On Free Plays, Aaron Rodgers Does His Best Brett Favre Impression

Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers will forever be associated with each other in Green Bay, and rightly so. Their Hall of Fame caliber quarterback play will, remarkably, span three decades for the Packers. Which is something no other NFL franchise has ever seen.

One of the most obvious differences between Rodgers and Favre is that Rodgers takes care of the ball with much more care than Favre did.

A quick look at the career stats of each player shows that Rodgers doesn’t throw the risky passes that Favre was known for — unless he has a free play. Of course, that means that the throw isn’t a “risk” by any stretch of the imagination.

Rodgers is, arguably, the best quarterback in NFL history at drawing the opponent offsides with a hard count and at catching the opponent with too twelve men on the field. Both infractions result in a “free play” for the offense, meaning the quarterback can throw the ball toward any receiver or into traffic without risk of interception.

Often times, these throws result in amazing efforts by Rodgers’ wide receivers and highlight-reel touchdowns are registered.

One major difference between Favre and Rodgers is that Favre would often make those risky throws into traffic–with success–when it wasn’t a free play. He had the courage to throw a pass that might get intercepted, but also might result in a huge play for the offense. Rodgers, for the most part, is too afraid to throw those passes.

Some would argue that Rodgers’ “fear” is actually wise, or what makes him a great quarterback. We get that argument, we really do. Green Bay has seen a lot of success in the Rodgers Era because he doesn’t turn the ball over often. Likewise, the Packers of Favre’s Era squandered some great opportunities in the postseason because of his willingness to throw risky passes that ended up in turnovers.

It goes both ways though, as Favre’s courageousness resulted in his greatness as a leader. He took chances, trusted his arm, trusted his receivers and many times his receivers made huge plays to reward that trust. Rodgers would rather be sacked than throw a risky pass, and he is smart to do that in most situations. But if Rodgers would take a few more chances, his receivers might surprise him with more big plays — like the ones they often make on free plays.

Trust between the quarterback and receivers would grow with a few more chances taken.

Rodgers is a stoic quarterback and always meticulously prepared. Favre was, infamously, a gunslinger that played with emotion more than a plan. Because of this, Favre kept Packers fans on the edge of their seat with more regularity

Although when Rodgers gets a free play, he looks a lot like his predecessor. It’s actually quite fun to see. On those plays he will heave the ball into double-coverage, forty yards down the field, and more often than not it results in celebration. Rodgers would be well served to pretend that more plays are free plays and act a bit more like Favre, especially when the team is in need of a big play.

He should trust his arm, just like Favre always did.

Of course, all of this is said with the knowledge that Rodgers’ Packers stay in more games because of the care their quarterback gives to the ball. Favre’s Packers definitely had the opportunity to get blown out more often, because of the risk involved.

But that risk also brought the Packers back from the brink of many losses from 1992-2007. Rodgers’ Packers of the last few seasons have needed a bit more of that and we believe that him taking more chances would bring just that.

Although Rodgers’ career high for interceptions is 13, the number he threw as a rookie. For Favre, 13 is fewest he threw in a season in his entire career in Green Bay. And twice he led the league in that category.

To be clear, we aren’t suggesting Rodgers needs to change his entire game to be more like Favre, but his Packers could use a little dash of gunslinger here and there — like they get on those damn free plays.

 

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