- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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When ESPN's Ron Jaworski named Drew Brees the No. 2 quarterback in the NFL, most of you made the logical leap that Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers would finish this exercise at No. 1. (Barring, as @unwantedopinion opined on Twitter, an unexpected finish by the Cleveland Browns' Colt McCoy.)
Indeed and hurrah, Rodgers did in fact finish on top. You might remember that in the spring, we couldn't gain traction for Rodgers as even the NFL's second-best quarterback in our ESPN.com positional power rankings, but an MVP season tends to elevate a guy in the national reckoning.
Below are some excerpts of what Jaworski said a few moments ago on SportsCenter. (Many thanks to Bill Hofheimer of ESPN Communications for providing transcripts.)
"Very few quarterbacks in NFL history have had Rodgers’ exceptional combination of velocity and accuracy, elite arm strength and pin-point ball location. …
One critical measure of high-level play is the ability to execute versus the blitz. Rodgers' rating in 2011 was 136, easily the best in the NFL. He was outstanding beating the man coverage that you primarily see with blitz. Again, a function of his accuracy, or as I've said many times, ball location.
"Rodgers also defeated the blitz with his movement and his extraordinary ability to throw on the run. No quarterback delivers on the move as well as Rodgers -- velocity and accuracy.
"There's a larger, more significant issue that speaks to Rodgers' greatness. He can beat the defense even when the defense wins, whether it's blitz or a three-man pressure with eight in coverage. … Again, the ability to drive the ball on the move down the field, that’s a rare trait.
"Add running ability to Rodgers’ special throwing skill set and you have the most physically-gifted quarterback in the league. Numerous times last season, I saw Rodgers defeat a predominant NFL coverage, man-under, two-deep, with his recognition and running. The man coverage undercut the routes and there was help over the top. The coverage won. A perfectly-executed coverage concept still resulted in an explosive 25-yard run.
"Aaron Rodgers is my No. 1 quarterback. He has all the attributes that I love: accuracy, velocity, movement, toughness. Those attributes lead to elite play and wins. He's won two out of every three starts and a Super Bowl championship."
Of all the praise Rodgers has received in the past year, I'm not sure if anyone has referred to him as the "most physically gifted quarterback" in the NFL. But obviously Jaworski is not referring to 40 time, although Rodgers is quick, or brute strength. It's the elite nature of the physical skills required to make every throw. It's yet another way to think of our reigning MVP.