Tuesday, November 29, 2011
'07 Brady vs '11 Rodgers
By John McTigue
The 2007 New England Patriots finished the regular season 16-0, a feat the Green Bay Packers may be trying to accomplish in 2011. Both Tom Brady in 2007 and Aaron Rodgers in 2011 got out to fast starts, completing over 71.0 percent of their passes, throwing for over 3,400 yards and over 30 touchdowns.
The Patriots kept winning even though Brady’s production eventually dipped. Over his last five games Brady completed 61.3 percent of his passes while averaging 1.5 yards per attempt fewer and throwing just as many interceptions as he did in his first 11 games.
It is yet to be seen if Rodgers will be able to keep pace or even exceed Brady’s production and winning, but there are distinguishing factors at play that could give Rodgers an edge over Brady.
Maybe the biggest difference between Brady and Rodgers is mobility. During the entire 2007 campaign, Brady attempted only 16 of his 578 passes from outside the pocket, completing four of them. Rodgers has three games this season with four completions from outside the pocket.
The lack of mobility may have hurt Brady in 2007. Brady attempted a pass under duress 34 times over his last five games after attempting a pass under duress 43 times prior. On the season, Brady was able to get outside the pocket on five of his attempts under duress. Rodgers has 51 attempts under duress this season, but 30 have come outside the pocket.
Rodgers also has an edge on Brady with the deep ball. Rodgers is completing 67.6 percent of his throws at least 21 yards downfield this season, best in the NFL. Brady completed 52.6 percent of such throws in his first 11 games of 2007, but finished the season going 8 of 24 (33.3 percent), in large part due to teams honing in on Randy Moss.
Over half of Brady’s throws of 21 yards or more were to Moss and in the first 11 games, the duo connected on 11 of 20 attempts for seven scores and no picks. Over the last five games though, Brady and Moss connected on just three of 15 attempts, two of which going for touchdowns and two getting intercepted.
Rodgers has the luxury of multiple deep threats. Greg Jennings (2), Jordy Nelson (3) and James Jones (4) have brought in Rodgers’ nine touchdowns on 21-plus yard throws, and all three, as well as Jermichael Finley, have at least four receptions on such throws. Three Patriots finished 2007 with four such receptions from Brady.
The Packers are just the second defending champion to start the season 11-0, joining the 1998 Broncos. The Broncos first loss that season came on the road against the Giants in Week 15. The Packers play the Giants this week in New York.