How do you define a great quarterback?
The popular opinion is that the only thing separating Aaron Rodgers from greatness is the Super Bowl ring he'll be trying to win on Sunday night against Pittsburgh. To be sure, winning is an important measuring stick for a quarterback, probably even the most important one.
But some middle ground needs to be found in a debate in which too many observers see only black or white. Nobody in their right mind would suggest Trent Dilfer (one Super Bowl) is better than Dan Marino (no Super Bowls). But football is a team sport, and Dilfer had an all-time great defense while Marino mostly had a bunch of scrubs playing defense. A quarterback can control a lot of things. He can't control his defense or special teams, though.
With that said, this is the time for Rodgers. No ifs, ands or buts. Rodgers has the supporting cast, the injuries notwithstanding. The defense has played to a championship level all season, so it's almost inconceivable that the Steelers will throw for 500 yards and score 37 points, like they did in last year's matchup. Dom Capers is on top of his game as a coordinator, and he's got elite performers at every level of the defense. The oldest player on the defense, Charles Woodson, has been energized down the stretch and is at the height of his do-it-all powers.
The injuries have sapped the offense of some of Rodgers' playmakers but they're playing inside, which they prefer, and chances are they'll have less trouble than most teams handling the mental side of the Steelers' defense. It's really a pretty good matchup.
"You have to be blessed with not only ability and opportunity but supporting cast, as well," Rodgers said on Wednesday at the hotel in Las Colinas. "No quarterback has ever won a game by himself. I'm fortunate to be in a situation where we have an incredible defense, great coaching staff, solid guys on offense and I'm hopeful we'll all put our best foot forward on Sunday."
Stay with 16
One of the big proponents of the "enhanced" 18-game regular season is Packers President Mark Murphy. In fact, he mentioned the idea to Packer Report in Summer 2009, long before it became a national issue. He banged on that drum some more during Tuesday's Media Day.
The only owner who has spoken out against the 18-game season is Pittsburgh's Art Rooney.
"He's the main voice and most respected voice among all the owners," Steelers linebacker James Harrison said on Wednesday. "He came out and said exactly what it is. It's about them making money. It's not about us. With them talking about player safety and all this fine stuff, that's just a show to make them look better. It's something to give the people to look at and have them think that they are trying to do something positive. They go into the back room and say, ‘Let's add two more games and after we lock you guys out we are going to take away health insurance. If you have a little child or one that is about to be born, you have to find an appropriate way to get them health insurance.'"
"It just cuts everybody's careers down maybe two or three more years," receiver Hines Ward added. "That's what'll happen, and that's why I get so heated because you talk about player safety, but you're not looking at the whole big picture. You're trying to add two more games based off revenues. You want to get more revenues. This game is already the most popular game as it is. Just leave it alone. Every year, it's a money-driven business. Year in and year out, you see revenues getting higher and higher. What's wrong with it? Don't let greed overcome the issues with player safety and health."
While Philadelphia filled its defensive coordinator opening on Wednesday, Packers safety coach Darren Perry's name has been mentioned for the gigs in Arizona and Oakland. Perry got his coaching start under Dick LeBeau in Cincinnati in 2002, then joined the Steelers from 2003 through 2006. The Steelers drafted NFL Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu in the first round of the 2003 draft and he's charted a Hall of Fame course.
"He's like a father to me," Polamalu said of Perry. "Absolutely (he should be considered for a coordinator's post). We were together for almost four years here with Pittsburgh. He taught me so much. We've been through a lot together because my rookie year wasn't very good, so I had to lean on him a lot emotionally as well as, obviously, learning the defense. I don't know much about this game, but I would think that (Steelers defensive backs coach) Ray Horton and Darren Perry would be great candidates for defensive coordinator jobs. I think most importantly is that they know Coach (Dick) LeBeau's system very well because they've played in it and they've coached in it a long time."
The last word
James Jones, on the Packers' receiving corps: "We put every game on our shoulders. We feel that if we don't make plays, we aren't going to win the ball game. There is a big emphasis on us coming in here and starting fast."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.