Aaron Rodgers Is Wresting Best QB Alive Title Back from Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson
We live in a fickle world, but right now Aaron Rodgers has staked his claim to being called the best quarterback alive today. Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson had been dueling it out this season as the Packers offense worked their kinks out adjusting to Matt LaFleur's new system. Now that Rodgers has settled in, he's trying to take that title back.
Look, I'm a Packers fan so if you want to take this with a grain of salt because of that, fine. But the way Rodgers has played over the last few weeks without his far-and-away No. 1 receiver, Davante Adams, has distinguished him here. His performance today against the Raiders was on the shortlist for the best of his storied career.
Mahomes and Wilson both started the season on a tear. But Mahomes has been hobbled first by an ankle injury and now by a dislocated knee. He may not wind up missing much time, but we'll have to see how he plays when he returns. Wilson's Seahawks lost at home today.
There was a story in The Athletic this week about how numbers say Rodgers is no longer elite. Honestly until a few weeks ago it would've been fair to at least wonder if Rodgers ever would be again. You can bet Rodgers read that story -- or at least was informed it existed -- and reacted accordingly.
This is all fluid and maybe in a few weeks Wilson and Mahomes will have the last laugh and you can throw this piece back at me. Nevertheless, right now, this second, today, Rodgers is the best quarterback on the planet.
Win-loss record is an imperfect way to judge quarterbacks, but the Packers were under .500 in games Rodgers started in 2017 and 2018 combined. They missed the playoffs both years. There were flashes in those seasons where Rodgers still looked locked-in and you expected him to complete every pass he threw, no matter how narrow the window or short the receiver separation. But on balance his and the team's performance were inconsistent.
Starting this year, the Packers were buoyed by a defense that was forcing turnovers and getting big sacks. However, after some growing pains in Matt LaFleur's offensive system in September, against the Cowboys, Lions and now Raiders, Rodgers has shown he can still reach that pinnacle.
The Lions game last week and Cowboys the week before were classic examples of the numbers not telling the real story. Rodgers' counting stats were not eye-popping but you could tell he was starting to find a rhythm, and the Packers were also plagued by drops. Against the Raiders, everything came together, as Rodgers had 429 yards passing, five touchdowns, no interceptions and 13.8 yards per attempt. He was in Matrix Mode.
Aside from Mahomes and Wilson, there are people who would argue Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL. The Patriots have won two of the last three Super Bowls and they're still undefeated this season. However, their defense has played historically great and Brady has mostly been a game manager. This sounds pejorative, and he's unconditionally the greatest quarterback of all-time, but in 2019 he's just not making the volume of insane throws Rodgers made today.
Feel free to throw this piece back in my face in a few weeks if the fortunes reverse again, but I'm ready right this second to say that Aaron Rodgers is the best QB alive again.