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Monday, August 24, 2009
Aaron Rodgers and the value of experience


Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

We've analyzed every word from Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler this summer. We dissected each step Brett Favre made from Mississippi to Minnesota. And all the while, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers has been the sharpest quarterback in the NFC North through the midpoint of the preseason.

Objectively speaking, I don't think you'll find many people who could dispute it. As Cutler works to learn the nuances of his receivers and Favre attempts to learn the names of his, Rodgers quietly has taken his development to the highest levels. He has a 142.3 preseason passer rating, having converted three of his 19 passes for touchdowns. But more importantly, Rodgers has proved to be a case study in the benefits of knowing your receivers.

Both of his touchdown passes to receiver Donald Driver, for instance, required adjustments that wouldn't have occurred if Rodgers didn't know how Driver would react to the coverage and situation.

Rodgers: "The communication has been definitely the best that it's been the past two years that I've been playing. Just come off on the sidelines, and Greg [Jennings] coming over, Donald coming over, and having some real good dialogue about what they're seeing out there. Just the confidence that they have in myself, and the confidence I have in them when they tell me, 'Hey, I saw this out there. If we come back to this play, think about this.' It just gives you the confidence that we're on the same page. I think we're getting real close."

This is not to diminish the work of Cutler or Favre. But as we head into this season of Air and Space in the Black and Blue, Rodgers' deep foundation in the Packers' offense can't be overstated.

With the NFC North arrival of Favre, Cutler and No. 1 overall draft pick Matthew Stafford, I plan to develop the Air and Space theme throughout the season. I'm interested in your suggestions on how to evaluate and compare their performances on a weekly basis. Sometimes traditional statistics don't always tell the story.

For the preseason, however, we'll keep it basic. Here's how the NFC North's quarterbacks compare at this point:

NFC North: Air and Space
Player Team Comp. Att. Pct. Yards TD INT Rating
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 13 19 68.4 200 3 0 142.3
Jay Cutler Chicago 13 23 56.5 185 1 1 79.1
Matthew Stafford Detroit 12 27 44.4 148 1 2 43.4
Brett Favre Minnesota 1 4 25.0 1 0 0 39.6