Aaron Rodgers v. Brett Favre

No I’m not going to talk off the field stuff, just on the field, thank you. Tom Silverstein wrote an odd article in which he compares these two QBs in light of all the “Rodgers playing better than any QB in history” hype that’s been going around. In it, he takes Favre’s best 16 game stretch and compares it to Rodgers’ current 16 game stretch. Though the stats don’t support his conclusion, he decides Favre is better.

So I went and took stats from NFL.com from both Favre and Rodgers and put together a spreadsheet to compare these two. I actually broke down more than Silverstein did, adding in rushing capabilities and fumbles as well. Favre’s streak started in 1995 vs. the Chicago Bears and Rodger’s starts with 2010 vs. the Detroit Lions.

Favre: 343/517, 66.34 comp %, 4243 yards, Avg 8.2 yards/attempt, 49 TDs, 7 Int, 32 Sacks. QB Rating 117.52, 41 Rushes, 128  yards, 3.12 yards/rush, 1 rushing TD, 8 Fumbles, 5 lost. Record: 13-3

Of note in this string of stats is really his interceptions. This was one of the lows of his career and really caught my interest in the article. I do agree that it is really easy to forget how good Favre was in his prime considering he how bad he was outside that 3-4 year stretch.

Rodgers: 356/503, 70.78 comp %, 4642 yards, 9.23 avg/attempt, 42 TDs, 7 Ints, 37 Sacks, 121.55 QB Rating, 68 Rushes for 274 yards, 4.03 yards/rush, 4 rushing TDs, 6 fumbles, 1 lost. Record: 14-1

So looking at these numbers, Rodgers has fewer attempts, more completions, a higher percentage, more yards, same INTs, better QB rating (By 5 points), nearly 1 yard extra per attempt, 3 more rushing TDs, 4 less fumbles lost, more wins, and a super bowl. Favre has more TDs, fewer sacks, and ummm… oh yeah that’s it. Yet Silverstein still thinks Favre is better? He does note that Favre never missed a game, whereas Rodgers did miss the Patriots game. Ok, there’s that point, but you failed to mention that the worse game was that lions game where Rodgers only played a couple of really bad series against a tough Lions defense before being taken out of the game. Luckily for these stats, Rodgers gets to drop that game after what is likely going to be another strong game against the Bucs.

I think these stats prove to me that Rodgers is better, but ok not for Silverstein. So why don’t we just cut the crap and look at this season because when people talk about how good Rodgers is playing we are talking about this season. So here’s the stats for that. For Favre I shortened it to be his best 9, starting with Chicago in ’95 ending with San Fransisco in ’95.

Favre: 211/299, 70.57%, 2544 yards, 8.51 yards/att, 26 TDs, 2 Int, 13 sacks, 122.54 QB rating, 24 rushes for 63 yards, 2.63 yards/rush, 1 rushing TD, 4 fumbles, 2 lost. Record: 8-1.

Rodgers: 215/295, 72.88%, 2869 yards, 9.73 yards/att, 28 TDs, 3 Int, 23 sacks, 130.74 QB Rating (8 points!), 43 rushes for 148 yards, 3.44 yards/rush, 2 rushing TDs, 2 Fumbles zero lost.

Comparing just those best 9 from each, we are looking at Favre only having the Int advantage surprisingly enough, however Favre actually has 1 extra turnover because in addition to be interception prone, he also fumbled a lot. In every other category Rodgers is better. And this after winning a Super Bowl so that teams are actually gearing up for him. No one geared up for Favre in ’95, they knew he was good but it was different than playing as champ.

Just to compare Favre’s complaint about Rodger’s better team:

RB: Neither team was known for great running games. 95-96 had Bennett and Levens, 10-11 have Starks & Grant. Grant I think overall is the best RB, but not right now. He didn’t even play in 2010 during Rodger’s streak, and Starks really only came on in the playoffs to help out. Even this year, Grant has been a shade of his former self and Starks has struggled. Both Bennett & Levens I feel are better natural pass catchers than Starks/Grant. EDGE: Favre.

