I think it’s undisputed that the quarterback is the most important position on the field. For as much as hipsters claim that edge pass rushers are more valuable to a team than quarterbacks, the general consensus is that teams live and die by their QB. And there’s no QB in the NFL as valuable to his team as Aaron Rodgers.
We’ve seen this story before. Pretty much the same exact story, actually, back in 2013. Then, Rodgers had the Packers sitting at 5-2, atop the NFC North. But in early November, on Monday Night Football, in the first quarter of a division showdown with the Chicago Bears, Green Bay’s signal-caller broke his collarbone. That’s when we saw the true value of A-Rodg.
Without Rodgers, Green Bay went a pitiful 2-5-1. Keep in mind, this team was only 2 years removed from their infamous 15-1 season. The team tanked because of something that had been talked about since the days of Brett Favre: Mike McCarthy’s system isn’t for the faint of heart.
Many of the league’s elite offenses–most notably New England–place a heavy emphasis on quick pocket passing. The quarterback rarely has to look for second or third options because the first option is only receiving the ball 4 or 5 yards downfield. It’s a system that works, but it’s not a system that’s implemented in Green Bay. Mike McCarthy’s system requires quarterbacks to have excellent downfield vision, as well as pocket awareness and pocket mobility. In other words, it requires a quarterback who can throw into tight coverage down the field, all while knowing when the pocket is going to collapse around him.
There are different types of quarterbacks that can excel in his system, it’s just that backup quarterbacks usually don’t possess the required traits. One type of quarterback that excels in Green Bay’s system is the careless gunslinger, as in, Brett Favre. Favre never saw a pass he didn’t like, and while it did result in his fair share of interceptions, he was able to lead the Packers to a 13-3 record his final season there. Thing is, backup quarterbacks rarely have Favre’s mentality. They tend to try to manage the game, for fear that if too many downfield risks end up in the hands of the opposition, they’ll find themselves right back on the end of the bench.
The other type of quarterback that can excel in McCarthy’s system is the type of quarterback that can excel in any system, and that’s the Aaron Rodgers type of quarterback. The types of quarterbacks that I like to call the precision artists. They know when to throw the ball down the field, but do so in such a manner where they rarely make mistakes. They put the ball where only their receiver can catch it. There are only three current quarterbacks that I’d put in that category, and those are Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Rodgers himself. And right there lies the problem. You’re not going to find a Rodgers, Brady, or Brees sitting on your bench unless you’re the New England Patriots in 2001.
So there are two types of quarterbacks that can excel in Mike McCarthy’s system. One is the gunslinger. Problem is, backup quarterbacks like safe checkdowns. The other one is the precision passer. Problem is, those are very, very hard to find. So, Green Bay, I wish you the best of luck in trying to find a replacement for Rodgers, because you’re gonna need it.