numbers than Rodgers.
And while a close look shows that Rodgers had 341 completions to Favre's 343, he also had 13 interceptions to Favre's 22. Favre moved the chains 184 times to Rodgers' 182, giving Brett Favre a first down average of 35.2 percent to Rodgers 34.0 percent.
Ironically, it proved to be the endurance of the players that made the difference in the two seasons, not the statistics of the men. Favre ended the season with a clear, distinct drop in performance, and exposed what many in Packerland had suspected. Favre's body could not hold up one more year to the punishment of the NFL.
For some, Aaron Rodgers will never move out from under the shadow of Brett Favre, but his numbers clearly show that he has. Irrespective of your point of view, what matters now is not the individual stats of Rodgers; what matters now is winning.
The one question that is yet to be answered is whether or not Aaron Rodgers can lead a young team to a championship and bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay?
Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, Rodgers played like the fourth best QB in the league, and he has the numbers to prove it.
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