WR: This is more interesting to me than people give credit. No doubt about that including all 6 WRs, Rodgers has an edge over the group of 95 and 96. Still Driver isn’t exactly what he used to be and Freeman and Brooks were not bad receivers. I personally considered them one of the top tandems of the league (though not the top as during this time frame there were a lot of top notch tandems). Still… EDGE: Rodgers

TE: Chmura is one of the all-time great TEs in Packers history. Given talent alone though I would say this would be Finley’s game. But Chmura rarely got injured (until his career ended due to one), was a better run blockers, and Finley wasn’t around for half of the time we are looking at this. If we look at 2011 only, I might be inclinced to give the edge to Rodgers. EDGE: Favre

OL: 95-96 starting unit consisted of an aging Ruettgers, John Micheals, Aaron Taylor, Frank Winters in his prime, Harry Galbreath, Adam Timmerman, and Earl Dotson. 2010-2011 squad consisted of an aging (and oft absent) Chad Clifton, Newhouse, Daryn Colledge, TJ Lang, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga. Interesting mixes. Clifton is the clear winner at LT, Taylor I think is the winner at LG, Winters is winner at C, Timmerman and Sitton I feel are about equal, I actually tend to think that Timmerman beats out Sitton a tad at LG, and Bulaga beats Dotson largely due to injury. Overall… EDGE: Favre, but not by much.

Coaching: This is kind of an intangible. Holmgren was known for running a brilliant west coast offense and one of the great offensive minds of the day. On top of that we are looking at Steve Mariucci and Marty Mornhinweg being QB coaches for Favre. Perhaps Tom Clements doesn’t yet get the recognition that he will but I don’t think he is Mariucci by a long shot. At this point I would lay Holmgren and McCarthy about equal, with a slight advance toward Holmgren although I think that might be unfair to McCarthy, this is a tough one but the QB coaches dictate the… EDGE: Favre

Other notes about this time period… Favre did win MVP in 95 and 96, Rodgers will undoubtably get it in 96. Favre couldn’t beat the Cowboys in Dallas to get to the Super Bowl… Rodgers beat all the teams in the playoffs on the road and then won the Super Bowl. Favre never won a Super Bowl MVP despite going to the Super Bowl twice, Rodgers has won it.

Overall, I gotta say that I think that these examples show that Rodgers was very much better than Favre, and this is just using Rodgers’ current state which may not even be his best 16. Heck after tomorrow, he likely is going to have a much better comparison as his worst game will get dropped from the averages…. AND he won’t have missed a game in his last 16 so you can’t even really use that argument anymore either.

2 Replies to “Aaron Rodgers v. Brett Favre”

  1. I think it’s a tough call no matter what. However, I think there are a few more things to consider. Yes, Holmgren installed the traditional WC offense, but that includes primarily 2 and 3 WR sets. The most successful teams today often use spread 4 and 5 WR sets which includes a dominant part of the current Packers offense. The spread offense has been taking advantage of tightened rule changes on the defensive side of the ball that protects QBs and WRs and allows for receivers to run more freely. The era of “shutdown corners” and “feared safeties” essentially has come to an end with the exception of a few guys like Revis and Asomugah. As a result we’ve seen many QBs post ridiculous numbers the past few years and that includes a 40yr old Favre throwing 33tds, 7ints and a 107 rating in 2009. Ratings records have been shattered, heck, remember when having a QB rating in the 80’s was good and 70’s was decent??!!…Also, we have 5 QBs on pace to break Marino’s yardage record this year. Could you imagine what a young Marino/Montana/Elway/Kelly/Moon could have done in today’s times?

    Onto the RBs…Bennett and Levens, I think they had the better run-blocking linemen, and the current packers are better pass blocking linemen, but they still get the nod over Grant and Starks.

    Looking at WRs I think it’s a no brainer this 2010-11 squad is better than the 95-96…Freeman was better than average, very Steve Breaston like. Brooks had the chance of becoming a superstar, but blew his knee out in that 96 season. Freeman got hurt in that 96 superbowl run too, left Favre with Mickens and Beebe for a good while, a damaged-goods but still threatening Andrew Rison came later in the year. Rodgers on the other hand has 4 legitimate starters with Jennings, Nelson, Jones, Driver.
    Brooks = Jennings (Brooks more speed, Jennings plays the ball infinitely better)
    Freeman < Jones < Nelson, about equal to that of than aging Driver, but with lesser route running ability and better ball tracking skills…After 3 pro-bowls with Favre, a 29yr old Freeman signed huge contract with Eagles and couldn't even make the starting roster.
    Injured Rison = Aging Driver
    Mickens and Beebe…….

