Technically speaking, both Aaron Rodgers and Brock Osweiler play the same position. “Quarterback.” It’s true. I looked it up. And also true, is the fact that both men are professional quarterbacks, trained and paid millions of dollars to do so.
Thus endeth the comparison.
It’s not just unfair to Texan fans watching the difference unfold in front of their eyes, it’s downright cruel. The brilliance of Rodgers is enough to turn a pedestrian supporting defense into a streaking Super Bowl contender. The stumbling mediocrity of Osweiler is enough to turn a savagely elite defense, into an easily dismissed playoff schedule-filler.
So why can’t Osweiler just do more of what Rodgers does? Surely, he can be coached. Surely he works out. Surely… he’s TRYING. Right?
To say that “NFL quarterback” is the most demanding position in sports is almost cliche. To be great, you need the athleticism of LeBron James, the mental focus of Tiger Woods, the physical courage of a downhill skiier, the leadership skills of a CEO, the reaction time of a fighter pilot, and the information retention of Ray Babbitt.
It’s such an impossible position to play in the modern game, that for a league which requires only 32 of them to operate, only about half of those positions are staffed to the satisfaction of their teams.
Quarterbacks of 40 years ago, were asked to have grit, spit, and a strong arm. They threw it half as much per game, and into far simpler defensive schemes. And even as passing increased through the 70’s and 80’s, QB’s were often excused for low completion percentages and multiple interceptions.
Terry Bradshaw didn’t throw more than 20 touchdowns (28) in a season until his 9th year in the league. And he did it against 20 interceptions with a mere 56% completion rate.
He’s in the Hall of Fame. So are two of his wide receivers.
While history will remember the dashing sideline throw on 3rd and 20 to Jared Cook, what Rodgers did two plays earlier was even more amazing. Hit on a full-blindside sack by blitzing safety Jeff Heath, Rodgers somehow held firmly onto the ball (Fact: His grip is rated “Industrial Claw” strength!) and instantly popped up and remembered to call timeout.
Mortals fumble that ball – 99 out of 100 times. And even if the Pack recovered such a fumble, it would have taken another 3 seconds off the clock. The very three seconds needed for Mason Crosby’s game winner.
To witness the brilliance of Aaron Rodgers is both joy, and agony. You realize it won’t last forever. As great as this run has been, a loss Sunday in Atlanta means another precious year of Rodgers’ career will have been thrown down the rathole.
Wouldn’t it be nice, just once, for Rodgers to ride roughshod on the back of a complete team all the way to another Lombardi trophy? To not have to go on a gambler’s-hot-streak type of run, winning multiple road playoff games just to reach the Super Bowl?
Rodgers’ greatness is already stamped and certified by his Super Bowl MVP performance in a against the Steelers. He doesn’t need another one, to really prove anything. Still, if that never happens, it just won’t feel right.