“Well, he killed us the last time we played him,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters on Wednesday, referring to a 26-21 loss at Green Bay that featured Rodgers averaged 9.7 yards per attempt. “I mean, he’s a great player. He does everything well. He reads coverages well, very accurate throwing the ball. He’s got a great touch down the field, short, intermediate. They get a lot of catch-and-run plays. A lot of that is because of his great accuracy. He puts the ball right on the receiver and doesn’t have to break stride and can just keep running with it. Very mobile in the pocket, extends plays, really good vision down the field, uses the cadence well, is a good situational player. I mean, he’s one of the great quarterbacks in the National Football League; no question about it. He does everything good. He can even play golf. He’s a good golfer, too.”
Belichick mused for a moment that maybe he’d like to see Rodgers more than once every four years, before quickly talking himself out of that idea.
“I guess it would be good if we played him more than that, but you know what I mean,” Belichick said. “I’m in no rush to see him every week. I wouldn’t want to be in that division.”
With everyone else comparing Rodgers and Brady this week, it made sense to get Belichick’s views on whether he’d want to have to try to stop Brady.
“Yeah, well, I’ve never played against Tom Brady,” Belichick said. “So I’m glad he’s our quarterback. He’s a great quarterback. He’s won a lot of games for us and hopefully he’ll win a lot more and we’ve won a lot of games because of him, but I’ve never played against Tom Brady so it’s a different context. I’d say playing against Aaron Rodgers is very, very difficult. He’s as good as anybody that I’ve faced and we’ve faced a lot of good ones through the years. That’s not to take anything away from anybody else. I’m just saying the guy is a great player. He can do everything that a quarterback needs to do consistently. He does it well. He throws a lot of touchdowns. He doesn’t throw very many interceptions. The receivers make a ton of yards after he gets them the ball, and a big part of that is him getting them the ball in space, on the run, so that they can continue to gain positive yards after the catch. He doesn’t make them work for the ball. He gets out of some plays that very few guys can get out of. He’s got tremendous production down the field. Once again, he leads the league in touchdowns-to-interceptions. He leads the league in big plays. He’s thrown however many long passes to however many different receivers. It’s not all one guy. He’s a great player.”
But Belichick realizes, as everyone should, that it’s not really a showdown between the two players.
“Yeah, well, they’re not going to be on the field at the same time,” Belichick said.
Still, they’ll be on the same field in the same game, and Belichick continued to gush about Rodgers, when asked about his mobility.
“Well, look, he only runs when he has to run,” Belichick said. “He doesn’t go back there and just start running around for free exercise. If he can throw it, he’ll throw it and put it on the money and give the receiver the ball and let him play with it, let him run with it. If he needs to extend the play and there is space for him to extend the play, he’s very good at extending it. He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s got good pocket presence. He doesn’t run a lot but when he does run he’s gained some big plays — 20, 25, 30 yards running the ball if there’s nobody right there because he’s got that kind of speed and judgement. But there are plenty of plays where he just buys another second, buys a couple more seconds and then it’s 50 yards downfield. It doesn’t go down in the books as a scramble, but it’s an extended play and it’s due to his ability to get out of trouble but it’s also — his accuracy down the field is remarkable and he makes some unbelievable throws and it’s to everybody. It’s not just one guy. He just sees a little space down there wherever the defender is. He puts the ball where the receiver can get to it and the defender can’t get to it and it’s 50 yards. It could be over his head, it could be outside, it could be inside, he could under throw him, he could back-shoulder him. He’s got tremendous accuracy, a quick release and great vision. He sees guys coming at him but he doesn’t really see them. He just sees the receiver and puts the ball where it needs to go.”
As a result, the Packers often go where they need to go. But not nearly as frequently as the Patriots do. Which raises an interesting question: What if Rodgers was a Patriot and Brady was a Packer? How many rings would each guy have?