    As far as TEs go Chmura was very important to that WC offense and his loss was felt for a few seasons. Yet, if you were a DC and you look at Finley and you look at Chmura…who scares you more?

    Yes, Favre didn't beat that Dallas Dynasty to get to the superbowl…but that's comparable to Manning running into the Patriots every year in the playoffs. Those Cowboys and Patriots were dynasties for a reason.

    The stats you provide do favor Rodgers..although I think it's more of a "slightly" than a "much" better. And the era changes create factors that make it hard to say who was definitively better. However, I pose the question that if you installed Rodgers back into the 90's Packers team running the traditional WC offense during 90's football rules would he have put up comparable numbers as Favre did? I think he would have done very well, but I don't think he would have hit Favre's numbers, maybe more Steve Young like. He'd get close to that 96SB, but I don't think he wins it. Conversely, you put a mid 90's Favre on today's Packers team and I think he would be putting up outrages numbers and we'd have a good shot at the SB last year, this year, and maybe the the 2009 season too.

    When it comes down to it, we're splitting hairs between Rodgers and 90's Favre. However, taking into consideration all of the changes made to the different eras I would lean towards mid90's Favre over current Rodgers, but it's a tough call. I enjoyed your breakdown and I agree much of your analysis, in any case I'm happy to have had a gunslinging HOF QB followed by a more surgical HOF caliber QB.

    1. For Finley… yes he scares you more on paper. The guy has always had tremendous potential, I wonder though when potential is enough to keep a guy? Chmura had less talent but did far more with it than Finley and rarely got injured until the career ending one. Finley’s always got something wrong with him and it hampers him tremendously in so many ways. No one doubts his potential… he just hasn’t lived up to it.

      I always find the rules differences interesting because really there hasn’t been as much that actually changed as people think. The tuck rule was added, there’s been a few more rules added with not leading with your helmet but really these account for 5% of all plays anyway and that is being generous. The no bump and run thing has been around since long before Favre was around, and yes CBs complained about it in Favre’s day quite a bit too, as did the late hits that Favre had a knack of convincing Refs to throw flags on (Rodgers gets them, but Favre actually convinced them, I don’t feel Rodgers does that nearly as much). They are a bit more strict on calling the rules that have been there and I will give you that, but there really aren’t new rules that are affecting the game as much as you seem to indicate.

      I do think scheme comes into it, if anything the schemes these days have learned how to exploit the rules far better than the traditional WC offense did. But this fact doesn’t matter because Rodgers is executing the scheme far better than Favre ever could hope. Why? Because the scheme requires accuracy, ball control, and waiting until the opponent hurt themselves. These are all traits that Favre never had, he was the one who hurt us, even at his best you were looking at 67% accuracy, and he rarely showed any sort of ball control. The above example is one of the few times he did, but he still was subject to fumbling and throwing picks even there far more than Rodgers.

      It’s also interesting that you note that one good Favre year with the Vikings when he was 40… you know that year where he had the best running back in the league on his team. You know that RB that everyone thought so much of that they would just ignore Favre and stop him? Funny how that works. Peterson is more than twice as good as any RB that Favre ever played with previously and I’d also say that offensive line was far better than anything Favre had either with GB.

      Just to update the numbers that Rodgers had taking out that terrible Detroit game at the beginning of the 16 game stretch and replacing it with the Tampa Bay game he just had… Here’s the old numbers…

      Rodgers: 356/503, 70.78 comp %, 4642 yards, 9.23 avg/attempt, 42 TDs, 7 Ints, 37 Sacks, 121.55 QB Rating, 68 Rushes for 274 yards, 4.03 yards/rush, 4 rushing TDs, 6 fumbles, 1 lost. Record: 15-1

      Here’s the new numbers…

      Rodgers: 372/526, 70.72 comp %, 4895 yards, 9.3 avg/attempt, 45 TDs, 7 Ints, 37 sacks, 122.77 QB Rating, 71 Rushes for 277 yards, 3.9 yards/rush, 4 rushing TDs, 6 fumbles, 1 lost. Record: 16-0

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