Two of the elite quarterbacks in NFL history will square off for the first time — and potentially only time — of their careers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
It’s a matchup Rodgers is embracing, even though Rodgers won’t be lining up at safety in hopes of stopping the Hall of Fame-bound Patriots quarterback and Brady will be similarly helpless in slowing down the Green Bay Packers’ high-flying passer.
“Tom’s been a buddy for a few years now, seen him a few times in the offseason,” Rodgers said on his weekly radio show on ESPN Milwaukee on Tuesday.
“Tom loves talking ball, so every time we get together, it’s always fun to talk football and see what he’s been thinking about and talk about his season and maybe throw some film on and watch a little bit of stuff. He’s a guy who I enjoyed when I was a young player. I watched his 2007 season when he was lights out (with) 50 touchdowns, and I was a young player trying to figure out what does it look like. Obviously, I saw it every day with Brett (Favre), but what else does it look like? What are some other guys who are at the top of their game doing? And Tom’s incredible.”
Both are incredible. And both play the game in similar fashion. Playing quarterback goes far beyond arm talent, though Rodgers and Brady have plenty of that. It’s the subtle things that explain why Rodgers is No. 1 all-time in passer rating and Brady is sixth. Why Rodgers is No. 1 in interception percentage and Brady is second. Why Rodgers is No. 3 in career completion percentage and Brady is 12th.
“He’s got a great eye discipline and eye control,” Rodgers said. “He’s always had incredible, subtle movements in the pocket that allow him to throw on rhythm and balance. That’s how you become accurate, when your feet are underneath you and you’re on balance all the time, and Tom does a great job of getting his feet and his body in position to throw the ball from balanced position.”
With the star power at quarterback, with the Packers having won seven of eight to get to 8-3 and the Patriots having won seven in a row to improve to 9-2, there is going to be playoff-level hype surrounding this clash of titans.
From Green Bay’s perspective, however, this is just one of the final five games. Yes, it’s big. But no championships will be won or lost on frigid Lambeau Field on Sunday evening. On the other hand, in earlier marquee matchups this season, Green Bay lost at Seattle, lost at Detroit and lost at New Orleans. Their signature win is over the Eagles — with backup Mark Sanchez at quarterback.
“I’m excited about the game,” Rodgers said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play a top-notch team that’s got a great, Hall of Fame quarterback, Hall of Fame coach, some incredible players on both sides of the ball. So, it will be a great test for us. It will be like Philly for us — it’s a measuring stick on where we stack up with a team that many people are saying is the best team in the league right now, is playing the best.”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.